Worth Watching: ‘Dead to Me’ and ‘Tuca & Bertie’ on Netflix, HBO on the Gymnastics Scandal, Diane Sawyer on Screen Addiction
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Dead to Me (streaming on Netflix): Good grief! As women who meet and bond at a survivors’ support group, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are the terrific stars of a dark female-buddy comedy where nothing and no one are exactly what or who they seem. The list of “do not spoil” plot points never end for this slick, macabre series, with game-changing twists in each brisk episode. (See the review.)
Among other premieres on a typically busy Netflix Friday: the colorfully surreal animated comedy Tuca & Bertie, from BoJack Horseman alum Lisa Hanawalt. It’s another female buddy caper, featuring Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as, respectively, a free-spirited toucan and her more insecure songbird BFF; and Zac Efron in a sinister change-of-pace as serial killer Ted Bundy in the true-crime docudrama movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, which unfolds from the POV of Bundy’s former girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (Les Misérables‘ Lily Collins).
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (8/7c, HBO): Documentary director Erin Lee Carr (Mommy Dead and Dearest, which covered the story that became Hulu’s The Act) gives voice to the athletes who suffered sexual abuse for more than 20 years at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar, former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University osteopath. At the Heart of Gold features interviews with survivors, coaches, lawyers, journalists and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who after hearing a week of powerful testimony from Nasser’s victims sent Nassar away with a 175-year sentence.
ScreenTime: Diane Sawyer Reporting (8/7c, ABC): Yes, it’s kind of ironic to be preaching about the dangers of our obsession with on-screen technologies — phones, tablets, video games, social media — on a medium that once represented the nadir of glued-to-the-tube inactivity. Diane Sawyer tackles the issue in a wide-ranging two-hour report that takes her across the country to look at the impact of screen use on families, schools and consumers’ own self-esteem. She also explores more recent concerns about online privacy and tech companies’ use of personal data. So put down your devices and watch.
Inside Friday TV: You have our permission to get up and dance during PBS’s broadcast of Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), because “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” at the gala tribute, taped in March, honoring the infectiously entertaining Cuban-American musicians. Rita Moreno and Andy Garcia host, with performances including Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, Il Volo, Cyndi Lauper and the Broadway cast of On Your Feet!, based on the duo’s life… What happens in Vegas should probably stay there, when Fox’s The Cool Kids (8:30/7:30) heads there for the wedding of Hank’s (David Alan Grier) son. Guests include Jackée Harry as Hank’s ex, and Rick Fox as her boyfriend, who wounds Hank’s pride by paying for the whole shindig… Hulu’s horror anthology Into the Dark acknowledges Mother’s Day early with All That We Destroy, about a geneticist who creates clones of her possibly psychopathic son in hopes of keeping him from turning into a serial killer. These stories never end well.