In The Heights (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — John M. Chu adapts the Broadway musical (that starred Lin Manuel-Miranda) into a feature film that, as our own Mike Ryan writes, may have landed by fate at precisely the right time. The feel-good production is playing simultaneously in theaters and WarnerMedia’s streaming service, so pick your venue accordingly, and then settle in and enjoy Anthony Ramos in the Miranda role while witnessing the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and dreams unfold. The message of this film — that communities find their stick-together strength within their individual members — couldn’t be more needed than during our current global situation.
Betty (Friday, HBO 11:00 p.m.) — Like a breath of the most refreshing, free-wheeling air possible, HBO’s Betty will soon glide back into our lives. It’s what we really need to heal our pandemic-addled minds, and somehow, director Crystal Moselle managed to gather the Skate Kitchen crew back up for a second season and film on the streets of New York City. The main players are all back — Rachelle Vinberg as Camille, Ajani Russell as Indigo, Dede Lovelace as Janay, Moonbear as Honeybear, and Nina Moran as Kirt — and they’re still making the act of soaring through the streets look like the coolest thing on Earth. In their defense, Betty really is the coolest show on TV these days, and we could all stand to live vicariously these days.
Lupin: Part 2 (Netflix series) — This (the fancy French heist show starring Omar Sy) turned out to be a smash hit for Netflix in January. The overwhelming reaction even led the streamer to hustle fast to release Part 2, so that everyone could see how the beloved gentleman burglar would take revenge (against Hubert Pelligrini) for the abduction of his son, and by the way, we could probably use a lot more heisting as well? Give it to us. Of course, after that train station switcheroo in last season’s finale, we can expect police to redouble their efforts. So, Assane reenters as the most wanted man in France, and he’ll tempt fate while attending black tie events, high-speed car chases, speeding motorboats, thrown punches, and a trip to the catacombs.
These top streaming picks make excellent appetizers:
Infinite (Paramount+ film) — As hard as it might seem to believe, Mark Wahlberg stabs an airplane in this summer blockbuster movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua, that’s coming straight to your living room tonight. Wahlberg is going up against reincarnated warriors known as “Infinites,” and he might be having flashbacks from multiple lives as well. He’s self-medicating, too, and driving a motorcycle off a cliff, so yeah, get your microwave popcorn ready for this gloriously dumb action film.
Flack: Season 2 (Amazon Prime series) — This series began on Pop TV, and Amazon picked it up for a second season for good reason. This is some damn fine guilty-pleasure escapism, even if it feels like an amalgamation of many shows and movies (includingThe Devil Wears Prada, Scandal, Sex and the City) that you’ve seen before. Anna Paquin, who portrays Robyn, who’s part of a PR agency that’s ridiculously good at hiding the most outrageous celebrity scandals imaginable. The show’s dark but breezy, and this season will see more collisions between work and home life, and as always, there will be love affairs and shady dealings and questionable behavior all around.
And back to the scheduled programming here:
Pause With Sam Jay (Friday, HBO 9:00 p.m.) — The Emmy-nominated SNL writer aims to revamp the late-night talk show format with each episode taking place at Sam’s apartment, where she’s throwing a party. Get ready for some feisty conversations and, hopefully, a sense of understanding between those who hold different perspectives.
Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC 9:00 p.m.) — The impending sense of doom sends everyone scrambling to end things on their own terms, and there might be a time jump coming.
The Chi (Sunday, Showtime 9:00 p.m.) — An on-campus protest, new relationship boundaries, and a girl in need of rescue from a trap house are only the beginning of this week’s issues.
Black Monday (Sunday, Showtime 9:55 p.m.) — Nomi’s possibly too fast for Mo, who soon realizes that he can’t party like he once did, and Dawn fails to get him to stop.
Flatbush Misdemeanors (Sunday, Showtime 10:25 p.m.) — Jasmine’s shaft of Kevin isn’t eased by what the local Brooklyn rapper did, so Kevin takes an utter sh*tload of mushrooms. Oh boy.
Ziwe (Sunday, Showtime 10:53 p.m.) — Ziwe Fumudoh’s former status as a Desus & Mero writer will be no shocker for anyone who catches her new variety series. This week, Adam Pally arrives to discuss Hollywood whitewashing.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (Sunday, HBO 11:00 p.m.) — Please let John Oliver tackle Ted Cruz and take more swings at Tucker Carlson.
Here are some more fresh streaming picks:
Home Before Dark: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — Young investigative journalist Hilde returns following her small-town move (from Brooklyn), which led to her discovery of a cold case that her father (and everyone else in town) had previously attempted to bury. This season promises to be (literally) explosive, and Hilde will take on a corporation while trying to expose the truth, which could risk her own life and that of her family.
Love Victor: Season 2 (Hulu series) — Simon’s happy ending in the first round shall be followed up by adventures for Victor, the new guy in town, who’s wrestling with his own identity and attempting to fit in while realizing that everyone (whether they admit it or not) is having the same issues. Betsy Brandt is now onboard as Felix’s mother, and expect plenty of melodrama as new relationships cause riffs and jealousy concerning older ones and those that you’d think are firmly in the past. Love is rarely ever easy, but this cast of characters might renew your faith in the concept if you thought you were over romance.
Loki: Season 1 Premiere (Disney+ series+) — Tom Hiddleston has an absolute blast playing the mercurial trickster of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we shall reap the benefits while he helps (and hinders) the Time Variance Authority during the process of cleaning up the timeline. Likewise, Owen Wilson is entertaining as hell (even while saddled with a lot of exposition) as the MCU’s smoothest time cop. This is definitely not the Loki you’re used to (he died in Avengers: Infinity War), but he’s still a delightful scamp, and the show is all about setting up the multiverse. We’re lucky to have this pair to guide us into the future.
Sweet Tooth: Season 1 (Netflix series) — Team Downey (Robert Jr. and Susan) brings us this awe-inspiring story based upon a comic-book by creator Jeff Lemire, who whipped up a post-apocalyptic fairytale about what happens when a great sickness (which is poorly dealt with by humans) ends with a miracle. In this case, this would be the appearance of “hybrids,” babies who are born half-human and half-animal, and we’ll meet a young deer-boy, Gus, (Christian Convery), who teams up with a reluctant protector, Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), for a cross-country quest. The comic has been described as “Mad Max Meets Bambi,” and Will Forte also plays a pivotal role. You’re in for a real (sweet) treat if you surrender to this adventure.