What to Watch: TV chat with Hank Stuever

Apr 11, 2019

Post TV critic Hank Stuever talked about what's bad, good and so bad it's good on TV.

Here's what Hank would watch if he wasn't paid to watch TV: "Game of Thrones," "Better Things," "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Insecure" Lately he's been digging "Barry," "Veep," "Ramy," "Killing Eve," and "What We Do In the Shadows."

Spring is here, only it's all about WINTER IS HERE. "Game of Thrones" returns Sunday. My big piece just went up -- a walk-up essay, no Season 8 spoilers, haven't seen it yet! -- and will run in Sunday's paper with a whole lot of other GoT-related stuff.

For just one example of all the stuff The Post team has been doing, pop-culture writer Travis M. Andrews has been filing mas content, including this OVERALL RECAP of everything so far. And I trust you've seen Post artist Shelly Tan's meticulously updated graphic of every on-screen death in the show. In summary: GoT makes people do some pretty intense things.

Last week, someone asked if I would be hosting special post-mortem chats on Mondays until the series is over. No, but I neglected to remind you of our recaps, one by my boss, David Malitz. (I've asked Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes about pop culture and all things GoT on the Opinions staff, if she also plans to recap this season; she's out today, but I'll  be sure to let you know when she gets back to me.)

Finally: Sorry if you're not into it, not going to be into it, and wish it would go away -- which it soon will. It's sort of taken over our world here.

Elsewhere: What are your thoughts on "Fosse/Verdon"? Here's my review from earlier this week.

With that, let's chat!

 

Any predictions? I'm looking forward to seeing how Cersei dies and who kills her. It would complete so many characters' arcs! Jaime, Tyrion, Arya, Danaerys, Jon Snow, the dragons (why not?).

Here's my big prediction, are you ready: We're all going to be surprised by how obvious everything is. There will be some big deaths. There will be some big fist-pumping triumphs. There will be an ending that we could have seen all along. It won't be as complicated as all our many guesses and theories. This was what I learned last year, when we all overthought the ending to "The Americans." Very different kinds of shows, true, but for some reason I sense GoT will end with broad strokes not specific or complicated moves.

I think the "Emotional Vampire" introduced last night should work as a receptionist downstairs in our office building. I would have to tell my contacts to come through the back door, but no one who didn't know about her would be able to pass her desk and get into the elevator!

I think we've all eluded an emotional vampire or two in our time. The energy vampires are a little more common, but you gotta really watch out for the emotional vampires -- they always have a sad story and need to tell you at length about it.

Thanks to this chat, I learned about the AMC marathon of Killing Eve last Sunday. Dang, I'm hooked. I never left the house all day. No groceries, no laundry. Just soaked in everything about this awesome show. Needless to say, went to work Monday hungry and wearing "those clothes" we dig out from the back of the drawers/closet we only wear when we have nothing else left. Thanks for the recommendation!

You are very welcome -- and what an endorsement: A show so absorbing that it gets into your dresser drawers.

Do you ever get caught up in late night TV interviews? I just saw Stephen Colbert's interviews of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Andersen Cooper and Emily Bazelon and felt I listened to a well balanced and informed set of opinions from people about the current engagement between Congress and the White House, particularly about the contempt for which this White House has for laws and whatnot. Is there a current host you like listening to for your news in an entertainment sortof way?

At home, after my other half gets his MSNBC dose, we watch News4 at 11 (I'm old fashioned that way) then flip to Colbert, then doze off to Seth Meyers. Everything else (Kimmel, Fallon, Trevor Noah) I tend to catch up on the next day -- YouTube has me figured out and recommends all the clips. The one I refuse to watch is Corden. I will never.

Thanks for your lead-in essay. In all the offseason hype, I feel it's gotten a little lost in the shuffle that the show itself has become completely terrible in the last few seasons (as many shows do in their later years). A safe prediction for the ending is: it will be a laughably ham-handed Hollywood focus group ending (regardless of whether it's an edgy dark one or an old fashioned happy triumph).

