SLOW YOUR ROLL
I started Normal People on Hulu aware of the hype around the series based on a hit novel by Sally Rooney about two Irish teens from different social classes falling in love through fits and starts. Each half-hour covers a lot of ground — makes sense considering the book covers four years of their lives. And it wouldn't work if it weren't for the leads, Daisy Edgar-Jones as brilliant and outspoken Marianne and Paul Mescal as Connell, a working-class athlete whose shyness hides his brains. Both bring real soul to their roles. Normal People follows the couple from high school to college, and you won't regret following them. And while you could easily binge its 12 episodes, I've enjoyed parsing them out. I'm halfway through, and I'll definitely finish. (DAN NAILEN)
NOT TRUE, BUT SO GREAT
If you're a stickler for historical facts, Hulu's new The Great, detailing the start of Catherine the Great's journey to become empress of Russia, might bother you. But the "occasionally" true satirical take is truly great at poking fun at historical tropes, with modern jabs at everything from vaccine skepticism to the treatment of women as side characters in their own lives, despite their intelligence and wit. It's a great mashup of sometimes intentionally over-the-top period costumes, female and lower class empowerment, and crass sexual humor that's entertaining across 10 binge-worthy episodes. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)
QUITE A PICTURE SHOW
Before he was 35, Peter Bogdanovich had established himself as one of the great renaissance men of the 1970s, directing Oscar-winning features (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon) and writing definitive texts about some of the world's greatest filmmakers. But a string of flops and personal tragedies, including the murder of his girlfriend Dorothy Stratten, soon derailed his ascent. The Plot Thickens, a new podcast from Turner Classic Movies, details Bogdanovich's rollercoaster of a life, and the director himself regales TCM host Ben Mankiewicz with one unbelievable anecdote after another. It's both a memoir of sorts and a travelogue through one of Hollywood's most vibrant, revolutionary eras. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST
Some noteworthy new music hits online and in stores May 22. To wit:
Steve Earle & the Dukes, Ghosts of West Virginia. An album built around a coalmine disaster could only work in Earle's hands.
Indigo Girls, Long Look. They've been active online throughout the pandemic, and now deliver a new batch of folk-rock.
The 1975, Notes on a Conditional Form. Matt Healy and Co. deliver more synth-y pop-rock for the masses, and the masses seem to really like it. Good for them. (DAN NAILEN)
Release dates based on latest information available at press time.
LIKE ADVENTURE TIME, BUT WITH MORE DRUGS
It's an animated podcast. I realized this about 5 minutes into the first episode of Netflix's new series The Midnight Gospel. Set in a psychedelic multiverse, the show follows comedian, podcaster and flowerchild Duncan Trussell as Clancy, a "simulation farmer" who travels to different planets in various dimensions to interview people for his vodcast — er, "spacecast." Author Anne Lamotte appears in episode two as an alien deer/dog hybrid on the Clown Planet to discuss things like prayer and love as the two characters get mashed up into ground meat and passed through a system of tubes. It's bizarre, yet thoughtful and all under 20 minutes. (QUINN WELSCH)