Spring TV Roundup
by Buzz Culture Staff
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
American Gods, a new series premiering on Thursday, April 20 on Starz, is based on the novel of the same name by “Coraline” author Neil Gaiman. The show follows the story of Shadow Moon, a recently released convict who works as the personal guard of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. The two travel the United States and meet the “old gods,” personifications of deities of eras past, as they compete to survive with the “new Gods” or passions and fascinations of today’s generation (with apt names like “Media” and “Technology”).
The original book tackles a range of themes, from the power of belief and hope to the cultural attachments and commitments of immigrants and the generations that follow them. Reviews of the pilot, which premiered at SXSW in early March, say Gods could not be released “at a better time,” considering the current political climate and the perceived criticisms of immigrants and “outsider” cultures.
Big Little Lies
HBO’s new miniseries Big Little Lies, examines the lives of three mothers in wealthy Monterey, California who are all somehow involved in a murder. The series does not reveal whom the victim or the murderer is, but the plot revolves around the murder. While some may argue that the “rich people problems” of the main characters, Celeste, Madeline and Jane, can be irritating, the nuanced acting of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley ground the show.
At its core, the show is an examination of the relationships between women and the aftermath of abuse on women. While the show does tackle many serious topics, it is a delight to watch. The self-created drama of parents who are simultaneously hyper-involved in their children’s lives and oblivious to their wants,is pettiness at its finest. Witherspoon’s character in particular is a fantastic, type-A mess who perpetually gets herself involved in conflicts.
Moreover, the soundtrack is phenomenal and the setting is so drool-worthy that think pieces have been written about the luxurious homes featured. The show is so good that the my only complaints are that Adam Scott’s bangs and beard are unfortunate and Nicole Kidman’s American accent is obviously fake.
In his third anthology series, preceded by American Crime Story and American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy is doing what he does best: over-the-top drama. The series balances the pettiness of a Hollywood rivalry with the nuances of being an aging female star in an unforgiving industry.
In one scene, Joan Crawford (played by Ryan Murphy-favorite Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) try and outmaneuver each other during a photo-op in order to have their name listed first in the photo’s caption. In another scene, Crawford struggles to find material for her next feature and after clearing out entire bookstores finds that, “everything written for women seems to fall into three categories: ingénues, mothers or gorgons.”
Altogether, the show is an homage to two industry titans helmed by their modern equivalents that tackles issues still present in Hollywood today. Come for the beautiful production design and stellar performance, but stay for the witty banter and industry commentary.
House of Cards
Season five of the Netflix original series is arriving on the tails of one of the craziest election years and most unexpected presidencies in history. House of Cards’ marketing team has been all over it.
The new season, coming May 30, will pick up as President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) resumes his re-election campaign and his all-out war on terror. The focus on an election year, combined with the role Russia has played in past seasons of the show, seem to indicate that House of Cards won’t stray far from the headlines; for better or for worse.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian and speculative-fiction classic is set to premiere April 26 on Hulu. Starring Elizabeth Olsen (a fan-favorite for her role as Peggy in Mad Men) and Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley, the series is packed with star power. However, the impact of the story is sure to come from its subject matter.
Set in New England, the narrative examines a near future in which a theocracy has toppled the American government and forcibly subjugated all fertile women. The series explores feminity and reclamation of female agency through a dystopian, yet all too familiar, lens.