Instant Picks of the Week 6/9/17
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
HASAN MINHAJ: HOMECOMING KING (Netflix)
Technically, this isn’t stand up. Or at the very least, it’s not Jerry Seinfeld/Dave Chappelle stand up. Instead, it’s much more of an exemplary one man show, a piece of personal storytelling that would bring down the house on THE MOTH or RISK!. Sure, there are jokes delivered at regular intervals to a live theatre audience, but there’s such a personal narrative throughline to the whole special that it doesn’t really align with what we typically think of a standup comedy. Light cues and an elaborate projection work as perfect props for Minhaj’s tales of growing up as an Indian immigrant in suburban Davis, California. He dissects the minutiae of family dynamics in an immigrant family and the unique pressures first-generation immigrant children feel in ways that I’ve seen stand-ups cover before, but with more precision. In general, that’s what separates this special from the herd; it is just so damn precise. This is not a slob comedian comfortable with improvising, this special is clearly carefully orchestrated down to the second. What’s more, he has a very clear message: the effects of bigotry sting no matter how they play out. Minhaj does a tightrope act of telling the story of his prom date who stood him up at the last second for a white guy because of “how it would look to her family,” managing to be comedically petty about the incident while also demonstrating how this single incident has ended up being a running source of pain throughout his whole life. Unless you’re a literal bag of hot air and reactionary talking points, it’ll be hard not to be touched by Minhaj’s tale; it’s not only an exploration of racism, but a clear tale of how generations overcome their inherent biases. [Carter Moon]
Upon reviewing the pilot back in February, I noted several of RIVERDALE’s positive aspects, but ultimately couldn’t bring myself to heartily recommend it. Well folks, only Jesus was perfect, and as such, I owe RIVERDALE and the readers of Crossfader an apology: RIVERDALE is by far the most fun show that aired on television, network or otherwise, this past winter, and should be sought out by any and everyone. My comments about the unabashed and unapologetic soapiness still ring true, but the rest of the season proves to have a ruthless grasp on storytelling hooks and techniques, unironically roping you into hurriedly pressing the play button on the next episode time and time again. Existing in a surrealist space that ultimately plays into the original IP’s existence as a comic book thanks to its outlandish dialogue and character beats, more often than not, this show will have you wide-eyed and open-mouthed in disbelief, as amazed that this made it onto the CW as you are endlessly entertained. In this era of fuddy-duddy prestige television, it is often far too easy to forget the basal pleasures offered by the campiness of the series of yesteryear; RIVERDALE feels like a perfect replication of a time not-so-far-gone by, a triumphant return to the breakneck speed, catty quips, and constant barrage of twists, turns, backstabbings, and betrayals seemingly left behind in the 2000s. But what’s most impressive of all is that it’s gotten me to genuinely care about all of its characters and the various sticky situations the actions of themselves and their families place them in, with several legitimately surprising revelations and realizations scattered throughout. Trust me, friends, this is a show worth your time, especially with a few cold ones and the boys, and everyone should be beyond excited that Cole Sprouse has promised that Season Two is going to be even more off its rocker. [Thomas Seraydarian]