Which TV series will your friends (and the entire internet) be talking about this week? Stay informed — or at least be able to fake it — with SideReel's weekly guide to The Most Important Shows on TV.
Why: FX is a great home for a Tom Hardy TV show. Even the network's (excellent) comedies are dark AF, which is a very accurate way of describing almost every Hardy project. FX also is arguably the most consistent television network right now, and Taboo, while not immediately as game-changing or stunning as some of the channel's other dramas, is off to an intriguing start. The story, developed by Hardy and his dad Chips ('cause you can't have just one), and brought to the screen with help from Peaky Blinders collaborator Steven Knight, takes place in 1814, when a man believed to have been dead (Hardy) returns home to London from Africa to claim what's left of his late father's estate. Of course, there are many enemies in his way — and a few friendly-ish folks who may wind up becoming enemies. The cast includes Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, and Michael Kelly. But this truly is Hardy's show. If you're not into him, the show probably is not for you.
Prepare to talk about: What exactly went on between the half-siblings; how disgustingly filthy the early-1800s industrialized world was.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Why: Yes, Neil Patrick Harris is a delight. And yes, the bestselling series of books by Lemony Snicket is wonderful — and better suited to longer-form storytelling than to film (see: Jim Carrey's disappointing 2004 adaptation). But you guys, Joan Cusack. The more talented Cusack sibling plays Justice Strauss, the high court judge who lives next to Count Olaf. She is a national treasure. OK, this eight-episode series follows the Baudelaire orphans as they try to outsmart their evil guardian Olaf, who's all about their inheritance, and learn about their parents' mysterious deaths. The role is perfect for Harris, who gets to go full theater. This season is based on the first three books. The 10 additional novels, combined with Netflix's seeming inability to cancel a series after a single season, suggest that more episodes are on the way.
Prepare to talk about: Olaf's excellent costumes; whether you're a Violet, a Klaus, or a Sunny.
The Young Pope
Why: Already a hit in Italy and the U.K., Jude Law's career-highlight performance as the Catholic Church's youngest leader finally comes to HBO. In this 10-part series, Law plays the first American pope, Lenny Belardo, a man who Church heavyweights think will be a more malleable pick than other candidates, but who proves to be as hard as stone. A chain-smoking, secretive, right-wing Machiavelli with a love of gold jewelry and big hats, Pope Pius XIII knows what's up in the Vatican, so he eschews the counsel of the Secretary of State and brings in his surrogate mother, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), to serve as his chief advisor. From the mind of Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino, this is a fun, stylish, interesting, wonderfully watchable series.
Prepare to talk about: What a good sign it is when a show becomes a meme even before its premiere; Law's magical (divine?) hairline.