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From tales of deadly sins to comic swan songs, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
NetflixIn just weeks, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has transformed from obscure Slavic politician to one of the planet’s most recognizable figures. The Ukrainian president may masterfully wear the mantel of wartime leader, but it’s one that few would have predicted from a comedian best known for his TV comedy Servant of the People, now available to watch on Netflix, Joytv and Vision.
In the show—which ran from 2015 to 2019—Zelenskyy portrayed a teacher whose rant about the corruption permeating Ukrainian society goes viral, propelling him on an improbable path to becoming the nation’s new president. Ironically, life imitated art when the success of the show led him to launch a real-life presidential run, which ended with a very unexpected victory.
Servant of the People offers insight into both Zelenskyy and his country, with his character depicted as a principled idealist (think Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) constantly bumping up against entrenched Soviet-style corruption and bureaucracy (in one of the show’s running bits, a group of faceless, shadowy oligarchs serve as a sort of Greek chorus, lamenting that this new president threatens to derail the gravy train that’s made them billions).
After the events of the past few months, watching Servant of the People inevitably becomes a far different experience than it did when Zelenskyy was a make-believe TV president and not the real thing. Jokes about the president’s “suntan architect” and “self-esteem raiser” (a staffer who follows him around and tells him how great he is) seem less funny after the real-life destruction inflicted on Ukraine, as does the frequent mockery of Vladimir Putin.
Ultimately, though, Servant of the People is a show about hope, how one person really can enact meaningful change. That’s a theme that resonates as strongly now as it did then.
LifetimeThe latest in Lifetime’s devilishly soapy Seven Deadly Sins anthology (following earlier entries Lust and Envy) follows Chastity Jeffries (Michelle Williams), a single lawyer who begins a romance with a charming guy named Xavier King (Antonio Cupo). When she introduces her new beau to her childhood boyfriend (Romeo Miller), Xavier shows his true colours, becoming jealous, possessive and abusive. Turning to her mother (Tina Knowles-Lawson) for help, Chastity eventually realizes she will have to save herself from this toxic relationship.
AMCFans who’ve been following the journey of con man Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) will definitely be onboard for the long-awaited, COVID-delayed sixth and final season of this award-winning Breaking Bad prequel. As usual, producers are keeping their lips zipped about what to expect, but it’s a pretty safe bet, now that all the pieces have been put into place, we’ll finally witness Jimmy’s full-on transformation into lowlife lawyer Saul Goodman, money launderer to the criminal meth empire built by Walter “Heisenberg” White in the original series. Whether that means viewers will see Bryan Cranston reprise his Emmy-winning role remains to be seen, but even if that long-awaited cameo does happen, it’s guaranteed to be kept top secret until the moment it airs. In the meantime, there’s still an entire swan-song season to enjoy before we discover how Jimmy wound up living a sad and lonely life, under an assumed identity, working at a Cinnabon within a mall in Omaha, Nebraska—and what fate will finally have in store.
NetflixAbercrombie & Fitch clothing was the go-to uniform for young adults back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, boasting bustling stores in malls throughout the U.S. Yet while the brand was running white hot with young consumers, its popular “all-American” image became damaged as controversy came to light surrounding the company’s exclusionary marketing and discriminatory hiring, resulting in a class-action lawsuit from job applicants of colour claiming store managers told them they “didn’t fit a certain look.” This documentary delves into how the once-ubiquitous brand crashed and burned.
HGTV CanadaIf you ever needed proof that celebrities are just as into home renovation shows as you are, the 2020 debut of this Jonathan and Drew Scott hosted series definitely proved it. Over three seasons we’ve seen everyone from Brad Pitt and Melissa McCarthy to Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Hart and Viola Davis participate, with millions of viewers tuning in as a result. Part of the appeal is the fact that these celebrities aren’t renovating their own homes: they’re giving back to people who inspired and helped them in their path to success, and creating dreamy renovations for them with the help of the affable twins. Really, what’s not to love about that? It’s no wonder a fourth season hits the air this week. “Drew and I continue to be humbled by how many of these huge celebrities entrust us to be a part of their personal acts of kindness,” Jonathan previously said in a statement. “They can’t wait to roll up their sleeves and make these new spaces a reality as quickly as possible. The projects—and the fun—just keep getting bigger.”
