Need something to watch, but not sure where to start? We gauge what Neon shows you’ll be into from what other Neon shows you’re into.
If you like Sex and the City, you’ll love Younger
Younger was my lockdown saviour, a delicious discovery of a show that made me laugh and cry about something other than whether I should dry my hands on an Ashley Bloomfield hand towel. Created by SATC’s Darren Star, Younger follows 40-year-old single mother Liza, who struggles to re-enter the workforce due to her age. After she’s mistaken for someone in her 20s, Liza fibs on her CV and lands an assistant job in a New York publishing firm, and hilarity and chaos ensue as Liza lives out her lie. Younger is smart and light and witty, with a charismatic cast and joyful spirit. It shines a feminist light on the workplace, tugging on threads about age and beauty and value, and knits them together into a delightful, heart-warming piece of television. / Tara Ward
If you like Breeders, you’ll love Catastrophe
Breeders is the show that revels in the cold, hard truth about parenting, and Catastrophe is the show that takes that truth and wraps it up in a romantic comedy. Catastrophe follows American businessman Rob (Rob Delaney) and Irish teacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan), two strangers who go from having a wild affair to navigating an unplanned pregnancy and parenthood. It’s a gently paced comedy that is brutally honest about the pressures of raising kids, yet makes you laugh about the literal shitstorm that parenting brings. Delaney and Horgan shine throughout, the banter is smart and sarcastic, and the incredible supporting cast includes Carrie Fisher, Mark Bonner and Ashley Jensen. / TW
If you like Curb Your Enthusiasm, you’ll love The Comeback
Curb Your Enthusiasm just completed a comeback of its own, reviving with a brutal, at times very tense, celebrity-strewn “spite store” storyline after an indifferent ninth season. Larry David’s satire of his own life as a rich, entitled member of Hollywood’s elite is not HBO’s only entry into the micro-genre though, with Lisa Kudrow’s superb The Comeback equally deserving of your time. She plays a wafer-thinly disguised version of herself, as a cast member of a hit 90s comedy returning to television. It’s shot as a mockumentary, but began before the format became stale, and is particularly savage in its portrayal of her vanity, the venality of the writers and vapidity of her fellow cast members. / Duncan Greive
If you like Girls, you’ll love Enlightened
If you had a television and were a millennial in the mid-teens (yep, we’re calling it that now), chances are you watched or at the very least had an opinion on Girls. Lena Dunham’s show was daring, it was controversial, and it was appointment viewing. However, another show came out around the same time with a similar bent but with a lot less buzz. That show was Enlightened, which is, for my money, the best show of the 21st century. Created by Mike White and Laura Dern, and starring both of them, it follows Amy Jellicoe, a corporate hack who has a mental breakdown and returns to her job full of new age philosophy and self-help adages. The cracks start to show pretty much immediately, and the show follows her constant struggle to be the best person she can be. It’s funny, it’s warm, and while it can be excruciating at times, it also has a profound understanding of the human need to just be that little bit better. / Sam Brooks
Westworld is one of the most complex, twisty shows you can be watching right now, especially now the show has left the constraints of its titular theme park. But with the third season coming to a (thrilling, confounding) conclusion soon, you’ll need something to scratch that itch. Well, look no further than Devs, which comes from the mind of modern sci-fi master Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation). When a software engineer’s boyfriend suffers an accidental workplace death at the quantum computing company they both work at, she starts to investigate. Also, because there’s never been a non-shady quantum computing company in the history of fiction, there’s a conspiracy at play, and this one is engrossing from the very first moments. If you’re the kind of person who has a corkboard full of red thread connecting seemingly random pictures in your bedroom, Devs is the show for you. / SB
Fact: Armando Ianucci is one of television’s modern geniuses. He’s never made a bad show. Veep, in particular, was one of the most prescient and savage comedies of the past decade; who could’ve predicted that an ignorant, stubborn and dangerous person might be the leader of the free world one day? Ianucci’s latest show, Avenue 5, continues to be eerily prescient, featuring Hugh Laurie as the captain of a space cruise ship that, after an accident, finds that its cruise will be lasting several years rather than several weeks. This leaves him, and 3,500 people, completely isolated. Who could have imagined this happening? Ha! Only a genius. And thankfully, Ianucci is enough of a genius that these shows are not just relatable, but deeply funny. / SB
Barry is one of the more audacious half-hour comedies of late, following Barry (a brilliant Bill Hader) as a hitman who initially takes an acting class to get closer to a mark, but finds himself getting drawn into that world. It’s as much a portrait of an emotionally deadened man as it is a black-as-tar skewer of the LA acting scene, pumped up with the high stakes of Barry’s involvement in shady activities like, you know, killing people for money. Run has a similar sense of high stakes, taking the rom-com plot of two people in their 30s (the live-wire pairing of Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson) running away from their respective lives together and giving it the feeling of a Bourne thriller. Both shows share an electricity, and if you like your comedies a little bit higher-octane, look no further. / SB
If you like House of Lies, you’ll love Black Monday
One of the best things about prestige television is the migration of some of cinema’s best actors to the small screen. It’s win-win for them and for us; they get the chance to play around in genres and characters that cinema might not provide them, and we get to see them do it. One of the highlights of this trend has been Don Cheadle’s transition to television, moving from his impressive but sometimes dour film work into zippy, fun, character-driven comedies. You might’ve seen him first in House of Lies, where he played a cold-hearted management consultant to deserved acclaim, but he’s even better in Black Monday, where he plays, well, a cold-hearted stock trader, but with a terrifyingly genial aura. Black Monday has a rhythm that’s reminiscent of 30 Rock, with an equal joke-per-minute rate, and Cheadle rises to the challenge. When he’s having fun, we’re having fun. / SB
If you like Fosse/Verdon, you’ll love Mrs. America
If you loved the high drama, fabulous costumes and award-winning performances in Fosse/Verdon, then do yourself a favour and step into HBO’s latest historical drama, Mrs America. Fosse/Verdon has Michelle Williams, but Mrs. America has Cate Blanchett — oh, and Sarah Paulson, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, Melanie Lynskey, Tracey Ullman and Jeanne Tripplehorn, making this the most impressive cast in a television drama in a long, long time.
Blanchett plays anti-hero Phyllis Schlafly, the steely “housewife” who led the conservative movement against the Equal Rights Amendment in America during the 1970s, battling pro-ERA feminists like Betty Friedan (Ullman) and Gloria Steinem (Byrne). Blanchett steals the show as Schlafly, who realises the only way her voice will be heard is by speaking out against legislation that would empower other women. Chuck in a cracking 70s soundtrack and some gorgeous retro sets, and Mrs. America becomes a fascinating piece of quality drama. / TW
If you like Big Little Lies, you’ll love Sharp Objects
Dramas about complex women hiding a lifetime of secrets are huge right now, and if you loved your trip to Monterey to see Nicole, Reese and Laura in Big Little Lies, then make your next stop the oppressive heat and suffocating tension of Sharp Objects. While both shows are directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, Sharp Objects is a grittier psychological thriller about a troubled reporter (Amy Adams, who never makes a wrong move, not even in The Muppets) who returns to her small Missouri hometown to cover two violent murders. Camille brings more baggage home than just her carry-on, and finds herself being pulled back into the complicated world she was once so desperate to leave. Dark, haunting and deliciously slow, Sharp Objects oozes atmosphere and drama, and features an impressive supporting cast including Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen. / TW
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.