Netflix's newest drama miniseries, Unbelievable, stars Toni Collette and Merritt Wever.
Kaitlyn Dever shows some serious acting skills playing Marie in the true crime show.
Season 3 of Glow is its best yet.
Marc Maron and Alison Brie in GLOW.
HBO's The Righteous Gemstones is ridiculously funny.
Walter Goggins plays Baby Billy in The Righteous Gemstones.
I‘ve always had an extraordinary addiction to television. After each school day as a teen, I’d plant myself in front of my TV with a Pop-Tart, Toaster Strudel, or whatever insanely sugary snack our parents used to let us eat as kids, and catch up on Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, or Friday Night Lights.
The obsession didn’t go away. As much as I tried to force myself to choose a more “practical” major in college, it was inevitable that I earn a degree in film & television. I then moved to Los Angeles to work on certain redhead’s late night talk show for a bit. The addiction isn’t the kind where I’m just binge-watching show after show, but where I want to know everything from where the story idea came from to the backgrounds of different actors to the metaphorical meanings of certain scenes. I am a television nerd.
Still constantly watching every show on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime, and even cable (don’t judge me) that I can, I felt it was time to share with you what I think is good on TV. This is the first story in a new PaperCity series, TV Shows to Watch Right Now.
This month, a heartbreaking true-crime miniseries, the third season of a comedy about female wrestlers and a brand new series created by Danny McBride make the cut.
One of the newest additions to Netflix, Unbelievable is a dramatic miniseries based on the true story of a teen rape victim, and the connections to several sexual assault cases thereafter. Starring Kaitlyn Dever as Marie (the single name that the real woman goes by), the story begins with flashbacks of Marie’s assault and repeated questioning by several police officers and detectives that make you cringe. They exhaust and pressure Marie until she ultimately retracts her statement to say “I made it up.”
The show then goes to simultaneously flash forward and back to show how two other female detectives handle eerily similar cases three years later, in an entirely different state. As Marie’s world falls apart as she’s charged with false reporting, detectives Rasmussen and Duval (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) join forces to find and bring the mysterious serial rapist to justice. Danielle Macdonald (Netflix’s Dumplin’) plays one of the other victims. She provides such a great contrast to Marie’s situation, from how detective Duval handles the case to how she personally deals with it.
But it’s not just the fact that the show is based on a true story that makes it so intriguing. It’s the incredible storytelling by showrunner Susannah Grant that makes you sit on the edge of your seat the entire time. Dever, Collette and Wever’s performances are exceptional. But what Unbelievable shines a huge light on, the truly disturbing part, is how law enforcement deals with Marie’s case and the lax procedures that were in place to deal with sexual assault cases during this time.
GLOW: Season 3 (Netflix)
I liked the first and second seasons of this comedic Netflix series about a female wrestling show in Los Angeles in the ’80s. But GLOW’S third season, with Ruth (Alison Brie) still basically running the show, is on another level. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling started off with producing just a pilot episode directed by Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), then they got a full season which later gets canceled, and now the group is performing live on the big stage in Las Vegas.
Starting out with a painfully awkward appearance on television — Ruth talks down America in her Russian wrestling persona while the Challenger explodes on TV and Debbie (Betty Giplin) watches on the verge of tears — expertly sets up the season. Compared to previous GLOW seasons, much of the actual wrestling is performed off-screen, allowing more room for narrative development.
Ruth’s pending love interest with Sam finally gets some traction, as well as her struggle with her own self-worth and success. Sheila “The She Wolf” finds someone to open up to. Debbie struggles with being away from her baby. Cherry and her husband Keith are trying to have a baby. And Tammé physically works herself out of the ring.
To me, the show has taken a turn in a similar direction to Orange is the New Black in terms of format. We started off with a single character (Ruth), following her acting aspirations and early-on destruction of her best friendship with Debbie. In Season 3, we’ve now covered almost every single character’s backstory and immediate struggles. Season 4 will be the final season of the show and I sure hope it lives up to the cliffhanger they just left things on.
The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
This is not one I expected to like so much. The Righteous Gemstones follows the world-famous owners of a South Carolina megachurch, The Gemstones. The family is headed by patriarch Eli (John Goodman) and includes his three children Jesse (Danny McBride), Kelvin (Adam Devine), and Judy (Edi Patterson). In the first episode, Jesse and the church’s reputation is threatened when a trio of blackmailers sends him video footage of himself in a hotel room with cocaine and prostitutes. So with the help of his brother and sister, the siblings confront the hooligans with a bag of money only to end up in an outrageously chaotic situation.
Although the show does have its imperfections, not all of the jokes hit and there’s a bit of a wandering storyline, what I’ve seen so far is intriguing enough to keep me watching. Adam Devine (Workaholics) has some of the funniest lines in the show with the perfect inflections. And Walter Goggins (Justified), who wears tons of makeup to make him look older, plays a comically villainous character who we finally see some depth in during a flashback episode. Although they are all pretty awful people, there’s something about the way that they handle the situations that they get themselves into that has you rooting for the family.
The Righteous Gemstones is currently airing every Sunday night on HBO.