What to Watch: “The Sinner” and “Better Call Saul”
And some great comfort shows in between.
Welcome to What to Watch, in which we cover the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services.
Making It (NBC)
With the barrage of the dark, intense, makes-you-question-if-you-need-a-therapist shows like Sharp Objects and the recent gut-wrenching The Handmaid’s Tale, we can use any scraps of feel good fodder networks throw our way. Making It is just that; with hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offermen (and two less famous yet equally endearing judges Simon Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson) encouraging eight contestants The Great British Baking Show-style. Combine the goofiness of Nailed It! with the congeniality of TGBBS — all produced by HGTV — and you’ve got Making It. In fact, that was probably the exact pitch used. The contestants, crafters and makers and artists from all over, compete in two DIY challenges per episode. The loser goes home and the winner receives… a patch. Yep, the final prize of $100,000 is comically downplayed. This is the kind of competition show where contestants encourage and even help each other, making it more about the ability to create your own visions and learn tricks of the trade.
The Sinner Season 2 (USA)
So if you do prefer the dark, intense, makes-you-question-if-you-need-a-therapist sort of show, flip on over to USA for The Sinner. While there are dozens of crime shows playing out on cable networks at any given moment, what set the first season of The Sinner apart was its base. The Sinner follows characters not trying to figure out who committed the grisly murder or what a killer might do next, but the more simple, complicated matter of why. Jessica Biel made her well-applauded TV come back in season one as a mother who stabbed a random man mid-beach trip (now on Netflix), and now serves as an executive producer position for season 2 which employees nearly nearly a whole new cast. Bill Pullman is the only actor to return as the grizzled Detective Harry Ambrose. And while Biel proved she was to be taken seriously in season one, Carrie Coon perfectly slips into the role of leading female in season 2 as a iron-gripped cult leader. She’s already captivated audiences in both The Leftovers and Fargo and alone is reason enough to catch season 2.
Animals Season 3 (HBO)
While other anthologies and and NYC inside shows, especially those on HBO, tend to blow up, Animals somehow isn’t talked about enough. Writers Phil Matarese, and Mike Luciano perfectly toe the line between brash animated satire and outdated crass. There’s something so disarming about hearing Kesha voice a worm talking about cocaine on a double date with its rear end that the show never becomes obnoxious. It’s one of those shows where if you get it, you get it. For those of you who don’t, Animals is similar to HBO’s other vignette show about New Yorkers, High Maintenance, except instead of profiling the city’s stoners, we see into the brief lives of the city’s animals. Watch the show for its many celebrity cameos. Season three features dozens from Welsh singer Donna Lewis (of “I Love You Always Forever” fame) to Harlem-born rapper Princess Nokia and even households names like Lucy Liu.
Better Call Saul Season 4 (AMC)
With each season we get closer to the Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) we first met in Breaking Bad, and an additional glimpse at what Jimmy has been up too since the finale of that original show. Picking up at the end of season three when Jimmy’s brother Chuck’s psychological condition finally implodes, the subsequent events mark the season. Better Call Saul moves into darker tone and territory as we get closer to Jimmy’s involvement with Walter White. While we know where Jimmy ends up, we don’t know how he gets there. And this season will maybe get us closer to the answer of whether Jimmy was always going to end up as Walter White’s crooked lawyer or rather his self-sabotaging ways nurtured by those around him like poor paranoid Chuck.