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.
Love On The Spectrum is back this Wednesday, but where did those Australian accents go? Netflix's Love On The Spectrum U.S. is an adaptation of the Aussie series chronicling autistic adults who are looking for love.
I am no fan of dating shows. Most are completely contrived with good-looking people who want to be TV stars. They are not looking for a real relationship. They are looking to get famous.
The original Love on the Spectrum is a rare exception. All the guys and gals down under are actually looking for someone special, and the authenticity of their feelings and respect of their families is palpable. It's a wonderful show that truly makes you feel for anyone who is involved.
A lot of the charm comes from the shooting locations, but even more is derived from their accents. Accents pack a lot of punch. Hulu's Normal People benefited tremendously from those Irish tongues. Archie and Edith Bunker wouldn't have been themselves without their affectations on All In The Family. If you have a British accent, I automatically assume you're ten times smarter than I am (although the Cockney makes me think you're in Mary Poppins).
Naturally Netflix programming execs thought "why don't we do an Americanized version of our hit series?" Lots of people loved Atypical which is an autistic coming of age story (see below). There are plenty of autistic people dating in the United States, so let's just adapt the series to America!
But adapting an international hit isn't as easy as it sounds. For every The Office or Veep, there's a Coupling or Us & Them. Be careful what you import.
The good news here is that Northern Pictures, the same folks who produced the original series, didn't mess with their winning formula. The stories are sweet, the cast is charming, and the tugs at your heartstrings are still in check with a sharp sense of humor. Even the Australian voice behind the camera remains the same, retaining a nice taste of the vocal comfort from the first series. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Love on the Spectrum puts the "reality" in the reality dating show. These bachelors and bachelorettes actually care more about each other than the cameras that follow them. That’s something worth celebrating.
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction (NETFLIX)
Friday, May 20th
It seems like eons since David Letterman said goodbye to his long-running late-night talk show. Many thought Dave would pull a Carson and never be seen again. Many were wrong.
The bearded wonder returns for a fourth season of his Netflix talk show completely in control. This season's guests include Will Smith (taped pre-slap), Cardi B, Kevin Durant, Billie Eilish, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Ryan Reynolds. In other words, people who Dave genuinely wants to talk to. Watch clip
George Carlin's American Dream (HBO)
Friday, May 20th 8pm
Judd Apatow has helmed many projects that have made us laugh, and more recently he’s assumed the role of comedy preservationist. After profiling Garry Shandling's Zen diaries just a few years ago, Judd has fixed his sights on George Carlin.
The legendary comedian was so much more than those seven dirty words. This two-part documentary examines his life, career, and overwhelming influence on those now considered to be legends in the world of stand-up comedy. Watch trailer
The Ipcress File (AMC+) – A cold war spy thriller set in London and Berlin in the 1960's based on the book. Thursday.
THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Angelyne (Peacock) – Emmy Rossum thinks she's famous in L.A. but no one knows who she is. Thursday.
The G World with Adam Conover (Netflix) – The host who ruins everything takes a close look at the effects of our government. Thursday.
Night Sky (Amazon) – J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek are a retired couple who just happen to have a passage to another planet in their backyard. Friday.
Now and Then (Apple TV+) – Five college friends reunite 20 years after the sixth member of their crew died. Friday.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Atypical (Netflix) – This charming comedy revolves around an autistic child navigating his family and high school while trying to get out of the house on his own. Keir Gilchrist and Brigette Lundy-Paine are fantastic as the kids, and parents Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport play their parts just right. It's a funny, poignant look at what it takes to grow up in today's world and all the peer pressure and support (or lack thereof) that comes with it.
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Amazon Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Amazon Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster. Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.