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

Greg Daniels visits the afterlife while Ryan Murphy heads to Hollywood

Robbie Amell, Patti LuPone
Robbie Amell, Patti LuPone
Photo: Amazon, Netflix

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Upload (Amazon, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): “It’s difficult to talk about Greg Daniels’ new Amazon series Upload without invoking comparisons to the work of his old pal Michael Schur—specifically, The Good Place. Both shows come from alumni of some of the most popular sitcoms in recent TV history. Both traffic in a breed of dark absurdity that’s offset with moments of attempted human connection. And, most notably, both concern themselves primarily with the question of what happens to people after they die. But where The Good Place sets humanity’s ultimate fate in the lap of an inept, bumbling, and baffling cosmic bureaucracy, Upload puts the job of crafting our collective afterlives directly into human hands. It is, not surprisingly, an altogether darker and more hellish show.” Read the rest of William Hughes’ pre-air review.

Hollywood (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): “‘Could one movie change the way a nation sees itself?’ That’s how a newsreel announcer gleefully boils down Hollywood’s fan-fictional premise, only to answer it in a way completely fitting for the show: ‘Who knows!’ The limited series created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan tracks the production of a potentially world-altering film at Ace Studios during the industry’s post-WWII Golden Age. Over seven brisk episodes, the series follows the ups and downs of both the movie and those involved in its creation. Hollywood’s optimistic ambitions and hit-and-miss realizations aside, it mostly functions as a bounty for backlot busybodies, with enough meat-and-potatoes procedure to keep things from drifting off into dreamland.” Read the rest of Jacob Oller’s pre-air review.

Regular coverage

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m.)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1, Friday, 8 p.m.)

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For families

Prop Culture (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Any budding or established cinephiles should find something to gawk over in this charming series, which sees collector and film historian Dan Lanigan setting out in search of some of Disney’s most iconic props and costumes, reuniting them with people who worked on the films in which they featured, and exploring those films through that lens.

On stage At home

Frankenstein (National Theatre Live via YouTube, Friday, 2 p.m.): Like many arts organizations, Britain’s National Theatre is finding ways to reach audiences at home; unlike most, it’s got some practice, thanks to its regular cinematic events. This week’s offering is Danny Boyle’s take on Frankenstein, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in alternating roles. Yesterday, NT shared the performance in which Cumberbatch plays “the creature” and Miller plays Frankenstein, and today the switcherooed version will go live.

Wild cards

Betty (HBO, Friday, 11 p.m., series premiere): “Crystal Moselle’s 2018 girl-gang drama Skate Kitcheninspired by a real-life all-female skateboarding collective of the same name—blurred the lines between reality and fiction so effectively that there were moments that felt almost invasive… Moselle has managed to harness the charm of her festival darling for her serialized HBO adaptation Betty, broadening the focus of its source material—which previously zeroed in on the growing pains of 18-year-old Camille (Rachelle Vinberg)—and delving deeper into the lives of the rest of the squad. With each character allowed the space for their own personal journeys, Betty nicely expands the Skate Kitchen universe with a dramedy that is an authentic and endearing look at sisterhood and the trials of burgeoning adulthood.” Read the rest of Shannon Miller’s pre-air review.

Charmed (The CW, Friday, 8 p.m., second-season finale): The second go-round for this reboot (which itself got a bit of a soft reboot at the beginning of this season) ends tonight. That can only mean one thing: the return of Bad Harry.

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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