What to Watch: “A Very English Scandal” and “Glow”
These Amazon and Netflix shows will set you up for July.
Welcome to What to Watch, a series where we tell you the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services.
GLOW Season 2 (Netflix)
If you had asked me three years ago to guess the hot new Netflix shows of the future…I could have probably steered you towards Glow based on description alone. But would I have been able to predict the long-term success of a comedy about female wrestlers in the 80’s? Not so much.
But isn’t that what makes the recent boom of streaming content so magical? It’s unpredictable: shows that sound great on paper can fall flat on arrival (sorry, Marvel Television Universe!), while strange, unsung gems (think: foreign affairs like Dark or the recent surge of Duplass-produced docuseries like Wild, Wild Country and Evil Genius) can pop out of nowhere and be the most bingeable programs of the year. Glow is a perfect peach of that example, a show that takes elements that sound all wonky when you describe them–Marc Maron and Alison Brie? Not necessarily a match you can just assume was made in heaven…until you see them play off each other–and turn it into spun gold.
The second season of Glow outpaces even its premiere, and that is saying a lot. This time the stakes are even higher, as the girls butt up against the patriarchy in the form of (what else?) a TV-landscape that would rather see WWF than women tearing into each other. This season also delves deeply into topics that it brought to the forefront last season, including race, class and the pre-#MeToo-era complicity of its main characters to go along with boorish TV executives exhibiting some Weinstein-esque behavior. Seriously, do not sleep on this show. You can thank me (and the cast and crew of Glow) later.
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)
A dramatization of one of these “too insane not to be true” stories, Hugh Grant and Ben Winshaw star in A Very English Scandal–based on the book of the same name by John Preston–regarding British MP Jeremy Thorpe, who back in the ’70s was tried and acquitted for the murder of his lover, Norman Scott. Anyone who lived through and remembers these events will certainly relish in the retelling of this tabloid sensation, with the performances by Grant and Winshaw (as Thorpe and Scott respectively) correctly towing the line between camp and real, human drama. Originally aired on BBC last month, you can now catch the whole series on Amazon.
It’s easy to sum up TAU as a stand-alone Black Mirror episode outside of Charlie Brooker’s purview: in the not-so-distant future, a woman must escape her smart-home by appealing to her captor…who just happens to be the sentient bot controlling her locked doors. Sure, it was the inventor of the A.I. who kidnapped Julia (Maika Monroe) off the streets in the first place, which lends the partnership between our heroine and her disembodied company a more Ex Machina vibe than Black Mirror; after all, aren’t these stories normally about how humans are always the real monsters? But director Federico D’Alessandro, who has worked as the animatronic supervisor for the MCU slate (Doctor Strange, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, The Avengers, Captain America, Thor), obviously had a lot of material to work through with TAU, his feature-length directorial debut, and it shows. Plus, as you can imagine, this film is just eye candy all the way down.
Recovery Boys (Netflix)
From the director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary short Heroin(e) comes a slightly less-depressing conceit: “In a region ravaged by opioid abuse, four young men in a farming-based rehab forge a bond as they try to reinvent their lives after years of addiction.” Sure, it’s still not the most uplifting topic, but director Elaine McMillion Sheldon does see hope at the end of the tunnel, ” In today’s world, where shocking statistics about the opioid crisis make headlines daily, Recovery Boys gives a deeply personal look into the unseen lives of those working toward transformation.”