Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Monday, March 16. All times are Eastern.
The Plot Against America (HBO, 9 p.m., series premiere): “The Plot Against America, David Simon’s engrossing HBO series based on Philip Roth’s 2004 novel of the same name, is not the first series in the last few years to take up the mantle of resistance against the rise of fascism, but it is the most artful. Unlike other shows, such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Hunters, that have courted controversy through their depictions of intense brutality that borders on torture porn, The Plot Against America refuses to use cheap shocks, instead focusing on how its characters confront their slow-building anxieties and sense of powerlessness in the face of an increasingly hateful America.” You can read the rest of Arielle Bernstein’s promising pre-air review here. Noel Murray will recap weekly.
My Brilliant Friend: The Story Of A New Name (HBO, 10 p.m.): The adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s sweeping Neapolitan series returns with the second book in the series, The Story Of A New Name. Don’t remember the last season that well? Re-read Allison Shoemaker’s recaps of the first season, then prepare to have your heart wrenched out of your chest all over again. Look for Allison’s pre-air review of season two on the site later today.
Virgin River, season one (Netflix): Whether you’re home sick or coming down with cabin fever, Virgin River is the perfect tonic. Based on a 20-book series by Robyn Carr, this eight-episode season that centers on a nurse practitioner/midwife (Alexandra Breckenridge) goes by pretty quick, and comes festooned with beautiful Northern Californian (actually Canadian) vistas, small-town dramatics, and exceptionally beautiful people. Plus, everyone talks at a gentle pace and frequently opens up about their past tragedies, so even if you accidentally fall asleep for an episode, you’ll probably figure out the details in the next one.