A surreal, uncanny new series from “Master of None” impresario Alan Yang and “30 Rock” veteran Matt Hubbard ‘00, “Forever” drags with it an undertow of melancholy, palpable in every slow-boiling scene strung with tension. Those with short attention spans or those who look askance at shows that don’t trade in glamorous subjects or stimulating music will find themselves unexpectedly enthralled by the show’s ponderous silences. It peddles an optimism about humanity along with sobering meditations on passing time, regret, and roads not taken. The show’s somberness is counterbalanced by the larksome dynamic between the chameleonic impression experts, “Saturday Night Live” alums, Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, who struggle to redeem their insipid marriage in the afterlife. The show is a contingency to the happily-ever-afters dealt us by too many romantic comedies, and dares to be different without being gimmicky. Prepare to be unsettled by the intriguing rituals of the restless ghosts living out forever together. All eight episodes of the first season, which premiered on Sept. 14, are available on Amazon Prime.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Amy Sherman Palladino, creator of the beloved “Gilmore Girls,” reprises the bracing dialogue that has become her signature in this sharp, wisecracking comedy. Rachel Brosnahan delivers a bravura performance as Midge Maisel, a woman who is very much a product of her time — the 1950s — which is to say, an overachieving student of housewifery. She encounters an opportunity to strike out on her own as a stand-up comic after organizing her casual notebook witticisms into a riotous and revolutionary routine. It’s refreshing to see a mother who sometimes shirks familial responsibility in favor of glorious independence, and to break a mold she has self-consciously but dutifully adopted to traffic in impropriety, especially to the chagrin of her traditional and equally entertaining parents (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle). You can come for a gorgeous, romantically nostalgic 1950s New York (the costumes and dive bars!), but you’ll stay for the raunchy jokes and brilliant heroines. The first season is available on Amazon Prime, and the second is set to premiere sometime this fall.
In this zany dramedy by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom, who stars as the titular character, the distinguished lawyer Rebecca Bunch leaves her cushy New York life for the suburban nothingness of West Covina, California in the hopes of rekindling a relationship with her summer camp boyfriend of many moons ago, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). It’s a show that is obsessed with love but isn’t schmaltzy about it; every seemingly happy ending has a caveat, and it isn’t triumphant or simplistic about all different kinds of relationships—platonic, romantic, and familial—that sometimes implode beyond recovery. The focus is Rebecca's addled interiority that resists classification, her troubled past, and her quest to battle her demons and find self-awareness. It boasts a repertoire of madcap musical numbers, from the silly “Sexy Getting Ready Song,” to the mocking “Let’s Generalize About Men.” They’re self-eviscerating, hilarious, raunchy, and catchy all at once. Bloom, who has discussed her own mental health struggles as well as ensured that Rebecca’s psychological tendencies have been well-researched, enacts a nuanced performance of jealousy, rage, guilt, and self-loathing, making her Rebecca relatable, flawed, and endlessly fascinating. The first three seasons are available on Netflix, and the fourth and final season will premiere on Oct. 12 on the CW.
“The Good Place”
“The Good Place” is brought to you by Michael Schur, known for his work on “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Despite the availability of frozen yogurt flavors like “Unmitigated Joy” and “Unexpected Hotel Upgrade,” there’s something off-kilter about the Good Place which is presided over by a roguish godlike figure (Ted Danson). Good people are paired with soulmates, provided with tastefully but clinically furnished homes, and get ranked routinely on a neighborhood goodness scoreboard. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), by all accounts a bad person, has inexplicably found herself in the Good Place. After a lifetime of selfishness and an anticlimactic death, she remains impressionable under her barbed armor, and eager for moral tutelage. Schur, by employing a host of lovable characters both good and bad, suggests how unreliable those distinctions are. “The Good Place” abounds with absurd plot twists, daffy puns, and second chances. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and the third premiered on Sept. 27.
In this charming sitcom from Scott Silveri of “Friends,” the DiMeo family grapples with everything from financial difficulty to the daily indignities that JJ (Micah Fowler), the oldest son and a teenager with cerebral palsy, faces. Minnie Driver plays his charismatic mother, Maya, who valiantly and humorously crusades against the shortsighted. His younger brother, the neurotic Ray (Mason Cook), tries to ground his family with his punctuality and self-consciousness. The brassy younger sister, Dylan (Kyla Kenedy), wise beyond her years, and Jimmy (John Ross Bowie), their impish father, round out the wacky ensemble. Together, the DiMeos learn to care less about what other people think, and their chemistry makes each scene spark with manic energy. The children are, after all, normal teenagers making new friends, pursuing their crushes, and casually schooling those who make a spectacle out of JJ. Watch this on a Saturday morning or Sunday night; it’s a family sitcom that has the throbbing heart of “New Girl,” that’s reminiscent of, but bubblier than “The Middle,” and is as reliably heartwarming as comfort food. The first two seasons are available on Hulu, and the third will premiere on ABC on Oct. 5.
—Staff writer Claire N. Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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