That's sort of a more harrumphy version of the question I just answered -- I think it will be a straight-on ending, which, yes, might seem a little more Hollywood. You're right about the seasons that take place after the books leave off -- seasons 6 and 7. The pacing changed, the seams started to show.

I really want to watch Killing Eve, and did see the first episode of Season 1, before AT&T universe updated my DVR and wiped out all the episodes I had recorded. (well all of season 1 actually when BBC America ran the whole season over a long weekend). So a couple of weeks ago when they ran all of season 1 again, I recorded the whole season. However, yesterday, before I could watch any of the episodes I had missed, the stinkin' DVR broke, and now I obviously cannot watch them since I had to replace the DVR. Should I just give up now, or is there a way to actually see the show from the start?

I'm sorry and this certainly sounds frustrating. These are complicated kinds of questions to answer (especially in a live chat), but I think when you get to this point, the quickest answer is to buy your way out of it, per episode.  Sign up for Hulu and stream it, or buy episodes individually from iTunes, YouTube or Amazon. It's also worth checking with your local library to see if your library card can work any magic streaming tricks.

Just wanted to say that while the final episode of CXG wasn't all that fun and exciting on its own, it served as a good cap to the series as a whole. Rebecca's decision to choose to get to know herself before committing to a marriage with any of her suitors, validated my viewing approach all along, i.e., that I was not watching a romantic comedy. I'm sure that not all viewers were happy about it, but it satisfied me pretty well.

Good to know, and not terribly spoilery from where I sit.

Not by me, but has he been forgiven for the soft Trump pre-election interview?

Ratings-wise he's still behind. Which, if you like, can be the reasons. Also I think he wears people out.

Though I'm not big musical theater fan, I watched because I love Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell. It's pretty good, I'll probably watch the next episode, but probably wouldn't if it were lesser actors in the roles. I get it, Fosse was a chain smoker who was lost in thought. You were spot on about that fantasy suicide,it was so fluid.

Oh, yes, that 1-2-3 up and over the bal-co-nee was just perfect. I say stick with it -- it's really about the lead performances.

Have you been watching the HBO doc The Case Against Adnan Syed? Have you been following this case since the Serial podcast? What are you thoughts?

Nope, not really and no thoughts, other than I feel sorry for the victim's family. And really I feel sorry for anyone who has to discover that their loved one's murder has become someone else's attempt to make a podcast as big as "Serial."

what was Sonja trying to do with that dog in the Berkshires?

It's like we're both wearing trenchcoats and meeting at a parkbench at midnight. Whatever top secret you're trying to sell me, just say it.

How about that Michelle Williams? I mean, I've always thought she was a wonderful actor, and it really shows in Fosse/Verdon. Maybe it was the opening scene, where his minute adjustments to her pose made all the difference, but I was paying closer attention to body language and hand movements and all than usual and everything she did just was so spot on. What did you think? Ten years ago, I think I'd be shocked to know that one day FX had started putting out such high-quality content, but I'm just loving their limited short series. Didn't it used to be basically the bro network?

"Nip/Tuck" and "Damages" weren't exactly bro network stuff, but I would say that FX has broadened its catalog considerably in the last five or six years, with notable help from Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story," "American Crime Story," "Feud," "Pose") and also fresh talent like Pamela Adlon and Donald Glover. More importantly, FX has worked very hard to diversify things behind the camera, by enacting policies to ensure that directors, writers, creators are not all white guys.

For my "Fosse/Verdon" review, see link in intro above.

 

You were 100 percent right on the emotional vampire. But the bit with the squeaky toy nearly got me in trouble. Laughed so loud I almost woke up my kids.

Whew! Imagine how shocked they would be to discover how much fun things are after they're asleep.

