Welcome to our 2016 HBO Fall TV Extravaganza! The pedigreed pay-cable programmer rolls out three major new series this fall, starting with the controversial Westworld which premiered last night. Then, premiering next Sunday are two highly anticipated series. First, Divorce marks the return of Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker to the HBO lineup. Then, Insecure showcases a new voice in comedy in an engaging new series. We talk about each show and look at whether or not each are candidates for awards attention. Or are they just another The Brink or Togetherness on the HBO pile of prestige programming?
Before that, we look quickly (because who can stand to look too long) at last week’s first 2016 Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Did this make for good television? How did this stack up against other major debates? What sound bites will resonate with the viewing public?
As always, we close with the Flash Forward of what television most excites us in the upcoming week. (Podcast)
Things move very quickly in Timeless, NBC’s new time-hopping drama. It wastes no time getting its characters into period garb and throwing around modern references in the 1930’s. In short, Timeless wants to be a fun, jaunty good time, and it pretty much delivers. (Timeless)
Although he’s guest starred on many television shows, Thomas Haden Church hasn’t been a series regular since he headlined Ned & Stacey with Debra Messing from 1995 to 1997. People also still affectionately remember him as Lowell Mather from Wings, but Church didn’t anticipate a return to television.
“This isn’t Sex and the City, I can tell you that. You have me shitting in a coffee can, so you know we’re in for some heavy sledding.”
In Divorce, Thomas Haden Church’s Robert is blindsided by his wife’s demand for a separation after a friend’s birthday party ends dramatically. Sarah Jessica Parker plays his wife, Frances, and the duo previously worked together on the small indie Smart People (“I loved filming in Pittsburgh,” he added). Even though their marriage is deteriorating with every episode, Church jumped at the chance to work with the beloved television star. (Thomas Haden Church)
HBO’s Insecure offers some of the most surprising comic moments of the 2016 Fall TV season. The comedy stems from creators Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl) and Larry Wilmore, and it feels like one of those pleasant discovery-type series that viewers need to savor. For whatever reason, it doesn’t come with much widespread buzz, but viewers who miss out on this great show do so at their own peril. Insecure invokes genuine thoughts, emotions, and laughs – far more than many of the artificial comedies plaguing network television. (Insecure)
Olivia Pope. Annalise Keating. Cookie Lyon. One thing each of these black leading ladies on television has in common is their strength. But when creator, co-writer, and star of HBO’s Insecure, Issa Rae, initially pitched her show to HBO, she told producers, “I’m not a strong black woman; I’m a weak black woman.”
“Typically on TV, the images of black women in narratives are those that are super put-together or that ‘slay’,” said Prentice Penny, showrunner of Insecure. “There’s this idea that black women can’t be as insecure as white women or any other women. What’s beautiful about our show is just seeing black women as people.” (Prentice Penny)