I’m just stealing everything from Christa this week. I signed up for Crave for the month so I could watch the Deadwood movie and I haven’t even done that yet. I’ve been too busy watching everything else! This is the era of Peak TV and I am LIVING FOR IT.
I started with Difficult People, the three-season series from Julie Klausner where she and Billy Eichner play fictionalized version of themselves. A little less successful and lot more bitter, the two terrorize New York with one goal in mind: making it big. I love Billy on Parks and Recreation and twitter so I had a hunch I would enjoy this and it’s even greater than I imagined. James Urbaniak and Andrea Martin are fantastic as Julie’s boyfriend and mother but the real MVPs in the supporting cast are Shakina Nayfack and Gabourey Sidibe as Billy’s co-worker and boss. It’s fun, it’s camp, it’s everything I love about New York, Broadway, and comedy, all in one show.
Next up was the HBO series Camping, from Girls creators Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham. I’m not the biggest Dunham fan these days but the cast was intriguing to me so I decided to give it go.
Jennifer Garner and David Tennant are oddly well-matched as Walt and Kathryn, a married couple attempting to bury their demons and enjoy his birthday camping trip. To celebrate, they’ve invited all their friends! Four couples, each with their own unique baggage and resentments, simmering just below the surface, ready to blow at any second. Juliette Lewis is of course the stand out here as Jandice, an interloper who was not technically invited but came along with her new lover Miguel who has recently separated from his wife. She disrupts Kathryn’s perfect weekend, throwing the itinerary out the window, and encourages the group to connect with themselves on a deeper level, to disastrous results.
I didn’t know when I got Crave that I Am the Night was on there. I had tried to watch it on TNT before but it wasn’t available in my area. I didn’t actually know what it was about, just that Chris Pine was there and I feel like my record is clear on how much I love him.
It’s based on the true story of Fauna Hodel, a young woman who was tenuously linked to the Black Dahlia murder, which is something I had heard about but didn’t know well. The story of her life turns out to be even more dark and twisted than that description suggests but I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that Chris Pine is terrific as disgraced reporter Jay Singeltary, a man who has been obsessed with uncovering the truth about George Hodel, even as it leads to his own downfall.
The big series this year is Chernobyl. Everybody’s talking about it. Considering there’s only five episodes and it covers a period of time that most of us remember, this is an impressive achievement.
The show did a fine job of capturing the tragedy of the Chernobyl disaster as well as the noble human sacrifice that saved countless lives and introduced reform to the nuclear industry across the globe. Jared Harris is the heart of the series as Valery Legasov, a scientist whose conservation efforts helped contain the radiation damage. His narrative provides the thru-line to the show and he gets to explain the inner workings of a nuclear reactor to various audience surrogates and then, in the final episode, before a jury of his peers. The sequence is terrifying, sickening, and staggering in its simplicity. How exactly does an RBMK reactor explode? How indeed.
In a lot of ways, my Crave experience has come full circle. The first time I signed up, it was to watch season two of True Detective and now here I am watching season three. I have controversial thoughts on the series to date (I think season two was great and season one was fine) and so far season three is hit and miss. The hits are any time Mahershala Ali and Carmen Ejogo are on screen together, Scoot McNairy as the grieving father, and the scenes between Hays and his son Henry (Ray Fisher) have been quite sweet and touching. The misses are the entire case (so far) and Hays and West’s partnership. I think they’re fine individually but they just don’t have the chemistry of some of the previous seasons’ pairings.
That said, I love the concept of the series and I can only hope they keep making them with more and more prestige actors. Viola Davis for example I think would be good. Robert Downey Jr., seems like he might have some free time coming up. Oscar Isaac already won a Golden Globe for an HBO series but why not go for an Emmy.