Ever feel like there’s too much to watch, and you don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry. Our Film & TV editor Hidzir Junaini will be rounding up only the very best things to hit your screens at the end of every month! Skip the mediocre and delve right into the good stuff.
I May Destroy You
I May Destroy You is a fearless, frank and provocative half-hour series exploring the question of sexual consent and where, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, the distinction between liberation and exploitation lies. Following author and social media sensation Arabella as she tries to rebuild after being date raped – this series is a wrenching, comedically edged navigation of what life feels like after such a violation. Creator, writer, director and star Michaela Coel channels her own experiences with sexual assault into a work that is honest and humane.
Spanning from secondary school in the small town of Sligo, to their young adult lives at Trinity College at Dublin, Normal People steeps us into the heads of Marianne and Connell (played beautifully by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal) – two lovers who try, and fail, and try, and fail, to resist the magnetic pull between them. Based on Sally Rooney’s novel, this breathtaking adaptation is an absorbingly intimate, achingly truthful, and emotionally sophisticated translation of a formative romance that is as immersive as the book that inspired it. Read our full review.
A follow-up to her remarkable 2018 indie film Skate Kitchen, Crystal Moselle’s new half-hour series centers around the same crew of skater girls and their hazy misadventures. Fun and freewheeling, loose and lived-in – Betty gives you the privilege of skating a mile in their shoes and letting you into their experience, the good and bad, the beauty and ugly of it all. With lyrical camerawork, and a cast who are so comfortable in their roles that it feels like a documentary, this series is an immersive and ambling look at female friendship and the joys of skateboarding.
Ramy Youssef’s heartfelt Egyptian-American dramedy returns for a terrific second season, deftly exploring the complexities of balancing religious faith with millennial anxieties, and the othered awkwardness of an immigrant family. After an ill-advised sexual encounter with his cousin during a spiritual pilgrimage to Egypt, Ramy now struggles to better a better Muslim under the tutelage of a stoic Sheikh (Mahershala Ali). But beyond the title character, this season also finds pathos and humour by deconstructing the walled-in masculinity of Muslim men in Ramy’s family.
This excellent new docuseries is a moving and timely look at the everyday heroism of medical professionals. Following four doctors at a New York hospital over an 18-month period as they juggle their personal lives while trying to save lives – Lenox Hill is an extraordinary tribute to the intelligence, empathy and humility of healthcare workers. From the stress of medical procedures to the resonance of its subjects’ emotional stories – Lenox Hill offers clear-eyed and grounded insight into the dedication of doctors, as well as the inequities of America’s healthcare system.
Three years after its beautiful, emotional, open-ended series finale – one of the greatest animated shows of all-time returns for a miniseries of four hour-long specials entitled Distant Lands! The first episode focuses on adorable handheld video game console BMO as he journeys beyond Ooo to embark on a space adventure to save a bizarre alien world on the brink of destruction. This special is a welcome return to the endearing magic of the series, balancing joyful quirkiness and vibrant colour with dark undertones and hard-hitting emotional moments.
Germany’s most popular sci-fi export concludes its elaborate saga with this brain melting third and final season. Picking up right after the season two finale, Jonas is now on a time-travel mission to save not one, but two (!) versions of Winden from the apocalypse. And if you thought six timelines was a lot to handle – oh wait till you see this. Season three features two alternate worlds, spanning three centuries, with multiple realities inside each universe. But even through dozens of interlocking time paradoxes, Dark remains a marvel of plotting and addictive mystery.
Hailing from the team behind Bob’s Burgers, this new animated musical comedy is a genuinely joyful and infectious watch! Central Park follows the Tillermans, a dysfunctional family who live and work in the famed New York park. Gradually, the family gets caught up in a plot by a cruel hotel heiress who wants to fill the space with condos and chain stores. Led by an all-star voice cast and stellar composers (including Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles), this series brims with warm, catchy and hilarious musical numbers about the weirdos who call Central Park home.
Funny, fast-paced, and full of action – Agents Of SHIELD is back for its seventh and final season! This climactic arc finds the crew traveling back to various 20th century time periods, as they attempt to stop a synthetic alien race from altering history and erasing SHIELD. In an ironic twist, they’re also forced to save their long-standing HYDRA enemies to preserve the timeline! Buoyed by Clark Gregg reprising his role as the ever charming Phil Coulson (albeit an LMD version), this exciting and emotional season cements SHIELD as Marvel’s greatest ever series.
After the climax of Harley Quinn’s gloriously funny first season, Gotham is in ruins, Batman is missing, and Joker is presumed dead. Now free from her toxic ex, this vibrant second season continues to be a profane and hyper-violent romp as Harley and her crew revel in the chaos of a lawless city. With Gotham’s remaining supervillains vying for domination in this power vacuum, Harley becomes the face of underappreciated henchmen as the goons stage a revolution themselves. Sharp, filthy, fast-paced, and surprisingly heartfelt, season two is an utter delight!
