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

Come on, ride the train: Snowpiercer debuts

Jennifer Connelly, Mike O’Malley, Daveed Diggs
Jennifer Connelly, Mike O’Malley, Daveed Diggs
Photo: Justina Mintz (TNT)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, May 17. All times are Eastern. 

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Top pick

Snowpiercer (TNT, 9 p.m., series premiere): “Five years, two showrunners, two networks, and two pilots later, the TV adaptation of Snowpiercer is finally due to arrive on TNT. Graeme Manson, who took over as showrunner after Josh Friedman parted ways with the project, has based the first season of the show on both Bong Joon Ho’s brilliant and strange 2013 film of the same name, as well as the graphic novels that inspired the film, beginning with Le Transperceneige. Along with the Orphan Black co-creator’s vision for class revolt at high velocities, season one teems with ideas, evoking everything from Murder On The Orient Express to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (that other Chris Evans movie about an Earth that’s freezing over), and more than a touch of Charles Dickens’ critique of utilitarianism. All the flourishes and familiar influences—the opening sequence even recalls The Animatrix—are in service of just a handful of themes, ruminations on oppression, classism, allyship, and the fear of change—or rather, of losing power. The series may barrel through characters, plot, and conceits, but it does so without losing sight of its headier concepts.” Click here to read the rest of Danette Chavez’s pre-air review, and look for the first of Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya’s weekly recaps.

Can you binge it? The series, obviously, is brand new, but you can watch the Bong Joon Ho film on Netflix.

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Regular coverage

The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): season 31 finale
Batwoman (The CW, 8 p.m., first-season finale)
Killing Eve (BBC America and AMC, 9 p.m.)
Supergirl (The CW, 9 p.m.): season 5 finale
Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 9 p.m.): season 10 finale
Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels (Showtime, 10 p.m.)
Insecure (HBO, 10 p.m.)
Run (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)
Rick And Morty (Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.)

On stage At home

Cats (YouTube, ongoing): Andrew Lloyd Webber’s charitable effort, The Shows Must Go On, continued this Friday when he released a stream of Cats to the masses. Not the film, the stage production. If you’ve seen the version with Judi Dench’s distressingly human hands, and thought, “wow, that was my kind of bonkers,” then you will love the stage version—though be warned that, in trying much less hard than the film to cram a story into its two-plus hours, it actually makes a teeny tiny bit more sense. There are just a few hours left on this stream, so grab your edibles and get thee to the Jellicle ball, jellicle jelli-cle jellicle.

Wild cards

Lots of stuff premiering or departing tonight, so let’s do a wild card lightning round!

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Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., sixth-season premiere): Netflix’s incisive current-events comedy series returns right on fuckin’ time with an episode titled “What Happens If You Can’t Pay Rent?”

The Au Pair Nightmare (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): Listen, there’s just no universe in which we’re not going to alert you to the fact that there’s a Lifetime movie called The Au Pair Nightmare on tonight. We have no idea if it’s good, we just know it’s called The Au Pair Nightmare and that alone merits a mention.

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Batwoman (The CW, 8 p.m., first-season finale).

Hightown (Starz, 8 p.m., series premiere): This new crime drama is most noteworthy for centering on a complex, contradictory protagonist (Monica Raymund), created by Gotham’s Rebecca Cutter.

The Last Dance (ESPN, 9 p.m., two-hour finale): It’s the end of the road for this docuseries, and you’ll want to watch if only so you can recognize at least half of the memes you’ll see on the internet over the next week. Besides, don’t you want to see Michael Jordan dance? And check out our final Last Dance roundtable on the site Monday morning.

Masterpiece: World On Fire (PBS, 9 p.m., first-season finale): This expertly acted World War II drama ends its first season tonight, with especially (and unsurprisingly) strong turns from Helen Hunt and Lesley Manville.

The Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina (NBC, 8 p.m., two-hour special): Y’all like dogs? Here are some dogs—though don’t worry, this was filmed before the current crisis and we assume all these pups are now maintaining a safe six-foot distance from each other and wearing masks over their adorable widdle faces.

Taylor Swift: City Of Lover (ABC, 10 p.m., one-hour concert special): Y’all like Taylor Swift? Here’s Taylor Swift, in concert in Paris—but never fear, like the dog show, it was filmed before all this happened (September 2019, to be precise.)

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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