Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

A dreamy drama.

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By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

“Six Feet Under” premiered 20 years ago this week. No, I can’t believe it either.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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This weekend I have … an hour, and I missed dance

From left, Long Zou, Noah Herron, Kevin Garcia and Jack Furlong Jr., as seen in “Ballerina Boys.”aura Nespola/Merrywidow Films

‘Ballerina Boys’

When to watch: Friday at 9 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)

This upbeat documentary spotlights the all-male dance company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, known as the Trocks, whose members perform classical ballet in drag — subverting, mocking but also embracing the form. Satirizing ballet in general means satirizing many aspects of mainstream society: One needn’t don a tutu to be subjected to rigid gender roles, a strict emphasis on thinness, normative whiteness and systems designed only for the neurotypical. The Trocks push back against all of that, and they do it on pointe. “Ballerina Boys” is also a handy crash course in New York’s queer history and Cold War humor.

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… a few hours, and I like auteur comedies

Abby McEnany in a scene from “Work in Progress.”Adrian S. Burrows/Showtime

‘Work in Progress’

When to watch: Now, on Amazon or Showtime.

Abby McEnany created and stars in this perceptive comedy about a middle-aged lesbian who is planning on killing herself in 180 days if her life doesn’t improve. It’s about sex and intimacy, romance and friendship, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and it’s about the ways our self-loathing gets repackaged and sold back to us as self-help. All eight episodes of Season 1 are available to stream in June without a Showtime subscription, and Season 2 will debut later this summer. If you like “Shrill” or “High Maintenance,” or if you like grounded stories but want something that doesn’t feel generic, watch this.

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… 8 hours, and I want to get swept away

From left, Stefania LaVie Owen, Christian Convery and Nonso Anozie in a scene from “Sweet Tooth.”Netflix

‘Sweet Tooth’

When to watch: Arrives Friday, on Netflix.

“Station Eleven” fans, this is your new jam: a textured pandemic saga that bounces between separate but ultimately connected characters, only this one comes with a robust whimsical side. As if “Hilda” retold “The Walking Dead.” “Sweet Tooth” is set in an America besieged by “the sick,” a virus that killed millions and whose emergence coincided with the birth of “hybrids,” babies born with both human and animal traits. Our hero is Gus (Christian Convery) — half deer, half little boy — whose father raised him in the woods, away from the perils of a broken society. Of course that can’t last, and Gus has to follow his yellow brick road through a ravaged world where people hunt his kind. The show can be brutally dark, and its plague stories are sometimes uncomfortably resonant right now, but it’s also, well, hugely endearing.

Your newly available movies

Paula Beer in “Undine.”IFC Films

The eighth entry in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” may be the scariest of the lot, but our critic laments its phony evangelism. For the art-house set, however, the big event of the week is “Undine,” a strange and beguiling fantasy from the director Christian Petzold, who departs from the historically loaded drama of “Phoenix” and “Transit.”

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fees between distributors and theaters. Unless otherwise noted, other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. SCOTT TOBIAS

‘Bad Tales’

The story is both overwrought and underdeveloped, with potentially important plot details insufficiently explained or left out altogether. All in all, the movie lives up to its title, though perhaps not in the way the filmmakers intended. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet’ (Netflix only)

“Breaking Boundaries” is brimming with grim scientific insight and urgent cautionary pronouncements, but its style feels fussy and belabored — as if the end of the world were not dramatic enough. It’s hard to concentrate on land composition and vanishing biodiversity amid the barrage of bizarre visual effects and histrionic music. — Calum Marsh (Read the full review here.)

‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ (HBO Max only)

“The Devil Made Me Do It” is an excellently spooky work of fiction. It would be even better if it privileged ghoulishness over gospel. — Lena Wilson (Read the full review here.)

‘Slow Machine’ (A Critic’s Pick, via Grasshopper virtual cinema)

Difficult to describe and confounding to follow, the film is best when you submit to the surreal nature of it; then, you will be open to witnessing one of this year’s most mesmerizing movies unfold. Films of such lo-fi aesthetics rarely feel this major. — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (Read the full review here.)

‘Undine’ (A Critic’s Pick)

“Undine” is ultimately more enigmatic than most of Petzold’s work. It is also, like its title character, eerily beautiful. While it could well serve as a high-end date movie, it’s also something more. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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Also this weekend

From left, Josh Brener, Shelley Hennig and Michael Cassidy in a flashback episode of “Mythic Quest.”Apple TV+
  • This week’s episode of “Mythic Quest,” “Backstory!,” is a flashback episode about F. Murray Abraham’s sci-fi writer character. It’s a special little treasure episode that I absolutely loved. You could watch it as a stand-alone story even if you’re otherwise not a “Mythic Quest” person. It’s streaming now on Apple TV+.
  • Season 2 of “Feel Good” is now on Netflix.
  • The Kennedy Center Honors air Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
  • The two-part series finale of “Pose” airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on FX.

EXTRA-CREDIT READING

In ‘Sweet Tooth,’ a Taste of Fantasy Rooted in Reality

Based on a comic book about a pandemic-fueled apocalypse, the new Netflix series is actually full of big-hearted whimsy. Thank the remote-controlled ears.

By Chris Vognar

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Stephen King on Why ‘Lisey’s Story’ Was One He Had to Adapt Himself

“I’ve held onto it the way you hold on to something you love,” King said about the novel, which has been reimagined as an eight-part series starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen.

By Erik Piepenburg

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26 Summer Shows, No Mask Required

If you’re still not ready to leave the house, TV has you covered.

By Mike Hale

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‘Six Feet Under’ at 20

Two decades after the premiere of the landmark drama, the creator Alan Ball and others look back on its tender portrait of familial dysfunction.

By Saul Austerlitz

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With ‘In the Heights,’ Anthony Ramos Finds Stardom on His Own Terms

Teachers urged him to cultivate a more ethnically ambiguous image. He refused, and now he’s having a breakout moment.

By Dave Itzkoff

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The Toasts Are Mimed, but the Kennedy Center Honors Return

The pandemic made the ceremony, honoring Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Midori and Dick Van Dyke and airing on TV Sunday, like no other.

By Emily Cochrane

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In ‘Little Birds,’ Anaïs Nin Erotica Gets a Revolutionary New Context

Created by the artist Sophia Al-Maria, the new series resituates Nin’s erotic short story collection in 1955 Morocco, a year before the country threw off its colonialist yoke.

By Tobias Grey

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