What Alex Has Been Watching
Ted Lasso on Apple TV. My go to feel-good show. The relentlessly optimistic US soccer coach Ted Lasso finds himself teaching a moribund team of British footballers. Everyone needs some Ted Lasso in their life! Especially now. Hat tip: Joshua Gans.
Mythic Quest on Apple TV a situation comedy where the situation is game developer’s office. Nowhere near as good as Silicon Valley but there were three excellent episodes (5, 7, 10) and no bad episodes which is a pretty good ratio. Probably would not hold my interest outside of a pandemic.
Lovecraft Country on HBO–my favorite show right now. I’m not a big fan of horror but Lovecraftian horror is more about revealing the black depths of the mysterious unknown than about chainsaw massacres. The story is a mystery, taking place mostly in 1950s Jim Crow America. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are among the show runners. I could do without the interruptions of spoken poetry. In one climatic scene we get a reading of Whitey On the Moon rather than a soundscape. Yeah, we get it, the horror is a metaphor for racism. The show also gets very weird. I worry that it is self-indulgent. Watchmen pulled it off by pulling it all together in the finale but that was a miracle. Can Lovecraft Country do the same? The show is based on the book Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Ruff enjoys wordplay, fantastical stories, and he has a libertarian streak. My favorite Ruff novel, Sewer,Gas and Electric, features a billionaire beat to death with his prized first-edition of Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand as a resurrected A.I. bottled up in a hurricane lamp. It’s a satire but there’s love there. Ruff is also a fan of David Friedman. I haven’t seen much if any libertarian influence in Lovecraft Country.
Bandish Bandits on Amazon–an Indian rom-com series in which pop-singer girl meets classically trained boy. The rom-com is ok but I liked it especially for the many gorgeous shots of Jodhpur. It’s also an effortless way to listen to some Indian classical music. It gets better after the first few episodes. Probably only worth watching if you have some prior interest in the region or the music. Panchayat is another Indian show I gave a shot. It does a good job of explaining how Indian village politics actually works. The lead character, however, is so sullen than I had a hard time continuing. Apparently, he gets less sullen over time.
The Pharmacist on Netflix. A great documentary following a pharmacist’s investigation of his son’s murder that takes him deeper and deeper into the opioid crisis. The first three episodes are stellar while the last is also good but covers the big picture I was already familiar with. Much better constructed than Tiger King or The Vow, the NXIVM doc on HBO, which is far too long and surprisingly boring.
Perry Mason on HBO. A film noir reboot of the classic series, basically Perry Mason meets Chinatown. Much darker than expected. Tatiana Maslany has a good performance as an old-time revival preacher but her story arc felt incomplete. Della Street should have written the bar, not Mason, or at least they should have made the fact that she didn’t more pointed. Overall, good but not great. Character and location driven–this one might grow on me, like Bosch.