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

They’ll be there for you, via HBO Max

From left: David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow
David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow
Photo: HBO Max

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, May 27. All times are Eastern. 

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Top pick

Friends: The Reunion (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m.): So no one told you this was gonna air to-dayyyyy [clapclapclapclap]? If that’s the case, then What’s On Tonight is, you know, there for you. Here’s Gwen Ihnat on Friends: The Reunion:

In the 104 minutes of the special, we see numerous revisits at once: the cast meeting up again on the rebuilt set for the first time in 17 years, a table read in which they mimic episodic dialogue from decades ago, a taped group interview in front of an audience hosted by James Corden, a clip show, even a bloopers reel. Corden is basically filling the role that Conan O’Brien held on a similar special from 2001, asking the world’s most famous Friends about the show that made them all stars. Granted, there’s no disputing that Friends ruled the small screen in the 1990s, and reruns and those streaming services mentioned above have helped bring the then-twentysomethings to a whole new audience (there’s a cute moment when both Schwimmer and LeBlanc talk about revisiting the show with their daughters). One of the special’s most self-congratulatory moments is when it visits Friends fans from around the world, explaining how the show helped them through dark times. “They were my friends when I didn’t have any friends,” says a young woman from Mexico, choking up. But given the show’s ongoing popularity, do we really need Nobel-prize-winner Malala Yousafzai and her best friend discussing their interest in the show as a selling point?

Check out the rest of Gwen’s review, then enjoy “The One Where James Corden Asks David Schwimmer About Marcel Or Something Goofy Like That,” Friends fans.

Regular coverage

For kids

Rugrats (Paramount+, 3:01 a.m, part one of season one): The Pickles family returns, this time with creepier animation! Also, Phil and Lil’s mom Betty is gay now. She’ll be voiced by queer actor Natalie Morales, who told The A.V. Club, “anyone who watched the original show may have had an inkling Betty was a member of the alphabet mafia.”

Wild cards

Eden (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Until Studio Ghibli makes a mecha anime, Netflix’s Eden is as close as we’ll get. The series, which comes from Justin Leach and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood director Yasuhiro Irie, is missing that extra little layer of the sublime that Ghibli works tend to have, but in its best moments, Eden has a spark of brilliance that feels truly special. Set thousands of years after mankind has supposedly gone extinct, the show is about a pair of robots who stumble onto a little baby named Sara. After immediately bonding with the kid, the robots decide to raise her in secret—far from human-hating robots who blame mankind for ruining the planet.

There’s a time jump after that, showing Sara as a surprisingly well-adjusted young adult, and the best stuff in the series comes from showing how humans and machines are different, and how even a person raised by robots would be unable to suppress their emotions and their desire to find more people like themselves (or any people in this case). The writing is adorable, with Sara using computer-y terms like “recharge” instead of “sleep” and the robots marking their fondness for her in very robot-like ways, including acknowledging that her height and exact age have changed. Eden is less ideal when the big reveals start to undercut what we know about the robots, and the mecha fists start flying (but not literally, Mazinger Z fans), but the show’s sweet little heart shines through nonetheless. [Sam Barsanti]

Blue Miracle (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): Jimmy Gonzales (Mayans M.C. and the late, great Lodge 49) stars in this capital-S capital-M Sports Movie in which a guy and some scrappy kids team up to save the orphanage by winning a fishing competition and warming the heart of grumpy old fishing boat captain Dennis Quaid.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!