Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Get dazzled by The Underground Railroad and a Pride docuseries over a busy weekend

Thuso Mbedu in The Underground Railroad
Thuso Mbedu in The Underground Railroad
Photo: Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15. All times are Eastern.

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Top pick

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video, Friday, 12:01 a.m.): This new historical fiction drama is “Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ limited series adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 novel, which imagines the 19th-century Underground Railroad as a literal railroad beneath Southern soil that Black people used to escape slavery. Perhaps Whitehead’s greatest achievement is that this premise isn’t ridiculous, and both the novel and series transcend blunt allegory with a haunting magical realism that openly embraces the horrors of slavery in America. Whitehead’s prose is engaging, but Jenkins’ visuals are searing. The Underground Railroad doesn’t hesitate to show slavery’s brutality in shocking, often gruesome detail: There’s the body horror of a man being whipped to near death and burned alive; the Rosemary’s Baby-style psychological terror of a woman having her child stolen from her for sinister purposes; and a slave catcher, relentless as the shark in Jaws, who stalks human prey and drags them back to hell. The Underground Railroad’s most consistently disturbing moments make up a historical reality we can’t escape, no matter how hard we try.” Read the rest of Stephen Robinson’s review here.

Pride (FX, Friday, 8 p.m.): This six-part docuseries launches with its first three episodes. In the series, renowned LGBTQ+ directors follow the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in America going decade by decade. Tom Kalin directs the premiere about the ’50s, including Senator Joseph McCarthy’s governmental regulations ushering in an era of government-sanctioned persecution. The 1960s episode, directed by Andrew Ahn, follows marginalized communities who played an integral role in the advancement of the movement, and episode three, about the ’70s, is directed by Cheryl Dunye, whose personal journey is interweaved through archival footage and personal testimonies. Look out for more in-depth coverage on Pride on the site later this month.

Regular coverage

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+, Friday, 12:01 a.m.)
Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:29 p.m.): MadTV’s very own Keegan Michael-Key makes his SNL debut with first-time musical guest Olivia Rodrigo.

Wild cards

Halston (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): Executive produced by Ryan Murphy, this five-episode limited series stars Ewan McGregor as the legendary fashion designer whose empire is synonymous with luxury, sex, status, and fame during the ’70s and ’80s until a hostile takeover could make him lose it all. The show also stars Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli and Rory Culkin as Joel Schumacher. The rest of the lineup includes Vera Farmiga, Sullivan Jones, Rebecca Dayan, Bill Pullman, and Kelly Bishop. Keep an eye out for Danette Chavez’s review on the site later today.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., season premiere): “From the beginning, Disney +’s musical dramedy High School Musical: The Musical: The Series had a number of obstacles to clear before skeptics would deem it a success—that is, beyond its cumbersome name. First, it had to find a fresh perspective on a wildly popular movie trilogy after a decade-long cooling period. Then, it had to convince old and new fans alike that there was an interesting story beyond the growing pains of Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez. To that end, the first season delivered… [But] in its second season, HSM: TM: TS faces a new challenge: proving that season one’s successful execution wasn’t a fluke. After all, the finale ended with a (mostly) successful teen production of High School Musical: The Musical. Technically, they did the thing. What’s left to accomplish?” Read the rest of Shannon Miller’s review here.

Love, Death, + Robots (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): Created by Tim Miller with David Fincher amongst its EPs, the eight-episode second volume of this adult animated anthology series is sure to be just as creative and NSFW as its first season.

Blue Bloods (CBS, Friday, 9 p.m., season finale): In this two-hour season 11 finale, titled “The End” and “Justifies The Means,” shockwaves ripple through the Reagan family when Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) discovers that their newest family member is working undercover for the ATF to bring down a gunrunning organization. The procedural police drama also stars Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, and Vanessa Ray.

Movie night

The Woman In The Window (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): “The truth is that a great many better thrillers have stories that fall apart under close scrutiny, howling gaps in logic, and twists that strain credulity. They are filled with clichés, stereotypes, and formulas. These films sculpt art not out of plot but out of our attraction to the thrill. The most that can be said for The Woman In The Window is that it does, in long stretches, look interesting.” Read Ignatiy Vishnevetsky’s full review here. The Joe Wright-directed film stars Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Fred Hechinger, Anthony Mackie, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell, and Brian Tyree Henry.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (HBO Max, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): “Agreeably straightforward, Those Who Wish Me Dead is also thin as kindling: It threatens to disperse into embers as you watch it. And there are limits to its ruthless economy. For as unsentimental as Taylor Sheridan’s approach looks from a distance, everything with Angelina Jolie’s anguished Hannah feels hoary and even a touch maudlin, especially once the movie pairs her off with an adolescent charge, the two trading commiserative stories and a few stray one-liners.” Read A.A. Dowd’s entire film review here. The cast also includes Finn Little, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult, Medina Senghore, and Jake Weber.

I Am All Girls (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): Directed by Donovan Marsh, this gritty drama is based on real events that unfolded in South Africa in the 1980s related to a notorious human trafficking ring involving powerful politicians. The story follows special crimes investigator Jodie Snyman (Erica Wessels) who races against the clock to bring down a global child sex trafficking network.

Staff Writer (TV)