Teenage Bounty Hunters (Netflix)-With 13 Reasons Why, Sex Education, The Society, Never Have I Ever, Lost and Found, Derry Girls, and The Politician (which began in high school), Netflix is really going all in on the CW formula of attracting teenage audiences.
The story revolves around two twins, Blair and Sterling, who go to a strict Christian school in Georgia where a lot of the rules of teenage coolness are inverted. Being celibate, getting good grades, and showing your love of God are all in. There's a great deal of contrast between the twins in that Blair has a conscious urge to rebel against the establishment whereas Sterling is pretty much the establishment is fellowship leader of the Christian prayer group and begins the series as half of the school's royal couple.
In the pre-credits sequence in the first episode, Sterling loses her virginity with her long-time boyfriend while Blair has a hook-up that arrives at, shall we say, a lesser base and talks about how she's going to go all the way this year with a hint of pride that she's farther along than her sis. There's a friendly jealousy between the pair.
On top of that, the two have some family drama and deal with Sterling's bratty rival April.
Oh yeah, and they get a side gig chase down criminals. It's kind of jammed in premise-wise but it works as it ties in thematically to the pair having to live a double life as sexual beings in a society that encourages teenage sexlessness.
The show plays around with hypocrisy of religion with a nuance that doesn't necessarily damn the Christain characters on the show. In fact, the virtuous teacher Ellen is one of the bright spots on the show.
Transplant (NBC)-A great pilot episode followed by diminished returns. A Syrian refugee in Toronto is relegated to cooking kebabs because immigration's a bitch. Until one day.... An ambulance drives into his kebab joint and he cleverly MacGuyvers his way through three life-saving procedures including the most prestigious head surgeon in Toronto. Kind of a coincidence, but whatever. The pilot is really exciting because the protagonist is this unknown guy going rogue in the hospital to give more medical assistance and evading police who want to racially profile the hell out of him for the crime.
I cover this show weekly, so please check it out here at TV Fanatic:
Schooled (ABC)-There have been other high school sitcoms comedies focusing on teachers at a school, this one is a bit more sweet than snarky (Judy Greer was in a short-lived series called Miss Guided) with a female protagonist who has a lot of doubts about her life that she voices in voiceover. She has a long-distance boyfriend and a manic pixie dream guy at the school she falls for. Tim Meadows is a principal who's main trait is being too eager to please but he plays it well.
Since the success of Modern Family, ABC has milked the genre into a new brand of edgier TGIF fare featuring families, nostalgic irony, and humorously tinged fables. Fresh off the Boat, the Real O'Neals, Speechless, Suburgatory, Blackish and two others I haven't seen (Middle and The Goldbergs).
Unlike some of those shows, however, the characters here are very static and their actions in each episode are predictable. There's also something just a little off-putting about the lead that I can't put my finger on.
Lower Decks (CBS All-Access)-Both Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Lower Decks") and Star Trek: Voyager ("The Good Shephard") devoted an episode to people in the lower ranks of the ship which did wonders for filling out the character of each ship's crew. However, the TNG episode (which this series is reported to be based on in particular) highlighted the holes of Star Trek's supposed post-capitalism society more than it presented us with deep characters.
Those guys were all biting their nails for promotions but what motivated them to want them when there's no actual pay raise? My theory is we get attached to Star Trek as kids where we think of money in abstract terms and dream of status (AKA being one of the cool kids in school) so the motivations of those ensigns makes sense. However, as adults with real fiscal responsibilities, episodes like "Lower Decks" don't hold up as much on rewatch.
Wouldn't there be some slackers on board?
In the world of "Lower Decks" (which I believe it still canon), this is question is answered. Hallelujah!
Tawny Newsome plays Beckett Mariner who is among the most competent crew members on the ship but doesn't want to get involved with all the bureaucratic hassles of a promotion. She is quite probably the most competent member on the entire ship and most of the plots revolve around her saving the day without pesky protocols.
If there's one person who can challenge her, it's the ship's captain (Dawnn Lewis) who also happens to be her mom. How appropriate.
Another foil for her is her good friend Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid, The Boys) who exaggerates the conflictless (and oftentimes boring) world of TNG by angling so hard to be a promotion-loving goody two shoes that his number one motivation in life is to follow the rules. This goes double for Noel Well's Ensign Tendi who wants to be liked so badly, she's in-your-face about it.
Aside from this, the show takes no prisoners in skewering Star Trek across the board and is so well-entrenched in the minutia of Star Trek, that a small niche of the coverage of the show has simply been pointing out the Easter Eggs of each episode to the delight of fans.
The show is easily one of the best parodies out there because, above all, it's extremely funny and extremely consistent with its jokes.
Umbrella Academy (Neflix)/The Boys (Amazon)-(through two episodes) Both superhero shows keep chugging along in second seasons that manage to keep the momentum going from the first despite massive shake-ups.
"The Boys" has lost a few key players to the mortal coil but has managed to add some interesting additions (particularly Aya Cash's Stormfront who speaks her mind to say the last). Unlike the first season, there's a sense here that Hughie isn't the central character but just one member of "The Boys" (perhaps the most privileged). On the Vought side, the focus is more on the psychotic Homelander and what it might take to stop in (so far, the boss of the company is keeping him in check).
"Umbrella Academy" with all seven characters jumping through time to Dallas in the 1960s. Like much other speculative pop culture literature, this focuses on the "What if" of John Kennedy's assassination. The show is more of a stylistic extravaganza than something I watch for plot but that's the basic gist.