YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage, and Reckoning

It’s not always easy to face the truth of the past, but it’s sometimes essential to do so. In this country, the past is a dark and shameful thing, in many ways. We are slowly coming to terms with it, but, in order for any change to truly happen, we must understand where we came from and how far we have to go.

In the 3-part miniseries, Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage, and Reckoning, currently streaming on MAX, filmmaker Jason Hehir tells the story of how a brutal murder in 1989 tore a city apart. But, mostly, it tells the story of how a city was forced to face its own identity, in all its ugliness. Boston’s history and journey to self-awareness is a microcosm of the entire country’s ongoing battle with acknowledging its past and reckoning with the scourge of racism that has always and still does seep into every corner of this country.

If you love true crime, this documentary will hold your attention, with tons of archival footage from the crime of the century, at least for the city of Boston, and a fascinating unfurling of events, including the really great way Hehir tells the tale, peeling back the layers, until the truth of who did it and why is finally revealed.

But, far from just being another documentary about a famous American crime, Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage, and Reckoning is a documentary about American society, the justice system and, of course, racism. It’s impossible to look away and it’s impossible to ignore it when it’s presented in such a clear, concise, and undeniable way. It’s an incredible story, and this is an incredible documentary that I recommend highly, no matter how hard it is to stomach.

YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Somebody Somewhere

You’d think you would have heard about a show that’s on HBO MAX (now just MAX) that’s had two seasons already and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Well, I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of Somebody Somewhere, the best show nobody is watching. I’m here to change that.

Somebody Somewhere is a sweet comedy with tons of heart. Don’t roll your eyes, this time it’s really true. It stars Bridget Everett in a semi-autobiographical story about a woman living in a small town in Kansas who “struggles to fit the hometown mold,” as IMDB describes it, and that’s a perfect summary. Bridget plays Sam, a wisecracking free spirit who dreams of life beyond her small town, but is stuck there, due to the needs of her family and, well, her own fears and insecurities. She takes out her frustrations on her family, which include her sister Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison), her well-meaning father (Mike Hagerty) and her frustrating alcoholic mother (Jane Brody).

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I really thought long and hard before recommending Baby Reindeer to anyone. The 7-episode series, which just dropped on Netflix on April 11, is one of the most intense watches imaginable, and you can’t go anywhere on social media without people talking about it. But Baby Reindeer is no Game of Thrones, which was also intense and popular on the socials. Baby Reindeer is intense in a whole different way than dragons and swords. It cuts deep, and it stays with you. It is not a fun time, but I could not stop watching and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

Baby Reindeer is an autobiographical drama created by, written by and starring Richard Gadd as Donny, a struggling stand-up comic who is stalked by a lonely woman, Martha, played by Jessica Gunning. That’s the whole premise, but Gadd uses the stalking as an entryway into Donny’s psyche and soul, and the series becomes an intense and painful journey of self-reflection. Not only is the stalking intense, but so are Donny’s demons.

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I’ll admit it: I’ve been terrible about supporting female-driven shows. While I did love Killing Eve, Fleabag, Dead to Me and Orange is the New Black, I have fallen far short of my promise to support most female driven/female-centered shows. Shows like GLOW, A League of Their Own, Insecure, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Gentleman Jack have been on my “to watch” list forever, and I, shamefully, kept pushing them aside to watch shows like Justified, Dexter, Billions and Deadwood instead—no regrets, just major sausage fests.

I decided to rectify a huge blind spot and come back to my gender promise by finally watching Girls5Eva, a show that premiered in 2021. Part of the problem with the show is that it premiered on Peacock, and, three years ago, most people didn’t even know Peacock existed, so it struggled to find an audience. But people who found it loved it and it built enough of a fanbase to earn a second season in 2022. But even Peacock gave up on it after the second season, but Netflix saw something special in the show and picked it up for the third season, which just dropped in March.

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Happy Valley S3,Early Release,Catherine Cawood (SARAH LANCASHIRE),Lookout Point,Matt Squire
Some of my best television discoveries have been through word-of-mouth, and this week’s recommendation is a show that my parents told me about, as they are not only voracious readers of the New York Times (yes, in print), but also avid watchers of shows on BritBox. They read an article about the final season of Happy Valley last year in the New York Times and asked me if I’d heard of it. I said no, but it intrigued me, so I watched the first episode and was instantly hooked. The 18 episodes (three seasons of 6 episodes each) flew by, I just couldn’t get enough.

