We are entering a time of year when it is almost impossible to keep up with all the good new TV shows and comedy specials that are being released across the various streaming platforms. Here are recommendations for a few new things to check out this weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s food-related entertainment news.
A graceful bow for a bawdy comedy
For the last four years, I’ve loved blasting through Amazon’s oddball comedy Catastrophe on the night of its premiere and marveling at the chemistry between stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. The show doesn’t easily fit into traditional TV categories, but I’d say it’s something like if Curb Your Enthusiasm starred two horny parents who lived in London. While the protagonists, who are also named Rob and Sharon, are not as rich as Larry and Cheryl David, Catastrophe’s stars are comfortable enough that they can go to a trendy restaurant where she will drink a fancy glass of wine and he will order two desserts for himself.
Last Friday’s season premiere was a bittersweet moment for me, because this is actually where the Rob and Sharon saga comes to an end. While I wouldn’t discourage anyone from watching all six episodes in one night (even if you haven’t seen the rest of the show — it’s very funny!) Catastrophe’s last two chapters are the real emotional core of this final season. It’s here where Rob and Sharon come to terms with how the major moments in their life together — his relapse into alcoholism, her infidelity, their mutual emotional swings — have twisted their relationship into a knot that perhaps cannot be unraveled. The show has always been a mix of giddy rom-com moments and emotional sucker punches, and the perfect final scene embodies both of these traits at once.
Aside from the graceful exit, I also loved the guest spots from always-great character actors Chris Noth and Michaela Watkins this season. Noth plays a bombastic pharmaceutical executive who drags Rob, his co-worker, and their spouses to a splashy dinner, and instructs them all to order two types of chocolate mousse (again, with the double desserts!). And Watkins plays Rob’s sister, a nervy mom who always carries a briefcase full of vegetables to feed her son. Meanwhile, Rob continues to foster his love of junk food in all its many shapes and forms, to the point where, after a visit to the doctor, Sharon tells him, “It’s interesting that you can spend 40 years inhaling sausage rolls and get rewarded with a clean bill of health.”
Unlike many comedies, even the ones born in this “golden age of TV,” Catastrophe always had great production design, a real sense of place, and supporting characters whose story arcs were just as interesting as the main plotlines. Taking all of this into consideration, four seasons — approximately 12 hours, total — seems like a short run for the show, but it’s also nice to think that Catastrophe is ending on a high note.
All six episodes of Season 4 are now available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Streaming recommendations du jour
Watch it on: Hulu
The gist: This new comedy, based on Lindy West’s acclaimed feminist memoir of the same name, is driven by an awesome performance by SNLcast member Aidy Bryant, who plays a struggling writer in Portland, Oregon named Annie. Bryant is still charming as ever here, but instead of landing big punchlines, her best moments are nuanced reactions to the awkward situations Annie finds herself in. You can see exactly what’s running through Annie’s mind as she gets pitched a gym class by a fitness instructor at her local coffee shop, or as she discusses her low-calorie meal kit plan with her mom. A plot twist at the end of this first episode involving an alt-weekly where Annie works thrusts our hero into the Portland restaurant scene. Stay tuned for a closer look at Shrill on Eater next week.
Amy Schumer: Growing
Watch it on: Netflix
The gist: Schumer’s new stand-up set finds the comedian exploring two recent life changes: marriage and pregnancy. “I married a chef because I’m a f*cking genius,” she says 10 minutes into her set. “Do you guys like food? That’s what he makes. Yeah, I love it.” The comedian also has a hilarious bit about asking her friends if it’s okay to drink wine while pregnant, and she recounts the harrowing tale of getting arrested after protesting the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination (and eating as many snacks as possible before getting processed by the police).
After a short stumble with 2017’s just-okay The Leather Special, Schumer is back at the top of her game with Growing. The comedian seems energized by this new material, and there’s not a wasted minute in this new hour-long set.
In other entertainment news…
Have a great weekend everyone and if you’re looking for something spring-forward to cook (and these vegetables are actually in-season where you live), consider making River Cafe’s tagliarini with asparagus and herbs using this recipe.