Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 80° Partly Cloudy
A&E

Ten great TV shows you probably missed this year – and should watch immediately

Wyatt Russell as Sean “Dud” Dudley in AMC’s “Lodge 49.” (Jackson Lee Davis / Jackson Lee Davis/AMC)
Wyatt Russell as Sean “Dud” Dudley in AMC’s “Lodge 49.” (Jackson Lee Davis / Jackson Lee Davis/AMC)
By Bethonie Butler and Travis M. Andrews Washington Post

Between newer platforms such as Facebook Watch and the sheer number of original shows (495 scripted, by FX Networks Research’s 2018 count) you could be forgiven for overlooking a few of television’s most worthy offerings. We’ve put together a list of shows you may have missed, which include both new series and underappreciated shows with a few seasons under their belt.

“Sorry For Your Loss”

Elizabeth Olsen stars as Leigh, a young widow mourning the sudden loss of her husband in this thoughtful Facebook Watch drama. The show offers a stark depiction of messy, complicated and all-consuming grief, punctuated with poignant flashbacks of Leigh’s life with Matt (Mamoudou Athie).

As Leigh confronts newfound questions about the man she married – and herself – the well-paced series mirrors grief in a way, balancing the heart-wrenching consequences of loss with the hope and uncertainty of moving forward. “Sorry For Your Loss” can be surprisingly cathartic if you’ve lost a loved one, but it captures a wider range of the emotions that accompany tragedy through Leigh’s complicated relationships with her mother (Janet McTeer) and sister (Kelly Marie Tran). – Beth

Where to watch: Facebook

“Lodge 49?”

This enigma of a show is (sorta) about a California surfer dude named Dud with an MIA father and an unhealing snakebite, who ends up learning a lot about alchemy (and, maybe, life) from members of a fraternal lodge. It also involves mummies, real estate conspiracies and debt restructuring.

The plot, which meanders in and out as it pleases, is not the point – everything else is. That includes terrific performances by Wyatt Russell as the stonerific Dud, who never blinks twice when things get weird (and, boy, do they get weird), and Sonya Cassidy as his cynical twin sister, Liz.

The show, which feels inspired by equal parts David Lynch, Thomas Pynchon and Richard Linklater, invites the viewer to just hang out as it marches to its own bizarre drum (stopping every once in a while to down some cold brews and catch some sick waves, of course). If that sounds like a recipe for the weirdest show on television, that’s because it is. It’s also one of the best. – Travis

Where to watch: AMC’s website. (You’ll be prompted to sign in through your cable provider.)

“Ilite”

This prep school drama, set at Las Encinas – an elite (and fictional) private school in Spain – drew comparisons to HBO’s well-received “Big Little Lies” and teen TV treasures like “Gossip Girl.” The series revolves around the mysterious murder of a popular student and the chaotic events that led up to it. The show has everything: lust, scandal, love triangles and class wars, not to mention a stunningly beautiful cast. – Beth

Where to watch: Netflix. (We highly recommend watching in the original Spanish audio, with English subtitles.)

“Younger”

“Younger” returns for its sixth season next year, so it’s high time you familiarize yourself with this smart comedy about Liza (Sutton Foster), a 40-something woman who pretends to be in her 20s to revive her long-stalled career in publishing.

Her inner circle grows to include interesting characters at both ends of the age spectrum: her friends, Maggie (Debbie Mazar) and Kelsey (Hilary Duff); and her competing love interests, Josh (Nico Tortorella), a millennial tattoo artist, and Charles (Peter Hermann), the head of the publishing company where Liza lands an entry-level job.

“Younger” gets better with every season. Powering through all of them would make for a fun binge, but make no mistake: The show also has a lot of thoughtful things to say about ageism, dating and, in a Season 5 highlight, the #MeToo era. The show also expertly utilizes the talent of its supporting cast (Miriam Shor, hello). – Beth

Where to watch: Paramount’s website (through your cable provider) or Hulu

“Succession”

It probably doesn’t seem like the world needs another show about wealthy white people bumbling their way through the 21st century while trying to navigate a changing media landscape. But Jesse Armstrong’s show about a Murdoch-like family full of terrible (and terribly rich) people trying to screw each other over for financial gain is a feat of both writing and tone. Somehow, the show goes from being a dark satire about an awful family to a tragedy of greed and addiction – one that, by some trick of TV-making, has the audience compelled by the very people they first loathed. – Travis

Where to watch: HBO On Demand

“One Day at a Time”

We’ve been fans from the start of this Netflix sitcom, a revival of Norman Lear’s 1975 series. Developed by Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, the show reimagines Lear’s classic with a Cuban-American family at its center. It’s an earnest and endearing comedy that has Lear’s full approval (he’s an executive producer) and boasts incredible talent: Justina Machado plays single mother Penelope Alvarez, an Army veteran raising her two children with the help of her mother, Lydia (played by the great Rita Moreno).

