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The pandemic can’t end until Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends airs


The big shows I am anticipating in 2022.

Ripley (Showtime, sometime in 2022)
Patricia Highsmith’s wonderfully creepy sociopath, Tom Ripley, will be embodied in this new TV show by Dublin’s own Andrew Scott. It’s unclear where this will air on this side of the world but I’m pretty sure the terms of the TV licence mean that no Irish actor is allowed escape terrestrial broadcasts. Haughey brought that in along with the artists’ exemption.

The White Lotus (Sky Atlantic, late 2022 hopefully)
Mike White’s tragicomic deconstruction of class, race and privilege via a fantasy holiday drama concept just marginally different from The Love Boat was my favourite show of 2021. It returns next year with a new cast and a new set of stories in a different hotel. The first season was perfectly told in just six episodes, avoiding the pointless bloat that can be found in a lot of recent output, where the programme makers think nothing of putting out whole episodes where characters sigh and stare out the window for one hour and four minutes.

The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)
Not a sequel to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin but a sequel to Star Wars because we don’t have enough of those. The Mandalorian doesn’t play mandolin at all but wears a metal bucket on his heads and babysits Star Wars’ answer to Timothée Chalamet: Baby Yoda. Previous series ultimately became a story about a single father trying to juggle a busy work life with childcare. Sadly, that verdant infant left at the end of the last series to go star in Hamlet in the Old Vic or to play Bond or something. It’s unclear whether ol’ buckethead will be able to pull another series off on his own, so they should just do a show about Baby Yoda. That’s the only reason the Mandalorian is on this list.

Barry (Sky Atlantic/Now TV)
The best show on television is about another hired gunman, Bill Hader’s contract killer, Barry. Instead of an elderly green baby, Barry has acting classes. Unlike the Mandalorian, however, Barry’s externally prompted desire for redemption just leads him to even more disturbing behaviour. Barry, the show and the character, is capable of moving from hilarious comedy to deeply troubling existential sadness to bloody violence all within one episode.

Russian Doll (Netflix, it was meant to have been here aaaages ago)
The brilliant Natasha Lyonne’s freaky-deaky time-loop story of psychological collapse and recovery was one of the most inventive shows of 2019. The follow-up series will be out this summer. Who knows where it can go from the finale? But between it and Barry, it feels the most inventive and philosophically searching television shows at the moment are all technically comedies.

Succession (Sky Atlantic/Now TV)
Enough has been written about Succession, the comically upsetting family saga that depicts wealth and power as grotesque and monstrous. So I only want to say that I’m very looking forward to series 4. Also, throughout my life I have been beset by “Toms” who want to make me their “Greg”. I am like sugar to them. I’m particularly invested in the Tom/Greg relationship. This will mean nothing to the two of you who haven’t seen Succession.

Ms Marvel is G Willow Wilson’s delightfully winning teenage Muslim superhero with stretching limbs and homework to do
Ms Marvel is G Willow Wilson’s delightfully winning teenage Muslim superhero with stretching limbs and homework to do

Ms Marvel (Disney plus)
Marvel is slowly connecting all things to Marvel universe continuity. I woke up yesterday with the Marvel logo tattooed on my arm and learned that I’m now a minor Antman character. The obsession with cross-platform intertextuality leads to even Marvel’s clever stylish experiments such as WandaVision becoming underwhelming as they morph into trailers for other Marvel properties. Still, when a show such as Ms Marvel (out later this year) mines the better material from the comics I am still intrigued. Ms Marvel is G Willow Wilson’s delightfully winning teenage Muslim superhero with stretching limbs and homework to do. I will watch it. I’m not so sure about She Hulk or Secret Invasion.

Moon Knight (Disney Plus)
Oh God, Oscar Isaacs, my wife’s other husband, is playing D-list Marvel superhero Moon Knight. I feel so tired.

The Sandman: The original comics may have encouraged me to backcomb my hair
The Sandman: The original comics may have encouraged me to backcomb my hair

The Sandman (Netflix)
Sorry, was I complaining about comic books? What I meant to say was I will definitely be watching Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking 1980s fantasy comic about an angsty dream deity and his magical relatives and companions. The original comics may have encouraged me to backcomb my hair.

The Gilded Age (Sky Atlantic in January)
This 1880s-set drama about rich Yanks was written by Lord Julian Fellowes who brought us Downton Abbey, so it will presumably include such dialogue as: “I vow to you Lady Mary, this age shall never be gilded!” and “Jeeves, help me download some 19th-century songs onto this newfangled ‘iPod’. What is the world coming to? Etc.”

The Tourist (BBC One, it’s just started)
A homicidal truck driver chases Jamie Dornan off the road in the Australian outback and then Dornan loses his memory. Like all Jamie Dornan projects, this began as a mishap experienced by the real-life Dornan, Ireland’s answer to Frank Spencer.

Raised by Wolves (Sky Atlantic, 2022)
A domestic drama about two androids raising some children on an inhospitable planet. It features apocalyptic religious wars, androids giving birth to robotic snakes and genocide. I found it very relatable. Series two should be here in the first bit of 2022.

Atlanta (Disney Plus, early 2022)
It’s been a while since Donald Glover’s excellently loose, experimental and weird tale of working-class graft and grift was on our tellies. The trailer is already something.

The Gallows Pole (BBC One)
Shane Meadows, the man behind the excellent This is England film and series, adapts Benjamin Myers’s novel about 18th-century counterfeiters. Rumour has it this was meant to be another This is England set in the present day, but Meadows reset it in the 18th century on a last minute whim.

Inventing Anna (Netflix, February)
The ingenious Shonda Rhimes brings us the true story of Anna Sorokin, a fraudulent grifter who pretends to be a German heiress in order to scam money off credulous society types. Much like yourself.

Stranger Things (Netflix, mid 2022)
Netflix’s 1980s teen horror pastiche should really up the ante with each series. Even Stranger Things! Stranger Stranger Things! Strangest Things: Mission to Moscow. Actually the last one is eerily accurate if you take a look at the Russian-themed teaser trailer. Also, in some of the other trailers the child actors look like they’re in their 30s now. Anyway, the Duffer Brothers’ telly extravaganza was so stylish initially we didn’t notice it was fast becoming by-numbers Eightiesploitation but it’s still very watchable and we will watch.

Conversations with Friends (BBC One)
Because Lenny Abrahamson’s first excellent Sally Rooney adaptation, Normal People, worked so well in the first year of lockdown, it was universally agreed that we’d keep the pandemic going long enough to coincide with his adaptation of her first novel, Conversations with Friends, in 2022. In this one, two loquacious hipsters are befriended by a weird old journalist with middle-aged problems. I’m taking this one personally, to be honest.



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