Pick of the week
That ’90s Show
An exercise in meta-nostalgia: this sequel is a reverie for both the 90s and for the 00s, in which That ’70s Show aired. Even the format (it’s filmed in front of an excitable studio audience) feels like a callback. The warmth surrounding the original means there’s goodwill towards this update but also pressure to leave fond memories untainted. On that, the jury is out – Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon) are now the parents of Leia (Callie Haverda), a geeky teen who fulfils a similar role to her dad. Similarly, Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel), the son of Ashton Kutcher’s Michael, is an obvious chip off the old block. But the problem with nostalgia is that it can feel like treading water and dangerously familiar.
Netflix, from Thursday 19 January
An intimate new series from the team behind the Formula 1: Drive to Survive smash, Break Point follows elite tennis players as they prepare for tournaments. With the likes of Federer and Nadal in the men’s game and the Williams sisters on the women’s tour nearing the end of their journeys, it’s a transitional period in tennis with everything up for grabs. Intriguingly, one of the featured players is racket-smashing, trash-talking, umpire-baiting Aussie bad boy Nick Kyrgios, who may or may not reveal a softer side away from the intensity of match play.
Netflix, out now
The Sex Lives of College Girls
It’s term two at New England’s prestigious Essex College, where female undergrads wear $800 sweaters and the guys have the six-packs of professional athletes. It’s a hilariously idealised version of university, but with many familiar neuroses: there’s still a certain universality in the role-playing, identity-forming and financial struggles here. As we return, Bela has decided to topple the patriarchy with an all-female comedy magazine, Kimberly is struggling with a lost scholarship, and our girls are dealing with potential ostracism from the seductive world of frat houses after upsetting some influential jocks.
ITVX, from Thursday 19 January
Women at War
A melodramatic going on florid drama series following the struggles of four French women during the first world war. As the lives of Marguerite, Caroline, Agnes and Suzanne are sent spinning by the chaos of invasion, their fates involve everything from sex work to a potential touch of espionage and working in a military hospital on the frontline. It deserves a little credit for attempting to explore a familiar tale through the eyes of women, but don’t expect much in the way of subtlety. Audrey Fleurot and Sofia Essaïdi star.
Netflix, from Thursday 19 January
Given the current longing for sanity in the political realm, this comedy-drama about a Black educator in Paris who finds himself running for the French presidency might hit a nerve. It’s not an especially original concept – the idea of a naive idealist catching a populist wave thanks to their sheer lack of polish is both a fictional staple and a phenomenon that has actually played out in real life a few times – but Jean-Pascal Zadi (who also directs) is an engaging lead and there are hints of the tough dilemmas that such gambits can generate.
Netflix, from Friday 20 January
The Legend of Vox Machina
The enjoyably daft fantasy animation Dungeons & Dragons spinoff about “The Worst Team Ever Assembled” returns for more error-strewn, potty-mouthed superhero action. This time, they’ll be taking on a terrifying group of dragons known as the Chroma Conclave. Their attempts to save the world are once again undermined by their various bungles, but the whole thing generally has its cake and eats it, establishing a very distinct voice in a crowded field by functioning as both a decent action animation and a snarky spoof of the same.
Prime Video, from Friday 20 January
Truth Be Told
Now in its third season, this drama suggests that the makers of true-crime podcasts are as worthwhile dramatic subjects as maverick cops or genius pathologists. For the uninitiated, Octavia Spencer stars as San Francisco podcaster Poppy Parnell, whose search for stories leads her into ever-tighter corners. This time, she’s on the hunt for two missing children: Emily Mills, a white teenager whose picture has been all over the media; and Drea Spivey, a Black girl who has been almost entirely ignored. Gripping stuff with plenty to say about the mediascape of 2023.
Apple TV+, from Friday 20 January