Television and Miniseries

Bridgerton: Not alternate history, but anti-history

By Clare Hurley, 27 February 2021

The eight-part Netflix historical romance Bridgerton has been enormously popular. The creators hardly conceal their admiration for and envy of the aristocracy.

Charité, Season 3: Berlin’s famed hospital during the Cold War

By Verena Nees, 21 February 2021

The third season of the Charité television series features a gripping story line portrayed by a largely compelling array of actors. It leaves, however, the historical background of the building of the Berlin Wall in the dark.

BBC Hospital series explores crisis faced by UK’s National Health Service during COVID-19 pandemic

By Ben Trent, 17 February 2021

The series amounts to an indictment of the government’s policy during the pandemic and the impact of decades of cuts on the NHS—facts that will not be lost on Hospital ’s many viewers.

Easy: Human interaction is not …

By Ed Hightower, 13 February 2021

The Netflix series Easy explores relationships among a group of Chicago residents through a series of loosely interwoven vignettes.

Spanish television series The Barrier: The once and future dictatorship

By Joanne Laurier, 27 January 2021

The Barrier (La valla), a 13-episode Spanish television drama, is a valuable and convincing warning about the dangers of dictatorship and social inequality, and the terrible consequences of world war.

Magia Record, Kakushigoto, Fruits Basket and Sword Art Online: A general review of anime in 2020

By Matthew MacEgan, 16 January 2021

A total of 140 Japanese animated television series numbering more than 1,865 episodes debuted in 2020. Our critic comments on a selection of the more popular titles.

The Mandalorian (Season Two): Indulging nostalgia and setting up even bigger paydays

By Matthew MacEgan, 11 January 2021

Disney and Lucasfilm aired the second season of their Star Wars television series on Disney Plus at the end of 2020, setting the stage for the launch of several spinoff series to swell the portfolios of their stockholders.

Room 2806: The Accusation—Digging up the discredited sexual assault case against French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn

By Joanne Laurier, 19 December 2020

The case fell apart in August 2011 after prosecutors found, in their own words, that the alleged victim had been “persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance.”

New York Times, Washington Post feminist critics disparage The Queen’s Gambit

By Fred Mazelis, 11 December 2020

The Netflix series ignores identity politics, in favor of a humane and unselfish view of life.

The Queen’s Gambit: The coming of age of a chess prodigy

By Matthew Brennan and Fred Mazelis, 1 December 2020

This Netflix offering treats its subject with uncommon seriousness and humanity.

Utopia and the cartoonishness of “conspiracy theories”

By Carlos Delgado, 30 November 2020

The world is not shaped by the hidden machinations of elites, but by social development, the development of the class struggle.

Trial 4: A shameless police frame-up in Boston

By Joanne Laurier, 24 November 2020

Trial 4 is an eight-episode documentary television series, currently streaming on Netflix that examines the case of Sean Ellis, a black teenager wrongly convicted of the 1993 murder of police officer John Mulligan.

Cobra Kai: The reboot of The Karate Kid film series

By Nick Barrickman, 11 November 2020

The series’ initial airing in May 2018 on YouTube’s platforms became the widest-viewed digital programming on the internet for that month. Since appearing on Netflix, the series has become the platform’s most popular program.

The Stranger on Netflix: A world of secrets, unraveled

By Carlos Delgado, 21 September 2020

A suburban father’s life is upended when a stranger reveals a devastating secret.

Australia’s brutal immigration policy in Stateless: “What is my crime?”

By Joanne Laurier, 12 September 2020

Stateless, now showing on Netflix, deals with the harsh Australian immigration detention program and the horrors inflicted on persecuted refugees fleeing colonial wars.

#Anne Frank Parallel Stories: The young victim of the Nazis

By Joanne Laurier, 18 July 2020

#Anne Frank Parallel Stories is a documentary streaming on Netflix that retraces the life of Anne Frank, as well as five living women who survived the Nazi concentration camps in World War II.

Inhuman Resources: In French Netflix series, an unemployed man takes extreme measures

By Joanne Laurier, 3 July 2020

The French Netflix miniseries concerns the plight of a middle-aged, middle class man who seeks to redress his long-term unemployment through extreme measures.

Season 4 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why: Biting off more than it can chew

By Nick Barrickman, 1 July 2020

The latest season is the final one in the series about the lives and difficult circumstances of a group of teenagers at fictional Liberty High School.

