What’s Worth Watching: Fleabag, High Maintenance, The Beatles, Emmy Awards and more for Friday, Sept. 16 thru Sunday, Sept. 18.
Fleabag (premieres on Amazon, Friday): Last week, Amazon launched Tig Notaro’s tragicomic One Mississippi, which evokes the raw naturalism of Transparent. This week, with the premiere of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, the outrageous tone is closer to that of Amazon’s other breakout comedy, Catastrophe. Similarly set in London, these are the wildly raunchy and inappropriate exploits of a sexually voracious and deeply damaged young woman—“Fleabag” (writer/star Waller-Bridge’s character is never actually named)—who mocks her own self-destructive inability to connect or commit in a series of wickedly saucy asides delivered to the camera. Sometimes it’s just a sly look that lets her know that we know just what a mess her life is. Adapted from her award-winning stage show, hers is an inner monologue of unquiet desperation. It’s also a riot, especially when she wrangles with authority figures, including a viciously disapproving stepmom (the brilliant Olivia Colman, smiling through her venom). Self-loathing when she isn’t busy loathing others, this Fleabag will make you squirm in between laughs.
High Maintenance (Friday, 11/10c, HBO): The web series graduates to the high—er, big—time with a six-part series that weaves vignettes of New York life through the perspective of a pot dealer (co-creator Ben Sinclair) who rides through the boroughs trying to maintain a healthy professional distance. The premiere episode’s high point (no pun intended) plays like the dark side of Will & Grace, involving a gay guy trying desperately to kick the habit of co-dependence on his annoyingly needy female BFF.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years (Saturday, Hulu): Ron Howard directs and produces this documentary focusing on the Fab Four’s formative years from 1962 to 1966, when they gave their last public concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, ABC): Jimmy Kimmel hosts TV’s biggest awards night, with HBO (Game of Thrones, Veep) and FX (The People v. O.J. Simpson, Fargo) among the top contenders. Critics don’t get a vote, but if they did, the chances would improve for FX’s The Americans and its stars (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), finally noticed after four seasons. (Here’s my take on some of the more hotly contested categories.)
Inside Weekend TV: The documentary short film The White Helmets (Friday, Netflix) tracks volunteer rescue workers in the battle zones of Aleppo, Syria and Turkey as they try to help civilians whose lives have been forever changed by the war. … Lifetime’s Sister Cities (Saturday, 8/7c) features Castle’s Stana Katic as one of four half-sisters from different fathers—the others are Michelle Trachtenberg, Troian Bellisario and Jess Weixler—who reunite after the suspicious death of their mother (Jacki Weaver). … CBS’s The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey (Sunday, 8/7c) gathers original investigators of the still-unsolved Christmas 1996 murder with new experts to re-examine the evidence, using new forensic tools and recreating the crime scene with full-scale replicas from the Ramsey house. It continues Monday if you haven’t already had your fill of this sordid story. … The uneven fourth season of Showtime’s Ray Donovan (Sunday, 9/8c) ends with Ray (Liev Schreiber) caught between the Russian mob and the FBI, and let’s all hope he finds a way out so he, and the show, can move on.