Michelle Williams is NAILING IT as Gwen Verdon. The mannerisms, the voice, the movements. Also enjoying Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse. But for me, it's all about Gwen/Michelle. I like having her perspective in the show and how Fosse's actions affected her life.

The whole thing is sort of a historical corrective to their story. I also love her performance -- and just wait, it really takes off with further episodes; in fact, I think the first episode is the weakest of the five I've seen, and it wasn't really that weak.

I kept wondering (based on when this series was made) how much of the pay-equity flap that Michelle Williams found herself in is being channeled into her performance here? If so, very useful repackaging of hurt and anger.

The show likely will end with some sort of resolution(s). Then if George RR Martin ever finishes writing the book versions, will he ignore the path the series choose. (Assuming there is some crossover between the TV viewers and the book readers, and maybe there's not a lot.)

Who knows if he will ever finish the books, but someone said to me that he'd be smart to come up with his own, different ending (and everything that leads up to it), giving an "alternate" path and raking in beaucoup bucks.

another fan here. I mainly agree with the other comment, except they leaned on the Greg /Rebecca pairing too much given that they recast the actor this season. But the true joy was the hour concert of CEG songs afterwards. Loved it so much, proof that songs were more the draw than the story at least for me.

I heard this is a Canadian Series about a Muslim Family moving into Manitoba. Any chance it is getting 're-envisioned' by Netflix, Amazon or Hulu?

It was a Canadian sitcom and ran a really long time ago -- 2007-2012. I think if it was going to make that leap, it would have done so by now.

Compared to the Reality-TV Politics we have now, the Selina Meyers Universe seems absolutely understandable!

Far less complicated, that's for sure.

DIRECTV has been running HBO for free this week "until Sunday". Do you think they will raise Subscription prices on the day after GOT Returns?

I don't know. I do know that HBO is the key piece of whatever Warner Media is going to launch as a streaming service, that will give subscribers access to all the Turner stuff (archives, too, I think) and AT&T will likely put it all on customer's phone plans, the way Apple TV plans to distribute through any Apple device. HOWEVER, if you're currently getting HBO (and HBO Go) through your cable provider, you'll still be able to that, unimpeded by new business arrangements. Same for HBO Now subscribers; at least, that was the word at the winter TV press tour presentation. The overall goal, though, is to get people subscribing to the entire AT&T/Warner package. Prices tbd.

They are so blowing the cold Open Politics skits the past couple of weeks.

By not bringing in Alec? Explain.

(Stipulated: cold-open political sketches are not really "SNL's" forte. They hit a few out of the park over the years and the rest feel dutiful. Their real talent is social/cultural satire.)

Thanks for the strong recommendation. I've been taking advantage of my Comcast Watch-a-thon Showtime access to catch up on this impressive limited series. Del Toro and Dano are great and, having grown up in a small WNY snow belt town, I am impressed with how perfectly they captured the setting, tone, and people of the region.

Yes, the work they did (writers, actors, director, location/setting) really shows. And not in a cartoony way.

And he makes me miss Craig Ferguson an awful lot. As a host, Craig was all those things that Corden is not: Funny, charming, inventive, and utterly filled with a disdain for doing a standard talk-show interview with a guest.

The most terrifying thing I ever did was go be a guest on Ferguson's show. He really was one of a kind. And that has nothing to do with my dislike of Corden. Don't get me started!

How many episodes in the final season of Game of Thrones? Or, to be more precise, how long do I have to put up with hearing about it incessantly? (I'm not talking about you. That's your job. I mean my friends, who act like it's their job too.)

Hahaha! I think I overheard those kind of people at a bar the other night.

You have six long weeks. The finale airs May 19. All told, the waters should calm by Memorial Day.

NO SPOILERS HERE: But I must admit I failed to foresee the last two twists to the story. I hope that Ruth Wilson (real-life granddaughter of the title character, whom she plays) will be able to find out more information about her grandfather Wilson, and use it for a sequel to this dazzling little series.

