The Why Watch That Talk: Summer TV: Premium Cable vs. Streaming
Alison Brie stars as Ruth Wilder, an out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Wilder finds an unexpected chance at stardom: enter the glitter and spandex-laden world of women’s wrestling, where she must work alongside 12 other Hollywood misfits. Marc Maron plays the role of Sam Sylvia, a washed-up director of “B” movies who tries to lead the group of women to fame. The series is created by Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive, who serve as executive producers with Jenji Kohan and Tara Herrmann.
In this drama set in 18th century London, Samantha Morton stars as Margaret Wells, a brothel owner and mother to two daughters, Charlotte and Lucy. When Margaret’s business is attacked by Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), a ruthless rival madam, a war breaks out over the city’s most profitable commercial activity — sex. Margaret is determined to fight back and protect her business, even if it puts everything else at risk, including her family. Creators Moira Buffini and Alison Newman also serve as executive producers.
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)
Starring Golden Globe-nominated actor Hugh Grant and based on a true story, “A Very English Scandal” tells the story of Jeremy Thorpe, a member of Parliament who, in 1979, was tried and later acquitted of conspiring to murder his ex-lover, Norman Scott. Beginning in the 1960s, Thorpe is the leader of the Liberal Party, the youngest head of a political party in 100 years. But he is hiding an affair with a man at a time when homosexuality is still illegal. When Scott threatens to reveal the affair, Thorpe decides upon a plan of action that eventually exposes the scandal and leads to a watershed moment in British social and political life, illuminating the level of dark secrets and cover-ups in the British establishment.
Sharp Objects (HBO)
Reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls; Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims while trying to solve a psychological puzzle from her past.
The Split (Sundance)
A co-production between BBC One and SundanceTV, the six-part series introduces the Defoes, a family of female divorce lawyers known for dominating their field in the ruthless and fast-paced world of London’s divorce law circuit. At each step, viewers are met with an authentic and compelling look at how four very different women attempt to hold their ground in all areas of their lives — from their own relationships to their careers and the surprise return of their estranged father after a 30-year absence.
I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime)
Before the internet and viral videos made it easy for aspiring comics to get their material seen, they had to travel and perform at comedy clubs to rise through the ranks of stand-up comedy and make a name for themselves. This drama series explores the famed Los Angeles stand-up scene of the 1970s as the comedy hopefuls stand alone on stage, “dying” for fame, fortune and — if they’re lucky — a shot on Johnny Carson’s show. Oscar winner Melissa Leo leads the ensemble cast as Goldie, a comedy-club owner who mentors a competitive but close-knit group of comics. She leads her business with an iron fist but nurtures the comics with tough love because she knows that there’s no such thing as an easy laugh in their chosen profession.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.
C.B. Strike (Cinemax)
Based on the best-selling novels by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Tom Burke (“The Musketeers”) stars as private detective Cormoran Strike, a former war veteran now working out of a cramped London office. Together with his assistant, Robin Ellacott, Cormoran tackles cases that have, so far, baffled the police. Though struggling with the psychological and physical toll that combat have wrought on him, Cormoran is well-equipped to delve into complex conundrums thanks to his background as a Special Investigation Branch investigator.