What To Watch: 02/21/2021

If you love complicated and very flawed humans (and gods), it’s quite the night for you. If you don’t, there’s also no shortage of solid escapist comedy–aided by the fact that much of last week’s Animation Domination was disrupted and re-scheduled to this week. Not that the Belchers aren’t flawed and/or complicated.

JASON’S PICK:
Allen vs. Farrow [HBO, 9p]
This one’s hard (and doubt I’m alone here)! Separating the artist from the art can be difficult, but when the artist’s whole personality is poured into their films… Woody Allen’s actions are impossible to excuse, gross, and so, well, in character of the baser side of the characters he created on screen. He was one of the first people I watched who made nerdy cool and compelling and laughed at himself in a manner I’ve aspired to but never quite reached. He was so high in my regard that when I took an English grad class called “Comedy,” one of my main presentations was on him (also did ones on Seinfeld and George Carlin–it was a fun class). And don’t mistake this for any sort of virtue signal; I’ve tried to re-watch his films and it just feels icky now. I’ll probably eventually be able to enjoy Bananas or What’s Up Tiger Lily (casting couch trailer featuring an undressing asian woman, you’re not helping!) and laugh at those scenes I’ve watched 30 times, but what about Annie Hall or Crimes and Misdemeanors where Allen’s neurotic nebbish is at the center of great moral dilemmas? As for Manhattan which mirrors his most problematic moment, it’s always felt off to me so never fell in love with it.As painful as it will be, this needs to be watched. Also, Mia Farrow’s journey featuring Sinatra, Rosemary’s Baby, and of course her starring roles in Allen’s films is compelling on its own.

BRAD’S PICK
American Gods [Starz, 8p]
Will Wednesday won over Demeter? Can’t blame a guy for trying. Shadow makes connections in town as he makes himself at home. Goodbye Marilyn Manson; hello war of the gods.

BUT, WAIT, THERE’S MORE:

  • Showtime’s got their own bio of a controversial artist/public figure with the tale of rapper Takeshi 6ix 9ine, one of the most recent performers to lean too far into their controversial image and beefs, to the point of winding up in jail. He’s out now, and the three-part docu-series Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix 9ine digs deep into his complex universe.
  • One of our recommendations for last week got pushed into this week. Bob’s Burgers finally gets its V-Day (both Tina Belcher and our “cool” nickname for Valentine’s Day) episode with the awesome title “Romancing the Beef” on the air tonight. And here’s another link to that Eddy Grant song, just because it’s a classic. It’s on Fox.
  • On the Fox show that’s so similar that it’s kind of Bob’s Burgers in a titular direction and with Ron Swanson at the family’s helm, The Great North returns with an avocado theme.
  • In BET and CBS News Present: Boiling Point, the networks combine for a 6-part series to examine moments when racial tensions poured over, from the Civil Rights Movement and Attica to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the police murder of George Floyd.
  • Last week Reelz was all about hard rock, but this week it switches to soft pop with mini-docs about two divas as the Story of [Her] Songs series examines Celine Dion and Cher.
  • Finally, the Lifetime-Hallmark Vortez is just exploding tonight; well, the Hallmark side anyway. On Hallmark, When Calls the Heart (aka less sexy, less British Bridgerton) returns for a long-awaited(?) eighth season. On HMM (what’s the second “M” for? Madness? Mayhem?), Allison Sweeney returns as the hero of Chronicle Mysteries: Helped to Death which, if we’re being honest, looks British detective show levels of OK. It’s actually UP that has the most Hallmark movie of the night with The Dating List in which Richard’s niece, Natalie Dreyfuss as the busy businesswoman in training, in this case as an aspirant journalist, but now intern whose boss decides to delegate her dating life to said intern–as in she pre-dates them. Hopefully, the sequel is the boss taking mandatory classes for abusing the power dynamic–that it makes for a quirky-fun plot is no excuse.

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