What have Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver got in common - apart from being part of a certain demographic? They're just some of the comedians/political commentators currently producing an increasingly invaluable lifeline: digestible Public Service Broadcasting for those drowning in the quagmire of 2020 America.
Cutting his teeth on The Daily Show back in 2014, 34-year-old Indian-American Hasan Minhaj was the final correspondent hired by then host Jon Stewart. Providing much-needed diversity alongside replacement presenter Trevor Noah, Hasan was offered his own Netflix gig in 2018. Last month, Minhaj returned with his weekly episodes, tackling such pertinent topics as How Coronavirus Broke America, What Happens When You Can't Pay Rent, plus an eye-opener regarding how the news industry is being squeezed.
Like his cohorts, Minhaj is broadcasting from home, but the production is far glossier than Kimmel's breakfast nook, Oliver's white void, and what seems to be Maher's oriental-inspired pool house. Minhaj's 'pivot to camera' while addressing his studio audience has a level of sincerity that you will have you feeling he's on the brink of delivering a ballad. Do try Why We Can't Stay Silent About George Floyd; it may be 12 minutes of brutal truth aimed at Asian Americans, but it's mandatory viewing for all.
Netflix, June 19
Satire is almost an impossible task at present, yet here we are with Season 2 of Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s Glee- meets-politics. Ben Platt returns as power-hungry Payton Hobart, with Gwyneth Paltrow back as his mammy. This Friday, viewers can see if Payton manages to unseat Dede (Judith Light) in the NY State senate race — an unenviable task given she has the might of Bette Midler behind her. Payton must decide what kind of politician he wants to be in order to snag the presidency some day, even if it means exposing secrets, lies, and that throuple...
NOW TV, streaming now
Take a wildly upbeat Tony Soprano-type, an ex-cop, a multi-million McDonald’s Monopoly scam informant, the FBI, plus a gold suit, and you’re just seeing the tip of this jaw-dropping HBO docuseries. If you’ve missed mumbling “Well, I didn’t see that coming” since Tiger King, consider this your post-lockdown must-see, which landed on Sky Documentaries May 27. If you think Agent Doug Mathews is the star of the show, just wait until you meet Robin Colombo...
Netflix, June 19
A revolutionary look at transgender depictions in film and TV, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously mirrors and manufactures audiences’ deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Mj Rodriguez, and Chaz Bono, share their reactions to such works as A Florida Enchantment, Dog Day Afternoon, The Crying Game, Boys Don’t Cry, The L-Word, Pose, and more. What emerges is a dynamic interplay between societal conceptions, on-screen trans representation, and the actual reality of trans lives.
Netflix, streaming now
Welcome to White Lines, but with more subtitles, drama, and actual jeopardy. Set in two time spans — 1994 and 2019 – this Polish Netflix Original sees prosecutor Pawel, still grieving this missing sister, who vanished 25 years ago in the woods at summer camp. With new evidence pointing to her possibly being alive, Pawel must delve into his family’s murky past.