TV

Weekend Preview: FX’s ‘Pride’ Launches, Two Great Leading Ladies Take HBO Max, And An Oscar Winner Directs On Amazon

Pride (Friday, FX 8:30 p.m.) — You’ve probably heard of the Red Scare led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led a fear-mongering set of 1950s probes into alleged Communism within the federal government and the U.S. Armed Forces. This series will shine the light on McCarthy-instigated Lavender Scare to reveal even more government-sanctioned persecution, specifically of gay men and lesbians who worked for the feds, at a time when McCarthy hysterically branded them a threat to national security. This limited series will sprint through the decades, including the “Culture Wars” of the 1990s and the continued battles for trans rights that persist today.

Hacks (HBO Max series premiere) — Jean Smart’s not-so-quiet domination of recent prestige TV shows (Fargo, Watchmen, Mare of Easttown, Legion) has finally culminated with this leading-lady turn in a role she was arguably meant to play. Hacks hails from executive producer Michael Schur and has three Broad City alums in the writers’ room, so get ready for a (Las Vegas) buffet of complex female characters. Smart portrays a legendary Vegas-rooted comedian who forges a “dark mentorship” to a 20-something newcomer in town. Among other highlights of this trailer, we see Smart shouting, “Eat your heart out Celine!” Don’t even think about missing this one.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (Warner Bros. movie on HBO Max) — Angelina Jolie’s in a straight-to-streaming movie, y’all. She portrays a smoke jumper in Montana who is used to a life full of danger, but soon, she’s dealing with riskier situations than she ever signed up to handle. Part of this has to do with attempting to save the life of a skittish boy, who’s being chased by killers for some reason, and then an inferno goes completely haywire. This is an intense one, and Jon Bernthal and Nicholas Hoult co-star.

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime limited series) — Awe-inspiring cinematography aside in this trailer, one of the biggest attractions to this project is Oscar winner Barry Jenkins in the director’s seat while helming a 10-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Also, Brad Pitt’s executive producing here through his Plan B production company. The story chronicles the desperate bid for freedom by slave Cora Randall (newcomer Thuso Mbedu), and the ensemble cast includes William Jackson Harper (as Royal, who was born free and helps guide Cora along part of her journey), Lily Rabe, and Damon “Dewey Crowe” Herriman.

SNL (Saturday, NBC 10:30 p.m.) — Keegan-Michael Key hosts with musical guest Olivia Rodrigo by his side.

A Black Lady Sketch Show (Friday, HBO 11:00 p.m.) — The fast-paced, quick-witted narrative series returns with loads of celebrity guests, but of course, the sketches all happen by the grace of the core cast, including Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis with Issa Rae executive producing,

Batwoman (Sunday, CW 9:00 p.m.) — Batwoman must deal with Gotham’s ravenous Snakebite addicts as they look for their next fix and even more.

Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC 9:00 p.m.) — Weeks after the show brilliantly subverted Negan’s storyline, an oncoming threat prompts June to gather intelligence.

Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist (Sunday, NBC 9:00 p.m.) — Jane Levy’s still marvelous here, and this week, Zoe must say a painful goodbye to somebody.

The Nevers (Sunday, HBO 9:00 p.m.) — This Joss Whedon-created show (with a steampunk elephant in the corner) sees Amalia’s origin story, and the Orphans’ mission is crystallized by a reunion.

City On A Hill (Sunday, Showtime 9:00 p.m.) — Decourcy’s pursuing justice in all aspects of his life while Jackie cannot run from the past, and Boston’s coping with another loss.

Mare Of Easttown (Sunday, HBO 10:00 p.m.) — Kate Winslet returns not only to TV but to HBO as a hard-vaping detective in a small town where she both portrays and elevates the “complicated” cop trope. This week, Mare must go to therapy, and we learn a lot about her family history, as Lori attempts to deal with her son’s emotional issues.

Last Week Tonight (Sunday, HBO 10:00 p.m.) — Please, let John Oliver tackle Ted Cruz again.

Ziwe (Sunday, Showtime 11:00 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, Ziwe visits with a plastic surgeon and discusses beauty standards with guest Eboni K. Williams.

Here are some more fresh streaming picks:

Halston (Netflix limited series) — The newest Ryan Murphy production stars Ewan McGregor as legendary fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, a.k.a., “Halston,” who volleyed his solo operation into a global fashion empire. In doing so, Halston embodied and defined 1970s and ’80s Manhattan with all of its glitz, sex, and fame accoutrements, along with the trappings and the Andy Warhol-drenched atmosphere. A hostile takeover eventually threatens his control for the Halston name, and expect McGregor to be even flashier and scenery-chewing here than in Birds of Prey. Krysta Rodriguez stars as Liza Minnelli, and she’s a dead ringer, so sit back and enjoy how Halson caused a seismic shift in the fashion industry before his iconic brand lost all of its luster.

The Woman in the Window (Netflix film) — After HBO’s Sharp Objects, no one needs convincing to believe that Amy Adams is quite adept at playing a woman on the verge. Here’s she’s portraying a woman (who is, yes, in the window) who either saw something terrible happen across the street or at least believes as much. She’s agoraphobic, and her neighbor does indeed disappear, so there’s that. Yet since this is a psychological thriller from director Joe Wright, so one can guess that the resolution (which is based upon the best selling novel of the same name) will be anything but straightforward.

From Cradle To Stage (Paramount+ series) — This Dave Grohl-directed series follows Dave and his mom, Virginia, meeting up with Pharrell Williams and his mom. In the process, we learn that both artists are terrified of disappointing their maternal figures and also both started rocking out in their small Virginia hometowns.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Episode 3 (Disney+ series) — You might prefer to think of this show as the Star Wars franchise’s version of D.C.’s Suicide Squad, but fear no Leto-Joker intrusion. Instead, this The Clone Wars spinoff focuses on a mercenary squad of sorts that’s made up of (as the title indicates) “the Bad Batch” or Clone Force 99. These elite soldiers stand apart from standard clones due to their unique physical capabilities like super strength, super eyesight, and so on.

Love, Death & Robots: Volume 2 (Netflix series) — Two years ago, Netflix previewed this adult-animated series from co-executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller, with the “messed up audiences only” label. Comfortingly, it sure looks like not a whole lot has changed for the show’s vibe. As with the Emmy-winning first season of this show, this trailer tells us to expect more existential “robots-gone-wild” but fewer of them (along with “naked giants” and “Christmas demons”), as the series included eighteen short films in the initial round but will crank out eight more for this second batch. All will keep the seemingly infinite number of animation styles going, including a very simple-looking installment that, uh, involves a poop-scooping robot.

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