Looking for your next binge-watch, or just need to fill an hour? Welcome to Your Weekly Watch List, our curated collection of the best shows on television. Here's what to watch from Sunday, October 29 through Saturday, November 4.
Decades-spanning dramas take center stage this week as Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey's Fellow Travelers brings sexy back to Showtime, and Black Cake charts a family's epic origin story. Plus, old and new money continue to clash in The Gilded Age Season 2, All the Light We Cannot See transports viewers to Nazi-occupied France, and more.
Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on Showtime
*Our must-watch pick of the week
Queer romance meets political intrigue in Showtime's Fellow Travelers, a limited series based on Thomas Mallon's novel of the same name. In the early 1950s, war hero turned federal bureaucrat Hawkins "Hawk" Fuller (Matt Bomer) crosses paths with Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey), a young man eager to make a name for himself in politics. Though the two couldn't be more different — where Hawk is cynical and pragmatic, Tim is idealistic and committed to his faith — they're drawn to one another, and they begin a romance against the backdrop of McCarthy-era Washington. Of course, with Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Chris Bauer) indiscriminately targeting "subversives and sexual deviants," Hawk and Tim must carry out their relationship in secret, but as time passes, they find it more difficult to hide their true selves from the outside world.
Created by Ron Nyswaner, Fellow Travelers takes Hawk and Tim on a winding journey from the 1950s through the Vietnam War, the rise of disco in the 1970s, and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. With so much changing around them, it's up to Bomer and Bailey to anchor the show, and they succeed with flying colors: Their electric chemistry lends real power to their intimate scenes (something Bailey is quite familiar with as a Bridgerton alum) and personal conflicts. Viewers eager to see the duo in action can stream new episodes every Friday on Paramount+ with Showtime; alternatively, those with more patience can wait until Sunday night for the linear airing.
Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on HBO
With its ensemble cast of Broadway luminaries, The Gilded Age has always had a strong connection to the New York theater scene, but in Season 2, the period drama becomes even more concerned with matters of the stage. The eight-episode season centers on the conflict between dueling opera houses: the Academy of Music, long patronized by the city's wealthiest families, and the Metropolitan Opera, a new venue taking society by storm. The storyline sets up yet another battle between old and new money on the Upper East Side, with Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) working to secure her family's status by challenging reigning socialite Mrs. Astor (Donna Murphy). A similar power struggle plays out in the van Rhijn house as Ada (Cynthia Nixon) opens herself up to love — much to her sister Agnes' (Christine Baranski) displeasure — and Marian (Louisa Jacobson) chafes against her aunt's conservative matchmaking efforts.
The Gilded Age also spends more time in Brooklyn's Black society as Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) continues to reckon with her place in a racist world. Peggy's arc, which sees her commit to activism at the encouragement of T. Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones), takes Julian Fellowes' HBO drama beyond the bounds of New York City, giving Season 2 more of an edge than the frivolous debut outing.
Add Black Cake to the list of recent novel adaptations that slowly unravel family secrets across multiple timelines. In late 1960s Jamaica, 16-year-old Covey (Mia Isaac) disappears after her new husband drops dead on their wedding night. With fingers pointed her way, Covey flees to London and begins building a new life, one that takes her from Europe to Southern California across many decades. 50 years after Covey's harrowing escape, a widow named Eleanor Bennett (Chipo Chung) dies, leaving her adult children detailed audio recordings about her journey from the Caribbean to the United States. What Benny (Adrienne Warren) and Byron (Ashley Thomas) learn about Eleanor, who spent her entire life running from her past, prompts them to reevaluate their role in carrying on her legacy, forever altering their relationship to their mother and each other.
Though the Hulu series — adapted from Charmaine Wilkerson's novel by Marissa Jo Cerar (with an assist from executive producer Oprah Winfrey) — delivers plenty of soapy twists, it's Isaac's performance that really makes it worthwhile. The young actor emphasizes the magnitude of the many choices Covey must make to survive while still leaving room for lightness as her character experiences the ups and downs of love. Isaac's performance ensures that Black Cake is never just one type of show, but a complex mash-up of murder mystery, coming-of-age, and family drama tropes.
Thursday, Netflix (Full Season)
A huge week of period dramas concludes with All the Light We Cannot See, Netflix's four-episode adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Newcomer Aria Mia Loberti, who won the role after a global casting search, stars as Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who flees Paris with her father, Daniel LeBlanc (Mark Ruffalo). Determined to keep a priceless diamond out of the hands of the Nazis — and away from savage Gestapo officer Von Rumpel (Lars Eidinger) — the two abscond with the gem and settle in the seaside town of St. Malo. There, they find refuge with Marie-Laure's resistance fighter uncle (Hugh Laurie), but their peace is short-lived, as the walled city is overtaken by the Germans and later, heavily bombed by Allied forces during World War II.
But All the Light We Cannot See is more complex than "Nazis bad, resistance good." The series hinges on the unexpected connection that develops between Marie-Laure and Werner (Louis Hofmann), a brilliant German soldier who listens to her daily radio broadcasts. Despite their grave circumstances, they share a faith in humanity, and they believe a better future is possible for Europe's open-minded young people. Even in the face of Von Rumpel's presence and the relentlessly bleak imagery of wartime France, Marie-Laure and Werner's optimism buoys the limited series. It's not exactly a feel-good watch, but it does offer a message of hope in a dark time.
Billions Series Finale: Sunday, 8:00 PM ET on Showtime
The Swarm Season 1 Finale: Tuesday, 9:00 PM ET on The CW
Love Island Games: Wednesday, Peacock
Gen V Season 1 Finale: Friday, Prime Video
Invincible Season 2 Premiere: Friday, Prime Video
The Garden: Commune or Cult: Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on Discovery Channel
Messi Meets America Episodes 4–6: Wednesday, Apple TV+
The Real Housewives of Miami Season 6 Premiere: Wednesday, 9:00 PM ET on Bravo
A Full Day
Till Murder Do Us Part: Soering vs. Haysom: Wednesday, Netflix
Selling Sunset Season 7: Friday, Netflix
L.A. Law Complete Series: Friday, Hulu
Lawmen: Bass Reeves: Sunday, November 5 on Paramount+
The Buccaneers: Wednesday, November 8 on Apple TV+
The Morning Show Season 3 Finale: Wednesday, November 8 on Apple TV+
For All Mankind Season 4: Friday, November 10 on Apple TV+
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.