What to Watch: Facebook’s “Sorry For Your Loss” is a Surprise Knockout
And Netflix's "Maniac" starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill lives up to the hype.
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. We’ve got a lot of characters with a lot of messed up issues to sort out, relatable yeah?
Sorry For Your Loss (Facebook Watch)
Death is the one thing that can garner pity for anyone. No matter how many awful things a person does, you feel a tinge of sadness watching them mourn. There’s something heroic in Mrs. Vorhees maniacal quest for revenge, and the second Star Wars trilogy, no matter how bad, makes Vader a tragic hero. Being a “raging bitch,” as Elizabeth Olsen’s (Ingrid Goes West) Leigh describes herself after the death of someone close to her, is cathartic. And while I might hate Leigh for being a modern day Carrie Bradshaw—think narcissistic advice columnist and barre instructor who doesn’t do much of either, leaving ample time for her to not worry about anything except for how she’s not over her husband, Danny played by Jovan Adepo—her misanthropic rage only garners more pity.
Creator Kit Steinkellner illustrates the pitfalls of grief so well that even a guy like me whose biggest loss was his childhood dog feels as if they understand and empathize with a Leigh. The closeups of Olsen’s eyes as two giant blue pools of tears that make Marley and Me look like a charming Disney series don’t help. Other characters include Kelly Marie Tran as Leigh’s sister Julie, Janet McTeer as their mom Amy, and Mamoudou Athie as Leigh’s brother in law Matt, poignantly showing the effects of a death from all angles. At one point Matt tells Leigh, “you can get another husband, I can’t just get another brother.”
Facebook, along with other social giants, has become notorious for failing to protect its users despite promising it’s their biggest concern. One wouldn’t expect much better at their first attempt to join the ranks of cable disruptors, making a show about grief and loss and sympathy feel as hollow as the condolence cards Sorry For Your Loss is named after. Yet by the end of the fourth episode I was bawling so hard my roommate texted me asking if I was ok. My response was that she too should watch this new Facebook show (as that’s what it will doubtlessly be known as), which is also what you should do.
Four episodes are available to stream on Facebook Watch with two more released every Tuesday. Despite the shortcomings of Facebook, it’s somewhat fitting the show is so accurate in its portrayal of grief. Facebook’s saving graces are its many flourishing groups that create community and have helped isolated users find new friends and families online. It’ll be interesting to see the response within the show’s platform itself, perhaps proving Facebook has some superiority over streaming sites in its ability to stimulate conversation around content.
I Feel Bad (NBC)
A diamond in the rough, I Feel Bad is your typical sitcom about a supermom balancing work and home life while trying to please everyone before herself. Put that synopsis on a network like NBC and I wouldn’t think twice about watching it. Amy Poehler’s executive producer credit and Sarayu Blue as leading-mom Emet is what drew me towards the series, and it’s what will keep me here through the first season. In the early episodes you can see creator Assem Batra working out how to shoot Emet’s work life in conjunction with scenes at home (or home avoidance, such as when she house-sits for a neighbor to avoid her hectic fold). Blue is a standout, delivering the right inflections in her voiceovers, unafraid to push physical comedy, and confronting the challenge of a mixed-race family with pithy honesty—Emet is Indian-American while her husband (Paul Adelstein) is white. It’s an original and clever sitcom insomuch that you hope it works out the kinks soon enough to really shine.
Here’s the show we’ve all been waiting for. The hallucinatory trailer for Cary Fukunaga’s return to TV with Emma Stone and Jonah Hill made headlines of its own. Hill and Stone play patients in a new psychedelic drug trial designed to clear mental illness and erase unhappy memories. What are those memories? Hill’s Owen Milgrim is the black sheep in a wealthy Manhattan family with mental illness that leads him to believe he can see people who aren’t there and is tasked with saving the world. So yeah, there’s a lot for this kid to clear out. Meanwhile Stone’s Annie Landsberg is trying to forget more concrete problems resulting from a broken home. Together they learn the doctors who created this dangerous drug trial (Justin Theroux and Crazy Rich Asians’ Sonoya Mizuno) maybe aren’t capable of controlling the emotional supercomputer they also created to essentially run the trials. The first red flag being that these doctors are so lazy (or smart, maybe?) that they created a tempestuous supercomputer to distribute and monitor the sequence of three simple pills that make up the drug trial.
The series lives up to the trailer: flashy, surreal visuals with a trippy experience that makes you question, much like Stone and Hill of their own treatment, if the show is substantively good or just wild fun. Themes of existentialism, mental illness and the pursuit of happiness all make this show a film student’s wet dream. Were it a movie film bros in 2032 might be insisting their dates watch “the classic” before trying to make out with reeking cigarette breath. Irregardless of whether the ambitious commentary on mental illness and drug rehabilitation is met, knockout performances by Stone and Hill along with visuals that will cement the series’ legacy are enough to make this a Netflix standout.
The Good Cop (Netflix)
Josh Groban, the dude you probably know for religious contemporary music, is a leading man now! And he actually does a good job playing a very good cop in The Good Cop. Based on an Israeli comedy of the same name and created by Andy Breckman, The Good Cop follows Groban’s Tony Caruso Jr., who’s stuck housing Tony Sr., played by Tony Danza, after his release from prison for corruption as a former Bad Cop. Naturally daddy-o Tony Sr. gets wrapped up in Tony Jr.’s detective work, causing a moral dilemma for the young officer whose motto is “If you break one rule, they all break.” It doesn’t feel like the right moment for a show making light of a government agency’s structural corruption when that has been a real issue of life and death for both officers and civilians, but I have missed the kookier detective shows like Psych and Monk (the latter also created by Breckman) that The Good Cop promises to recall.