YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Griselda

It was only a matter of time. And timing.

Sofia Vergara shot to fame playing Gloria, the smarter-than-she-seems arm candy to Ed O’Neill’s Jay in the massively successful (and award-winning) sitcom Modern Family, which aired on ABC from 2009 to 2020, but struggled to carve out a serious acting career and has mainly parlayed her fame to a career as a host on shows such as America’s Got Talent and Germany’s Next Top Model. Being from Colombia, English is Vergara’s second language and her strong accent and stunning beauty made it hard for any casting director to take her seriously for roles.

Although it might have initially worked against her, it is to Vergara’s credit that she managed to establish herself fully in Hollywood, downplaying her Colombian roots. If there’s one thing Colombian actors have in common with German ones, it’s that you can’t avoid playing at least one stereotype role in your career. Surprisingly, Vergara had managed to avoid playing a Colombian drug dealer (or the wife/girlfriend of one) all this time, despite how good Hollywood is at typecasting.

Well, whether Vergara finally got sick of limiting herself to cheesy reality competition shows or she finally found a project that allowed her to embrace her heritage without lowering herself to being a cliché, it was worth the wait, as Vergara absolutely slays as notorious Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in Netflix’s 6-part series, Griselda.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Everybody’s In L.A.

If you’re looking for a quick 6-episode investment in something weird, wonderful and actually unique, I highly recommend this pseudo talk-show that aired each of its episodes live on Netflix during one glorious week in May 2024. I watched each episode live and couldn’t believe what I was watching and had no idea what was going to happen next. It was certainly fun watching it live, but it would be just as worthwhile watching these shows even after the fact.

Hosted and created by comedian John Mulaney, Everybody’s in LA was inspired by the annual Netflix Is A Joke festival, for which seemingly every comedian in the world descends upon Los Angeles to film specials around town, so Netflix can have a cache of content to air year-round. Because of this, Mulaney—who was born and raised in Chicago, went to Georgetown and was the head writer for Saturday Night Live, during which he was an avowed New Yorker–was inspired to invite some of his closest New York and Los Angeles comedian friends to discuss, sometimes in great detail, aspects of Los Angeles that make it one of the weirdest, best, and most perplexing cities in the world.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Under the Bridge

True DetectiveI really wasn’t in the mood for another crime drama about cops investigating a young girl’s death. But then, just like the most recent season of , the casting really intrigued me. When I saw that Hulu’s new show, Under the Bridge, starred Lily Gladstone and Riley Keough, I had to give it a chance. Gladstone was the best thing in Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon (and came thisclose to winning the Oscar for Best Actress) and Keough, with her starring role in the recent hit show Daisy Jones & The Six, is finally being known for something other than being Elvis’s granddaughter. I like both actresses a great deal, so I was curious to see them together.

Under the Bridge is based on two things: the real-life murder of a teenage girl in Victoria Island, Canada, in 1997, and the subsequent book by the same name, written by Rebecca Godfrey. Keough plays a fictionalized version of Godfrey, returning to her hometown ten years later in order to write about the murder. There’s a hint of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in this tale, as Godfrey chooses to focus her lens almost as much on the murderers as she does the victim, but that’s just one of the ways in which Under the Bridge really feels different from every other crime drama.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Travel Man

If there’s one thing that COVID awakened in people, it’s the desire to travel. And, as a result, travel shows are more popular now than ever. Last year, AppleTV+ premiered The Reluctant Traveler with Eugene Levy and earlier this month, Max dropped four episodes of Conan O’Brien’s new travelogue, Conan O’Brien Must Go. It’s not new to have celebrities competing with the experts with their own shows where they travel the world, as everyone from Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor and Michael Palin have all had their own series where they visit various spots on planet Earth and take us along with them.

For my part, no matter how much I still love PBS’s Rick Steves and his professional, even-handed approach to traveling, my favorite stranger-in-a-strange-land show is Travel Man. The show premiered in 2015 on British television and there have, so far, been twelve seasons of the show, the most recent season bowing in March in Britain. Seven of the twelve seasons are currently available here on Prime Video and three seasons are available on Peacock.

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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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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Baby Reindeer

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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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Girls5Eva

Netflix
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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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Happy Valley

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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