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

We’re super into Pen15, but Sarah Paulson is simply Ratched

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle; Sarah Paulson
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle; Sarah Paulson
Photo: Erica Parise/Hulu, Netflix

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. All times are Eastern.

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Top picks

Pen15 (Hulu, Friday, 3:01 a.m., first half of season two): The return of a series we love is always welcome. The return of a series we love just as the TV landscape begins to grow thinner is even more welcome. But we’re particularly glad to welcome Pen15 back into our lives, because the world is surreal and strange and god, we need some laughs. Even some very cringe-y ones.

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s delirious coming-of-age comedy returns with the first seven episodes of its second season today; we’re betting that the series will continue to “[develop] its comedy along with its female friendships and emotionally resonant storytelling,” as Danette Chavez described in her review of the first season. Look for Danette’s take on season two later today.

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Can you binge it? You certainly can, as the complete first season is alive and well on Hulu.

Ratched (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): “Does evil always have an origin story? In the world of Evan Romansky’s Ratched, the answer is yes. Giving the dreaded antagonist of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest a fan fiction-like makeover, Ratched follows the namesake nurse on her move to the North Californian town of Lucia a few years after World War II. Her cruelty is on full display from the start, but the show walks it back, pathologizing some of her actions for one reason or another and rebutting her manipulative ways with sympathetic scenes. Who’s in charge of the narrative? Because it doesn’t feel like it belongs to Nurse Ratched.” Read the rest of Monica Castillo’s pre-air review.

Regular coverage

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue (VH1, Friday, 8 p.m.)
The Boys (HBO Max, Friday, 3:01 a.m.) 
Raised By Wolves (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., Thursdays): episode 7 recap

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From Film Club

All In: The Fight For Democracy (Amazon, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): “The agitprop documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy presents itself as an urgent dispatch from the frontlines of the voting wars. The movie is so up to date that its opening minutes include footage from the summer of 2020, referencing both the state primaries that have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s recent warnings that enforcing existing voting laws could be catastrophic to Republicans. The bulk of the story that directors Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus are telling has its roots in the past 150 years of American history, from the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War to the dawn of the civil rights movement. But more than anything, All In is the story of the rise of Black, Latinx, Asian, indigenous, and young adult participation in American democracy—and of how the powers that be have scrambled to change the rules of the game to keep those blocs from winning.” Read the rest of Noel Murray’s film review.

Wild cards

Time for another wild card lightning round.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): “There’s no warping of the movie elements into bizarre kid-friendly shapes, which is particularly odd given that the parent movie already offered Blue The Trained Raptor. Instead, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is more of a holding pen, where kids can wait for the next proper dinosaur movie to come out.” Read the rest of Jesse Hassenger’s pre-air review. 

Long Way Up (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., series premiere, first three episodes): Ewan McGregor and best friend Charley Boorman set out on a 13,000-mile motorcycle trip in this travel series, journeying from the southern tip of Argentina to Los Angeles.

American Barbecue Showdown (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): File this one under “do not watch while hungry, lest you accidentally eat your couch.”

Becoming (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): The second at-bat for this LeBron James-produced biographical docuseries—its first for Disney+—includes episodes on Anthony Davis, Candace Parker, Adam Devine, Nick Kroll, Ashley Tisdale, and others.

Wilmore (Peacock, Friday, 3:01 a.m., series premiere): We didn’t get a chance to screen Larry Wilmore’s new late night series, but as it’s Larry Wilmore’s new late night series, we’re betting it’s pretty damn good.

Art In The Twenty-First Century (PBS, Friday, 10 p.m., 10th-season premiere): This Peabody-winning series returns with a jaunt across the pond to London.

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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