The Kominsky Method: The mostly comic challenges of aging

By Ed Hightower, 30 June 2020

The Kominsky Method on Netflix looks at aging through the experiences of a pair of long-time friends: Sandy Kominsky, a once well-known actor and current acting coach, and his agent Norman Newlander.

The Salisbury Poisonings: Skripal drama framed as anti-Russian propaganda

By Thomas Scripps, 27 June 2020

The BBC’s three-part The Salisbury Poisonings uses drama as state propaganda and is designed to reignite the Skripal affair that dominated UK politics in 2018.

999 Oprah program on race

13 June 2020

The Eddy: Struggling musicians in Paris—how unprepared artists are for the present situation!

By David Walsh, 5 June 2020

The eight-part series focuses on an expatriate American musician-composer and his attempts to keep his nightspot open and confront some of the problems in his personal life.

The History Channel’s Grant

By Tom Mackaman, 1 June 2020

Grant was motivated, in the Civil War and the period of Reconstruction that followed, by his belief in the democratic ideal of human equality proclaimed by the American Revolution.

The Accident unambiguously indicts the corporate elite

By Joanne Laurier, 30 May 2020

The British television miniseries, The Accident, tells the story of a decayed former mining and steel town in Wales, in which a factory under construction collapses, resulting in a horrendous tragedy.

World on Fire: Dramas of World War II

By Joanne Laurier, 22 May 2020

World on Fire, a seven-episode series, is set at the beginning of World War II and follows characters from five countries. Colored by anti-war and anti-fascist views, it takes place in France, Britain, Germany and Poland.

Lost Girls: The everyday cruelty of American life

By David Walsh, 21 May 2020

Much of Lost Girls is taken up by Mari Gilbert’s painful, persistent struggle for some police or official action in regard to her daughter’s fate.

Television adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere: Small change, in fact

By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2020

Based on the 2017 novel, Little Fires Everywhere, an eight-episode Hulu miniseries, focuses on several families and individuals in Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, who come into conflict.

Ricky Gervais’ After Life: To be or not to be, that’s one of the questions

By David Walsh, 9 May 2020

Tony Johnson (Gervais) is devastated by the death of his beloved wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) from breast cancer. He finds it difficult to carry on with life and frequently contemplates suicide.

Tiger King on Netflix: Approach with caution!

By Ed Hightower and Kathleen Martin, 28 April 2020

Tiger King centers on the feud between Joe Exotic—a flamboyant zoo owner in rural Oklahoma—and the animal rights activist who aims to shut down the cub petting industry in the US, Carole Baskin.

The Innocence Files on Netflix: Freeing frame-up victims from prison

By Joanne Laurier, 27 April 2020

The production of and interest in the nine-part documentary are part of the growing opposition in the US both to the death penalty and to mass incarceration.

Star Trek: Picard—The prospects of an aging icon

By Lee Parsons, 18 April 2020

Set late in the 24th century, Star Trek: Picard concluded its 10-episode season in March to generally favourable reviews, if a mixed reception from the faithful.

Adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America on HBO: If the US had gone fascist

By David Walsh, 25 March 2020

The series imagines an alternate history in which aviation hero and Hitler admirer Charles Lindbergh becomes the Republican Party’s candidate for president in 1940 and wins the general election against incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Entertainment industry in North America devastated by layoffs

By Penny Smith, 23 March 2020

The entertainment industry across the US and Canada has effectively shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of already precariously employed workers suddenly without an income.

HBO’s Watchmen: Alternative history that ignores the meaning of the 1921 Tulsa massacre

By Tim Avery, 17 February 2020

A sequel to the 1986 comic book of the same name, Watchmen essentially depicts Tulsa, Oklahoma as the flashpoint for an inevitable race war.

The King: A film drama (insufficiently) inspired by Shakespeare’s work

By Joanne Laurier, 14 February 2020

The King is a Netflix historical drama broadly tracing the life of Henry V (1386–1422), with a certain anti-war coloring.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season Three: Comedy and historical fantasy

By Ed Hightower, 30 January 2020

A colorful and often humorous historical fantasy set in the early 1960s, Maisel represents a serious effort.

The Expanse Season 4: The latest installment in the science fiction series

By Tom Hall, 27 January 2020

The Expanse depicts interstellar conflict and political intrigue in the distant future, when humanity has colonized most of the Solar System.

The Politician: The unreality of official American political and social life

By Joanne Laurier, 24 January 2020

The Politician centers on the Machiavellian operations of an ambitious California high school senior, determined to win the election for student body president as a stepping-stone, ultimately, to the White House.

