What I Watched This Week: 23 Oct 2016

The Mindy Project – “Mindy Lahiri Is a Misogynist”
Is Mindy truly a misogynist? Maybe not, but there is something to be said for intra-office female rivalries. The bigger question is why the show decided to casually reveal that Ben has an African-American daughter, then abandons her for the rest of the show. Will we see more of her? I kind of hope so, since she parries well with Mindy.

This Is Us – “The Game Plan” (B)
The show hasn’t taken the leap yet, but I’m still impressed by its emotional depths and representation.

Atlanta – “Juneteenth” (A-)
Maybe (just maybe) the best straightforward episode of the show, and even this one’s not that straightforward, since Paper Boi and Darius aren’t even in this one. Van and Earn go to the stuffiest house party of all time, complete with “Juneteenth cocktails,” a men’s chorus singing Negro spirituals and a white optometrist doing slam poetry about Jim Crow laws. This is a funny, bold episode and proof that this show can swing for the fences and get at least a triple any time it wants.

Designated Survivor – “The Mission” (A-)
The series’ best episode yet, even if they make zero attempt to make Canada pass for Algeria. The titular mission is well-executed (in narrative terms at least) and the conspiracy part finally has enough details to make it seem like a real threat and not just a red herring.

The Good Place
“Everything Is Fine” (A-)
“Flying” (A-)
“Tahani Al-Jamini” (B+)
“Jason Mendoza” (A-)
“Category 55 Doomsday Crisis” (B+)
“What We Owe to Each Other” (A-)
Finally got around to it and I’m glad I did. I can’t recall another network sitcom that was this serialized, this interested in higher-minded topics and this diverse. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny like Michael Schur’s other shows, but it sure does have the human decency at its core, even though its protagonist is decidedly indecent.

Saturday Night Live – “Tom Hanks/Lady Gaga” (A-)
Tom Hanks, hosting for the eighth time, commits to every sketch, no matter how ridiculous. That pays off big time in “Black Jeopardy,” the best live sketch the show has done since Bill Hader played a ventriloquist with ‘Nam flashbacks. There’s also “100 Floors of Frights,” which is the most bonkers thing the show has done that wasn’t in the 10-to-1 slot. It also gave us our new favorite Halloween meme: David S. Pumpkins. That more than makes up for some of the weaker sketches.

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