“One Day at a Time” honors Lear’s legacy by touching on a host of social issues (Penelope struggles with PTSD, for one), but they feel integral to the show’s DNA, never veering toward the Very Special Episode. – Beth

Where to watch: Netflix

“Jane the Virgin”

If you haven’t seen “Jane the Virgin,” or dropped off in an earlier season, do yourself a favor and stream this CW gem, which ended its fantastic fourth season in April. Don’t let the ridiculous premise – Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) gets pregnant, despite never having had sex, following an accidental artificial insemination – deter you. The show’s many twists and turns are an ode to the genre that inspired it (telenovelas) and the show is adept at balancing wacky curveballs (surprise twins, faked deaths, devastating cliffhangers) with genuine stories about love and family.

Since it’s centered on three generations of Villanueva women – Jane, her free-spirit mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), and her devout grandmother, Alba (Ivonne Coll) – the show organically weighs in on a range of social issues (abortion and immigration among them) without ever being heavy-handed. And even when things get emotional, the show bounces back to its comedic roots – often with quips from narrator Anthony Mendez or the delightful extra-ness of Jane’s telenovela star father, Rogelio (Jaime Camil). – Beth

Where to watch: CW’s website (through your cable provider) or Netflix

“Escape at Dannemora”

Stepping behind the camera, Ben Stiller takes on the true story of the 2015 escape of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, a feat pulled off with the aid of Tilly Mitchell, a prison employee with whom both men were romantically involved. Stiller’s show is patient and meticulous, showing every step taken by a frighteningly still Benicio Del Toro and a beefed-up Paul Dano to break out of the prison, while Patricia Arquette gives a revelatory performance as the self-conscious, self-centered and stubborn Tilly.

It’s measured, meticulous and painfully honest – and it has a true sense of place. Most of the show takes place in winter, and Stiller’s camera lingers on the brutal buildup of snow in Upstate New York to the point that you’ll probably pull on an extra blanket. Television generally moves quickly, but this feels like a 1970s slow-burning thriller – and that’s a relief in our breakneck world. – Travis

Where to watch: Showtime

“On My Block”

This coming-of-age dramedy, about a close-knit group of teenagers growing up in South Central Los Angeles, is charmingly funny and full of heart. The show’s shift between adolescent high jinks and the grim realities of the show’s gritty, gang-adjacent setting might throw off some viewers used to more monotonal projects. But that juxtaposition provided the authenticity that endeared many fans to the show.

The show, co-created by Lauren Iungerich (“Awkward”), doesn’t dwell on the stereotypes of inner-city life, but rather balances its heaviest moments with the challenges (and adventures) of growing up. “On My Block” is also full of newcomers – Jason Genao, who plays the smart, sweet Ruby is a standout – and it’s imbued with familiar cultural references that reflect the diversity of its cast. – Beth

Where to watch: Netflix

“Little Drummer Girl”

What makes the work of master spy novelist John Le Carri so fascinating isn’t simply the cat-and-mouse games that play out on the surface, but how he uses plot to plumb the depths of the human psyche. His novels have been adapted ad nauseam, creating great films (2011’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and 2014’s “A Most Wanted Man”), good television (2016’s “The Night Manager”) and a plethora of others best left unmentioned.

This six-episode miniseries from director Chan-wook Park (“Oldboy”), starring Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgerd, might be the finest adaptation yet. Beneath its complicated plot, about a group of Israeli and German spies attempting to capture a Palestinian terrorist who is bombing Jewish targets throughout 1979 Europe, is a study on performance – both onstage and in daily life. Filmed on gorgeous location throughout Europe with each shot painstakingly framed, it’s one of the most handsome shows on television. But Park’s camera knows when to pull away from the scenery to focus tightly on the faces of characters living with several layers of false identities, somehow finding human truth through all the lies. – Travis

Where to watch: AMC’s website (through your cable provider)

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com