For those who have kept up with our Power Ranking over the last few weeks, you’ll know that we’ve settled into rotating in about eight or so series that we are really enjoying. And that hasn’t changed this week, despite some heavy-hitter series: Scenes from a Marriage (HBO), American Rust (Showtime), Impeachment: American Crime Story (FX). Unfortunately, they landed with a thud. Sometimes it’s not about the big names and the expensive production, it’s just about the story. And the shows below? (Including our Honorable Mentions) They have our heart.
The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available the previous week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks. The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes.
Honorable Mention: Lularich (Amazon), Heels (Starz), Nine Perfect Strangers (Hulu), Evil (Paramount+)
5. Ted Lasso
Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: “So much goodness! Sam’s haircut! Ted’s confession! The Roy/Jamie hug! My heart!!”
The success of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, with its emphasis on kindness, positivity, and respect, probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. A comedy about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who takes a job as the manager of a struggling English Premier League team was the perfect escape from the global pandemic that had forced us inside, fostered uncertainty, and fed our collective anxiety. But it also slipped into the TV space that had previously been occupied by heartwarming shows like Schitt’s Creek and Parks and Recreation, two comedies that similarly dealt in overwhelming kindness and left lasting impressions on viewers who’d grown weary of the darkness of the antihero age, or who needed a break from everyday life.
In Season 2, the series has doubled down on what works—Ted’s ability to lead, Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) strength, Keeley’s (Juno Temple) PR acumen, and Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) keen insight into the team—while also finding new and fun ways to explore characters like Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Jamie (Phil Dunster). Basically, Ted Lasso as a whole remains a delightful and quirky comedy that highlights the best of humanity, revealing how kindness and humility can be a conduit to happiness and success. It’s still the show we all needed last year, but it’s also the show that we need today. Because if there’s one thing the show has taught us, it’s that there is no bad time for Ted Lasso. —Kaitlin Thomas [Full Review]
4. The Other Two
Network: HBO Max
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week: “Do you fux with God?”
When last we left The Other Two’s Dubek clan, 14-year-old Chase (Case Walker)—aka viral pop singing sensation ChaseDreams—had just bombed at the VMAs and decided to retire from music altogether to attend college. While that choice might have made it seem like the Dubeks would then no longer be in the public eye, that news was immediately followed by the season-ending reveal that matriarch Pat (Molly Shannon) would be hosting her very own daytime talk show. As a result, Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver) would continue to remain “The Other Two” of the celebrity family, only in a new, different kind of embarrassing way.
As this season will have a two-episode a week structure, each The Other Two drop will come from a place of both Chase and Pat’s current status. But while Brooke and Cary are still the most obvious “other two,” this second season works in interesting ways to both help them grow and become successes in their own right while also continuing to highlight just how big of a mess they both are.
Plus, the show’s biting humor and wit remain from moment one. The amount of jokes in just the first 30 seconds of the season premiere—even in just onscreen text—is an instant reminder of just how dense and astute of a comedy machine The Other Two is. As the series exists in such a realistic, relatable, and recognizable world, all of those comedic moments where it’s just slightly askew continue to hit hard, especially when it comes to the celebrity culture in which these characters find themselves in. But above all, The Other Two remains proof positive that satire and parody doesn’t need to come from a harsh place to work, even in—again—this climate. —LaToya Ferguson [Full Review]
3. Reservation Dogs
Network: FX on Hulu (included in your Hulu subscription)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week: Such a beautiful and affecting series as we get to know each of our gang members individually.
FX has found its niche in telling close-up, intimate stories extremely well, and Reservation Dogs is no exception. It focuses on four friends—Bear (D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai), Elora (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor)—who accidentally form an unofficial “gang” dubbed the “reservation bandits,” because of their penchant for light crime. Their hope is to get enough money to get to California, an ideal that’s always just out reach.
