Marriage Story (2019)
Feel like you’ve watched everything on TV? Try one of these addictive new shows that landed on Showmax this month. They’re all Plum Picks for a reason!
If you think that your job is difficult, spare a thought for Sam (Pamela Adlon – who is also the director and creator of dramedy series Better Things). She’s a single mom to three girls. She lives in LA. She’s trying to find a decent guy to date. And she’s an actress. She’s got her hands full, but she can more or less juggle everything. And even when she can’t, she isn’t willing to ask for help, which obviously results in situations anyone in her position knows all too well. Kiddie puke on her clothes right before an important audition? Check! Running late and being stopped at every intersection? Check! Having her date with the cute guy ruined by non-stop calls from her daughters? You bet!
Need to know: The first two seasons are short – 10 episodes each. They’re super-dry with the humour, so you’re not going to have that annoying sitcom-style audience laughter at every joke. And that’s great because it’s so different. Pamela is majestic in her lead role and every single working parent watching will be able to shout “that’s how I feel” and “that’s what I did” at some of the crazier situations she gets herself into. Keep an eye out for loads of cameos by big-name stars like Diedrich Bader (American Housewife), Matthew Broderick, Kevin Pollak, Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Constance Zimmer and rockstar Lenny Kravitz.
What if Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t a boring, grey old fuddy duddy who sat in his studio all day doing drawings? That was the brief for the creators of this historical drama series that’s partially based on real life. Leo has been brought to life as a 20-something creative genius who wanders the streets of Florence, Italy, in Tom Riley’s portrayal. Around each corner awaits a new adventure, a new machine or person or building to dissect in his mind and understand how it’s put together and how it works.
Need to know: Tom Riley learnt to be ambidextrous (or as convincingly as possible) to portray Leonardo. A lot of research went into the creation of the lead character, including the possibility that the original grand master smoked opium to dull his extraordinary senses so that he could take in the real world and not overthink everything. There’s action, there’s a fair chunk of nudity (it is a historical drama, after all), there’s drama and it stays authentic to the Renaissance period: that the Medici family controlled the country and that not everything they or the people in their employ (like Leonardo) did was legal…
Demons are real and they’ve tormented Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) since childhood. And that makes him the perfect guy to help Reverend John Anderson (Philip Glenister) save people he believes are possessed. Each case is crazier than the last, but there is an endgame here: to save Kyle from the monsters he thinks he’s had under control all along.
Need to know: Outcast is executive produced by Robert Kirkman (creator of the graphic novel the show is based on – and the guy who gave us The Walking Dead). It’s not gentle in any shape or form. Possession in movies isn’t nice, but what these poor victims experience is way worse. The special effects team have done amazing work bringing demons to life and no matter what you think is about to happen, it’s going to be way worse and way gorier.
There’s a funky new politician in town and he’s got swagger in his step. That’s because Courtney Rose (Brandon Michael Hall) knows how to bust a rhyme as a lyrical poet, but after expressing dissatisfaction at the state of his community, he stands up against the local politician and is voted in as the new mayor. And while he has every good intention, running the neighbourhood on a political level is a whole new story for Mayor Rose, as he quickly finds out.
Need to know: It’s young and hip and fly. It’s all good in the ’hood with a funky young cast. Each episode is more or less self-contained, so you can watch the 13 episodes in pretty much any order. It’s also safe for tweens, light-hearted and makes for decent background noise if you’re busy playing with your tablet or phone. With only one season, The Mayor is a great weekend binge.
Vampires are alive and they’re taking over New York. But don’t expect a Dracula-style fanged bloodsucker jumping you in the shadows. Instead, big-screen director Guillermo del Toro has evolved vampires into a worm-like virus that arrives in the Big Apple onboard a plane full of dead passengers. Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll) from the CDC is in charge of the investigation and while he isn’t sure what he’s got himself into, he quickly realises that vampires are very real and very dangerous after meeting Professor Setrakian (David Bradley), a pawnbroker by day and a vampire slayer by night.
Need to know: It’s gross. It really is enough to send anyone with a weak stomach fleeing to the bushes. But that’s what makes it so good. The gore and imagination by Del Toro is on a whole new level. And yes, there is a coffin as The Master is flown into New York, the original source of the virus. The Strain is a brand-new take on the vampire mythology and it will keep you on the edge of your seats.
FBI agents go missing in a small town, but that’s only the start of the problem for their boss, who shows up to investigate. The people are behaving more like naughty school children in detention, going about their lives quietly and in an awkward non-human fashion. No one is telling the truth. And besides the controlled curfew, the residents are also being herded like lambs to the slaughter – there’s a literal electric fence keeping them in town. No one comes and no one goes.
Need to know: Season 1 is based entirely on Blake Crouch’s novel of the same name… and Season 2 is completely new content developed entirely for the show. There are a couple of big names in the cast like (like Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Shannyn Sossamon, Terrence Howard and Juliette Lewis). It’s also super-creepy because public executions – called “reckoning” – and controlled behaviour aren’t entirely alien to our current world. And when you see what’s being done and the result, it’ll make you wonder which conspiracy theory you should start believing.