What have you been watching? Including How I Met Your Father, The Afterparty and Single Drunk Female

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Sorry for the slight absence. Januaries hey? Too much work, too little time. But I have been watching some TV at least, since we’ve been getting a decent number of new shows.

First off, some shows I thought I might watch but never got round to

On Netflix, there’s The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window and In From the Cold. They turned up on Friday and I simply didn’t have any time to start them. The former stars Kristen Bell: “Mixing wine, pills, casseroles and an overactive imagination, Anna obsesses over a hunky neighbor across the street and witnesses a murder. Or did she?”

Also on Netflix is In From the Cold, which I might farm out to our resident movie reviewer, assuming I can get her to watch TV, as it’s “Exposed as an ex-Russian spy, an American single mom must juggle family life and unique shape-shifting skills in a battle against an insidious enemy.” Shape-shifting skills? Hmmm.

There’s also The Gilded Age (US: HBO Max; UK: Sky Atlantic), which is Julian Fellowes’ new show. I never watched Downton Abbey (UK: ITV), and something like it set in America doesn’t float my boat at all, so I decided not to bother.

Secondly, some shows I started watching but couldn’t bring myself to finish

Promised Land (US: ABC), on the hand, I sat down to watch and it was about five minutes before I thought to myself: “Haven’t I just watched this show?”

The plot: “Two Latinx families vie for wealth and power in California’s Sonoma Valley.”

I mean, a soapy show about winegrowers? That’s The Kings of Napa (US: OWN). There are some differences, particularly around a whole ‘Illegals’ plotline about who’s got the right papers and who hasn’t, and this is played a little straighter than The Kings of Napa. There’s also a subtly different plotline about what new product the next generation wants to get the older generation to sell: The Kings of Napa went with dessert wine, while Promised Land decided to go with wines with funny names and labels designed to appeal to young people. Otherwise, basically the same show. And they both bored me.

The regulars

I’ve been keeping up with the regulars. The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) has been reliably interesting, if not compelling, with Boba Fett’s backstory appeasing Star Wars and being moderately entertaining, while the more forward-looking original storyline about his efforts to take over Jabba’s old empire proving to be a lot duller.

However, the latest episode was more technically speaking an episode of The Mandalorian, given Boba doesn’t make an appearance and there’s barely a cameo appearance from anyone else from The Book of Boba Fett, all while we spend our time finding out what The Mandalorian has been up to since the events of the second season, and setting the scene for the third season. It’s a little worrying that the fight scenes and plotting are visibly better than Boba Fett‘s, although there’s already so much mythos around The Mandalorian that it’s feeling hard to keep up with all it and not be bored by sub-section 5, para 4 of The Mandalorian Way or whatever being the main focus of the show. Did you get that dark sabre through legitimate fight or was it given to you? Did you take your helmet off? If so, at what point and in front of whom. Hmm, let me check para 5 to see…

You get the idea.

Can we just have fights and fun instead, please?

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up with all the episodes of The Peacemaker, which has been reliably stupid (in a good way) and entertaining. Our team is sort of coming together and the addition of Freddie Stroma’s Vigilante has added more fun to everything. It’s incredibly daft but there’s usually one side-burstingly funny moment or 10 each episode, and Cena’s tough but soft dick of a superhero is a magnificent creation and pointed satire for our time.

And in Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One), we’ve had the usual ‘flipped Smallville‘ approach to storytelling – yes, it’s a show for people who grew up with Smallville but are now parents with their own kids – with the abject tedium of the teenage relationships the B-plots and the planet-threatening villains and the difficulties of being a parent the A-plots. I’m quite enjoying what their doing with the supporting adult cast this season, with Lana, Steel and Lois’ dad all getting some quite intriguing and different stuff from the usual.

But oh joy! After teasing us a possible planet-killer for most of the season, we finally get the revelation that we’re at least going to meet (spoiler alert) Bizarro – loved the end title of the latest episode. That actually made me burst out laughing.

Anyway, it’s all still thrilling and moving in alternate measures, so everyone should be watching.

After the jump, though, let’s talk about the new shows I’ve been watching and completing entire episodes of: Single Drunk Female (US: Freeform), The Afterparty (AppleTV+) and How I Met Your Father (US: Hulu)

Single Drunk Female (US: Freeform)

A public flameout at a New York media company forces 20-something alcoholic Samantha Fink to move back home with her overbearing mother; Samantha then sets out on a path to figure out her best self while confronted with remnants of her old life.

