'Now See This' Newsletter: Take the Monáe and Run (to 'Ramy')

11:44 AM 5/22/2020

by THR staff

Homecoming -Season 2- Publicity Still - H 2020
Amazon Studios

Welcome to Now See This, The Hollywood Reporter 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.

  • For the Love of Monáe

    Even with season one headliner Julia Roberts sitting this one out, the second season of Amazon’s Homecoming is probably the week’s biggest new release. You don’t feel the lack of Roberts’ star power thanks to new leads Janelle Monáe and Hong Chau, but the seven-episode season still feels strangely small and limited in scope. Check out this week’s TV’s Top 5 for an interview with executive producer Sam Esmail.

  • 'Mythic' Cross-Promotion

    Since the current coronavirus shutdown began, dozens of shows have done various reunions or special quarantine episodes, but I’m pretty sure that Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is the first one to boast that its quarantine episode was “filmed entirely on iPhone.” I wonder why that is? Oh, did I forget to mention that Mythic Quest airs on Apple TV+? Anyway, I liked the show, especially the second half of the first season, so I’ll probably either stream the episode on my Apple TV or my MacBook Pro.

  • 'Single' Out

    Sometimes I get angry about network cancellations; in the case of ABC’s Single Parents, I’m just disappointed. The uneven multi-family single-cam wasn’t perfect, but the core cast, particularly Leighton Meester, Brad Garrett and Jake Choi, was great and the kid actors were astonishingly versatile (twins Mia and Ella Allan stole more scenes than I could count). Both seasons are on Hulu and there isn’t a specific “Here’s where it gets good!” episode. I’ll miss this one.

  • Memorial Day Marathons

    Holiday TV marathons were the original binge model, largely usurped by the easy availability of, well, everything. But just because you can do a Twilight Zone marathon on Netflix or Hulu anytime you want doesn’t mean it isn’t cool that HBO2 is airing the entirety of The Pacific on Monday or that History is spending much of Monday airing Vietnam in HD. For a less topical binge, PBS is running Downton Abbey through the weekend, not that you couldn’t already do that on Amazon.

  • Some Homework

    Reviews of Hannah Gadsby: Douglas are embargoed until its May 26 premiere (don’t take that as a negative sign), but I can tell you that the Australian comedian’s new special definitely requires some awareness of her breakout 2017 Netflix special Nanette, which you’ve probably seen. But if you haven’t… get on that!

  • Some More Homework…

    The second season of Ramy premieres next Friday. The Hulu comedy, for which star/creator Ramy Youssef won a well-deserved Golden Globe a thousand years ago in January, is still flying under a lot of people’s radars, so take the weekend and watch the first season. It’s only 10 half-hour episodes, people, and it’s funny and sad and insightful and deep.

  • Honoring Fred Willard and Lynn Shelton

    Last week, we lost the comic genius of Fred Willard and the compassionate indie sensibility of Lynn Shelton. It’s always a good time to honor these two unique talents. Tubi has Shelton’s Humpday and Touchy Feely, while Laggies is on Netflix. Willard’s classic collaborations with Christopher Guest are all available to rent for a couple bucks, but if you know what Vudu is, they have Waiting for Guffman and For Your Consideration for free.

  • This Week's THR Staff Pick:

    Senior film writer Borys Kit — check out his coverage of HBO Max landing the vaunted Snyder Cut of Justice League — has been loving Netflix’s On My Block. He writes, “Start with a base of woke John Hughes, throw in a soupcon of Goonies and a dollop of Degrassi, and you get this great show about a group of teens in a Compton-esque L.A. neighborhood. The themes of friendship and family are universal, but you’ve never seen it done this way. It’s fresh, funny, cringe-y and captivating.”