Happy Valley is a crime drama that shouldn’t be judged by its very misleading title. The series is set in modern Yorkshire, England, in an area nicknamed Happy Valley because of the prevalence of drug use in the region. The center of the series is a policewoman, Sgt. Catherine Cawood, played by the magnificent Sarah Lancashire. Cawood is a bitter, no-nonsense, divorced mother of two who is the best cop in the world. She’s a British version of Mare of Easttown (or maybe Mare of Easttown was an American version of Cawood), the kind of character who is addictive to watch. She’s so flawed as a person, she’s a crotchety, curmudgeonly ballbuster who suffers fools at their peril. But she’s a great cop, she’s tough on the bad guys. What makes her so great to watch and even easier to root for is how much she cares about her job and cares about protecting the vulnerable and the victims. Yes, it’s the kind of character writers dream about, but, let’s be honest, it’s also the kind of character all audiences want to watch. And, I imagine, the kind of character all actors would want to play, and Lancashire eats every morsel of this role with gusto. It’s no wonder she was nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for the first season and won for the second.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Welcome to Wrexham

FX on Hulu
Everyone’s heard of Ted Lasso. What makes me laugh, though, is that hardly anybody has heard of the show that is basically a real-life Ted Lasso—and almost as good!

Welcome to Wrexham is a docu-series that centers its focus on Wrexham A.F.C. (Wrexham Association Football Club), a soccer team that plays in Wrexham, Wales. Wrexham A.F.C. is the oldest soccer club in Wales, the third-oldest professional soccer team in the world and play in the world’s oldest international football stadium. And yet, with all this history, Wrexham is widely known, especially by its loyal fans, as the most lovable losers in soccer. Despite having some glory in the past, the new century brought Wrexham A.F.C. to the lowest point it had been in in its history, with a miserable financial outlook, a crumbling stadium and a team that was relegated out of professional soccer for the first time in its history.

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TV Review: “Franklin”

In today’s world, diplomacy seems to be somewhat of a lost art. When so much is visible and accessible in a world that seems smaller than ever, the delicate nuance of negotiation behind closed doors might not be as important to the world order as it once was. When a single tweet can upend delicate balances, what is there to be accomplished from a carefully worded conversation anymore?

And yet, with so much of the world at war, we still see the need for diplomacy between powers, as it still serves as the first and most sought-after resource to settle disputes, as minor as the drawing of a border to as significant as the terms for hostage release or cease-fires. Some of history’s key moments are still achieved from detailed discussions in a closed room rather than bullets on a battlefield. Diplomacy is often the true unheralded hero in any given conflict, the one that achieves greatness without fanfare and succeeds through the omission of violence, rather than the inflicting of it.

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AppleTV+ has two limited series premiering in March and April that are about defining moments in our country’s history. One is very good and the other not so. You’ll be able to read my review of the not-so-good one, Franklin, on on April 10 (it premieres on April 12), or you can keep reading as I attempt to convince you to watch the other, very good one, Manhunt.

Manhunt is a seven episode limited series about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the subsequent manhunt to capture the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, as well as the repercussions of Lincoln’s death. It stars Anthony Boyle as Booth, Hamish Linklater as Lincoln, and Tobias Menzies as Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War–and close friend–who was tasked with tracking down Booth after his escape from Ford’s Theater after shooting Lincoln on April 14, 1865.

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TV Review: “Loot” Season 2

In 2016, the short-lived variety series Maya & Marty flew like a meteor across the television sky: bright, ambitious, packed with talent, and fleeting. Canceled after just six episodes, the show was a disaster, bombing with critics and audiences alike. It turns out, to nobody’s surprise, that it wasn’t the concept that failed, it was the format. The concept revolved around highlighting the massive talents that Maya Rudolph and Martin Short are, and someone just needed to find the right way to give each of them their star turns. It took eight years, but, finally, the promise of Maya & Marty has come to pass, as Short’s career has been re-ignited by the massive success of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building and AppleTV+ greenlighting a series built around Rudolph, giving her all the room she needs to showcase her prodigious comedic skills in a much better format.

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I’ll admit, when I’m choosing something to watch just for fun, I often look for something that has someone I like in it. Such was the case when I pressed PLAY on the first episode of Silo, a show I had heard nothing about, except that it stars Rebecca Ferguson. You may know Ferguson from the Mission: Impossible films, but I had only seen her in Dune, where she plays Timothee Chalamet’s mother, and I instantly wanted to watch her in something else (that wasn’t a Tom Cruise vehicle). So I took a chance on this weird-looking Apple sci-fi series, which turned out to be pretty captivating.

Silo is a dystopian drama set in the future, where all that’s left of humankind is living inside a giant underground silo. Nobody knows who built the silo or why people live there, but what they do know is that there is no habitable world outside it and everyone must follow strict rules for the sake of the community’s survival.

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