Three Reviews, One Post

Arrested Development, Season Five, Part Deux – Netflix

The second eight episodes of season five’s Arrested Development dropped on Netflix on March 15. After an uneven season four (and uneven is being kind), both parts of season five remind us why Arrested Development remains one of the gold standards of the single camera comedy.

While most of these performers have gone on to do other things, it’s nice to see them return to these characters. Especially David Cross, who once again seems to really embrace the absolute absurdity of Tobias Fumke’ (I welcomed the return of Mrs. Featherbottom). To stand out in a cast of absurd characters says a lot about a performance.

All said, season five, part deux is a fine conclusion to the Bluth family story. And let’s hope it’s just that. There’s no need to take the Bluth’s any further. In a family of sociopaths, we finally discover who the real sociopath/psychopath is.

What’s left?

Shrill – Hulu

Based on Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Hulu released Shrill on March 15. Produced by Elizabeth Banks and Lorne Michaels, the show stars Saturday Night Live veteran Aidy Bryant. Bryant plays Annie, a struggling, overweight millennial writer in Portland, Oregon.

While the portrayal of men is a little hackneyed, the show isn’t ABOUT men and probably isn’t FOR men. With that said, as Bryant’s Annie points out, she is a woman who struggles with all the stigma’s (personal, professional and societal) that come with being overweight.

Shrill’s six episode arc is Annie’s assertive awakening personally and professionally. At times it’s look away cringe worthy (a good thing), at times heartbreaking, very often funny, always illuminating and ultimately heartwarming. Sometimes all at once.

And in case you’re wondering, Aidy Bryant’s portrayal of Annie is certainly self absorbed but very far from shrill.

Beyond the writing and performing, Shrill’s real brilliance is that it shatters the inane tradition of what an intelligent and attractive leading lady can look like.

If you pick just one of these shows to watch, pick this one. Yes, it’s that good.

Turn Up Charlie – Netflix

Lastly, Friday March 15 also saw the eight episode season one of Turn Up Charlie on Netflix get released. Created by Idris Elba and Gary Reich, Turn Up Charlie stars Elba as Charlie, a one hit wonder from the 90’s whose career is running on fumes. He’s trying to make it as a DJ in London. Like Charlies career, the show initially sputters. To be honest, the first episode is dreadful and stereotypical dreck.

Elba’s struggling Charlie gets hired by childhood BFF and uber successful actor friend David (JJ Field) and his partner, uber successful music producer and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) DJ Sara (Piper Perabo) to be “manny” to the couple’s precocious daughter Gabby (Frankie Hervey).

The family recently has recently moved back to London so David can do a play on London’s West End. Naturally, their daughter Gabby is a brilliant terror who scares away nannies by the truckload (bored yet?). Naturally, the best solution is David’s down on his luck failing DJ Charlie! Standard color by numbers hilarity (not. at. all.) ensues for the first episode.

But the show isn’t about the relationship between Gabby and Charlie. I thought it was going to be, but thankfully it’s not. It’s about Charlie and Sara. Elba and Perabo’s chemistry is undeniable and they’re the best reason to watch.

I already know Idris Elba is a DJ (he’s actually doing a set at his years Coachella) but I didn’t think I’d buy Piper Perabo as an EDM DJ. But damn it all, she totally nails the landing. It’s fun to watch.

Turn Up Charlie’s storyline kinda zig’s when you’d expect it to zag, which makes it refreshing. No, the show isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s the cool and the charm of both Elba and Perabo that carry this show.

And look, no, Perabo’s character, Sara, is not going to win any mother of the year awards anytime soon. So don’t look for parenting advice here. Sara is very far from perfect, but she tries.

The show culminates with Charlie making the annual summer sojourn to the EDM Mecca of Ibiza. Now, I have as much interest in attending an EDM festival in Ibiza as a prostate exam but Elba and Perabo make one of those look more appealing than the other. But in all fairness, one of those includes women in bikini’s, tons of blow and boatloads of ecstasy. Soooo . . .

Turn Up Charlie isn’t a revolutionary show, but it does come across as honest. Not perfect, but honest . . . and that’s pretty damn good.

The last episode sets up some nice tension for a second season if Netflix and the stars decide to do one. Let’s hope they do.

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