The Mandalorian and Disney Plus: The media giant targets the small screen

By Matthew MacEgan, 8 January 2020

Disney launched its new streaming service, Disney Plus, with the first live-action Star Wars television series, The Mandalorian, this past November.

Black Mirror Season 5: The elephants in the room

By Zac Corrigan, 4 January 2020

The central theme of the series, one of the most watched of the past decade, is the supposed dark side of technological development.

The Unwanted: 80 years since the tragic odyssey of the MS St. Louis

By Verena Nees, 21 November 2019

The German television drama The Unwanted: The Odyssey of the St. Louis recounts the story of the ship with more than 900 Jewish refugees on board fleeing Nazi Germany, prevented from landing by the Cuban, American and Canadian governments.

Netflix’ Living with Yourself with Paul Rudd: The divided self … from A to B

By David Walsh, 30 October 2019

In the Netflix Original series, Paul Rudd plays a middle-aged marketing copywriter “stuck” in his life. Unexpectedly, he finds himself co-existing with a clone, a “better” version of himself.

A 21st-century “Hunger Games”

Alone: The Arctic (Season 6)—Surviving reality television

By Carl Bronski, 4 September 2019

In all, five of the nine runners-up of Season 6 of Alone were medically evacuated. Others voluntarily withdrew due to the effects of starvation, psychological breakdown or the loss of shelter.

Dear White People Volume 3 and the weaponization of identity politics

By Nick Barrickman, 24 August 2019

In the third season of Justin Simien’s series, events culminate in a #MeToo-style attack on a popular professor.

Forty years since first German broadcast of the “Holocaust” series

By Clara Weiss, 5 August 2019

Under conditions of an international resurgence of fascist forces, the series, which had an enormous impact in West Germany in 1979, has lost none of its relevance.

Stranger Things, Season 3: Nostalgia for the 1980s meets anti-Russian hysteria

By Matthew MacEgan, 27 July 2019

Stranger Things, created by the Duffer Brothers, continues with its tribute to the 1980s, science fiction and horror themes.

Charité at War: A chilling portrayal of Nazism and its crimes

By Joanne Laurier, 11 July 2019

Charité at War  is a German television drama, set in the years 1943 to 1945 at Berlin’s Charité hospital, one of the most prominent in Europe. The series depicts life under Nazi rule.

HBO’s Barry: From war veteran to hitman to…actor

By Ed Hightower, 27 June 2019

Barry follows a discharged Marine-turned-assassin as he attempts to shed the moral baggage of his military service, with tragi-comic results.

999 Barry (TV show)

21 June 2019

Miniseries about the 1986 nuclear disaster

HBO’s Chernobyl: The Soviet working class pays for the crimes of Stalinism

By Andrea Peters, 15 June 2019

Director Johan Renck and scriptwriter Craig Mazin capture the reality of the explosion that tore open the facility’s nuclear reactor core and spewed radioactive material over large swathes of the western USSR and Europe.

The end of Game of Thrones: Spectacle versus art

By Gabriel Black, 27 May 2019

Game of Thrones’ final season was met with a widespread public backlash critical of its simplistic and misanthropic ending.

This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy: Why the lack of seriousness?

By Joanne Laurier, 26 March 2019

An Amazon Prime original, This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy is an eight-episode documentary series that purports to make sense of a complex global situation.

Season 5 of animated series BoJack Horseman addresses #MeToo campaign, with mixed results

By Josh Varlin, 22 March 2019

The show is too savvy to be a simple #MeToo parable about its protagonist’s fall from grace, although the anti-democratic campaign does find reflection.

Trump threatens Alec Baldwin, calls for “retribution” against NBC

By Barry Grey, 19 February 2019

There is no precedent in US presidential history for such a direct incitement of violence against a public personality.

Vanity Fair: A new television adaptation of the great 19th century novel

By David Walsh, 1 February 2019

William Makepeace Thackeray’s work, a remarkable social satire and picture of life, is set during and after the Napoleonic Wars, with the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 playing a role in the events.

8 January 2019

Russian television’s Trotsky serial: A degraded spectacle of historical falsification and anti-Semitism

By Fred Williams and David North, 19 December 2018

The eight-part mini-series, now available on Netflix, is an exhibition of the political, intellectual and cultural depravity of all those involved in its production. This comment was originally posted in November 2017.

Bodyguard: A political thriller in six episodes from the UK

By David Walsh, 15 December 2018

The series centers on a British Army veteran, David Budd, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Budd now serves as an officer with a branch of the police in charge of security for politicians.

