Well, it’s not exactly laugh-out-loud, fun stuff. But it’s very fine, gripping and having seen half of the six episodes, I highly recommend trying out an intriguing new series made in Quebec. Expect to be disconcerted.
Way Over Me (Sortez-Moi De Moi) streams on Crave from Friday with both the French and English versions simultaneously. You can watch in French, with English subtitles, or dubbed into English. Go for the subtitles. It’s described in advance as a psychological thriller and, yes-maybe, it is that, but it sure is emphatically about psychological strangeness.
This opening is very impressively executed, setting the tone for the rest of the story and its purpose is to put you off-balance. It’s a scene focused on a meltdown. A guy named David (Vincent Leclerc) who looks shady and shaky, is trying to buy his way into a drug deal. There are muttered conversations. Then he seems to self-detonate and soon he’s on top of a street light proclaiming that he can see all the harm and illness around him, and he knows how to cure everyone.
Social workers who specialize in mental illness are called in. One is Clara (Sophie Lorain) who senses something more than a psychotic episode is happening. David is taken to hospital where Dr. Justine Mathieu (Pascale Bussières) tries to assess his unique mental state. From the start, there’s a seething, mysteriously intimate connection between these two. That’s the spine of the series – the mental-health specialist who cannot diagnose her own feelings about this man. There’s a twist, in that David is soon sprung from the facility because, well, he’s not the figure Justine or the viewer thinks he is.
Around this central dynamic, a wonderfully well-drawn set of characters, mental-health frontline responders in Montreal, go about their jobs. They visit patients with varying degrees of issues and in different circumstances, from the working-class people barely clinging to sanity, to the well-off who can hide their frailties and neuroses. Throughout, we have a sense that we’re watching drama unfold in a real francophone Quebec. Like Can You Hear Me? (M’entends-tu?, which streams on Netflix) there is such verisimilitude you can practically feel the wintry air of Montreal and taste the grit.
There is a subdued but entrancingly authentic quality to the crises, big and small, or heartbreaking, that occupy the characters. Pascale Bussières is wonderfully understated and yet transfixing as Justine, but much of the series is carried by Sophie Lorain as Clara, whose casework and personal life situations have the feel of material drawn from the day-to-day work of real frontline workers. (The series was created by Lorain and Alexis Durand-Brault.) There’s smartness and sensitivity here, plus the core mystery of just how entangled Justine and David can become. There isn’t a false note in this little masterpiece that journeys into the area of mental health; a journey with enough shocking and disturbing turns to keep you glued to it.
Also airing this weekend
Yukon Harvest (Saturday, APTN, 8 p.m.) is one of those hard-to-define but bewitching series that APTN often offers. Part escape into natural beauty, part verité documentary and partly educational, it’s got everything. The 13-episode documentary series presents the adventures of Indigenous hunters and guides as they navigate the wilds of Yukon and beyond. There is the breathtaking landscape of mountains, rivers and forests and there is the work and personal experiences of the hunters and the guides. The series, done without narration, pokes around in family disputes and triumphs, presents historical context and always comes back to the people who respect their roots and respect nature. Sometimes a cascade of panoramic views and sometimes a very intimate portrait of generational conflict, it’s utterly idiosyncratic and wonderfully freewheeling.
Ziwe (Sunday, Crave/Showtime 11 p.m.) is highly anticipated by some. It’s the long-awaited vehicle for Ziwe Fumudoh, a Nigerian-American – that’s her term for her identity – comedian and writer. She’s been a writer for several late-night shows, most famously for Desus & Mero, and is an internet sensation. The show, based on very little seen in advance, is an off-kilter variety-show mashup with multiple confrontational interviews about race and politics. Although not much is available, it looks funny in an in-your-face style.
Finally, take note of Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World (Saturday, all U.S. networks, 8 p.m.). Selena Gomez hosts a global broadcast to inspire vaccine confidence worldwide. Performers and speakers include Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Sean Penn. Clearly if they don’t inspire confidence, nothing will.
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