by Matthew Thompson
Before the Fall television season revs up and with it comes an influx of new TV series, I thought I’d take a look back at the new shows worth checking out from this Summer. Here are a handful of promising television series that debuted over the last few months.
One of the surprise hits of the year for me has been this TNT dramedy series. Claws follows a group of manicurists who get caught up in the drug game in Florida’s Manatee County. Niecy Nash, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes and Dean Norris are among the actors that bring to life one of television’s most colorful casts comprised of the nail artisans and Dixie Mafia members that make up the bulk of the show’s major characters. Claws is capable of delivering laughs, drama and action in equal measure, doing so in the most ridiculous ways possible. Stripper-laden memorial services, art exhibits featuring pubic hair sculpture and fist fights set to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” are just a few of the over the top scenes you can expect to see when you sit down for an episode of Claws. Despite their criminal activities, the group of women at the series’ center is an easy bunch to root for which is just one more reason the series is such a fun watch. The silliness of Claws will certainly be an acquired taste, but those able to get behind the absurdity of it all will be rewarded with a great time.
Hooten & the Lady
I love treasure-hunting adventure stories like this one. So much so that I’ve been trying my hand (unsuccessfully of course!) at writing some fiction of my own in this vein. Hooten & the Lady reminds me a lot of stuff like Romancing the Stone and Uncharted. Alex – the titular “Lady” – is a British museum curator who heads off on trips to recover important artifacts for her place of work. Hooten works on the more shady side of the treasure hunting business. The two come together for a new adventure each week, sometimes unintentionally or against the other’s wishes. They seek things like the lost city of El Dorado and the tomb of Alexander the Great in expeditions that take them all over the globe from Moscow to the Sistene Chapel. Hooten and Alex make for a great leading duo. They come from different backgrounds, but share great chemistry and the show is filled with the sort of witty banter and humorous scenarios that one would expect from the light-hearted serials that the show takes inspiration from. I’m not sure this is objectively great television, but for someone who loves this kind of adventure fiction, I am having an absolute blast watching this. I’ve always wanted to see a quality TV show in this genre and Hooten & the Lady is delivering.
From the unexpected source that is TruTV comes not only one of the best new series of the summer, but one of my favorite comedies of 2017 full stop. The premise of I’m Sorry is a simple one. The show depicts the everyday occurrences that Andrea – a comedy writer, wife and mother – deals with in her interactions with her family, friends, co-workers and those at her daughter’s school. While it may not seem like the most scintillating of concepts, it is the execution that matters and I’m Sorry makes this run-of-the-mill idea hilarious. Two things stand out for me about the show. One is creator and star Andrea Savage’s delivery. The way she talks about vulgar things or slips expletives into casual conversations just cracks me up. Even just the way she says “Fuck you” is hysterical. The other is the scenarios and situations – many pulled from Savage’s real life – that fill each week’s episodes. Everything from the weekly plots – her writing partner (played by the always funny Jason Mantzoukas) dating her daughter’s teacher – to recurring gags – a blind man who uses his disability for sleazy purposes at the local coffee shop – to casual conversations – like the ones between the parents waiting to pick up their kids from school – bring heaps of laughs. Week in, week out, few shows this year have made me laugh as much as I’m Sorry. There’s not much more I can ask for out of a comedy.
Jason Bateman really shines in this new Netflix crime drama. He plays an incredibly smart financial advisor named Marty Byrde who has been laundering money for a Mexican cartel. When his partner is caught skimming and things go awry, Marty talks the boss into letting him pay off the debt with a plan he comes up with on the fly. These improvisational skills keep him alive and land him and his family in the Ozarks. While he tries to find a way to fix things with the drug cartel, he must deal with local crime families, the FBI and his own marital problems. I love how upfront Marty is to his family about everything he gets into. It makes for a nice change of pace from the typical in-over-your-head crime series. Along with the fascinating central character he plays, Bateman directed a number of the episodes. Ozark really shows off his talent on both sides of the camera. I also really loved the Ruth Langmore character. Played by Julia Garner, Ruth is a young criminal who acts as both rival and ally to Marty during the course of the season. While it certainly hasn’t reached the same level of quality, Ozark reminds me a bit of Breaking Bad. It is a compelling new series capable of delivering moments both tense and shocking buoyed by a strong lead performance by Jason Bateman. Definitely worth a watch.
A few more things:
- I just put these alphabetically, but I’m Sorry and Hooten & the Lady are my favorites of the four.
- Hooten & the Lady actually debuted in the UK last Fall, but The CW airing is the first time I’m seeing it, so it’s new to me!
- I thought about including GLOW in here. I don’t like it quite as much as these four (and I didn’t really feel the desire to write about it), but it is good and worth a look.
- I think The Sinner has been solid so far. It is sort of like a murder mystery show, but the mystery is in the why, not the who. Feels like a show I need to see the end of before I can recommend it though.
- Room 104 has been the big miss of the summer for me among the new shows. I liked the premise and support the idea of more old-school anthology series in the mold of The Twilight Zone, but this has been mediocre during its best outings and much worse otherwise.
That will do it for this post. Did any new shows this Summer catch your eye? Let me know about them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!