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

Janelle Monáe hits Homecoming, and FX premieres AKA Jane Roe

Janelle Monáe, Norma McCorvey
Janelle Monáe, Norma McCorvey
Photo: Ali Goldstein (Amazon), FX

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, May 22, and Saturday, May 23. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Homecoming (Amazon, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): Julia Roberts may not have returned for the second season of Amazon’s acclaimed drama Homecoming—based on the Gimlet Media podcast of the same name—but given that the second season sees the arrival of both Janelle Monáe and Chris Cooper, there’s still plenty to be excited about. The second season will deviate from the story of the podcast, but it’s not taking on an anthology format, so many of the standout members of the cast from that solid first season (including Stephan James and Hong Chau) will return. And based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s still plenty of ominous mystery and psychological twistiness in store. Take a look:

Look for The A.V. Club’s interview with director Kyle Patrick Alvarez later today. Alex McLevy’s binge recaps will run daily.

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Can you binge it? Both seasons can be streamed right this very second via Amazon.

AKA Jane Roe (FX, Friday, 9 p.m., documentary special premiere): Some of the thunder’s already been stolen for this documentary, the first-ever for FX: The bombshell that Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe V. Wade, was lured away from her reproductive rights advocacy to stump for the anti-choice movement was dropped only days before the premiere. That revelation comes more than two-thirds into the 80-minute documentary from director Nick Sweeney, which leaves little time for the late McCorvey (she died in 2017) to reckon with her “deathbed confession.” But that’s actually in keeping with the way McCorvey lived her life; she was never precious about language or prone to self-flagellation. Above all else, she was focused on self-preservation. Beyond that reveal, AKA Jane Roe doesn’t offer a ton of new information about McCorvey—at least, not much that hasn’t been covered in profiles like Joshua Prager’s Vanity Fair piece about “The Accidental Activist.” But Sweeney’s film is still worth watching, especially for what others in the anti-choice movement, including repentant minister Rob Schenck, have to say about essentially paying McCorvey to lie (she always believed in the right to first-trimester abortions, even after joining the evangelicals). There’s also a compelling, albeit brief, discussion about how McCorvey, who grew up poor and was in a queer relationship with Connie Gonzalez for years, seems to have fallen short of what organizers on both sides were looking for in a spokesperson. In the end, AKA Jane Roe is an important reminder that movements are made up of people, not a single face or voice. [Danette Chavez]

Regular coverage

RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1, Friday, 8 p.m.): season 12 reunion special

On stage At home

Charles Gounod’s Faust (Met Opera On Demand, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.): The Metropolitan Opera continues to share its staggering back catalog of performances nightly, and Saturday’s offering is especially devilish. As is always the case, the stream will go live at 7:30 p.m. and remain available for 23 hours. (And if you’re less into Méphistophélès than Mozart at the moment, Friday’s pick is Don Giovanni.)

Wild cards

Mythic Quest: Quarantine (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): This sharp video-game workplace comedy from Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Megan Ganz returns with an episode shot entirely on iPhones. Whether or not they can make this particular gimmick work for the full 30 minutes remains to be seen, but if the trailer below is any indication, it’s worth checking out purely for the opportunity to watch C.W. Longbottom, played by renowned thespian F. Murray Abraham, try and fail to successfully use a webcam.

The Lovebirds (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): “It’s been almost a decade since Kumail Nanjiani was hosting stand-up shows in the back of Meltdown Comics and Issa Rae was an Awkward Black Girl trying to make the leap from YouTube to TV. The talent and charisma that got both of them noticed has since taken them far, but we’re still rooting for them—particularly when it comes to their new project, The Lovebirds. That’s due in large part to Nanjiani and Rae’s chemistry in the film, which is so winning that you can’t help but hope that their characters can work everything out. But the movie itself is also an underdog: Originally set to premiere at this year’s SXSW, it was one of the first 2020 titles to see its release plans wiped out by the COVID-19 crisis. Now safely nestled in at Netflix, the film is going straight to streaming, its wings clipped but not broken.” Click here to read the rest of Katie Rife’s film review.

Zenimation (Disney+, complete first season available): We can all pinpoint our favorite or most impressive moments from animated films like Moana and Mulan, and they’re not always big song-and-dance numbers. The deep breath taken before a big decision, the sound of waves crashing—it’s ASMR via animation. Disney+ has taken that a step further with Zenimation, a new short-form animated series of soundscapes and soothing visuals. If you don’t have the Calm app but do have Disney+, give Zenimation a listen. [Danette Chavez]

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.

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