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what to watch

Do you feel like you’re drowning … but you haven’t even left your couch? Welcome to the Great Content Overload Era. To help you navigate the choppy digital waves, here are The Globe’s best bets for weekend streaming.

The Sympathizer, Crave

Next in HBO’s coveted Sunday night slot is this seven-part limited series based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning spy thriller about a double agent named the Captain (Hoa Xuande) who embeds within a Vietnamese refugee community in Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon. Fittingly for a show about a man with two faces, it took two showrunners to translate to the small screen: Canadian Don McKellar (who’s made terrific TV from Twitch City to Michael: Every Day) and South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; Decision to Leave). In trying to capture the darkly comic, ironic voice of the novel, they go for broke with out-there gambits such as having freshly minted Academy Award-winner Robert Downey Jr. pull a Dr. Strangelove by playing half a dozen supporting roles. A new Vietnamese-centred look back at the Vietnam War (or, as it is known in Vietnam, the American War), it also satirizes previous depictions in film and television. Beyond McKellar, Canadians in the ranks in include Sandra Oh as Ms. Mori and series standout Fred Nguyen Khan as the Captain’s brother-in-arms/ideological enemy Bon.

Alex Edelman: Just For Us, Crave

So, a Jew walks into a meeting of white nationalists in Queens … It’s not a joke, exactly, but this actual misadventure of comedian Alex Edelman’s is the basis for his celebrated stand-up show Just For Us. It was filmed during a Broadway run last summer and is now streaming. Moving around the stage in his trademark hand-slapping, hair-slicking, herky-jerky manner, Edelman tells the story of his attempts to tap into his empathy amid the enemy and explores good-guy fantasies and a wider cultural addiction to being offended, while thoughtfully pondering how and when Jews fit and don’t fit into the constructed category of whiteness. Along the way, he tells a hilarious story about the time his observant parents celebrated Christmas – and the fallout at his yeshiva.

The Zone of Interest, Prime Video

Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust drama – named best international feature film at the Oscars and “the best and most important film of 2023″ by Globe and Mail film critic Barry Hertz – just now became available to stream in Canada. It’s a fly-on-the-wall portrait of the day-to-day life of the Hoss family, living next to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where the careerist paterfamilias is the SS commandant in charge. While the director gave a speech at the Academy Awards that has led to a proxy war of open letters about Gaza, this deeply ethical film speaks for itself about living amid what Hertz called “the white noise of genocide.”

Franklin, Apple TV+

Alexander who-milton? Forget that founding father. He had his shot; he lived, died, Lin-Manuel Miranda told his story. Now it’s all about Benjamins again. Well, Benjamin Franklin, anyway – played as a sexy septuagenarian by Michael Douglas in this new Apple TV+ series based on Stacy Schiff’s book, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. Sorry, no hip-hop, but a lot of hop, skipping and jumping around France on a secret mission to save the revolution back home by securing the Franco-American alliance of 1778. The focus allows Call My Agent actors such as Thibault de Montalembert and Assaad Bouab to appear as the Comte de Vergennes and playwright/polymath Beaumarchais. The first three episodes atterrissent on Apple TV+ on April 12 – and then there’s a new one every Friday.

Fallout, Prime Video

Television series based on video games have been playing in living rooms almost as long as home consoles have been found in them, but the streamers are currently in a war to attract gamers plus everyone else with big-budget adaptations of shoot ‘em ups. Netflix’s Resident Evil only made it a season, while Halo on Paramount+ has made it through two. But The Last of Us, a zom-dram that premiered on HBO last year, was the first to really gain critical acclaim. Now, Prime Video is getting in the game with Fallout – based on a 1997 role-playing video game. Like most of its forerunners, it’s set in a postapocalyptic future beginning as Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) emerges from a bunker called Vault 33 long after nuclear war. All eight episodes dropped at once, earlier than expected this week. (P.S. Happy 30th anniversary to TV’s Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Hit it, Rockapella!)

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