What to Watch: “Springsteen on Broadway” Rocks Netflix
"Roma," the frontrunner for best foreign language film, does too.
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.
The Fix (Netflix)
The trailer for The Fix claims comedians will work out how to solve described problems including “the gender pay gap, social media, AI, old people, global warming, and the wealth gap.” I’m not sure what half of those nouns are supposed to mean spouted out at random, but the show’s premise is clearly a red herring. Hosts Jimmy Carr, D.L. Hughley, and Katherine Ryan pound out quippy one-liners that are meant to be funny, like “they want us to be worried about ISIS I’m more scared about us-IS.” Uh, yeah…
To be fair, The Fix is a direct remake of British-style comedy panels like Carr’s own 8 Out of 10 Cats, which, despite getting its name from a random word generator, is extremely successful in Britain. However, I’m not sure American guest comics like Aparna Nancherla, Fortune Feimster, and Howie Mandel will be able to bring the same style of irreverence that makes panel shows a hit abroad. Still, The Fix looks like a welcome change for anyone tired of watching panels of random political pundits argue over how to solve seemingly impossible issues like global warming and the opioid epidemic. Now we can watch comedians shout about these issues to similar effect (read: none).
The Innocent Man (Netflix)
John Grisham has only written one best-selling novel about a true crime story. It’s apparently so wild that Grisham says “folks probably wouldn’t believe” it had it been a fiction novel. The Innocent Man reopens the once-closed case covered by Grisham in Ada, Oklahoma, where four men were convicted for two different murders in the 80s. Despite the mens’ confessions, new evidence suggest they were coerced into admitting guilt and that the true killer(s) are still at large. The Innocent Man interviews detectives, Ada residents, and Grisham himself to figure out why these men confessed. How much at fault are the Ada police for both coercing these confessions and not following them up with reasonable detective work? The series is like every other legal docuseries on Netflix, except it has the king of crime (storytelling, not doing) Grisham as a talking head. That means it’s automatically better than Making a Murderer and Staircase.
Its not often a movie nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the Golden Globes is also up for Best Director and Best Screenplay. (It was written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also made Gravity) . It’s even more uncommon for that movie to debut on Netflix. This means there’s nothing stopping you from watching it and proudly telling everyone else during the awards show viewing party that, yes, you’ve seen more films nominated than just Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s also important to note that Roma didn’t qualify for a Best Picture nomination at the Globes, but is expected to be nominated in the Oscars race in that category.
Why is the movie so special? Roma follows a year in the life of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a nanny and housekeeper for a middle-class family in 1970’s Mexico city. Cleo goes through hardships including witnessing the 1971 Corpus Cristi massacre of over 100 students and an unexpected pregnancy all while tireless serving a family she must balance as friend and employer. It’s based on Cuarón’s fond memories of his own nanny, and cast with all first-time actors who resemble real-life people in Mexico instead fair-skinned actors seen in telenovelas. Shot with an emphasis on Cleo’s life but framed in contrast with the complex world around her, Cuarón manages to depict the small and large pictures of one life among countless others in homage the real people of 1970s Mexico.
Springsteen on Broadway (Netflix)
Hours after closing the Broadway show on Dec. 15, the nearly three hours of Springsteen is going direct to Netflix. The film is pretty much a direct filming of Springsteen’s heralded performance, refusing to move into a dressing room or pan the audience for B-roll. It’s the next best thing to being in the theater, so you won’t regret not shelling out for a Broadway ticket when you had the chance. Springsteen fables the power of rock’n’roll and cracks some jokes as he switches between personal life stories and the songs they inspired. You’ll cry over a grown man recounting his father issues and hold your breath as he closes the show with ruminations of history and mortality.
Miss Universe (Fox)
Miss Universe airs this Sunday at 7pm ET on Fox. While televised pageants have been steadily losing viewers the past few years, they’ve also become slightly more relevant with contestants using the platform and live television moment to speak out on critical issues affecting their states and countries. I personally can’t keep straight the differences between Miss USA and Miss America or Miss World and Miss Universe, but the pageant scene usually evokes some relevance every year, whether it’s Miss Michigan advocating for Flint or Steve Harvey becoming the most hated man in the world. This year, Miss Universe will be judged by a panel made up only of women — a first for the 60-year-old event.
Following the decline of television viewership, pageants have pushed to engage audiences more through social media, which may have backfired as Miss USA is now taking heat for mocking other contestants’ English language skills. Incidents like this prove that pageants can become a reflection of both micro relationships between women and different ethnicities but also larger platforms for countries, or states, to advocate for themselves on a wider scale. Whatever your feeling about pageants, pay some respect for the industry that gave us Little Miss Sunshine, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and Sandra Bullock’s best works.