JUne should be considered the most difficult month for television. Not only have the handful of network shows worth watching gone on summer hiatus, but also, because Emmy eligibility ends on May 31, June has become the television equivalent of January’s movie-release wasteland. A lot of the titles we’re getting now are ones that platforms didn’t see the point of rushing out in the spring for awards consideration—which makes it kind of unnerving that this has turned out to be my single favorite month of 2022, to date, when it comes to new series. Below, you’ll find two excellent British character studies, an immersive crime drama set in Navajo country, an inspired update of a ’90s arthouse favorite, and the only superhero show since Jessica Jones That I fully endorse. Although they may not bombard you with For Your Consideration advertisements, they are certainly worthy of your attention. Here are 10 of my favorite shows for the first half.
Becky Green doesn’t want to be Becky Green anymore. Who could blame Becky Green? She is the protagonist in Chloe, This is an example of abjection, now available on Amazon Prime Video. Erin Doherty played the part of a protean intrusiveness (Crown’s Princess Anne), Becky works a demeaning temp job and lives in a shabby apartment with a mother (Lisa Palfrey) who’s sinking into early-onset dementia. Her escape is social media. The posts of Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gil) are endlessly scrolled through by the former friend. This glamorous woman lives in close proximity to her husband, a prominent-politician (Billy Howle), as well as a small group of photogenic, bourgeois-bohemian friends. Becky finds out that Chloe, her childhood friend, died in apparent suicide. [Read the full review.]
Dark Winds (AMC and AMC+
Dark WindsAMC’s latest crime drama, titled “The Killing,” opens with an action-packed heist scene. 1971 is the year. Two uniformed guards emerge from Gallup Savings & Loans, in the small city of Gallup, New Mexico, lugging padlocked bags stuffed with cash, which they load into an armored van before driving off. A helicopter suddenly descends and blocks the road ahead. One of its occupants hops out and throws a bomb under the van; the explosion lifts the vehicle’s back end into the air like the hind legs of a bucking bronco. After a gunfight, the thieves make their getaway with the money. As the helicopter climbs, panoramic views of Monument Valley are taken.
We won’t find out, right away, where the helicopter ends up. But the journey has taken us to the show’s true setting: the Navajo Nation. This isn’t a common backdrop for the kind of TV epic whose elaborate action sequences run up a tab of $5 million per episode; neither do its overwhelmingly Native American cast and crew fit the profile of the typical storyteller Hollywood sees fit to bless with such a generous budget. Dark Winds would be a remarkable crime drama—at a time when unremarkable ones dominate television—even if it wasn’t a groundbreaking showcase for Native talent. Its popularity transcends its genre. [Read the full review.]
Irma Vep (HBO Max)
Film-to-TV adaptations aren’t exactly rare in this era of television as insatiable content maw, but I promise you’ve never seen one like this before. His 1996 classic feature. Irmavep French auteur Olivier Assayas—who created an indelible portrait of Carlos the Jackal in his three-part epic Carlos Kristen Stewart was given her best parts in the two roles. Clouds Of Sils Maria Personal shopper—traced the mutually destructive connection between a director (New Wave legend Jean-Pierre Léaud) obsessed with remaking the silent serial Les vampires He plays the role of Maggie Cheung (honorable Hong Kong actress, who is a transfixed version of himself) as its lead. It also covered other symbiotic, tortured relationships, such as art vs. celebrities, celebrity actors vs. fanboy journalists, and inspiration vs. madness. A quarter-century later, it’s also an artifact of mid-’90s indie cool, with Cheung sneaking around in her Irma Vep catsuit to the spiraling guitars of Sonic Youth.
Assayas also directed the new series of 8 episodes. It featured music by Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth co-founder) and strikes the perfect balance between preserving the original gritty and modernizing it to reflect today’s entertainment business. How could it? Irma VepIn 2022, it will be everything But A TV series about people creating a television show? Alicia Vikander steps into the Cheung role, though in this telling her name is Mira, she’s an American actor fresh off the set of a soulless superhero, and her persona feels closer to that of Stewart than to Vikander’s own. The elongated runtime gives Assayas the opportunity to expand the cast of characters, yielding an ensemble piece that spends time with everyone from Mira’s vengeful former assistant and ex-lover (Adria Arjona) to an actor who vacillates between nihilistic provocateur and drug-addled mess (Lars Eidinger). This looseness is a privilege. This video can help you keep your eyes open if Netflix’s devolution has made you fearful about TV’s future as an art form. [Read Stephanie Zacharek’s review.]
Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
Despite all the fanfare that has surrounded them, most Disney+ original series are competently made, mildly clever Marvel or Star Wars brand extensions—necessary viewing for fans who don’t want to miss a beat between movies but easily skippable for the rest of us. Ms. Marvel is different. A coming-of-age tale that centers on Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American, Muslim teenager with overprotective immigrant parents who lives in Jersey City and worships Captain Marvel, the six-episode action dramedy takes off when our hero sneaks out to an Avengers convention wearing an heirloom bangle from her grandmother that activates Kamala’s own latent superpowers. The series has a playful visual style, boasts a lovable lead performance from Iman Vellani, and draws on its characters’ ethnic and religious backgrounds in fascinating ways. Superheroes could be considered contemporary American gods. Ms. Marvel This is a wonderful reminder of how American culture has been influenced by traditions from all over the world. [Read Sanya Mansoor’s feature on how Ms. Marvel celebrates Pakistani and Muslim culture.]
This is going to hurt Sundance Now, AMC+
For the sort of badass, maverick, TV-produced doctor you can take as your protagonist in this British medical drama, OB/GYN Adam Kay. But he’s not a Gregory House or a Cristina Yang. He is also not incompetent. Based on a widely read 2017 memoir by the real physician Adam Kay, which drove an international conversation about health care, he’s a more-or-less regular guy struggling to build a sustainable career in the UK’s inspiring but underfunded National Health Service. Hurt This is the most compelling medical drama since it doesn’t celebrate superhuman doctors but instead shows how broken systems can force doctors to do extraordinary feats. The drama also considers what the failure of public-health programmes will mean for patients as well as providers. [Read the full review.]
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