In between your hourly spins of Adele’s 30 and your 13th watch of All Too Well: The Short Film, here are the best new picks for you to check out this weekend.
The Sex Lives of College Girls: Season 1
Mindy Kaling continues her reign of young adult television with her newest release, The Sex Lives of College Girls. A new-age and younger Sex in the City and pseudo-prequel to Girls if they were more diverse, Sex Lives of College Girls tells of four college roommates just trying to get through life while navigating sex (unsurprisingly), friendship, secrets, and budding careers. The Washington Post notes it is “much less about naked-party protocols (though it’s also about that) than those first tentative steps of giddy transgression.” They also make light of Sex Lives having a bit more of an autobiographical flare than Kaling’s previous series, finding its lead, Bela (Amrit Kaur), on her way to reinventing herself as a boy-crazed maneater and budgeoning TV writer. Never has there been a more perfect time to feel nostalgic about our college days. November 18 on HBO Max.
Arcane: Season 1
The finest animated storytelling in recent memory, Arcane over-excels at every level. The League of Legends branding may throw off certain viewers, but have no fear, for I myself know absolutely nothing about LoL, yet still found this series incredible. There are sure to be easter eggs abound from the popular online battle arena game, but they fly over us non-fans’ heads pleasantly. Not a single “Top Critic” has reviewed Arcane, a crime against what I can only deem as the best new show on Netflix. The animation: gorgeous. The perfect mix of 2-D and 3-D artwork, never leaving you feeling like you’re watching a long video game cutscene. The voice acting: unbeatable. Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro, and Katie Leung capture their characters with ease and passion. Ignore what you think this show is. It’s more than that: a captivating, emotional and harrowing tale of love lost, class warfare, and running from stark circumstances to find one’s destiny. Catch up before the final three episodes land on Saturday. November 20 on Netflix.
Cowboy Bebop: Season 1
One of the most anticipated new series to come out of 2021, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop live-action adaptation of the classic anime series finally hits the platform Friday. John Cho stars as Spike Spiegel, the leader of a group of ragtag bounty hunters taking out galactic criminals across the Solar System. Joining Cho are Mustafa Shakir as rough-and-tumble ex-cop Jet Black and Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, a volatile con artist and thorn in both of their sides. It’s a big mountain to climb, adapting such a beloved anime, and reviews have been mixed on the project, with the series favoring hijinks and silliness over the anime’s melancholy and loneliness. IndieWire acknowledged the unruly task in front of the filmmakers, but ultimately, “its vision of the future is so sterile and uninspired that it often feels like nothing more than a cheap vision of the waking life that everyone in Watanabe’s original was trying so hard to sleep off.” At worst, this adaptation will drive viewers to the fantastic source material. November 19 on Netflix.
Hellbound: Season 1
Netflix is hoping to recapture lightning in a bottle with their second South Korean series since Squid Game became the largest television show in the world. But leaning more into the horror arena like Netflix’s incredible apocalyptic series Sweet Home, Hellbound will be sure to satisfy the palettes of genre lovers. And to excite everyone even more, Hellbound comes from the hands of Yeon Sang-ho, the director of zombie staple Train to Busan. In a review by Bloody Disgusting out of TIFF, Sang-ho “privileges the introduction of his main characters and [delves] into their backstories rather than hit audiences with a series of bombastic otherworldly action sequences,” writes Joe Lipsett. Fans of Evil and Midnight Mass may find a cozy home in Hellbound. November 19 on Netflix.
Anna: Season 1
This dystopian Italian import begins its six-episode first season on AMC+ today. One part Y: The Last Man, one part The Society, and ninety-eight parts Neverland gone wrong, Anna tells the story of a young girl in a world ravished by a virus that kills adults but leaves children unharmed. Helmed by director Niccolò Ammaniti, who also happens to be the author of the young adult book on which this is based, Anna has been hailed as “the most courageous and revolutionary series that Italian television has made recently” by Vanity Fair Italia. November 18 on AMC+.
Oscar hopeful King Richard begins streaming on HBO Max and playing in theaters this Friday. Will Smith stars as Richard William, father to Venus and Serena, as he doubles as a coach to his gifted daughters, rearing them from the streets of Compton to the global court. Smith has been getting rave reviews since the film premiered in Telluride back in September, and everyone would be shocked if his name isn’t on the Academy’s ballot come February. As for the story itself, Venus and Serena have already given their golden seal of approval, calling it “a frightening accurate portrayal” at Deadline‘s Contenders Film: Los Angeles event. Don’t forget to pack the tissues. November 19 on HBO Max and In Theaters.
The Wheel of Time: Season 1
The new Jeff Bezos-sanctioned series is the streaming world’s latest attempt at recreating Game of Thrones. Based on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series of novels, we have Rosamund Pike starring as Moiraine, a powerful magic user who takes five apprentices around the world, one of which she suspects to be a force fated to either save the world…or destroy it. Sounds promising, no? This title has been a development whirlpool, circling various networks, producers, and showrunners for twenty years. Finally, it landed at Amazon. The Independent brings up a good point, that there are so many Bezos Bucks being put into this series, there’s a chance its going to alienate its viewers with its own vanity. After all, the more money they put into GOT, the seemingly worse it got. Amazon is putting their all into it, however, having given it an early season two renewal back in May. But guess we’ll just have to see how the wheel spins evidently. November 19 on Prime Video.
Prayers for the Stolen
Mexico’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, Prayers for the Stolen (Noche de fuego) lands on Netflix, telling the story of three young girls coming of age in a rural town run by drug rings and human traffickers. The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film back in July out of Cannes, saying it “unwinds with a strong sense of place, one that’s more than matched by the ferociously good performances of its young screen newcomers.” This is director Tatiana Huezo first foray into the narrative space, as she’s been directing documentaries for the past decade. Her experience is docs, having even focused on human trafficking in the past, gives Prayers for the Stolen a groundedness in reality, making it that much more devastating and heartwrenching. November 17 on Netflix.
Tiger King 2
Hey all you cool cats and kittens: Tiger King is back for round two. With Joe Exotic still behind bars, the story is apparently shifting its focus to the disappearance of Don Lewis, Carol Baskin’s ex-husband. Will we get a Jinx-style confession at the end of the season? I’m personally not banking on it, but the story itself is bound to be a wild enough ride. Baskin has attempted to sue Netflix and the filmmakers in an attempt to keep the footage from being released (her efforts were breezily denied), so you know there is some juiciness to be had this season. There is something to be said of losing the novelty of the first season since all the participants are now aware of their notoriety and fame, but let’s hope this only raises the stakes that much more. November 17 on Netflix.
Sort Of: Season 1
This is everything a sitcom should be in 2021: funny, timely, heartfelt, and narratively specific yet thematically relatable. The era of the ensemble adult sitcom feels long gone, with heavy focus on these One-Person shows, like Insecure (I know it expended but we all know that at the end of the day, it’s Issa’s story), Fleabag, Ramy, Shrill, and the criminally underrated and underseen Starstruck, also on HBO Max. Sort Of continues that trend as creators Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo tailor a story around genderfluid Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a down-on-their-luck millennial navigating love and life in the big city of Toronto. The first episode sets up Sabi as this dry, guarded individual with a lot to learn (think Hannah Horvath but a little bit less insufferable). Baig hopes this is the start of something greater for television, which has seen its struggles with how it handles trans voices. In a recent interview with Complex, Baig says, “I really hope this is a moment where we can recognize not only the power of a character like Sabi existing on screen, but what it means to involve a queer, trans-feminine brown person in an executive position on a TV show.” November 18 on HBO Max.
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