The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of June 19, 2017

Which TV series will your friends (and the entire internet) be talking about this week? Stay informed — or at least be able to fake it — with SideReel's weekly guide to The Most Important Shows on TV.


The Mist: S1E1

The Mist
(Series Premiere)

Thursday at 10 p.m. on Spike

Why: If you loved Stephen King's 1980 novella, or the 2007 big-screen adaptation, or the video game series inspired by the story, or — you get it. For a 130-page book, The Mist has influenced a lot of creative folks. And now it's Christian Torpe's turn. His new series is very much rooted in King's work, but he's reimagined the story for a modern TV audience. It's sort of a horror piece, with a bit of a zombie vibe. But really, it's about fear. And while there are monsters and they provide some truly gruesome moments, the scariest monsters are the people (duh). Speaking of, we're introduced to a dozen key characters, each with their own baggage, during the pilot. Among them: a 16-year-old who's just told her parents she was raped by a jock, her gay friend, a sheriff's deputy, an amnesiac soldier, and the town conspiracy theorist. And then the titular character, the mist, makes itself known. And things get... complicated.

Prepare to talk about: Those insects; the excellent cinematography; Frances Conroy continuing to perfect the mysterious and creepy old lady vibe.



(Series Premiere)

Friday at 3 a.m. on Netflix

Why: If you like Orange Is the New Black, you will like Jenji Kohan's new Netflix show. The two series share several similarities: using a male-dominated TV universe to tell women's stories, employing a wonderfully diverse cast, balancing silly moments and emotional ones. And as was the case in the first season of OITNB, the audience finds its way into this strange, unfamiliar world via a sympathetic character. Alison Brie plays Ruth, a struggling actress in mid-'80s Los Angeles, where casting directors don't know what to do with her. Desperate for work, Ruth responds to an open call for what turns out to be a low-budget cable show about a women's wrestling league (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). With the period outfits and wrestling antics, the show has its over-the-top moments. But it's grounded by emotional, nuanced performances from Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Kate Nash, Chris Lowell, and comedian Marc Maron as the bitter but passionate director.

Prepare to talk about: The real GLOW, which actually ran for four years in the '80s; how the team behind the scenes is as women-dominated as the cast; the show's ability to present and then deconstruct stereotypes, a Kohan specialty.


Playing House: S3E1

Playing House
(Season Premiere)

Friday at 11 p.m. on USA Network

Why: At long last, Jammers. They're back! This is one of those victims of Peak TV, an excellent show that has gotten lost in the noise of prestige dramas, bloody battle sequences, and gently funny "comedies." Playing House is the second sitcom created by and starring Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair (whose Best Friends Forever will forever be on my personal canceled-too-soon list). They play childhood friends who come to each other's aid and create their own quirky, loving family. Season 2 ended with a cliffhanger involving will-they-or-won't-they couple Emma (St. Clair) and Mark (Keegan-Michael Key, serving goofball sex appeal). The new season sees that storyline play out. Maggie (Parham) also finds romance with a Mr. Darcy-type coworker. And the duo tackles St. Clair's real-life cancer diagnosis, leading to the kind of comically emotional moments Playing House is so good at pulling off.

Prepare to talk about: Bosephus: the man, the myth, the legend; how adept the show is at meshing the real and the wacky; how fun it is to watch to best friends try to crack each other up.


T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He low-key stans for Bird Bones. Follow him on Twitter.


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