The lived-in, slightly surrealist comedy is a low-fi exploration of an Indigenous community in Oklahoma, whose leads shuffle around the “rez” among other misfits and sundries, and stumble into a variety of adventures that range from stealing a chip van to dealing with a snarky and overworked healthcare system. FX has touted Reservation Dogs, created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, as revolutionary. In many ways it is; it features an all-Indigenous writers room, for one. But the show makes its boldest statement by not feeling like it’s making a statement at all. It’s an easy-going show, foul and funny, specific and accessible. It’s not about the kids being noble heroes or crime-loving villains; they’re just people. But they are also Indigenous people, which does mean something, and is all-too-rare to see on television—especially portrayed in such a wonderfully casual way.
But more than anything, Reservation Dogs is a perfect summer series, one that takes places on languid afternoons and moves at an unhurried pace. The kids make plans, scrounge for food, wander around, get into fights. They don’t talk or act like adults, and they’re not beaten down by cynicism. They have hopes and dreams, a love for family, an un-ironic embrace of community, and make a lot of silly mistakes. To say there is an innocence or even wholesomeness to Reservation Dogs would not be to quite hit the mark on how casually crass the show can be (it is ultimately a comedy for adults); but like its leads, it has a good heart. The friends are trying their best and hold each other close, even as they rib one another for their choices. It’s this balance that the show gets so right; not overly precious nor incredibly vulgar, just truth with an edge. Or as they would say, “Love ya, bitch.” —Allison Keene [Full Review]
2. Only Murders in the Building
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week: One word: Sting!
After 35 years of sharing stage and screen, it’s still a delight to watch Steve Martin and Martin Short work together. Now, along with Selena Gomez, they find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery. The endearing comedy follows the trio of true-crime obsessives as they try to crack a case in their shared apartment building.
The neighbors make an unlikely gang: Charles-Haden Savage (Martin) is a washed-up actor who used to star as a TV detective, and the overconfidence he has in his residual investigative skills thinly masks a deeply insecure man; Oliver Putnam (Short) contrasts Charles as a flamboyant former theater director with a big personality and even bigger debts; Mabel (a well-cast Gomez) is a stylish and quietly mysterious young woman who has more of a connection to the case than she initially lets on. But when they find out they share a suspicion that a tragic suicide in their building was actually a homicide, they decide to try their hand at uncovering the truth—and start a podcast to follow their investigation.
The series—and the podcast within—depend on our central trio being engaging, and the combination of personalities works out well; the cast is dynamic, earning laughs while slowly revealing morsels of their secretly lonely lives to each other. While our heroes like to complicate things, Only Murders in the Building itself keeps things simple; it’s a pleasant and enjoyable series that’s clearly made with a lot of heart. —Kristen Reid [Full Review]
1. What We Do in the Shadows
Network: FX on Hulu (included in your Hulu subscription)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week: The Twilight homage was high art.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 finds the vampires, as well as Guillermo, a little more introspective as they go about their daily (or nightly) routines. Just a little. They begin exploring their pasts and their very roots in new ways, and take on new, hliariously unearned positions within the Vampire Council. Expanding the show’s world in this way is the right move, giving further bizarre context to our leads so that they are more than just (excellent) punchlines and outrageous accents. Any good fantasy or supernatural series needs to come stocked with lore, and the way What We Do in the Shadows continues to weave these elements in makes the jokes land even harder.
The new season does reintroduce some other supernatural factions, but for the most part it’s interested in small stories that really play to the well-honed strengths of its cast. It’s clear that What We Do in the Shadows has a lot of confidence going into these new episodes (the show was also recently renewed for Season 4), and that it’s operating on its own terms. It does its best work that way, especially as it balances the particular strangeness of the vampire world with the everyday mundanity of ours. It’s always a treat to see the vampires move between those spaces, desecrating the ancient traditions of their kind—mostly on accident—and meeting a range of confusion, politeness, or curious acceptance when traveling to, say, Atlantic City.
When writing a review of a series that has been running for several years, the bottom line is letting entrenched viewers know if it is, indeed, still good, and to provide some general expectations. So yes, What We Do in the Shadows is still very, very good—maybe even better than ever. And if you aren’t caught up, well, there’s no better time. —Allison Keene [Full Review]
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