How is this not a show that everyone is talking about? For starters you have a stellar cast—including Gabriel Byrne, Andrea Riseborough and Dane Dehaan—playing a multigenerational family of cocaine smugglers. Woven in are two parallel story lines: the first involves the power plays within the Mexican Cartel that’s shipping the drugs and the second involves the power plays within the Italian crime family who receiving it. At risk of sounding like a TV Pitchman, it’s like three shows in one! It’s a joint production between SKY, Canal and Amazon and is shot on location in Italy, New Orleans, North Africa and Monterrey, Mexico—plus, it has a gritty sensibility that tells you you’re not watching network TV. The closest comparison might be that if Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic was a TV show.—Neal McLennan, food editor
I take "don't judge a book by it's cover" to heart. For books, specifically. I hate looking at a novel's back cover before I've read it, mostly because I consider celeb reviews calling a novel "incredible" or "poignant" or "slap me across the face hilarious" a challenge. You think this is funny, Atwood? Watch me not crack a smile.
So I knew nothing about Brandon Taylor's Real Life before beginning it last week, and I know nothing about what happens in the last 3/4 of the novel. What I do know is that it's a raw, intimate narrative following a young, gay Black man pursuing his doctorate in biochemistry. It's pretty rich in info about nematodes and lab work, but it's richer in emotion and power dynamics between the protagonist and the world around him: his friends, colleagues, and the "melting pot" community of the mostly white Midwestern town. If you're like me, you'd take this as some kind of dare to read the book yourself and not get emotional. I dare you.—Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor
When I was 16, I went on a summer exchange to Quebec, and all the participants were shuttled to their destination on a four-day train trip across the country. So I would argue I'm more familiar with the claustrophobic limitations of rail travel than the average TV viewer, and I gotta say: I spent most of Run being jealous that Merritt Weaver's character booked a roomette. Back in my day we had to sleep in our seats.
But when I wasn't gracing my husband with my annoying train-passenger-know-it-all commentary, I was riveted by the HBO miniseries, which you can catch on Crave now. Especially in a time where we're all stuck in our routines and our homes, the fantasy of escape is even more delightful. In Run (created by longtime Phoebe Waller-Bridge collaborator Vicky Jones) a depressed stay-at-home mom gets a cryptic prompt (all caps: "RUN") from a college boyfriend, and drops her whole life, sprinting to meet him at Grand Central Station. As the mystery of their getaway and separate motivations unfurls—along with a sexual chemistry that is both palpable and reckless—we get a gripping study of regret and nostalgia and complicated characters. They're funny and they're angry and oh, dear god, are they horny. The series veers from rom-com to erotic caper into psychological thriller into Bonnie and Clyde as the (deeply flawed) former lovers ride the rails across the country in search of a break from reality and themselves. You could critique it for its shifting tone, or the abrupt ending, the delightful but out-of-place side story about a taxidermist in love, but boy oh boy, it's a ride... a better one than a train full of teenagers, anyways.—Stacey McLachlan, editor at large
You probably need a VPN (which allows you to basically lie about your location) in order to access Hulu’s free trial, which is only available in the U.S. And while I’d recommend having one for other reasons too (everyone’s watching you, mannnn), Palm Springs is worth the trouble.
LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD:
The film finds Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti stuck in a time loop at the same wedding, day after day. Yes, it’s a rom-com, but it’s also extremely inventive, actually funny and filled with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Add in a charming cast—Milioti, who audiences will know from Season 2 of Fargo and being dropped in as the ultimate plot device in the late seasons of How I Met Your Mother, in particular is a revelation—and it’s just a fun way to spend an hour and a half. Oh, and J.K. Simmons shows up and is hilarious so it was never not going to be a thumbs up from me.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor
I often get a little obsessive-slash-completist about an author once I've fallen for one of their books, as my Goodreads feed will tell you. And this year's obsession is Mhairi McFarlane. Or was, since i've now burned through the half-dozen novels she's written, the most recent being If I Never Met You, which came out earlier this year. They're beach book-ish in that they're essentially romcoms in the Bridget Jones vein, but the lead characters are unapologetically smart, feminist, successful in their careers and completely relatable in their insecurities. Yeah, you know her disastrous love life all going to work out in the end - though you're not always sure who she'll end up with—but the ride along the way is just as satisfying. Plus, British—so you get a good dose of U.K. slang in the mix, which scratches the travel itch, if ever so slightly. It's possible I'll be rereading them all again (did I mention obsessive behaviour?) —Anicka Quin, editorial director