How Fall Shows Are Holding Up – And What’s Ahead
By Pamela Ross, Editor In Chief
Here are the series I’ve been following and how I believe they’re developing as the fall television season continues. Gird your loins for strong opinions about people and places that don’t exist!
The Good Place (NBC)
Despite its all-star team of writers/producers lifted largely from Parks and Recreation, this show’s simply not for me. Initially, its creative conceit intrigued me: Eleanor (Kristen Bell) finds herself in The Good Place post-mortem, but quickly realizes that she doesn’t belong given her immoral behavior on earth. She must navigate this perplexing situation while trying to masquerade as a good person so Michael (Ted Danson), who oversees Eleanor’s neighborhood, doesn’t discover she’s an impostor. The show is unquestionably original; its complex world-building yields a kooky limbo-type realm that avoids obvious “afterlife” tropes. I LOVE Kristen Bell and Ted Danson and was charmed by the ensemble’s lesser-known stars, like Jameela Jamil (Tahani) and William Jackson Harper (Chidi), but I don’t find the jokes funny or the show’s consideration of moral quandaries interesting. I stopped watching a few episodes into this season.
Broad City (Comedy Central)
After the season premiere revealed exactly how Ilana and Abbi struck up a friendship, this buddy comedy started feeling…inessential. In our current political climate, Ilana’s hijinks as a server or Abbi’s attempts to “make it” as an artist remained amusing but didn’t seem as relevant. Then the season started gaining momentum, which so far has culminated in one of the series’ most indelible episodes: while Ilana deals with sexual dysfunction following Tr*mp’s election, Abbi contemplates her future as a single woman growing slightly older. Ilana Glazer’s line reading of “Fuck you Tr*mp! I’m goin’ back in…” while trying to achieve orgasm with a Hitachi should earn her an Emmy nomination.
Riverdale (The CW)
My favorite teen soap is back! Season 2 is an even more mystery-filled and #horny reinterpretation of the Archie comics. What could’ve been a shallow Lynchian ripoff is a tart, dark melodrama that titillates and teases the viewer, who is encouraged to take pleasure equally in witnessing gory crimes and prominent cleavage/toned abs. It offers us hot teens doin’ it, yes, but it also delivers nuanced takes on social issues like minority representation and gay male sexuality. This season found its groove after a few lackluster episodes and now its exploration of small-town peril constitutes mandatory viewing.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
Wait, have you seriously not been watching television’s most ambitious show, a delightfully demented musical-comedy created by Rachel Bloom? Well. Let’s fix that right now:
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s writers are either masochists or extremely confident, because they create narrative dilemmas for themselves that seem impossible to sort out…until they do. This show is a blessing. All hail Rebecca Bunch and her deeply damaged psyche.
Nathan For You (Comedy Central)
Nathan For You defies easy classification – a prank-reality-docuseries-comedy? – and is, by turns, unabashedly stupid and surprisingly enlightening. In other words, it’s one of my favorite shows currently airing. The premise is simple: Nathan approaches a small business owner with a “creative” solution to a problem and implements it to hilarious results. For example, this season he organizes a sleeper cell of disgruntled cabbies to infiltrate and sabotage Uber. Nathan‘s subtext has always been about capitalism’s ridiculousness and Nathan’s own inability to connect with people. At its best, it demonstrates how the relentless push for productivity erodes our shared humanity. Oh, and he once convinced people to eat poop-flavored frozen yogurt. Don’t put Nathan in a box!
Look Out For:
Search Party, Season 2 (TBS) – November 19
Season 1 gave us so much: Intrigue! Domestic drama! John Early’s character lying about childhood cancer to fund his water charity! *SPOILERS* Season 2 picks up exactly where the first left off: Having committed murder in self-defense after finding Chantal, the gang has to continue navigating NYC’s urban jungle while concealing their crime. I’m most excited to see the state of Drew and Dory’s relationship and whether that terrifying pregnancy cult makes another appearance.