This Netflix limited series is a hilarious commentary on the dangers of unchecked power and influence. It’s difficult to call it horror. Yes, there’s blood, death and suspense. There’s also a cool-looking monster. Mike Flanagan’s seven-part series is a flogging of viewers. Don’t forget that religious zealotry could be used for evil purposes!
We get it.
Flanagan, fresh from the success of The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) – A moody, beautifully shot world that centers on a small, struggling fishing village on Crockett Island. It is located about an hour away from the mainland. With a population of less than 200 people, it’s a strange and isolated setting.
Strange “miracles” begin to happen, bringing new life to the town after a mysterious priest called Father Paul (Hamish linklater). It doesn’t take too long for people to realize that these are not acts of God. Soon, the island bears witness to a sinister plan of control – carried out fervently by the local Catholic Karen (Samantha Sloyan), which eventually leads to the destruction of the town’s inhabitants and a cannibalistic massacre spree.
Not all is lost. We also get deeply moving performances by Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights fame and Kate Siegel. Their characters set out on journeys to redemption as their world burns.
Even though there are some plot holes and unanswered queries that could lead to a second season, don’t watch Midnight Mass for a show about a monster. It turns out that Crockett Island had 120 of them. – Jason Wells
Watch on: Netflix
Only Murders in the Building
Martin Short is my favorite actor, and Steve Martin is my favorite musician. Selena Gomez is my neighbor in Manhattan. This Hulu series features three people trying to solve a crime in their apartment and start a podcast about it. It’s endearingly funny and cute. The show was created by Steve Martin, Dan Fogelman and John Hoffman. It centers on Charles (an ex-TV actor) and his neighbors, Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel (Gomez). They live in Arconia, a large building that is home to famous residents such as Sting. The trio meet up at a nearby diner after Tim Kono, a young Japanese American man, is discovered dead. They discover they are all fans of All Is Not Okay in Oklahoma and decide to do their own thing.
It’s funny and sharp with just the right amount millennial vs. boomer humor. There are also many fun cameos. The real magic lies in seeing Gomez and two comedy geniuses having the time of their life. -Tomi Obarol
Watch on: Hulu
The Problem With Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart has been quiet for a while. The man who expanded comedy news analysis’s role wrapped up his legendary run as host of The Daily Show in late 2015, one year before Trump was elected. Many things have changed over the years. One example is Last Week Tonight hosted by John Oliver, who was a former Stewart protege. It aimed for the same mission of providing scathing analysis as a clear-eyed moral assessment on the issues of each week. Then came other spinoffs, all of which were from the Daily Show School of Political Comedy: Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show in 2015, Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal in 2016, 2018’s Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.
Stewart’s return to television would be difficult given the fact that his students are now better than him. Stewart can’t do the same thing twice. He doesn’t. Stewart has a new show this month: The Problem with Jon Stewart. This biweekly show focuses on one issue each episode and offers significant tweaks to Stewart’s usual format.
The Problem begins as you would expect a Stewart show to start: With a monologue sprinkled with jokes. About a third through the pilot, Stewart switches gears. Instead of praising from the top of Mount Stewart, he invites those who have been directly affected by the issue. Stewart can be seen looking tearful at times as Stewart listens to their stories. Stewart goes one step further. He enters an arena that he has long avoided: the accountability interview. Stewart used to remind his audience that he was not a journalist but a comedian asking questions.
In “The Problem”, Stewart reluctantly takes on the role of a journalist, having previously refused to accept it. It works well and gives insight into the future of Stewart’s career. – Elamin Abdelmahmoud
Watch on: Apple TV+
I really didn’t know what to expect when I pressed play on Maid last weekend, the new Netflix drama series starring Margaret Qualley. Qualley portrays Alex, a single mom who leaves her emotionally abusive boyfriend and learns the difficulties of trying to survive alone. Based on the New York Times bestselling memoir by author Stephanie Land, Maid is an unflinching portrayal of poverty – from the ridiculous red tape one must navigate to secure assistance from government programs to the condescension from people with more money. This 10-episode series has riveting stories and is honest. The series also addresses family trauma such as domestic violence and mental illness. The show has some light moments to offset the serious themes. Qualley is a great actor alongside Andie McDowell, the star’s mother. The two actors have a natural chemistry onscreen, which is not surprising. Anika Noni Rose plays Regina, a wealthy lawyer. She gives a devastating performance. Rose effortlessly switches between being cold and steely to being vulnerable and funny. The episode 4 monologue is easily one of the most memorable television performances.
If you are looking for a show that is great on all levels, then check out Maid. You won’t regret it. – Michael Blackmon
Watch on: Netflix
The Other Two (Season 2)
A friend of mine told me that she was watching Comedy Central’s show about two older siblings of a pop star. It sounded very random. And The Other Two, now in its second season on HBO Max, is one of the funniest pop culture commentary shows since Julie Klausner’s Difficult People.
Like that dark comedy, which zeroed in on the absurdity of Klausner and Billy Eichner’s hijinks as aspiring actors on the make, Two exploits the indignities of Dubek siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Helene Yorke) as they struggle in the lower rungs of entertainment while their young brother finds viral fame as the Bieber-like star Chase Dreams.
Cary is the anchor of the show’s themes. The show’s writing is both refreshingly original in its parodies of queer culture as well as the sentimentality of straight gaze. From the commodification of gay melodrama (Chase does a song about the gay brother) to intergenerational gay dating to the Instagay economy, everything goes. There are many bizarre twists in the new season, including mom Pat (played brilliantly by Molly Shannon) becoming a highly-rated Rachel Ray-like talk host to a Hillsong subplot to the strangeness of Bachelor Nation.
The show doesn’t shy away from family drama and earnestness. The Other Two will fill a niche that you may not have noticed. – Alessa Dominguez
Where on: HBO Max.