What's Worth Watching On TV? We Heard From Critics On 'Primo,' 'American Born Chinese' And More
The world of television and streaming is honestly so vast that it can get quite overwhelming having to sift through it all by yourself. That can get more complicated when deciding between genres — maybe you’re itching for some engaging action one day, and another you want a heartwarming sitcom. Another decision sometimes is whether you want a show you can binge on or take your time with.
Each week has its busy days and lulls, so we're trying to help you get through it, one TV show at a time.
Every week on the LAist 89.3 program AirTalk, we talk about the latest in television with a couple of television critics, getting their insights into what’s worth checking out. This week, we were joined by Danette Chavez, editor-in-chief at Primetimer, and Dominic Patten, senior editor and chief TV critic for Deadline.
I’ll give you a rundown of some shows we talked about, offer some insights into each one, and draw comparisons that might help you decide y6what to watch.
Streaming on Amazon Freevee
“A lot of shows that feature people of color can feel almost obligated to be issues-oriented. But while Primo doesn't try to do that, it still subtly subverts several tropes.” – Danette Chavez, Primetimer
The basics: A sitcom following the life of Rafa, a San Antonio teenager who lives with his mom and is often visited by his five uncles. Each uncle brings his own distinctive personality to the table as they try to teach Rafa about life.
What it might remind you of: A coming-of-age sitcom isn’t always for everyone, but I think what informs this show’s writing is what makes it noteworthy. All the show’s uncles serve as paternal figures in Rafa’s life, all offering their own set of quirks that isn’t as much pushing representation as it is running the gamut of uncles you grew up with. A lot of Latino kids in San Antonio, Los Angeles, and throughout the United States are going to find similarities between their uncles and the ones depicted in the show. For me, it’s really tight seeing the personality of the character Jay and how his experience landscaping matches the life of one of my uncles. It’s also funny seeing the wise-cracking Rollie as someone who has cousins that act just like him.
Who's behind it: The show is an autobiographical story of Shea Serrano’s life. Prior to working on Primo, he was writing for The Ringer. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author for his books “The Rap Yearbook,” “Basketball and Other Things,” and “Movies and Other Things.” He also developed Primo with showrunner Mike Schur, whose credits include The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Place.
When and where: All eight episodes are streaming now on Amazon's Freevee service.
American Born Chinese
Streaming on Disney+
“This is something that sheds light on an experience that is unique, telling, and culturally significant… especially drawing from Chinese myths the way it does. [It] also just incredibly entertaining.” – Dominic Patten, Deadline
The basics: An average teenager gets pulled into a mythical battle after he meets a new exchange student, who turns out to be the son of Sun Wukong, one of the main characters of the great 16th-century Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”
What it might remind you of: As I said before, it draws inspiration from an old Chinese novel, but it’s also based off some more recent material. The show is an adaptation of a graphic novel by the same name, created by Gene Luen Yang and released in 2006. The show also includes the core trio of actors in the Oscar-winning film Everything Everywhere All At Once; so check this show out if you’d like a second helping of Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Kelvin Yu, who’s helped write and produce recent projects led by Loren Bouchard, who’s one of the minds behind the Fox show Bob’s Burgers and Apple TV+’s Central Park. So he has experience on shows that balance real-life interactions with humor that’s hyperbolic, which isn’t hitting the same out-of-this-world vibe that American Born Chinese offers but it definitely does help keep the show entertaining.
When and where: All eight episodes are streaming now on Disney+.
Run the World [Season 2]
Airing on Starz
“This second season allows them to be a bit messier... to show all the work that goes into [their] professional facades and trying to balance family and work.” – Danette Chavez, Primetimer
The basics: Centers on the lives of four friends from Harlem, all of them thriving women who are looking to find success in their fields of work and hoping to find love as well.
What it might remind you of: It’s very much a slice-of-life show that focuses on a group of friends, their unbreakable bonds, and also the memories they make in this silly little world we live in. What makes the show stand out is Leigh Davenport and Co. being able to build off hangout shows like Living Single or Sex and the City, making a contemporary show with characters on an upward trajectory in life and enjoying it.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Leigh Davenport, who co-wrote the film Lifetime original “Wendy Williams: The Movie” and was a staff writer on the BET series Boomerang.
When and where: Episode 1 airs Friday at 9:30 p.m. PT on Starz and the Starz app.
Streaming on Netflix
“FUBAR is essentially another sequel to True Lies. And like True Lies, which if you watch it nowadays, you find parts of it [that are] incredibly cringey.” –Dominic Patten, Deadline
The basics: A longtime CIA operative retires, only to get pulled back in for one last job. When he returns he realizes that he’ll have to work with his daughter.
What it might remind you of: Arnold Schwarzenegger is an action star that’s larger than life, so when he’s in a show that involves action that’s probably all you going to be thinking about. I’m sure some of you will also get a kick out of the father-daughter quirks but ultimately it’s the action I’m sure most folks will be curious about.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Nick Santora, whose producing credits include the “cream of the crop” of network crime dramas, Prison Break, and Law & Order. Both shows leave you pretty much on the edge of your couch by the episode’s end, both also have meticulous presentations that you can find in spurts in FUBAR.
When and where: All eight episodes are out now on Netflix.
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