July 22nd, 2020
Are you stranded on a desert island of stress and uncertainty? Same! Are you looking for an escape raft of the streaming variety? These are my four picks for what I’m watching (and adoring) this week.
Expecting Amy — This three-part documentary is a master class in what it means to be human; and yes, this is the same Amy Schumer who makes frequent jokes about her vagina. She and her husband, with various family, friends and camera crew, document her life as she becomes pregnant, continues to be pregnant (with significant difficulty) while she works on her career as a stand-up comedian (who is about to shoot a new Netflix special), and then brings both her human and creative babies into the world. It features twists, turns, and unexpectedly kind detours; glorious highs and hard-to-watch lows; and some of the most emotionally honest conversations I can say I’ve seen had. And I watch a lot of The Bachelor (see below).
FIND IT ON: HBO Max
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters — Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It can make us feel just by simple suggestion; substance becomes irrelevant. That becomes apparent when we transform into adults and rediscover the stuff we loved as a child; it rarely holds up under the slightest weight of scrutiny, as anyone who is a fan of Adam Sandler’s early work knows. So imagine my surprise as I began to rewatch the four seasons of Aaahh!! Real Monsters; it not only holds up, but is actually far better than I recall and has any reason to be. Every episode is delightfully about *something*; monsters have been unmistakable metaphors since their inception, and these stories use them to excellent effect. You can even see their influence now: Pixar’s Monsters series simply doesn’t exist without Ickis, Krumm and Oblina; speaking of the star students, can anyone else name a trio of students at a magical school, one of whom is a confident, remarkably skilled young woman considered best in her class? Hermione had a predecessor hiding in these halls, as well.
FIND IT ON: DVD, Amazon Prime (To Own)
Bachelor In Paradise — With no new seasons filmed due to the pandemic, ABC has been producing a wonderfully wacky Greatest Of All Time series on Mondays, and they’ve also added the first three seasons of Paradise to stream. Paradise, for me, is the ultimate comfort food; the whole of the world’s complex problems wash away in a sea of tears, margaritas and broken hearts (with the occasional true love!). I’m actually not big on reality television, but the Bachelor franchise is the reality version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: these people/characters have detailed histories with one another, they cross over into each other’s shows — and their shows often cross over into their real lives. Plus, every season is the most dramatic EVER.
FIND IT ON: Hulu
Agents of SHIELD — If you’re one of those “I tried the first season but…” people, get the heck out of here. You don’t deserve this show, which is one of my all-time favorites. Over seven wild and weird seasons, these Agents have seen it all: good guys, bad people, Inhumans, B-(and C-)list Marvel superheroes, LMDs, time travel, alternate timelines, Ghost Rider (but not Nicolas Cage). Despite all their trials, however, this show has always been about one thing: family, of all kinds, but mostly about the kind we choose for ourselves. In this season, their last, they’ve pulled out all the stops, to fantastic (and comedic and dramatic) effect; tonight’s time-warping, heart-wrenching episode (expertly directed by cast member Elizabeth Henstrige) may have been its best yet. I’m sure not looking forward to the end of this mission, but I am absolutely savoring the ride there.
FIND IT ON: Netflix (earlier seasons), Hulu (current season)