'Now See This' Newsletter: An 'Upload' to Download and a Trip to 'Hollywood'

1:24 PM 5/1/2020

by THR staff

Upload -Amazon  - Robbie Amell and Andy Allo -Publicity_H 2020
Courtesy of Amazon

Welcome to Now See This, THR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg’s weekly viewer guide newsletter dedicated to cutting through the daunting clutter of the broadcast, cable and streaming TV landscape! Comments and suggestions welcome at daniel.fienberg@thr.com.

This is a web version of THR's Now You See This newsletter. To receive the newsletter by email each week, click here.

  • To Die For

    This weekend is full of uneven new releases, including Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s Hollywood, which boasts fine performances but has a muddled message. More satisfying is Greg Daniels’ Upload, which I called a “scathing and hilarious” satire of late-stage capitalism and the afterlife, even if it’s also a kinda so-so murder mystery. Check out the TV’s Top 5 podcast interview with Greg Daniels as well.

    Get an Afterlife

    For some reason, the writers room for NBC’s Parks and Recreation has proven to be a breeding ground for afterlife comedies — so after you’ve checked out Upload, Mike Schur’s The Good Place and Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard’s Amazon comedy Forever should be on your radar. And while it’s unrelated to Parks and Rec, at least so far as I know, Albert Brooks’ great afterlife comedy Defending Your Life just happens to be airing on HBO on Sunday morning, so set your DVR!

  • Now for Something Completely Different

    Allow me, for just a second, to turn Now See This into Now Hear This. I don’t know if Ryan Murphy has ever listened to Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This, but his new Netflix series Hollywood and his acclaimed FX drama Feud were both stories of internecine industry squabbling — “interne-cinema”? — and both tell true stories that, if we’re being honest, were handled with more depth and historical rigor in Longworth’s long-running podcast. The "Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon” season of You Must Remember This is required background to Hollywood.

  • Hooray for Hollywoo

    The launch of vintage Los Angeles limited series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels and Hollywood, both flawed but still distinguished by high production values and great performances, is a reminder that TV maybe isn’t quite as good as film at portraying Tinseltown. Netflix’s Bojack Horseman is probably my favorite TV show about Hollywood, but I also recommend the first season of Lifetime’s Unreal, the second season of HBO’s Entourage, the two cringe-worthy (in the best way) seasons of HBO’s The Comeback and, if you own the DVDs or feel like buying them on Amazon, Fox’s short-lived Action and Greg the Bunny.

  • Wait. MORE Hollywood?

    I guess this is a week to examine the dark underbelly of the Dream Factory. If you haven’t gotten your fill of Hollywood-themed programming after a busy weekend with Ryan Murphy and, hopefully, listening to podcasts, Natasha Gregson Wagner serves as producer on Laurent Bouzereau’s Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind, a documentary about Wagner’s mother, Natalie Wood, premiering Tuesday on HBO.

  • Some Homework

    Before watching Mark Ruffalo play both sides of a dysfunctional sibling duo in HBO’s I Know This Much Is True, watch him team with Laura Linney as part of a different dysfunctional sibling duo in You Can Count on Me. Kenneth Lonergan’s film is available for Amazon Prime subscribers and Ruffalo’s performance in it remains his best.

  • This Week's 'THR Staff Pick

    Lacey Rose, our executive editor for television, writes: “Each night this week, after we put our girls down, my husband and I found ourselves devouring Kenya Barris’ #BlackAF. Sure, it has a lot of familiar echoes, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining for us. It’s funny and audacious, and finds its voice almost immediately. Rashida Jones as Barris’ wannabe Instagram influencer wife is a delight, and the young actress (Iman Benson) at its center is a star. Stick around for episode five, which includes a slew of very worthwhile cameos.”