This week is about staying in to protect yourself and your community, so all the TV you're about to watch is for a good cause. These TV and movie recommendations will help you get through this uncertain time.
The best shows and movies to watch this week includes a chillingly resonant HBO miniseries about an alternate-history version of the United States, the long-awaited return of TV's most expensive sci-fi Western, and the apocalyptic final season of a comedy about baseball that's even more relevant than ever, now that baseball has been postponed due to pandemic. (If you want to learn more about pandemics, we have recommendations for that, too.)
If you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, sign up for our free, daily, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox, or check out the best shows and movies this month on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Big Time Adolescence
Now on Hulu
When you were in high school, did you ever know that guy who graduated from high school years ago but still hung out with high schoolers? Perhaps YOU were that older guy or gal who still hung out with high schoolers. No judgments, sometimes we want to be the Matthew McConaughey in the teenage ecosystem. Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson gets to be that guy in Hulu's film about friendship and growing up, as his character Zeke, a drug-dealing college dropout, strikes up a palship with high schooler Mo (Griffin Gluck), much to the annoyance of Mo's parents and friends. Slightly more than just a stoner bro hangout comedy, Big Time Adolescence tackles some of the same difficult themes as Boyhood and other coming-of-age movies, but with Davidson doing bong rips in the background. -Tim Surette
Season 3 premiere now on HBO
The robot uprising moves out of the theme park and into the real world in Season 3 of HBO's Westworld, a cautionary warning against technology, and the good news is that it's not nearly as confusing as Season 2 was. Gone are (most of) the storytelling tricks and the one-note Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who murdered humans, and in is a more straight-forward story about the Singularity, privacy issues, and deep dives into human consciousness. Don't get me wrong, you'll still be scratching your head a-plenty, but your scalp will remain intact as answers come more quickly. Aaron Paul joins the cast as a wayward low-level criminal who gets caught up in Dolores' plans, and expect some pretty exciting cameos in the first few episodes. -Tim Surette [Read our review of the season]
The Plot Against America
Limited series premieres Monday at 9/8c on HBO
This limited series is written by The Wire's David Simon and Ed Burns and based on a book by legendary novelist Philip Roth. It presents an alternate version of American history in which celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh beat Franklin D. Roosevelt in the election of 1940 on a fascist, isolationist platform. It tells the story through the eyes of the Levins, a working class Jewish American family in Newark whose pursuit of the American Dream gets halted as America slides into fascism. The book was written during the George W. Bush presidency, but the limited series is a Crucible-esque allegory for the Trump era. The premiere will take you right back to how you felt in 2015-16, as Lindbergh's rise makes people uneasy, but they don't think he could actually be elected.
Little Fires Everywhere
Limited series Episodes 1-3 available Wednesday on Hulu
Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere, an eight-episodes adaptation of Celeste Ng's 2017 novel of the same name, is a soap that won't admit it's a soap. The limited series tackles cultural differences, class issues, and immigration through a story involving two mothers, played by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who take opposing stances in a legal battle involving a couple trying to adopt a baby from China. Although it's a bit of a slow burn, the show takes enough liberties with the source material to offer a few surprises for readers of the book while also expanding on its exploration of race and class tensions. -Kaitlin Thomas [Read our review of the season]
Fourth and final season premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC; Now streaming free on IFC.com
Hank Azaria's hilariously profane comedy Brockmire, about alcoholic, self-destructive baseball announcer Jim Brockmire, returns for its final season, and it's going down swinging and taking the whole world with it. This season jumps forward in time to 2030, and baseball is dying out as a sport due to climate change making it too hot to be outside for long periods of time, a problem compounded by games getting longer and longer. So Major League Baseball turns to Brockmire to save it, and hires him as commissioner. The season is bleak, apocalyptic, and cathartically funny. Watch the Season 4 premiere now.
The Letter for the King
Friday on Netflix
Netflix's The Letter for the King is an adaptation of Dutch author Tonke Dragt's book of the same name, which was first published in the 1960s and finally received an English translation in 2013. For younger TV fans who miss the fantasy aspect of Game of Thrones, the six-episode adaptation is a good way to pass an afternoon or two. The series follows a familiar Chosen One narrative: Amir Wilson's Tiuri is an aspiring knight who, despite not having much success in his training, soon finds himself charged with delivering an important letter to the king. Along his journey, adventure and danger await. The show isn't exactly exploring novel territory here, especially if you're a big fantasy fan, but there's still plenty to like as well. -Kaitlin Thomas [Read our review of the season]
Friday on Netflix
Classism gets the incredibly potent metaphor it deserves in this acclaimed Spanish thriller. Set in a tall, dystopian prison, the titular platform is a massive dumbwaiter loaded with a feast that starts at the top and slowly makes it way down to other inmates who can only eat the leftovers of the level above them. It looks gross, funny, twisted, and eerily insightful. -Tim Surette
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