Rob says: ‘Not that funny and a little preachy, but likeable’

America has an alcohol problem. The problem is that as soon as someone reveals they like drinking more than a glass of anything a day, it’s seen as an epic, pathological problem, an addiction that will require treatment, constant AA meetings and a lifetime of abstention.

Meh. Come down the pub more often, guys.

Single Drunk Female is another one of those cautionary tales, up there with Hogarth’s Gin Lane, about loving the demon drink and what it will do to you. You’ll lose your job, you’ll commit acts of violence, you’ll have to move back in with your mum.

Although if your mum is Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club), that feels more like an advert for drinking. Drink more, everyone. Drink more.

To be fair to the show, it’s more about someone genuinely alcoholic with a serious problem than your regular British advertising executive, who probably couldn’t do their job for more than a day without a bottle of wine and some marching powder to keep them going. Yet it’s still dominated by a central comedic pastiche of a performance by star Sofia Black-D’Elia and a script that has her doing dumb things because hey, she’s an alcoholic so dumb things must come with the territory, right? I mean… she must be a little dumb or else why would she be so self-destructive.

I’m sure there’ll be a long moral journey, somewhat akin to Pilgrim’s Progress over the course over the series, that will be very tedious and nearly unwatchable. But all of that said, I did enjoy the cast for the most part and when it’s just a regular comedy-drama that doesn’t even hint at alcohol, it was actually quite witty in places.

It’s just as a piece of (self?) flagellation from the country that gave us Prohibition, it’s a bit wearing.

The Afterparty (AppleTV+)

When a high school reunion’s after party ends in a stunning death, everyone is a suspect; a detective grills the former classmates one by one, uncovering potential motives as each tells their version of the story – culminating in the shocking truth.

Rob says: ‘Too self-consciously clever but with moments of fun’

I’m not a fan of crime dramas, even comedy crime dramas, so I won’t talk about this one too much. So to sum up, this is a quirky but strangely rudderless piece of broadbrush comedy that’s paradoxically way too smart for its own good. If anything it feels like a completely unnecessary rejoinder from AppleTV+ to Disney+’s Only Murders in the Building, rather than anything else.

The show’s big ‘hook’ is that the central police detectives are rubbish at their jobs but the lead detective likes everyone to tell their stories as ‘mind movies’. What that results in is a sort of Rashomon among film genres, with episode one giving us black and white arthouse and romcom, episode two giving us action movies and so on. It’s a nice idea that should yield better results, but the show is almost so proud of its own cleverness that it forgets to be… clever. The jokes are daft, the characters are agreeable enough but not recognisably human beings, rather than characters, and you won’t know anything more about the conventions of romcoms than you already did by the end, since the show doesn’t really have much that’s new to say.

There are some good moments, to be fair, such as a cameo by Channing Tatum in a supposed biopic of Hall and Oates. But at 50 minutes, each episode seems way too long for the material at hand. I might watch more, but I doubt it.

How I Met Your Father (US: Hulu)

Sophie tells her son the story of how she met his father.

Rob says: ‘Didn’t watch the original. Won’t be watching this’

How I Met Your Mother (US: CBS) was a surprise hit for what was a surprisingly gentle and uninnovative romcom sitcom about how some random guy ended up meeting his future wife, all told in narration to his future children. It lasted a stupidly large number of seasons, which I was okay with since it gave work to Doogie Howser and Willow from Buffy, as well as introduced the world to Cobie Smulders.

Now we have something very similar, just gender-reversed. Now it’s Kim Cattrall’s turn to tell her son in 2050 how her younger self (Hilary Duff) met his future father. Although at this point all we know it’s someone she met on one particular night and although we’ve been given a montage of who it could be, other men did appear in the episode so be braced for possible escape hatches if this thing runs.

But I doubt it will because it’s really not very funny at all. Almost none of the jokes land and I didn’t really care about any of the characters. Duff’s supposed to be this wide-eyed romantic but the show lost me when it was revealed that was in spite of her mum ‘being a party girl’. Judgy, much? Plus, can you still do that in your 50s?

There’s also an English guy who’s supposed to be a member of royalty but who’s never used a urinal before. “Don’t you guys have stalls?” “Yes, but we use them for the horses.”

I mean… someone got paid to write that.

If there are any connections with the original (is the flat they all hang out in the same?), they passed me by, so even if you are a fan of HIMYM, this isn’t a must-watch. I’d say avoid.

Author

  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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