From the return of Julia to the third and final season of Sort Of, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Culprits – Monday, November 13, Showcase | Series Premiere
This cunning crime drama kicks off where most crime stories end: after a high-stakes heist, when the crew of elite criminals have gone their separate ways and have tried to leave their old lives behind. Past and present collide, however, when a ruthless assassin starts targeting them one by one. Starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Gemma Arterton, Kirby, Niamh Algar, Kamel EI Basha, Tara Abboud, Kevin Vidal, Ned Dennehy and Eddie Izzard.
2. How We Get Free – Tuesday, November 14, HBO Canada
This brief documentary—just 35 minutes—follows Elisabeth Epps over the course of two tumultuous years, as the bail reform activist and founder of the Colorado Freedom Fund, which provides financial support for those unable to post bail. As she works to end cash bail, cameras also follow her as she posts bail for those who can’t afford it, and then documents her run for state representative, as one of the first abolitionist candidates in Colorado.
3. The Netflix Cup – Tuesday, November 14, Netflix
As the reach of streaming services has expanded further and further over this past decade, there’s literally no corner of the entertainment landscape that digital platforms like Prime, Apple and, yes, Netflix, have not touched. That includes pro sports.
Prime Video has a few exclusive NFL games per year. Apple, a few MLB matches. But now, rather than go after tennis or hockey, Netflix is putting its own indelible spin on athletics via a special live event (with a tune-in time and everything!) featuring cast members from two of its very own sports docuseries... and before you ask, yes, it’s mighty peculiar.
In The Netflix Cup, PGA Tour golfers previously profiled on Full Swing (Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Justin Thomas) and racers from Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz) will pair up and square off in a match at the Vegas Strip’s championship-calibre Wynn Golf Club, just days before the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Ostensibly, it’s a round of golf, but don’t be surprised to see some high-octane, racing-themed twists tossed into the competition as well.
After an eight-hole opener, the two remaining pairs will advance to one final, winner-take-all hole to decide who hoists the Cup.
4. Matt Rife: Natural Selection – Wednesday, November 15, Netflix
Yet another testament to the brand-building power of social media, Matt Rife has gone from YouTube vids to a sold-out world tour, during which he shot this all-new special. In it, the Ohio boy “leaves no topic untouched—from crystals to social media trolls—and no audience member spared.”
5. Julia – Thursday, November 16, Crave | Season Premiere
The origin story of Julia Child’s television journey with groundbreaking PBS cooking show The French Chef began to unfold the first season of Julia, and the second season is even more delicious.
When the first season ended, Child (played to perfection by Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire) had completed the first season of her TV cooking show for Boston’s PBS affiliate, WGBH, and headed to France to work on the second volume of her bestselling cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
When she returns to Boston, Julia discovers that during her absence the show has only grown in popularity, and she’s now a celebrity, starring in the hottest show that PBS has ever produced.
With this success has come change, including a request for product placement and a brash new director (Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom), to whom Julia doesn’t initially warm.
Meanwhile, her producer Alice (Brittany Bradford) receives some life-altering news of her own, while Julia’s pal Avis (Bebe Neuwirth) hits it off with a Harvard professor, a relationship that puts a strain on their friendship. Director Russ (Fran Kranz) leaps at the opportunity to create his dream project, but begins to wonder if he’s bitten off more than he can chew.
In the midst of all this turmoil, Julia receives a lucrative offer from CBS to bring her show to Los Angeles, while a nosy FBI agent (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation alum Paul Guilfoyle) begins snooping around WGBH, suspecting the public television station is a hotbed of communism.
At the centre of it all is Julia’s husband, Paul (David Hyde Pierce), perfectly content to step aside and let his wife soak up the spotlight while supporting her as she copes with the pressure of unexpected stardom.
6. Drive with Swizz Beatz – Thursday, November 16, Disney+ | Series Premiere
American rap icon Swizz Beatz takes a family road trip alongside his chip-off-the-old-engine-block son Nasir, leaning full-throttle into their shared love of cars with trips to automotive hotspots from L.A. to New York, Japan to Saudi Arabia.
7. Twin Love – Friday, November 16, Prime Video | Series Premiere
No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter... but not too far out of the gutter. This is reality TV, after all. The literal translation of “ménage” is “household,” and a “household for twins” is, indeed, what Prime Video’s new dating show offers... two of them, in fact. Though, rest assured, the twins in question are not dating each other (like we said, this is Prime, not TLC)—rather, they’re mixing, matching, mingling and hot-tubbing with other dynamic identical duos.
