Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
Loki arrives on Disney+ this Wednesday (covered in my weekly picks below), but today my attention is drawn to a returning series that takes place across the pond behind the scenes of the entertainment world. Flack spotlights the ones who get you to pay attention to what you see on your screen while they hide what's really going on in their client's personal lives.
Amazon offers a bunch of quality shows (included with your Prime membership) that somehow fly under the radar. Everyone knows about Fleabag and Jack Ryan, but how about The Wilds or Bosch? Flack is a hidden gem that found its way to the Prime Video lineup earlier this year, and the dark comedy returns for a brand new second season this Friday.
Speaking of hidden gems, Schitt's Creek became all the rage when it became available and bingeable on Netflix. The original U.S. broadcast home of the Canadian sitcom was Pop TV. The next big Pop TV success might've been Flack, but the network got out of the original scripted programming business after producing its second season. Prime Video picked up the series, and now we finally get to see what happened in the London public relations world.
Anna Paquin stars as Robyn, a brilliant publicist who will do anything, and I mean anything, to protect a client. She manages scandals with expertise that any PR exec would envy. When it comes to her personal life, she's a complete disaster after giving all she has to her job. Her sex and drug issues are emblematic of what she has to deal with at work, but at home, she has no answers.
I've been dealing with publicists for most of my working life. Whether it was marketing at The Princeton Review, promoting Jump The Shark or talking to celebs at SiriusXM, you can spot the publicist a mile away. The job is all about the hustle, relationships, and taking the hit for your client when there's any type of issue. Publicists are charming, savvy, and must be selfless putting the needs of their client first. It's a tough gig.
Flack is risque, entertaining and a scarily accurate portrayal of what publicists do to keep their clients and bosses happy. From the opening minutes of the series, the show establishes how it will go places that most series shy away from. I can't help but wonder how many of these tales are written for the screen or could be actual PR company war stories. Robyn's personal and work lives collide with catastrophic results and the fallout is impossible for anyone in her circle to avoid.
Robyn is an American transplant working for the ruthless Caroline (Sophie Okendo) who has no patience for fools. Co-worker Eve (Lydia Wilson) is a verbal assassin who Robyn literally screws over and must face at the office. Robyn actually does the right thing handling intern Melody (Rebecca Benson), but will find out if that comes back to bite her. And Robyn's older sister Ruth (Genevieve Angelson) is dealing with her not-so-direct husband Mark (Rufus Jones) as she tries to survive as a London mom. The second season picks up from the aftermath of the first season's finale. The show must go on, and so must the crazy work done by Robyn's PR firm.
The actresses call the shots and their performances are very good, but keep in mind that anyone appearing deals with their own publicists and issues that could be all too familiar with their characters. Flack illustrates the price you can pay for doing a very good job and forgetting to take care of yourself thinking you can handle it all.
Flack’s second season lands on Amazon this Friday.
THIS WEEK’S SPTINAFOBYMB!
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
The Bachelorette (ABC) – Season 17 is here. Chris Harrison isn't. Returns Monday.
Starstruck (HBO MAX) – A millennial in London accidentally sleeps with a famous film star. Romance blooms Thursday.
Full Bloom (HBO MAX) – Botanical artists do battle in the second season of this floral competition. Sprouts Thursday.
Home Before Dark (APPLE TV+) – A reporter investigates a mysterious explosion at a local farm. Second season premieres Thursday.
Blindspotting (STARZ) – Adaptation of the feature film, not to be confused with trains. Debuts Sunday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Marvel madness, the return of a French thief, and an angry Alexis…
Wednesday June 9th
The God of Mischief is heading to Disney+. Now it's time to clean up the mess The Avengers left behind after Endgame. Loki made his mark on the Marvel universe rivaling not only his brother Thor, but the other Avengers as well. It's because Tom Hiddleston is so damn likable doing lots of evil things.
The Loki cast is stacked with Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw along for the ride. WandaVision proved how "minor" Marvel characters can have quite the impact on the streamer. Loki's evil smirk alone should be enough to carry the series and satisfy anyone needing their Marvel fix.
Friday, June 11th 2nd Season
The pilot was a standalone sensation. Omar Sy entered the next James Bond conversation. The five-episode first season was a tease that moved along at a very brisk pace establishing the life of fictional Arsene Lupin.
Now the honorable French thief continues his quest for revenge against the Pellegrini family whose patriarch framed Lupin's father for a crime that led to his death. The first season ended on a cliffhanger… expect plenty more from this stylish mystery thriller. Watch trailer
Kevin Can F*** Himself (AMC+)
Sunday, June 13th
Allison McRoberts is the perfect sitcom wife. She's pretty, she can take a joke even if she's the punchline, and she married to a guy that has you wondering "how did he end up with her?!" When she leaves the sitcom world and asks herself that very question, she decides to do something about it.
The premise is intriguing, but this show starts off with two strikes against it. It's nearly impossible to see Annie Murphy as anyone but Alexis Rose which is a credit to her Emmy winning performance on Schitt's Creek.
The second is the title… a play on the Kevin James sitcom Kevin Can Wait, which famously killed off his wife (played by Erinn Hayes) and replaced her with James’ former King of Queens wife, Leah Remini. I get it, but why the curse? The asterisks make it even worse. It feels like a cheap stunt and I haven't watched a single episode yet. This comedy deserves to be viewed with a clean slate, but it's fighting an uphill battle from the get go. Hoping it's f***ing hysterical to watch. (Note that the series premieres on AMC+ this Sunday and lands on AMC proper Sunday June 20th.)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.