Before the return of dazzling and well-deserved hype from Laura Dern in recent years, this great actress that we love so much was at the head of her own drama on HBO. Enlightened did not have the success it deserved and stopped after two fabulous seasons and 18 ultra-stimulating episodes. She was probably too far ahead of her time. We were talking about burn out, environment, spiritual quest and kindness. Self-destructive in nature and angry, Amy decided to change following a revelation that led her to spend some time in Hawaii in group therapy. Back in her life before, she is determined to do good around her and find a balance to finally live … Some episodes are masterpieces, literally. And certain scenes are so embarrassing that they become extremely funny. The speeches of the heroine in voice-overs are magnificent, you can even make them post-it notes! If Amy often passes for a lunatic, we know today that it was she who was right!
BORED TO DEATH (2009-2011)
Can we find a more appropriate title during the confinement period? I do not believe. Bored to death tells the funny and eventful life of a dazed writer who pretends to be a private detective, like the characters in his novels, to fill the void of his existence. With George, his mentor, they like to drink (a lot) of white wine and smoke (a lot) of cannabis while philosophizing about life. As for Ray, his best friend, he is dissatisfied with his whimsical fiancée and escapes by writing a comic strip of which he is the superhero (his power being to own a giant penis). All three come together to investigate cases, each more wacky than the other. And I promise: it’s never boring! The series is worth as much for its originality as for its three main actors: Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis. Three short seasons to enjoy in peace.
BIG LOVE (2006-2011)
Bill Henrickson is a happy man: he is married to three women! And all these little people live under the same roof. But the life of a polygamist is not rosy every day, especially when one is Mormon but outside the camps which group them. Big love has little to envy to his fellow Six Feet Under or The Sopranos, if not their popularity. After a windy or even slightly boring first season (let’s be frank), the series really takes off in season 2 and then continues to amaze with the quality of its writing, its dialogues, its production and the performance of its actors.
Regret Bill Paxton obviously leads, but also and above all those who embody the three women of his life: the brilliant Jeanne Tripplehorn, the provocative Chloé Sévigny and the endearing Ginnifer Goodwin. It was also Big Love who introduced three rising values from film and television: Amanda Seyfried, Mireille Enos and Aaron Paul. And to complete this perfect distribution, let’s not forget to mention the presence of veterans Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie and Ellen Burstyn.
Big Love sometimes takes on the appearance of Desperate Housewives by mixing sappy intrigue, humor and lightness around its strong female characters, sometimes those of a thriller during its dives in the heart of the Mormon camp; she also knows how to turn into a political, committed series, and is never afraid of controversy, especially when it comes to talking about beliefs and religion, pointing out the ambiguities and paradoxes of faith, flirting with the limits of morality. Big Love was complex, rich and multiple, and absolutely deserves to be seen and reviewed. Last argument: its credits to discover below.
GETTING ON (2013-2015)
A few years after the end of Big Love, the creators Will Scheffer, Mark V. Olsen discreetly returned to HBO with the comedy Getting On, adapted from a British series of the same name. A dive without make-up in the geriatric department of a hospital. Day after day, nurses and doctors try to combat the sad reality of old age when the country’s health system is itself ill. And what was strong and revealing in 2013 is still almost ten years later when the Coronavirus crisis amplifies the difficulties for caregivers and their patients, elderly or not. A series that sounds like a great cry of alarm which was not heard at the time, but which does not forget to be funny by making us laugh at frankly horrible things. Fans of The Office or Parks and Recreation in particular should find their account. His satirical tone is not far from it. Three great actresses share the poster: Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash. To see urgently!
Insecure season 4 is about to start after a far too long break. But you have time to catch up on previous seasons, right? Compared to Girls originally, because created by a young beginner woman also – Issa Rae – and adapted from her own misadventures, this drama sometimes very hot allows to bring the current experience of African-American youth to life in a big city – Los Angeles – between racism, discrimination of all kinds, power struggles and daily hassles for anyone in their thirties, whatever their color of skin and his sexuality, can be confronted. The series seduces with its freedom of tone, its audacity, its well-felt lines, its few extravagances and its mistakes too, which make it slightly inconstant but always more endearing and unpredictable.
