Every Monday and Friday, Margaret offers hyper-specific viewing recommendations in our Watching newsletter. Read her latest picks below, and sign up for the Watching newsletter here.
This weekend I have … 11 minutes, and I need soothing
‘Joe Pera Talks With You’
When to watch: Now, on HBO Max.
Both seasons of this weird, lovely show about a Michigan chorus teacher (played by Joe Pera) and his musings on the world are now streaming. It’s weirdly unbingeable, though — it’s too delicate just to shove into the uncaring maw, too special. In one episode, Joe explains the stages of watching fireworks, which include admiring how hypnotic they are, “just like their brother in law, regular fire,” and “thinking about ex-girlfriends.” If you’re feeling pessimistic about the human endeavor, but you think that watching children perform a musical about the rat wars of Alberta, Canada, might cheer you up, watch this. It worked for me.
… a few hours, and I need an escape
When to watch: Season 5 arrives Friday, on Netflix.
There’s always a lot going on in the Syfy series “The Magicians,” and the fifth and final season keeps that sense of excess. We’ve got split timelines, multiple quests, battles for power, Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) making a golem — you know, grad school stuff. To go with its wide-ranging stories, “The Magicians” also plays a lot with tone, and some scenes are as weepy as any “Grey’s Anatomy” catastrophe. But the show is just as likely to be snarky, or sultry, or musical. The fantasy elements are sometimes the most important parts, but sometimes they’re the least important, just a funky lens for the trials of self-actualization.
… many, many hours, and I like a shenanigan
‘Betty en NY’
When to watch: Now, on Peacock.
A lot of shows on Peacock are free only for the first few episodes, but not so for this telenovela (in Spanish, with subtitles): All 123 episodes are free. This newest revamp of “Yo Soy Betty, la Fea” — which was also adapted into “Ugly Betty” — stars Elyfer Torres as our heroine, a smart young woman whose ideas and ambition are often dismissed. There’s a gleeful ridiculousness to everything, soapy viciousness but triumphant virtue, too. If you like workplace comedies and can handle observing nastiness, watch this.