It’s summer – the time when the major networks’ prime-time shows, for the most part, go on hiatus, leaving even more time to catch up on streaming and online shows on your watch lists.
My job is to help you prioritize your watch lists or add additional shows to them. Remember, I want to hear from you if you disagree with me or have your own recommendations. I may have to watch a bit more to catch up on all of the recommendations that I have already received in response to my inaugural column last month.
This month’s recommendations include three comedies. I’m saddened when I watch the last episode and must wait for the next season, and I have been guilty of watching two episodes at a time.
• “Red Oaks” (Amazon). In the mid-1980s, college student David Myers takes a job as an assistant tennis instructor at the predominantly Jewish Red Oaks Country Club in New Jersey to discover what kind of life he wants for himself. The ensemble cast – including Jennifer Grey (“Dirty Dancing”) and Richard Kind (“Spin City”) as David’s parents and Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”) as the demanding country club president – provides many laughs along the way as the characters attempt to guide David, despite each clearly having his or her own unresolved issues. The characters feel real and show development through the arc of each season. I was a teenager in the ’80s, and the cultural references and music ring true, offering the perfect backdrop to this coming-of-age story. Due to drug use and nudity, however, this show is for mature viewers.
• “Master of None” (Netflix). In many ways, this show reminds me of a modern-day “Seinfeld.” Aziz Ansari plays the lead role of Dev, a New York-based actor struggling to identify what he really wants, both personally and professionally. Together, he and his friends experience the everyday wonders of New York City while discussing everything and nothing. Ansari has a wonderful charm and sweetness about him, wielding a sharp wit and original observations. His real-life father, who plays his father on the show, is a natural actor, adding humor and authenticity.
• “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix). This show is completely a guilty pleasure. I know when I sit down to watch it, I will end up belly laughing. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin portray Grace and Frankie, respectively. They lead an exceptionally talented cast of actors including Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston as their ex-husbands who declare their love for each other after years of being friends and law partners. Frankie and Grace, polar opposites, are forced to move into the beach house their husbands insisted on buying together. Grace is an uptight, straitlaced former businesswoman who recently and reluctantly retired. Frankie is a prolific bohemian artist. The classic “Odd Couple” setup is refreshingly honest and unexpectedly touching as the show explores friendship and the realities of aging. Fortunately, in the capable hands of these expert comedic actors, the audience is left laughing, even if we were wiping a tear a minute ago.