In the wake of Girls, HBO has successfully attempted a critical but flop auditory of its “gay” version. Looking was a little more than that, but was part of the same bobo-realistic trend, with a strong artistic direction and a pronounced sense of aesthetics. A Queer as Folk new generation, sometimes too community perhaps, but in step with the times and which allows to put faces and stories on a male homosexuality which is said to be better accepted today but which is however not shown to most of the time only on the screen. The series only lasted two seasons but it ends with a nice ending TV movie and rest assured: the torments of its heroes are universal, whatever your own sexuality. You can go there with your eyes closed!
HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA (2010-2011)
In the tradition of these little HBO series full of goodwill and ideas that left too soon for want of meeting their audience, How to make it in America, which is reminiscent of the recent Atlanta, tells the story of story of three young entrepreneurs in their twenties who are trying to make a name for themselves in New York in order to fulfill their “American dream”. Simple and generous, it is more authentic than Entourage for example, by the same producers.
Hung, this is the unusual story of Ray, a well-trained basketball coach in his forties who finds a way to take advantage of his major asset: he launches into prostitution! Despite its provocative pitch – which obviously makes it possible to chain the sequences hot that always show a little more, like a game with the viewer who would like to end up seeing the attribute coveted by the hero in his entirety- the drama is part of a social context of crisis which adds substance to form. Funny AND relevant. A bit wobbly also at the end, but we forgive everything for Thomas Jane, born to play Ray, even if the story does not say if he is so well mounted …
MY COMEBACK (2005-2014)
Ex-sitcom star fallen, Valerie Cherish tries by all means to return to success. Become the star of a reality TV show called The Comeback, she is followed during all these trips by cameras. The public can therefore follow the adventures of the actress and her entourage, at least as overwhelmed by events! Shortly after the end of Friends, Lisa Kudrow distinguished herself in this pure hilarious comedy that became so cult after her cancellation that she ended up coming back almost 10 years later for a second season that was just as successful. My comeback is cruel, but tasty, a factory for “memes” before the hour, which behind all its layer of jokes and makeup hides an unexpected depth. She talks about the passage of time, the fear of no longer being in the know, of no longer being desired when one is a woman of a “certain age” … Any has been that she is, Valérie Cherish is overwhelming of sincerity. We want to slap her as much as to cuddle her!
OLIVE KITTERIDGE (2014)
This mini-series in 4 episodes adapted from a Pulitzer Prize is first recommended to lovers of actress Frances McDormand, who plays the main role here and who delivers a nuanced performance, absolutely overwhelming. Lhe little secrets and great tragedies of the inhabitants of a coastal village in New England are told through the eyes of Olive Kitteridge, a cold and distant woman, very observant, always aware of the slightest gossip. But when the mask falls, in contact with her husband or her son, the former teacher cannot hide her pains, the demons that haunt her and the horrors of passing time … 25 years of intimacy are thus traced of a couple, with accuracy and acuity, between hope and disillusionment. It is very very beautiful but do not count on it to cheer you up!
BONUS: THE LEFTOVERS (2014-2017)
We can’t resist the urge to recommend a series that may not be so unknown, but that too many people still haven’t watched. While yet, you will never see anything so overwhelming. The Leftovers by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Watchmen) starts as an aborted science fiction series: dn overnight, an apparently ordinary October 14, 2% of the population mysteriously disappears from the face of the earth. These people, of all ages, have passed out in nature, without explanation, leaving their loved ones in anguish, even despair. This series in three seasons, constantly surprising, is the complete opposite of science fiction in reality : it is pure emotion, the most naked, the most raw. Max Richter’s music will haunt you, as will the performances of the three main actors (Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Carrie Coon). If you are looking for meaning in life, this is where you will find it.