Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25. All times are Eastern.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1, Friday, 8 p.m.) and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race (VH1, Friday, 9:30 p.m., series premiere): This week on Drag Race proper, RuPaul and company revisit a challenge that hasn’t been deployed since those halcyon season-four days. The queens, you see, are running for president in an episode titled “Choices 2020.” One sound choice: guest judge Rachel Bloom!
But RuPaul’s empire grows by the moment, and America’s drag mom would like to tell The Masked Singer to eat its dopey heart out.
Kate Kulzick will recap the former; we will all gawk at whatever the hell is going on with the latter.
Bad Education (HBO, Saturday, 8 p.m., premiere): “The first time we see Frank Tassone, the beloved public-school administrator Hugh Jackman plays in Bad Education, he’s striding onto the stage of an auditorium to a roar of applause. It’s his night, a celebration of his achievements—though, as we’ll quickly come to see, he spends most days in the spotlight, too, basking in the admiration of colleagues, students, and parents alike. Frank, who puts the super in superintendent, is head of a Long Island school district that, under his stewardship, has reached the top of the national rankings. Wandering from meeting to meeting in his finely pressed suits, a warm grin perpetually plastered across his face, he has the poise (and popularity) of a Kennedy—and indeed, Frank approaches the job with a politician’s savvy, committing names and interests to memory. But the real key to his success may be that he actually gives a damn. In movie terms, it’s as if one of the carpe diem heroes of an inspirational-teacher drama rose through the ranks, spreading his zeal for education to the whole district.” Read the rest of A.A. Dowd’s film review.
Defending Jacob (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., series premiere, first three episodes): “Apple TV+ adds an intriguing new mystery drama to its lineup with Defending Jacob, Mark Bomback and Morten Tyldum’s adaptation of William Landay’s crime novel of the same name. When it was first announced, the eight-part series, which premieres April 24 with three episodes, probably garnered more interest for its casting choices than the taut crime novel that serves as the source material: Chris Evans had signed on to co-produce and star alongside Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell. Defending Jacob is the latest in a series of post-Marvel Cinematic Universe projects for Evans. Like his dastardly turn in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, the role of Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney who finds himself on the other side of the courtroom aisle, represents a departure from Evans’ time as the virtuous Captain America.” Read Danette Chavez’s interview with Bomback and Tyldum here.
After Life (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): If you were one of those people who watched season one of After Life—Ricky Gervais’ sort-of comedic weepie about a man learning how to go on with his life after losing his soulmate of 25 years—and wished it didn’t lean quite so heavy on the maudlin soporifics, we’ve got some bad news. Not only has Gervais doubled down on the heartstring-tugging monologues about how wonderful it is to find your special someone (and how agonizing existence can be after they’re gone), but he’s somehow done it without adding anything to the equation. If season one was about Gervais’ small-town journalist, Tony, breaking down his nihilistic protective shell and learning to once more take others’ feelings into consideration, season two is about how hard it is to accept the emotions that have flooded back into his system without that scornful shield of rudeness. In other words, it lacks a reason to exist, because Tony is just going from episode to episode generally trying to be a nice guy; not exactly a compelling narrative. Sure, there’s the occasional backslide that provides some mild chuckles, and the fourth episode delivers the town’s amateur variety show at maximum cringe-comedy setting, but otherwise, the genteel narrative, cartoonishly reductive supporting characters, and repetitive sadness montages (not helped by Gervais’ simplistic and generic direction) make this even less essential than season one. [Alex McLevy]