ABCDelivering a sitcom that manages to be groundbreaking, culturally relevant and very, very funny, all while tackling the ever-thorny issue of race, is no mean feat, yet it’s one that Black-ish has pulled off with aplomb. First debuting back in 2014, the series has courted controversy while also becoming a big part of many viewers’ lives. With the show ending its eight-season run this week, those viewers will be saying goodbye to the Johnson family, played so brilliantly by Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner, Yara Shahidi, Marsai Martin, Miles Brown, Laurence Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis. As series creator Kenya Barris explained in a recent interview with Deadline about the show coming to a conclusion, he’s proud to have given “a voice for people who didn’t have a voice before. That is a lesson, and hopefully the legacy of what Black-ish is. It brings us all closer.”
NetflixBack in 2019, in the midst of doing promotion for the first season of Netflix’s Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne was asked about the possibility of the series’ second season. “I have some ideas that are pretty out there for what the next season would be,” Lyonne told Indiewire. “The show certainly has some legs for more bizarre scenarios.” Now that the long-awaited second season is finally here, it seems pretty clear that some of Lyonne’s “more bizarre scenarios” were probably implemented into the proceedings, because make no mistake: this season gets way more bizarre than it did during the show’s first go-round. Set four years after the last time we saw Nadia (Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett), viewers will see the twosome reunited, but more often than not, they’ll be seeing them apart. They also won’t have to endure watching them die over and over again, but don’t worry, they’ve got plenty of new problems, thanks to them individually discovering a time portal that they can access via the NYC subway system. When Netflix’s publicity department describes the events of this season as “an ever-expanding, era-spanning, intergenerational adventure,” they’re absolutely not kidding around: between Nadia and Alan, there are trips into the 1940s, the 1960s, and the 1980s, with some of those jaunts taking them well outside of New York City. You’ll also see Nadia stepping into the shoes of her own mother, played—at least during scenes where she’s looking into a mirror or seeing her reflection somewhere else—by Chloë Sevigny. Expect to hear the words “butterfly effect” uttered at some point, but more importantly, plan on the events unfolding onscreen causing your brain to hurt. It’s positively mind-bending sometimes, but as before, Lyonne’s brusque charm helps make even the most implausible events seem at least relatively sensible.
Crave1When The Flight Attendant concluded its first season, it offered up the closest approximation of a happy ending that fans of the dark dramedy could hope for: having figured out who the killer was, Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) vowed to her brother Davey (T.R. Knight) and her best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) that she was going to stay sober. Indeed, that’s where Cassie is when season two kicks off, living life in L.A. and serving as a CIA asset when the opportunity presents itself. Naturally, she gets an overseas assignment right off the bat, during which she witnesses a murder. The series adds several new faces to the familiar ones, but you’ll recognize several of these folks, too: recurring guest stars include Alanna Ubach, Cheryl Hines, Margaret Cho and Sharon Stone. As Cuoco said of the new season in an Instagram post, “3 countries, 7 months, mega highs and lows, COVID etc! What a cast, what a crew, what a team!! There are no words to describe my gratitude. Can’t wait for you to see what we did!”
NetflixTwo British teenagers Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) form an unlikely friendship when unexpected circumstances bring the two together. As their relationship deepens, they come to realize they might be a lot more than friends as they navigate school and young love in this coming-of-age series.
NetflixIf the big teaser at the end of this realty-obsessed series left your jaw on the floor, you’ll be pleased to know the fifth season is here—and only four months later. As for what to expect? Well, that’s kind of all over the place. When we return to the happenings at the Oppenheim Group and catch up with the company’s polished and pretty female realtors, there’s a lot to dig into. First and foremost on everyone’s mind is the relationship between Chrishell Stause and co-founder Jason Oppenheim, which played out in the public via tabloids and headlines in Summer 2021. This is the season in which they not only go public, but have to deal with the inevitable reactions from their co-workers (including one of Jason’s exes, Mary Fitzgerald). Whether Chrishell and Jason’s breakup, which came five months after it all started, is also addressed remains to be seen. Meanwhile, another major storyline to track is anything and everything involving Christine Quinn. By the end of season four, the new mom had pretty much lost every single one of her friendships for her perceived bad behaviour. On a happier note, this is also the season we’ll get to see Heather Rae Young get into full-on bride mode with now-husband Tarek El Moussa (yes, the HGTV star who recently ended Flip or Flop with ex-wife Christina Haack after 10 seasons). “I shot my bridal shower with Selling Sunset, so you’ll see that,” Heather recently teased to PopCulture. “Some of the cast members were at our wedding. They’re our real friends. Tarek’s very close to them as well.” For now. Given the history of this show, we can only hope it stays that way.