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Bojack Horseman team's bird-people series about nuanced female friendship soars

Image: Netflix

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4. All times are Eastern. 


Top picks

Tuca & Bertie (Netflix, Friday): It’s the team behind Bojack Horseman. It’s Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong. It’s surreal animated sequences, visual gags, and punny business names. It’s two anthropomorphized birds supporting each other through the everyday challenges of being a millennial adult. In her first run as show creator, Bojack animator/producer Lisa Hanawalt creates an even more surreal and somewhat more optimistic world than Hollywoo, building her story on a strong, loving and nuanced female friendship. Tuca (Haddish), a loud, blunt, and carefree toucan, and Bertie (Wong), an anxious and caring songbird, share a complementary, co-dependent friendship, bringing out the best in each other as they encounter challenges like asking for an overdue promotion or contracting an STD. Also starring Steven Yeun and featuring the voices of Nicole Byer, Reggie Watts, Amber Ruffin, Richard E. Grant, Tessa Thompson, John Early, Tig Notaro, and Jermaine Fowler, the show’s already raking in positive pre-air reviews. Danette Chavez’s is on the way, but she’s already been singing Tuca & Bertie’s praises.

Regular coverage

Saturday Night Live (NBC, Saturday, 11:30 p.m.)

Wild card

Dead To Me (Netflix, Friday): Here’s yet another odd couple series from Netflix, though this one— a black comedy about a pair of women bonding over their experiences with grief— looks a bit less fun than Tuca & Bertie. At a grief support group, Jen (Christina Applegate), an uptight cynic whose husband was recently killed in a hit-and-run, meets Judy (Linda Cardellini), a free-spirit with baggage of her own, and the two start up an unlikely bond. But as their friendship strengthens, it becomes apparent that Judy is hiding something from Jen: a shocking secret that would utterly uproot Jen’ life. According to Netflix, the series “dives into the painfully unfiltered, weirdly funny waters of grief, loss and forgiveness.” Our own Danette Chavez says that while Applegate and Cardellini are excellent in their respective roles, “the most inspired and resonant moments come from Jen and Judy’s burgeoning friendship” rather than the show’s “adequately teased and deployed twists.” Her full review is on the way.

At The Heart Of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal (HBO, Friday, 8 p.m.): In the last year, Surviving R. Kelly and Leaving Neverland told painful, complex stories, resurfacing important conversations that had been dismissed and silenced over the years. This documentary tells more than 300. Early reviews emphasize that this film is not, thankfully, about Larry Nassar, the doctor who sexually abused countless female Olympic athletes in his care over almost two decades. Instead, it features testimonials from several survivors, highlighting their stories to reveal “a dangerous system that prioritized winning over everything else, including protecting young female athletes.” Reviews also note the film’s bittersweet tone as its subjects rejoice over Nassar’s sentencing while emphasizing that the victory wasn’t an altogether satisfying one: There’s still a great deal of work to be done.

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