Online streaming is bigger than ever, and with so many streaming services adding new shows and movies every week, it can be nearly impossible to sort through the good and the bad. If you need something to watch and don’t want to wade through the endless sea of digital muck that washes up on the internet’s shores, follow our picks below for the best new shows and movies worth a watch.
This week, Maria Bamford has a new comedy on Netflix, Amazon adds new season of beloved crime dramas, and HBO provides a gripping Peruvian thriller.
Lady Dynamite (season 1)
Comedian Maria Bamford has built a great standup career by mining her own history of mental illness for humor. Now with her new Netflix show, Lady Dynamite, she is translating those experiences to a sitcom format. In the grand Seinfeld tradition, the show stars Bamford as a fictionalized version of herself. Trying to find acting roles in Hollywood, Bamford teeters on the edge of a mental breakdown. Lady Dynamite is a collaboration with Mitchell Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, and his rapid fire, absurdly witty style is a perfect match for Bamford’s neurotic persona.
Lucky Louie (season 1)
Before his acclaimed drama/comedy made him one of the most decorated people working in comedy today, Louis C.K. made another, far less successful show. Lucky Louie, which aired for one season on HBO, is a radically different project than current FX hit Louie. In fact, aside from the man at the helm, they are practically unrecognizable as cousins. Lucky Louie is a multi-camera sitcom in the style of All in the Family, and Louis’ lack of control on the show (and its eventual outcome) is what made him fight so hard for complete creative control over his current series. Like many of shows of its ilk, Lucky Louie focuses on a working class family. C.K. plays Louie, a mechanic working part time, while Pamela Adlon plays his wife Kim, a nurse and the family’s main breadwinner. Marriage between a slovenly man and a go-getter woman is practically the bedrock of the sitcom genre, but Lucky Louie doesn’t quite fit into the mold. Louie plays much more of a sad sack than the usual sitcom patriarchs here, and the show’s grim outlook on marriage makes it a bit more interesting than it TV predecessors.
Boardwalk Empire (season 4)
Crime dramas are perhaps the biggest genre in television, and it’s not hard to imagine why: like the Western, the crime story lets us travel outside the bounds of civilization, to see people behaving as we never can. HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is one of the most prestigious crime shows yet, created by one of the writers of The Sopranos with help from Martin Scorsese. The show follows “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), treasurer of Atlantic County, New Jersey, who uses his position to control the city’s finances and its drug trade during Prohibition. Nucky is hardly the only criminal operating during the famed era, and he must contend with both criminal rivals and the federal government. The complex maneuvering of criminal enterprises keeps the audience guessing, but Buscemi’s performance is the real treat here, as he deftly juggles Nucky’s twin roles as charming politician and cutthroat businessman.
Banshee (season 2)
After serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds, a nameless man (Antony Starr) makes his way to the small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania, hoping to find his accomplice in the jewel heist, Anastasia (Ivana Miličević), who was also his lover and his boss’s daughter. The man arrives just as the new sheriff in town, Lucas Hood, is killed, and he deftly adopts the dead man’s name and identity. Now the sheriff of Banshee, “Lucas Hood” must contend with the corrupt forces that run the town, as well as his former boss, who is eager to find his daughter and the stolen jewels. The Cinemax series is unabashed pulp, with plenty of sex, violence, and scenery-chewing villains. The show’s solid direction and bloody twists keep things entertaining, though, long after the raunchy aspects lose their flavor.
A cruel thriller from Peruvian actor-turned-director Salvador del Solar, Magallanes follows the titular cab driver (Damien Alcazar), an older man who was a soldier during Peru’s bloody civil war in the ’80s. Already haunted by his past, Magallanes is terrified when one day he picks up Celina (Magaly Solier), the former sex slave of Magallanes’ commander Colonel Rivero (Federico Luppi) during the war. Though she does not recognize him, Magallanes cannot forget his role in what happened to her. Seeking atonement, Magallanes decides to help her with her ailing business by blackmailing the Colonel’s son with evidence of the past misdeeds. Magallanes is a novice criminal, however, and things don’t go as he planned. With tight cinematography and great performances from its leads, Magallanes is an excellent low-key thriller.