Female Leads Fight Back
Crime does or doesn't pay, depending on which television characters you ask. In the latest really good series to hit screens female characters are at the center, hunting criminals or breaking laws on their own. The results are funny, twisted and deeply¬†compelling.
ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA (Showtime)
Kirsten Dunst, who has delivered compelling performances throughout her life and for whom we should be eternally grateful, delivers her first lead television performance since her Emmy-nominated work in Fargo's second season in this wacky, fantastic show.
Dunst plays Krystal Stubbs, the wife of a mulleted, former football star idiot named Travis (Alexander Skarsgard). Travis has invested all of the family money in a pyramid scheme called FAM, a business driven by recruiting gullible schmucks into believing they can be millionaires. Krystal, no idiot, tries to get her family out of the mess.
But when her husband exits the picture suddenly, Krystal vows revenge on FAM - while also struggling to keep her house and keep her baby fed. She constructs a devious, not-entirely-legal plan to abuse her friends and get to the top of the pyramid scheme. And then topple it.
Desperate characters making criminal decisions to help their family survive have fueled great shows, including Breaking Bad. But On Becoming a God is infused with trashy comedy, colorful characters and hilarious¬†moments.
And Dunst shines like a wacky rhinestone at the center of it. Desperate to survive, Krystal is one of the best characters of Dunst's career, which has spanned from Interview with the Vampire to Melancholia.
WHY WOMEN KILL (CBS All Access)
Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry's latest series features even more desperate wives. These women are different though. They are less desperate and more killer. And the structure of this series leads viewers to expect the unexpected. Three diverse, fantastic actresses - Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin and The Good Place's Kirby Howell-Baptiste - serve as the protagonists in stories that promise to eventually turn violent.
Centered around three wives who live in the same house in three different decades, this soapy black comedy tells you - right from the title - that, eventually, someone in Beth Ann's polished 1960s life, Simone's radical 1980s story and Taylor's modern tale is gonna get murdered. But the show doesn't tell you who or when or how. So therein lies the hook.
Beth Ann (Goodwin) is a homemaker married to a successful engineer, trying to keep their lives picture perfect. She puts up a beautiful veneer to hide some painful secrets she hides about her family and discovers about her¬†husband.
Simone (Liu) is a vain, rich, egomaniacal Alexis Carrington type, obsessed with glitz and glamour. Her world is turned completely upside down when she discovers that her husband has secret gay affairs.
Taylor (Howell-Baptiste) is a successful, bisexual lawyer in an open marriage to a screenwriter. But, when her girlfriend needs help and a place to stay, it upsets arrangements and starts causing hiccups in her marriage.
The morality of those times may be different, but the end result is going to be the same. In doing this, Cherry has crafted some damn compelling TV.
This painful, difficult limited series, based upon a real police investigation of a serial rapist, is an intense, upsetting and worthy piece of work. Starring Booksmart's Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette and Emmy winner Merritt Wever, this is one of the year's best¬†shows.
Told in two time periods three years apart, the show examines the experiences of a woman after she reports a rape to police in Washington, only to have her story doubted and two detectives who investigate a serial attacker in Colorado using different methods and an approach of more compassion.
Viewers learn very quickly that the attacker in the cases uses the same methods in his crime. And we wait for the characters to find that out, curious about what will happen afterward.
And Unbelievable does not disappoint. It will leave you angry, frustrated and inspired to help victims. It will also leave you grateful that such talented actresses are tackling such complex¬†material.