To elaborate, 10 inseparable pairs of twins will be split up between two separate houses, where they’ll look to find true love without their other halves by their side.
As lovers of the genre well know, pretty much every dating show bills itself as an “experiment,” and Twin Love is no different. Here, the behavioural scientists behind the scenes will try to deduce if their carefully selected subjects’ “inherent similarities extend to their romantic desires. When separated from their twin brothers and sisters—some for the first time ever—will they pursue identical partners? Or will their choices be dramatically different?”
And of course, any proper experiment needs a controlled variable tossed into the mix every now and again. This time, that takes the form of new twins entering the houses to shake things up whenever our core 10 start to get a little too cozy.
No money is on the line here... only happily ever after.
Naturally, this sort of show requires a host (or hosts) who aren’t just charismatic, but have real experience living and loving as a twin. And Prime has found just such a duo in the form of Nikki and Brie Garcia, best known to television audiences as The Bella Twins—who started out as WWE wrestlers before letting fans into their home lives on six seasons of E!’s Total Bellas.
8. Dashing Through the Snow – Friday, November 17, Disney+
And the Christmas movies just keep on streamin’. Evoking a dash of that old Miracle on 34th Street magic, this new movie opens on Eddie Garrick (played by Fast & Furious mainstay Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), a social worker who isn’t in so holly-jolly a mood when the holidays roll around, thanks to painful childhood memories. But this particular December 25 might just lead to a Grinch-style conversion.
After his estranged wife (WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris) asks Eddie to take their nine-year-old daughter (Madison Skye Validum) on Christmas Eve, they meet a fella dressed in red (Get Out’s Lil Rel Howery), who seems to believe he’s Old Saint Nick. At first, Eddie thinks the guy’s certifiable... until the three of them wind up on the run from some very naughty folks out to get their hands on Santa’s vaunted list.
9. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off – Friday, November 17, Netflix | Series Premiere
The history of entertainment is littered with films and TV shows that were underappreciated in their time—things that were released with high expectations but didn’t attract enough eyeballs to offset the millions of dollars the studio poured into the project. And yet, over the years, one thing has proven true: Nielsen ratings and box-office tallies aside, if something is good, it will live on—and perhaps even find a second life.
Take, for example, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Based on the cultishly adored graphic novels by Canadian Bryan Lee O’Malley, the 2010 film chronicled the bumbling-of-age of an aimless 20-something rock bassist in Toronto who meets an Amazon delivery girl he promptly decides is the love of his life. Alas, their courtship is interrupted by the lingering presence of her “Seven Evil Exes,” whom Scott must battle, both figuratively and all too literally.
In the film, Scott was played by Canadian Michael Cera, still riding high off the success of Superbad, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead (late of Birds of Prey) played his intended, Ramona Flowers. Behind the scenes, future Baby Driver director Edgar Wright lent his usual blend of kinetic, hilarious and heartfelt panache.
While critically acclaimed, it was little-watched. But again, quality endures, and now Wright, Cera, Winstead and the rest of the movie’s all-star cast are back for an eight-episode anime remake. That cast, by the way, includes no less than Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin, Jason Schwartzman and Anna Kendrick. As Wright coyly teased in a release: “Original creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, along with writer BenDavid Grabinski have conjured up an anime series of Scott Pilgrim that doesn’t just expand the universe, but also.. well, just watch it.”
10. Sort Of – Friday, November 17, CBC Gem | Season Premiere
It’s a rare and precious thing in television when a fresh, original voice emerges, and that’s been the case with this smart, funny, poignant and groundbreaking series co-created by Fab Filippo and Bilal Baig. Returning for its third and final season, Sort Of has taken viewers inside the life of Sabi Mehoob (played brilliantly by Baig), a gender-fluid young Pakistani Canadian living in Toronto, working as a caregiver for a family in crisis, all while in the midst of a personal journey of self-discovery.
According to a press release, the final season finds Sabi coming to terms with both feelings of grief and an unexpected sense of freedom following the death of their father. “Without the constraints of living up to their father’s expectations, Sabi is able to confront big questions about their identity, prompting some massive life choices,” the release notes. “In a season that has the entire ensemble grappling with aftermaths, a rebirth comes in a sort of messy, sort of hopeful, sort of Sort Of way.”