Maybe she will.

I'm trying to watch Better Things based on your recommendation (I agree with you on most things) and I'm on episode 3 of the first season and I don't like it. I don't find it funny or entertaining at all. Keep going? Does it get better? What do you enjoy about it? It's mostly a middle aged woman being sad.

What do I like about it? I like the rawness of it. I like that a Generation X character is getting to be so fully and resplendently grouchy instead blowing relentless fake sunshine up our rears. I like her exasperation at parenting and willingness to admit how much it sucks. I like the portrayal of a not exactly conventional household, yet one that is believably upper-middle-class in Los Angeles terms. I like Sam's heart, beneath the grumpiness. I like how much she cares for (and is driven to apoplexy by) her aging mother. I like Sam's interactions with the outside world, her outspokenness.

If she turns you off, then so be it.

Another huge fan here. I love Seth Meyers but Ferguson was in a class by himself. Do you know if he has anything new in the works. I watched his talk/game show on the History Channel and even his game show but haven't heard of anything for a while now.

Good question -- maybe another chatter knows for sure. There was a game show, and the History thing you mentioned, and for a while he had a show on SiriusXM. I think he did a pilot for an ABC comedy that didn't get picked up. He's also a writer of novels and nonfiction. Currently, however, I'm not aware of anything. Chatters?

1. I didn't know that FX had been diversifying behind the scenes. That's great. So if anyone wants to know if having different voices from different walks of life correlates to excellent entertainment, look no further! 2. Really interesting thought about whether Michelle Williams channelled the wage gap incident into Fosse/Verdon. I'd love it if an interviewer asked her about that.

It possible that someone did ask her about that during the winter press tour -- I was there, but I'd have to check the official session transcript to see.

Have you watched this show, from Canada. It is absolutely the most charming and funny show I have seen in ages.

Lots and lots of fans -- especially once it caught on via Netflix. Plenty to read about it on the Internets, if you Google it. I'm not a big fan, but that means nothing.

Oh, yeah. The concert in the second hour was definitely the best part of it all, and the songs and quick callbacks (like Tim's electric toothbrushes) brought it home.

I am loving this season! It doesn't miss Louie CK's input at all.

Who? (Agreed.)

It's always kind of been weird this is the tagline when the show was stars airing at the start of spring.

My editor David always felt like it should come on in January, so we could all watch it with lots of blankets.

I thought that finale was fabulous and upsetting at the same time, which shows how much I cared. I was most upset about the kids-was it a hot day and they were left in the car? when would anybody ever find them if our hero and heroine never made it to shore? Is it some kind of message about what kind of parents they were? OR is the message we are all slightly bigger assholes than we think we are.

All endings are possible, which is why it works so well. Here's a link to my piece about that, if you're interested.

Is becoming my next appointment TV. GoT Is my current one. But when is this "Mrs. Wilson" with the widow of a dead spy supposed to arrive?

It came and went over the past two Sundays on PBS. Never fear, there are a zillion ways to watch PBS content, including online at PBS.org.

I was working backstage at the National Theatre when the Sweet Charity revival opened. I remember some buzzing after the show started opening night about where were Fosse and Verdon but thought nothing of it. They announced his death after the curtain came down and the gasps and screams were so raw....

I meant to go back into The Post archives and see how it was covered. I'm sure it was shocking.

Let me IMDB that for you... He's been writing for TV, did voice work on a couple of movies, and has one film now in post-production.

I was hoping for something more surprising.

Please confirm for sure that Jon Snow and Danerys Targarean are related (Aunt & Nephew, I think)

I assume you're directing that request at the creators.

