Weekend Binge Guide: July 2016

Have the weekend free? Going out is overrated! Binge-­watch one of these shows instead:

 

If you want to laugh:

 

Difficult People

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If you like your TV comedies extra snarky, you'll love Julie Klausner's sharp, prickly, funny Difficult People, which returns to Hulu July 12. Throughout Season 1's eight episodes, Klausner proves she has acting chops to match her writing prowess, Billy Eichner shows off his range, James Urbaniak finds the nuance in what could be a clichéd boyfriend role, and Andrea Martin demonstrates why she's the MVP of virtually everything she's in. The title of this show is no joke: Most of these people are not just difficult, but terrible. When they're not half-heartedly trying to get their acting and comedy careers off the ground, the characters of Julie and Billy roam New York City mercilessly excoriating every poor rube who crosses their path. But there's a real warmth to their friendship that (just) keeps the pair — and the show — from crossing the line into truly unlikeable territory. This is modern-day cringe-comedy at its finest.

 

If you want to cry:

 

Time of Death

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Death on TV is nothing new, but real human mortality? We don't love seeing that. That's why this 2013 Showtime docuseries is so powerful. Cameras follow terminally ill people, ages 19 to 78, as they fight to extend their lives, say goodbye to family members, and in several cases, take their final breath. Each episode captures in unflinching detail the story of one new person in addition to one family whose story is told throughout the six-part series. In Episode 2, former grief counselor Lenore explains why she wanted to participate: "We live in a death-denying culture and I don't want it to be that way; I want my life to have made some difference." While all of their stories are deeply poignant, viewers spend the most time with Maria, a mother of three whose story is the messiest — and the most moving.

 

If you want to scream:

 

American Horror Story: Asylum

See all reviews for American Horror Story

Either you like the strange mix of pitch-black camp and gory violence that Ryan Murphy and co. inject into every AHS season or you don't. It's the kind of show even ardent fans mock (especially during the fifth installment, starring — like it or not — Golden Globe-winning actress Lady Gaga). But when it's good, it's wickedly clever. Season 2 is truly insane. The 13 episodes feature a flurry of WTF moments: everything from aliens and demon-possessed teens to mad scientists and Anne Frank. But it stands out for me as the best of the AHS seasons for one reason: Sarah Paulson. As her Lana Winters lives through nightmare after nightmare, she becomes one of the Murphy universe's most sympathetic characters and Paulson delivers a truly complete performance very much deserving of the Emmy nomination she received.

 

If you want to think:

 

Chef's Table

See all reviews for Chef's Table

Netflix's gorgeous six-part series invites viewers into the kitchens and lives of world-renowned chefs. It's food porn, yes, but it's also part travel show and part TED Talk. Especially this season, with a trio of subjects who share the desire to increase the prestige of their national cuisines. Indian Gaggan Anand, Brazilian Alex Atala, and Mexican Enrique Olvera use their screen time to lead cameras away from their fancy restaurants. Anand, who's based in Bangkok, gathers ingredients from throughout his native India, Atala heads deep into the Amazon to focus on sustainability, and Olvera shares his love of Oaxaca, where the mole that has become the signature dish at his Michelin-starred Mexico City restaurant originates. The man pulling everything together is David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) who gets these chefs to open up in surprising ways, almost always sharing a moment of failure that pushed them toward greatness.

 

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Jul 1, 2016 8:11AM EDT

Chef's Table is an aesthetically appealing delight, totally worth watching! Time of Death sounds like a thought provoking series but perhaps to dreary for me (And that's saying something). Thanks for the suggestions T.J

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Jul 2, 2016 12:07PM EDT

Difficult People - 8 Episodes, Time of Death - 6 episodes... I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't really binge watch something that has less than ten episodes >.>

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