If the last 26 consecutive weeks of progressively worse and worse pain and anguish have been any indication, then this week is going to suck. Political tension is at an all-time high, Mother Nature has had it up to here *points at neck* with us, and your favorite sports team disappointed again! At least the lone bright spot in this apocalyptic existence — television — is having a tremendous year, and this week should be no different.
Some favorites return, including the latest chapter in Noah Hawley’s Fargo experience and a new season of South Park, which ignores social distancing rules with the coronavirus, as well as two stirring documentaries about the final chapter of life, both investigative and celebratory. And of course, if you enjoy the misery of the outside world, one of the biggest events of the political calendar will unfold live on television.
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Series premiere Sunday at 9/8c on FX
Noah Hawley‘s anthology series reimagining the Coen Brothers‘ 1996 movie Fargo returns for a fourth season with its most ambitious chapter yet. It’s set in Kansas City in 1950, where two competing crime families, one Black and the other Italian, trade their eldest sons to seal a truce. But then the head of the mafia dies during surgery, and everything falls apart. The only thing we can predict will happen is that a lot of people will die before the end of the show. The all-star cast is led by Chris Rock as crime family patriarch Loy Cannon and also includes Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Jessie Buckley, and Timothy Olyphant as a Mormon U.S. Marshal whom Hawley blessed with the extraordinary name Dick “Deafy” Wickware. [TV Guide review] –Liam Mathews
The Presidential Debates: Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, cable news channels
It’s finally here, the night we’ve all been simultaneously anticipating and dreading. Current president Donald Trump will chit the chat with former Vice President Joe Biden in their first debate before November’s election. The moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, announced a set of topics to discuss, including the coronavirus, the Supreme Court, the economy, and race, but not climate change (???). Anyway, expect a couple old white men hurling insults at each other, zero acceptance of wrongdoing, and plenty of hot takes to confirm your bias shortly after.
Wednesday at 8/7c on Comedy Central
A lot of unprecedented stuff has happened in 2020. One of those things is that for the first time in South Park‘s 23-year history, the animated comedy is airing an hourlong episode. So much has happened since South Park wrapped its 23rd season last year that Trey Parker and Matt Stone had to do a super-sized standalone episode to cover everything. The “Pandemic Special” will satirize the current American moment as only South Park can, and will find Randy Marsh playing a role in spreading the virus via his weed business and the kids going back to school and finding it nothing like it was before. We’re anticipating it will be very cathartic and a little infuriating. –Liam Mathews
American Murder: The Family Next Door
Wednesday on Netflix
There are so many awful people out there that true crime documentarians will never run out of stories to tell. The latest recounts the disappearance and murder of Shanann Watts and her two toddler daughters in Colorado in the summer of 2018, and the investigation into Watts’ husband Christopher as the likely subject. Jenny Popplewell’s documentary avoids dwelling in the sensationalism of the grisly crime, instead focusing on the family’s seemingly idyllic existence on social media and the real-life truth of a family in the midst of disintegration. This film shows the horror that goes on behind closed doors.
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Friday on Netflix
Death doesn’t have to be all boo hoo this, painful screaming that. It’s a fact of existence and should be celebrated as such. Director Kirsten Johnson follows up her sentimental film Cameraperson with this touching and surprisingly heartfelt Sundance hit about her dad, who is very much alive but is living with dementia. Looking to capture her dad’s journey towards the end, Johnson embellishes his life with fantastical sequences that honor her father with some dark humor, including scenes that show how he could die. It’s the right way to honor death by celebrating life.
Season 1 Friday on Netflix
Created by Sex and the City‘s Darren Star, Emily in Paris is a new romantic comedy series wrapped up inside a bit of a workplace comedy. It stars Lily Collins as a successful millennial with a master’s degree in marketing who moves to Paris to lend an American perspective to the company her Chicago-based firm recently acquired. Although she’s there for work, Emily naturally discovers a lot about herself (and love) in the City of Light. If you like Younger, which Star also created, or perhaps Freeform’s The Bold Type, you’re going to love this show. –Kaitlin Thomas
Season 2 premiere Friday at 10/9c on Cinemax
The second season of Warrior is Cinemax’s last dying breath in terms of original content, but the exciting action series is more than making it count. In Season 2, martial arts prodigy Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) is once again working for the Hop Wei after Father Jun (Perry Yung) previously left him for dead following his defeat at the hands of Li Yong (Joe Taslim) in the tournament. This puts Ah Sahm in direct opposition with his sister (Dianne Doan) now that she’s leading rival tong the Long Zii and was ready to kill him last season to secure her power, as well as Father Jun, whom Ah Sahm wants to topple and replace. It’s a true shame this is likely to be Warrior‘s final season, because not only is it one of the few shows to put Asian actors front and center in a TV landscape desperately in need of better representation, but it also features a number of women in positions of power, from Mai Ling (Doan) to Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng), a cunning madam masquerading as a violent vigilante. And this is not to mention Season 2 newcomer Rosalita Vega (Maria Elena Laas) or even Penny Blake (Joanna Vanderham), who has taken over her father’s business. Between the excellent stunt work and compelling narrative that digs into politics and racism, no other show is doing quite what Warrior is doing, so catch it while you still can. –Kaitlin Thomas
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