250 Kidding review

19 November 2018

David Hare’s political thriller Collateral: “War has entered the blood”

By David Walsh, 14 November 2018

The series begins with the shooting death of a south London pizza delivery man. The murderer, we soon learn, is a female British army captain, who believes she has killed an Iraqi “terrorist.”

Why is HBO’s Game of Thrones so popular?

By Sandy English, 26 September 2018

Game of Thrones, which premiered in 2011, is a complex and well-acted drama for the most part, but lacks resonance or genuine substance in relation to the big problems faced by its audience.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netflix: The disorienting, unfunny impact of identity politics on comedy

By Ed Hightower, 27 August 2018

Australian comic Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, Nanette, has become a huge success. Great claims, unsupported by the reality of the hour-long program, have been made for it.

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale: Out of steam and it shows

By Ed Hightower, 16 July 2018

The familiar problem of having run out of something to say pervades the second season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

HBO’s Succession: Why are these dreadful people allowed to decide what we see and hear?

By Joanne Laurier, 13 July 2018

The HBO television series, Succession, is a sharply drawn portrait of a family that runs a global media conglomerate.

Killing Eve: A television series about a soulless psychopath and her pursuer

By David Walsh, 7 July 2018

A slightly bored British intelligence officer takes on a new, more “exciting” assignment, pursuing a female assassin.

The second season of Netflix’s Dear White People: More of the same selfish, racial politics

By Nick Barrickman, 4 July 2018

The second season picks up where the first season left off: focused on the petty and self-centered exploits of a group of African American students at a fictional upscale university.

The cancellation of Roseanne Barr’s television series

By David Walsh, 31 May 2018

On Tuesday, ABC television cancelled the revived Roseanne after its star Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet.

Corporate: Offensive, pointed satire for a change

By Ed Hightower, 22 May 2018

A breath of fresh air, Corporate, directs its fire against the multinational corporation with considerable honesty and success.

Restored version of Fassbinder’s working class drama Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day showing in US

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 9 April 2018

The result is surprisingly optimistic and confident, not what one might have expected from Fassbinder, known for his emotionally dark, harsh and even cynical films.

The controversy surrounding the Roseanne television series

By David Walsh, 4 April 2018

The first two episodes of the new season, broadcast on ABC back to back on March 27, were watched by more than 20 million people. The network has announced plans for an 11th season.

Netflix: The Crown Season Two—Apologetics for the monarchy as sun sets on British Empire

By Paul Mitchell, 30 January 2018

The season begins with the Suez crisis in 1956 and ends in 1963 with the Soviet spy scare centred on War Minister John Profumo.

Explore the complexities and beauty of Earth’s oceans in Blue Planet II

By Bryan Dyne, 22 January 2018

The series is a vindication of what can be achieved with scientifically coordinated and socially progressive human activity.

Russian television’s Trotsky serial: A degraded spectacle of historical falsification and anti-Semitism

By Fred Williams and David North, 25 November 2017

The eight-part serial is an exhibition of the political, intellectual and cultural depravity of all those involved in its production.

The contradictions of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War

By Patrick Martin, 2 October 2017

The 18-hour documentary series on PBS combines gripping images of the US war, an exposure of the lies and crimes of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and a narrative that seems intended to block any serious understanding of American imperialism.

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return—Living inside a dream?

By Hiram Lee, 20 September 2017

Twenty-five years after its last episode aired, Twin Peaks, the surreal small-town mystery, has been brought back to life by David Lynch.

2017 Emmy Awards: Sean Spicer, self-congratulations and identity politics

By David Walsh, 19 September 2017

The media was more or less agreed Monday that the highlight of the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was the brief appearance by Trump’s former press secretary.

HBO’s Westworld: Blood, guts and pseudo-philosophy

By Carlos Delgado, 21 August 2017

The acclaimed science fiction drama imagines a futuristic amusement park populated by ultra-lifelike robots.

Albert Einstein’s life, or parts of it, in the first season of National Geographic’s Genius

By Bryan Dyne, 20 July 2017

The 10-episode season depicts the life of one of the most renowned scientists in world history without paying much attention to the science he developed.

Season Three of Better Call Saul: Objection! Relevance!

By Ed Hightower, 1 July 2017

The prequel to AMC’s hit Breaking Bad has an identity crisis, and in Season Three resolves this by largely becoming another cop drama.