But all I can say is WOW! about last night's airing of Sir David Attenborough's program on bird eggs. I feared it might be a dull subject, but inertia kept me on the couch at first, and then the film got me spellbound (something I was never expecting). Not only that, I was amazed to discover online that Sir David is now 92, and yet he's still at the top of his game, IMO. LINK: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/the-egg-lifes-perfect-invention-full-episode/17441/

There were commercials for this Bird Eggs thing while my partner and I were watching the PBS "Reconstruction" documentary the other night (also very good) and both of us were fascinated just by the teaser. Honey, we forgot to watch EGGS! I'm going to go back and find it.

What was the name of this one before he/she GOT zombified? Also, are the last two male and female? Or is reproduction going to need some specisl "Magic"?

For this we need an expert -- anyone know?

And touring his show, sadly skeleton-robot-free (as the rights to it remain with the production company).

Wait a moment, I'm just finding out now ABC has axed "Nightline"?

Got a source? I haven't seen anything to that effect. It did get swapped with Kimmel, who moved into the 11:30 spot, but that's been quite some time ago.

Was that the one by Henry Louis Gates?

Yes. Very good, and probably jaw-dropping for most people, who got the usual U.S. History curriculum, where things just sort of "work out" after the Civil War (which they did not). The second half of the series airs next Tuesday.

It was confirmed last season is the actually not Ned Stark's bastard son, but son of Ned's sister and Prince Rhaegar, Daenerys's other big brother. There's a fan theory that Tyrion isn't Tywin's biological son, but Daenerys' father, the Mad King, forced himself upon Tywin's wife.

Yes, that's all floating around out there.

Gosh, I didn't realize that he died while going to a showing of Sweet Charity. I guess that explains the whole "17 minutes left" and "20 years left" (or something like that) part of the show. Wierd that learning of a 1987 death seems almost like a spoiler. (Yes, I know that I have no one to blame but myself and my complete lack of knowledge of the main characters.)

You're allowed to look stuff up during commercials, which a lot of us do.

Watched the first ep of F/V yesterday and I love it! As someone who loves musical theater, it's totally in my wheelhouse anyway, but the writing/dancing/and of course acting is just fabulous. Also, wanted to thank you for recommending Better Things. I didn't know if I would like it, but I do and for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned earlier in the chat. I esp. love Sam's outspokeness.

Thanks!

I'm not an expert, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn. Regarding Jon and Dany, they confirmed their familial relationship last season. Jon is the son of Rhaegal (Dany's brother) and Lyanna (Ned's sister), which makes him her niece. Yay incest! As for the dragons, they are Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal. Viserion is not the ice zombie dragon. Not sure about gender though.

Yes, yes, but what I think the OP was getting at was that the show needs to confirm it. (I feel like a three-eyed raven is confirm enough, but I guess this person wants receipts?)

The dead one now controlled by the Night King is Viserion, named after Viserys Targaryen (he died in Season One) Other two: Drogon, named after Khal Drogo, Rhaegal, named after Rhaegar Targaryen

Collect 'em all!

The guy from Crashing (forget his name right now) has a podcast and Ferguson was on it. He said he opted out of the Sirius XM show because he was bored by the grind of it. He's living in Scotland most of the year. Sounds semi retired.

Honestly, good for him.

Do you think we will ever get a proper night-time soap again? I'm thinking of something like "Revenge" from a few years ago on ABC (I think). I know it was hardly "must-see" and certainly not high-art of any sort, but it filled the void in a Dallas/Falcon Crest kind of way. Things that are out now seem so "do-gooder-ish". It's hard to stomach the "This Is Us" types - where's the "evil" villain? Broadcast TV choices seem to be either be family-oriented, or hospital/cop/fire station types. Am I missing a show I should be giving a chance? (not the terrible Dynasty reboot!). Where is Revenge or even Melrose Place these days? Ridiculous drama not centered around hospital, please! Thanks for any recommendations.

My brain is kind of pudding today, so I'm encouraging the chatters to get involved -- there's got to be an answer to this that we're overlooking. (And it's not a highbrow answer -- please no "Billions" or "Succession.") Nighttime soaps. Does cable have one?

