What to watch: Great American Suzie
Hey there! I just had a baby so the Pop Culture Brain newsletter is currently on parental leave. I’ll be back soon with regular news, trailers, and recommendation emails — but for now please enjoy highlights from the what to watch segment!
American Utopia — After In and Of Itself, I want to give American Utopia a minute to shine. David Byrne’s theatrical concert presentation on HBO Max is as joyful as it is stirring. Byrne’s barefoot band breathes new life to songs you know and many you don’t, while director Spike Lee highlights the show’s ingenious staging and choreography. I’d encourage you to check it out even if you’re not a Talking Heads fan or think it looks weird. Like In and Of Itself, this is the closest you can get right now to feeling the thrill of live theater.
I Hate Suzie — From Fleabag to I May Destroy You, the “young London woman in crisis” has basically become its own genre — and Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble’s take on it is another winning addition. Like its forebears, HBO Max’sI Hate Suzie is a darkly comic, somewhat experimental half-hour star vehicle set in and around London that explores relationships, sexuality, consent, and grief. It then mixes in a shot of celebrity satire, a dash of chaotic energy, and whole lot of Piper’s expressive acting chops to really stand apart. But the bottom line is if you like “young London woman in crisis” shows, you’ll definitely dig this.
The Great — So you’ve just finished watching Bridgerton but don’t want the corset-and-drawing-room period drama to end? Hop on over to Hulu and start up The Great. Series creator Tony McNamara (The Favourite) takes a similarly modern approach to history with his hilarious and stylized interpretation of Catherine the Great. McNamara’s irreverent, razor sharp style seen on display in The Favourite carries over quite nicely to a serial format and Bridgerton fans will be happy to see this show also takes an anachronistic approach to race. (Though it’s not as foregrounded.) Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult take big bites out of the series many twists and turns to give career-best performances. It’s a blast and feels a lot shorter than its 10 hour-long episode runtime. Huzzah!