House of Cards, Season 5 and the “death of the Age of Reason”

By Hiram Lee, 20 June 2017

The newest season of the Netflix drama House of Cards sees the corrupt administration of President Frank Underwood struggling to retain power while battling rival factions within the state.

250 House of cards revew

19 June 2017

Poisoned Water: “NOVA” science series broadcasts segment on Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 3 June 2017

The Public Broadcasting Service presented an engaging and informative documentary on the science behind the Flint water crisis.

Netflix’s War Machine: A hard-hitting attack on America’s military madness

By Joanne Laurier, 30 May 2017

The film admirably revives a venerable tradition of anti-military and anti-war drama and comedy in the US.

Anthony Bourdain in Laos

A rare media examination of the US saturation bombing of Laos

By Walter Gilberti, 27 May 2017

Perhaps only a culinary celebrity can evade the wall of self-censorship in the American media to discuss a war crime committed by the US military.

Netflix series Dear White People: Self-pity in the service of social climbing

By Joanne Laurier, 24 May 2017

The first season of the new Netflix 10-part series, Dear White People, an expansion of Justin Simien’s 2014 movie, concerns a group of black students at a fictional, predominantly white, Ivy League college.

Season 6 of HBO’s Girls: Ending with a whimper

By Ed Hightower, 15 May 2017

The few elements that might have been the show’s saving grace vanish in this final season as Girls dives hard into the morass of identity politics and “personal responsibility.”

Stranger Things, Season One: Government spying and the supernatural in the 1980s

By Matthew MacEgan, 12 May 2017

The series’ first season tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who goes missing in a small town where a top-secret government agency is running tests on supernatural phenomena.

13 Reasons Why: The unhappiness of youth

By Genevieve Leigh, 10 May 2017

The new Netflix series treats the background to the decision by Hannah Baker, a high school student in a more or less average American suburb, to kill herself…and its consequences.

Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes and the current cultural vacuum

By Joanne Laurier, 3 November 2016

Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes, commissioned by Amazon Studios, is a television miniseries set in the period of the anti-Vietnam War protests.

The TV film “Terror” and the attack on democratic rights in Germany

By Johannes Stern and Peter Schwarz, 24 October 2016

The TV film “Terror—Your Verdict” was a deliberate political spectacle to promote German militarism, undermine the constitution, and nullify elementary democratic rights.

Season 3 of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman: Hollywoo(d) and mental illness

By Josh Varlin, 15 August 2016

Netflix’s original animated series BoJack Horseman manages to provide a comedic yet thoughtful look at the entertainment industry and the psychic damage it inflicts.

Lady Dynamite and other Netflix comedies

By Ed Hightower, 6 August 2016

A number of new comedies on Netflix offer mixed results.

HBO’s Veep: Lots of profanity, but not enough of what’s truly ugly

By Carlos Delgado, 2 August 2016

The popular HBO television comedy stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, a hopelessly inept and unprincipled US vice president who ascends to the presidency.

Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, season 4: Does the positive outweigh the negative?

By Ed Hightower, 26 July 2016

The fourth season of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, the comedy-drama set in a fictional women’s federal prison, is now available.

HBO’s “Girls”: What should the voice of this generation say?

By Carlos Delgado, 3 June 2016

Praise for Lena Dunham’s “Girls” generally lauds its “frankness” and “realism” about the unpleasant, even ugly, aspects of life for American youth.

UK documentary exposes Saudi role in global terror operations

By Jean Shaoul, 5 April 2016

The Saudi ruling family spent $70 billion exporting its particularly repressive form of Islamism through books, the media, Islamic welfare institutions and charities.

“We make the terror:” Season four of House of Cards

By Andre Damon, 24 March 2016

The latest season of the Netflix series suggests that the US government facilitates terrorism to keep a lid on domestic opposition, spies on the population for political gain, and conspires to go to war for Machiavellian ends.

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson: An indictment of American celebrity culture

By Charles Bogle, 8 March 2016

The FX series examines the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in June 1994, for which former football star O. J. Simpson was charged.

Television programme shows how German companies benefit from privatisation in Greece

By Verena Nees, 30 July 2015

The “Trust Fund” is the centrepiece of the EU’s new austerity programme and is aimed at plundering the Greek economy.

USA Network’s Mr. Robot: A provocative start, but where will it go?

By Christine Schofelt and David Walsh, 17 July 2015

Making a direct appeal to debt-ridden youth and branding itself as “anti-corporate,” Mr. Robot raises many issues. But how does it deal with them?