Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bid farewell to The Plot Against America and Better Call Saul tonight

The Plot Against America (Photo: Michele K. Short); Better Call Saul (Photo: Greg Lewis/Sony/AMC)
The Plot Against America (Photo: Michele K. Short); Better Call Saul (Photo: Greg Lewis/Sony/AMC)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Monday, April 20. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Better Call Saul (AMC, 9 p.m.): Peter Gould and Ariel Levine have crafted a nearly 90-minute finale for season five of Better Call Saul. Will Jimmy finally get it together and actually level with Kim? Will Kim continue to call him on his shit? And how many people will die in this episode? [Sulagna Misra]

The Plot Against America (HBO, 9 p.m.) limited-series finale: Despite how potent and tightly written this limited series from David Simon has been, some viewers have struggled to watch what feels like an all-too-pertinent story about a world leader who stokes fear and bigotry. Which is why we’re grateful for Noel Murray’s ongoing analysis, which comes to a close tonight with this sure-to-be devastating finale. [Sulagna Misra]

Regular coverage

Dispatches From Elsewhere (AMC, 10:25 p.m.)

Wild card 

Dummy (Quibi): There are semi-autobiographical shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Better Things, where seasoned creatives find new avenues for their outlooks and sensibilities by writing what they know—peeling the curtain back ever so slightly on their off-camera lives. And then there’s Dummy, in which the intimate-yet-readily-shared details of Kidding writer-producer Cody Heller’s life with her fiancé, cult-TV godhead Dan Harmon, are dramatized within an odd-couple comedy about aspiring writer Cody Heller (played by Anna Kendrick) and her new friend, Barbara Himmelbaum-Harmon—the latter being a red-headed sex doll owned by Cody’s boyfriend Dan Harmon (Donal Logue in the show—an on-the-nose choice that’s also frankly brilliant).

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Dummy’s real-life inspiration is an open book that added pages to itself during every new Harmontown taping, but once the show gets through some surprisingly direct depictions of the couple’s peccadilloes, it starts angling toward an intense and psychological form of comic memoir. Kendrick’s in a screwball wallflower gear that she can probably do in her sleep at this point, but her inanimate scene partner is able to go toe-to-silicone-toe with the A Simple Favor star thanks to a lively performance from Meredith Hagner. Portraying Barbara in sing-song voice and appropriately off-putting mo-capped facial expressions, the Search Party scene-stealer finds a complexity within the character, who’s knowledgable and opinionated enough that the audience (and the protagonist) are kept on their toes as to whether she’s her own, independent persona, or just the sound of Cody’s insecurities rattling around in her head.

Dummy’s still a Quibi “movie in chapters,” so its story beats are awkwardly hacked into individual installments and its dialogue is occasionally forced to carve out some rough narrative shortcuts. But on the plus side of all that compression, nobody gets strung along about anybody else’s sex doll: Dan comes clean about Barbara in the first three minutes. Patience is instead reserved for the burgeoning bond between Cody and Barbara, a gonzo journey of self-discovery in which characters who initially perceive each other as rivals for one guy’s affection help one another recognize their strengths and vulnerabilities. Somewhere in the unlikely overlap between Ted and Toy Story, you’ll find Dummy. [Erik Adams]

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Managing editor, The A.V. Club

Sulagna Misra has written for The Cut, The Hairpin, and The Toast, as well as other publications that don't start with "the." She writes about what she thinks about when she’s not paying attention. She’s on Twitter so she can not pay attention more effectively.

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