Turn off the Lights

3 New Shows You Should Check Out

November is the time when really good new shows distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this years batch of new network shows has been less than stellar. However, HBO and Netflix have turned in a few winners. Here’s a (spoiler-free) look at the three best new shows of this fall.

Mindhunter (Netflix)

If you are a fan of shows like Criminal Minds or any sort of true crime podcast, you’ll like Mindhunter. If you don’t like Criminal Minds (like me), you’ll like Mindhunter. Set in the early 1970s, the series follows two FBI agents, Ford and Tench (played very well by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany), as they interview serial killers (although that term doesn’t exist at this point in time) in hopes of creating a psychological profile (with the help of Anna Torv’s character Wendy Carr, a psychology professor) that might help catch these killers before they can kill. The season also spends time on the agents’ personal lives (which is the least interesting part of the season), and with the agents as they aid in some local PD investigations, giving them a chance to try out their theories and profile in real world settings. There are also unsuccessful vignettes of the BTK killer beginning his killings, that not only serve to pull focus from the main action of the show, but also present a strange blueprint of the show moving forward, as he wasn’t caught until 2003 (which will, presumably, be way past the life of the series).

The show is most successful when the agents are spending time talking with the imprisoned serial killers, especially during their time with Edmund Kemper (played brilliantly by Cameron Britton, who uses his massive size to great effect, while also looking eerily like the real Kemper). These interviews are incredibly interesting for us as an audience, as we come from a world where psychological profiles are common place. In these interviews, we can see the key elements of the serial killer profiles we know emerging as Ford and Tench start to learn what actually makes these men tick. The relationship between Ford and Tench also deepens through these interviews, as we see one of the duo empathizing with these killers and the other forcefully rejecting any sense of empathy. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, and both Groff and McCallany are up for the challenge. The ten-episode first season is a smart and interesting binge.

Big Mouth (Netflix)

I honestly didn’t think I would like this cartoon series that irreverently looks at puberty, but boy was I wrong. While leaning a bit heavily on the gross-out humor one would expect from a series that deals with adolescence at times, Big Mouth has a great heart, and you genuinely care about these kids and want the best for them. And, while the series has more references to boners than I normally care for in my television, it’s shockingly honest about how hard dealing with puberty can be for both genders.

The voice work, which includes Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, and Jordan Peele, is top notch. Between Big Mouth and American Vandal, Netflix is having a great run of strange, quirky comedies that are finding success in ways I doubt the streaming service anticipated. Big Mouth is a quick ten-episodes, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fun and funny show to watch.

The Deuce (HBO)

The Deuce, from David Simon (The Wire) and George Pelecanos, is something special. It’s not flashy, it’s not a major genre hit. If you were a fan of The Wire, you will really enjoy The Deuce and it’s unflinching look at 1970s Time Square. If you never got a chance to watch that seminal work, but are a big fan of the various human-focused dramas of this Peak TV era (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Shield, The Sopranos), there’s plenty for you to enjoy within the rich, complex characters that dot the landscape of The Deuce.

The story follows the sex workers, pimps, and other underworld denizens that roamed the streets of Time Square in mid-1970s. Starring James Franco (who is in the dual role of twin brothers, which works in the later episodes when the characters finally start getting separate screen time) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who plays a sex worker who operates without a pimp- and who has the intelligence and drive to make herself marketable as the sex trade transitions from the streets to the world of porn), the series has an incredibly deep cast (pulling a number of actors from The Wire, along with adding additional names to the Simon actor stable). But what really sets it apart from other HBO dramas is the care with which the stories are told. Yes, there’s nudity (both male and female). Yes, there are a number of sex scenes throughout. But Simon and Pelecanos made sure to have a mix of male and female writers and directors (including the amazing Michelle MacLaren, who directs the pilot and is an executive producer), insuring that the series wouldn’t simply treat its female characters as objects. It works, giving some of the hookers incredible arcs, and allowing us to humanize both them and their pimps. The first season is a mere eight episodes, and is worth your time.

 

Liked this article? Try These!

Comments

Meet the Author

About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

Follow Us