So, have you seen enough TV yet? Is there such a thing? Until I can go back to the movies, I’ll be sharing my at-home viewing suggestions.
What I liked most about the long-running design competition show Project Runway, was mentor and world’s most dapper dude, Tim Gunn. What I liked least was co-host and annoying former supermodel Heidi Klum. The pair left that show and are now on Making the Cut, which recently debuted on Amazon. Joining Klum as a judge is fellow annoying ex-supermodel Naomi Campbell. Klum/Gunn are looking for the designer of the “next global fashion brand” who will win (cue Dr. Evil) one millllionnn dollars. The designers are from all over the world, and are quite talented, but not always smart enough to listen to Gunn. “Tim, you look amazing in that suit, are a fashion guru and have been advising reality show designers for 15 years, but I really want to go with my black vampire cape.”
Most of us need a laugh right now but the problem is Network TV isn’t cooperating. Like many of you, I’m turning to great sitcoms of the past, watching favorite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Odd Couple and Barney Miller. But I’ve decided to rewatch one of my favorite series from the beginning. NBC’s 30 Rock (2006-2013) is a workplace comedy set at a fictional comedy show, created by actual comedy goddess Tina Fey. 30 Rock (Amazon) won a boatload of awards, and was, and is, really, really funny, sporting sharp writing and a killer ensemble featuring Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer and most memorably Alec Baldwin as unflappable boss Jack Donaghy, who says things like “Human empathy. It’s as useless as the Winter Olympics.”
Netflix’s Unorthodox is a riveting four-part series that’s about 50% in Yiddish with English subtitles. It is based on Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir about her leaving a strict Hassidic Jewish sect in Brooklyn. Shira Haas, who plays Esty, the 19-year-old bride determined to seek a new life in Berlin, is absolutely mesmerizing. I would strongly recommend also watching the short Netflix special, The Making of Unorthodox.
Defending Jacob (Apple TV), isn’t the most comforting show to watch during these comfort-seeking times, and I’m not sure I could sit through it if my children weren’t grown. Chris “Captain America” Evans and Michelle Dockery, (Lady Mary from “Downton Abbey”) are living a nice life in a suburb of Boston when their teenage son Jacob becomes the main suspect in a classmate’s murder. It’s what TV critics like to call, “gritty.” I’m watching in real time, and can’t wait for the next episode.
I might not seem like a racing fan, but ever since I lived in England while filming the series “What’s All This Then?” I’ve followed Formula 1, or as some people like to call it, “snobby NASCAR.” Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Netflix) is an addictive look at the teams and the very attractive drivers in this very competitive sport. You don’t really have to follow Formula 1 to appreciate Drive to Survive. The photography is amazing and the rivalries are reality show material. If you are a fan, the show makes up a bit for the lack of a 2020 season.
I confess, I will watch anything that comes from the creators of Parks and Recreation. They almost never let me down. Amazon’s Upload is the latest project from Greg Daniels, and I will try to explain it. In the near future, when you die you can choose to be uploaded to a virtual reality universe that is like heaven except your angels work at computers and can interact with you (sort of). You can also interact with those you left behind (sort of). Upload is a comedy/romance/sci-fi/suspense series that you really need to check out for yourself.
Bemoaning the lack of funny TV shows, my daughter suggested I watch “Never Have I Ever.” Netflix had also
suggested it because they know everything about me. I had ignored Netflix because it looked like another kids in high school show. Wait, it’s co-created by Mindy Kaling, whose work I love, and it’s narrated by John McEnroe, “YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS,” yes that John McEnroe. Maybe, I’ll check it out or maybe I’ll binge all eight episodes in one day. Never Have I Ever follows Devi, a smart and hot-tempered Indian-American girl who is dealing with more than your average teenage girl stuff. This show is warm and funny, packed with interesting characters, and an insightful look at Indian culture. Now excuse me while I check out what else Neflix wants me to watch.