In the end, it was all really about the songs. I'm glad they had that extra one-hour special, just singing the best songs of the series. I especially liked "Let's Generalize about Men" and "Anti-depressants are so not a big deal". Good luck to Rachel Bloom and all her talented composers and co-stars!

It certainly had its fans.

I see this is getting really strong reviews but between The Magicians, Umbrella Academy, Sabrina, and Deadly Class, I'm feeling a bit burnt out on the whole school for extraordinary, angsty teens. But, I'm willing to give it a shot if it's worthwhile.

Haven't watched it yet -- but I do remember thinking, what a dumb title.

Have you watched this? It is executive produced by Ben Stiller, airing on The CW (not usually a network I watch) It's about a blind woman who's living a life of debauchery, thinks her friend, a kid who's a street dealer, who saved her from being beaten to death a couple of years ago, has been killed. She's sure she found his body in the place they usually find each other, but the cops say there's no body. She's trying to prove he's been murdered.

[YAWN]

Well there's always WWE Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live!

"It was confirmed last season is the actually not Ned Stark's bastard son, but son of Ned's sister and Prince Rhaegar, Daenerys's other big brother. There's a fan theory that Tyrion isn't Tywin's biological son, but Daenerys' father, the Mad King, forced himself upon Tywin's wife." Per my earlier post: I really hope this poster is a TV critic, or that at least, I don't have to hear this in normal conversation.

Yeah, I think you're in for a long six weeks. Sorry.

it really is jaw-dropping. It could also be called "How the South won the war after the war ended".

After the first half, I sighed and said: We need to do the reconstruction over. Sadly, that means we'd probably have to do the Civil War over.

Um... guys, it's a METAPHOR for their marriage and life. They impulsively wade out... into choppy waters. He follows her anyway. <Thank you. English major. I'll be here all week.>

That's the same place I ended up in my piece.

The 11th hour with Brian Williams

There's always Fox "News". Oh, wait. That one's ALL villains.

the Bachelor and Bachelorette shows

Clearly we're coming up empty-handed here.

Are you really going to call people out for being too nerdy on a WaPo Live Chat about latest news in TV?

Calm down, Francis.

Honestly, Empire has turned into a proper soap opera, where everyone's been shot at least once and there is near constant palace intrigue. Much better than Dynasty; not as good as Dallas. Better music than both.

Oh, hey, yeah -- "Empire."

"Madam Secretary"?

Not soapy enough. Too noble.

I heard Alyssa is on vacation next Monday. Wherever shall we go on a dreary Tax Day to talk?

She is. But she'll probably have quite a lively chat on April 22!

John Oliver did a great takedown about how poorly the non superstars are treated and what a greedy SOB Vince McMahon is. John Oliver's 'main stories' are so well done and researched. I noticed the next day there were 'feel god' commercials for the WWE!

Feel god?

She's leaving "The Talk" in order to devote more time to "The Conners" (and possibly produce other programs). But does that mean that ABC plans to stick with "The Conners" for several years (i.e., beyond next season)?

That question will likely be answered from season to season.

Given the liberties being taken with the history, I'd nominate "Victoria."

just DVR the daytime ones and watch at night. Have friends who are avid Young and the Restless fans who do just that.

Time's up, my honeybunches of oats.

We'll chat again next Thursday, April 18. Thanks for dropping by and all your wise input.

Jane the Virgin is an English-language version of a classic telenovela, and it might fit what you're looking for. Silly, campy, sweet, over-the-top evil villains, etc., up to and including a narrator who is waaaay too emotionally involved in the story. It's a complete hoot. You can find the first few seasons on Netflix, and the final one is about to begin (or maybe just began) on the CW.

In This Chat
Hank Stuever
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post's TV critic since 2009, joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. Stuever was born and raised in Oklahoma and previously worked at newspapers in Albuquerque and Austin. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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