Penny Dreadful goes from the gothic monsters Victorian London to the glamour and horror of 1930s Los Angeles in its spinoff City of Angels. This supernatural take on Californian noir is evocatively propelled by Natalie Dormer who plays a shape-shifting demon. An agent of chaos, she preys upon the metropolis’ social tensions, seeking to bring out the worst of human nature. From the infiltration of Nazis into its political system, to prejudice against its Latino community, Penny Dreadful again tackles the demonization of the other through the lens of period horror.
Hasan Minhaj isn’t letting COVID-19 stop him from making his show, even if he has to host all of season six at home in front of a green screen (to accomodate Patriot Act’s signature graphics). Despite being produced remotely, and without an audience (similar to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver), the Peabody-winning series remains as engaging, insightful and hilarious as ever. Finely balancing meticulously researched pieces on crucial socio-political issues, alongside some very funny commentary, Patriot Act continues to educate and entertain in equal measure.
When Kipo debuted earlier this year, this vibrant animated series delivered action-packed adventures, truly supportive friend and familial relationships, and the most bumpin’ soundtrack we’ve heard since Spider-Verse. Thankfully this second season continues to be just as magical, musical, and imaginative with a new batch of hypercolor, hyperactive episodes. Set in a vibrant future where humans live in underground cities, and animals have gained sentience, grown in size, and taken over the surface – this is a wonderfully positive and colourful journey for all ages.
Expertly crafted on a micro-budget, this stunning debut by filmmaker Andrew Patterson heralds the coming of a very special talent. Set in 1950s New Mexico and framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone-esque show, this intimate sci-fi film uses that period’s history of UFO phenomena and Soviet paranoia to create a riveting thriller unfolding in real-time. Following a radio DJ and a switchboard operator as they investigate a mysterious sound, The Vast of Night uses ingenious camera work, experimental sound design and winsome dialogue to elicit old-school wonder.
Spike Lee’s latest joint is a searing and soul-stirring look at the legacy of America’s immoral Vietnam War, and the painful sacrifices that African-Americans have made in service of a nation that dehumanizes them at every turn. Part war epic, part heist thriller and part history lesson – Da 5 Bloods follows four black veterans returning to Vietnam to search for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader, and recover stolen gold they buried. Though the reunion promises riches and adventure, it unveils their haunted psyches – tortured by trauma, guilt, and righteous anger.
Josephine Dekker’s (Madeline’s Madeline) latest film is a serrated and delirious fictional portrait of horror author Shirley Jackson (an astonishingly fearless performance from Elisabeth Moss). Based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, Shirley centers on the unravelling of two couples – one younger, one older (Jackson and her husband Stanley) – living in the same Vermont house. Playing out like a claustrophobic chamber horror about toxic manipulations and Jackson’s deranged writing process – this film presents an intense study of family awakening and decay.
Hailing from auteur Fernando Frías de la Parra (Los Espookys), this fascinating and harrowing Spanish-language teen drama follows Ulises, a teen from a Monterrey street gang who flees across the border to Queens after a terrible misunderstanding with the local cartel. From Ulises’ grief over the death of his brother and feelings of isolation, to the film’s immersion into his love for the Mexican subculture of “Cholombianos,” which mix Cholo culture with cumbia music – I’m No Longer Here is a potent exploration of alienation and the struggle to defend one’s identity.
Injecting an intoxicating shot of frantic energy and sleek color directly into your pupils, this post-apocalyptic sci-fi anime plays like an acid-induced euphoric trip. Marking the first feature release from Studio Trigger and its director Hiroyuki Imaishi, this stunning visual potion is spiced by fiery duels and giant mecha action. Set 30 years after a mysterious mutation causes humans to spontaneously combust, creating a global fire that nearly extinguished humanity, Promare’s hyperactive action serves as the propellant for a sweeping story with time themes of classism.
An upbeat The Celluloid Closet-style survey of trans representation, Sam Feder’s look at gender expression on-screen is a cinephile’s delight, crowded with clips and queer readings of classic film and TV depictions. If the concept of trans identity somehow frustrates or confuses you, it’s likely that you haven’t considered just how significantly TV and movies may be to blame. That’s where this essential, entirely engaging documentary comes in, retracing the ways that gender nonconforming characters have been depicted from 1914 silent film Judith of Bethulia till today.
Featuring a bravely personal performance from Ben Affleck as protagonist Jack Cunningham, and muscular direction from Gavin O’Connor – this stirring drama follows a former high school basketball phenom who has fallen on hard times due to tragedy, and spiralled into alcoholism. When asked to coach the team at his alma mater, Jack reluctantly accepts. And through his relationships with the kids on the team, he also begins to confront his own demons. Despite its potential for cliches, this moving portrait of redemption triumphs due to its serrated authenticity.