En español | From the moving to the hilarious, it’s a great week on the small screen. Whether you’re settling in with family dramas, celebrating Juneteenth, meeting a new batch of drag queens with RuPaul, or LOLing at animals voiced by comedians, it’s prime time for summer TV. See you on the sofa, and pass the remote!
Grab your kin (and Kleenex) for this moving pair of family-forward dramas
Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions presents the Netflix film adaptation of Matthew Logelin’s memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love. Kevin Hart plays Logelin, a Yahoo manager who proposes to his high school sweetheart Liz, a Disney exec, on a romantic trip to Kathmandu, then becomes a first-time dad — and a widower when Liz dies 27 hours after giving birth. Who can he turn to for parenting advice? Perhaps Liz’s mom (Alfre Woodard).
Watch it: Fatherhood, on Netflix
DON’T MISS THIS: Take Our Father’s Day Quiz: Which Classic TV Dad Said What?
In this PBS Masterpiece two-part series, freewheeling artist Connie (Saskia Reeves, 59) tells her fussy chemist husband Douglas (Tom Hollander, 53) she wants a divorce. But they’re booked for a whirlwind summer holiday from London to Venice, so they try to rekindle the flame (with their teen son along for the trip), with flashbacks to their courtship 25 years before.
Watch it: Us, on PBS, June 20, 9 p.m. ET (check local listings)
Celebrate Black history and culture this weekend
Soul of a Nation: Juneteenth: Together We Triumph (ABC)
The first broadcast network newsmagazine about Black culture celebrates the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth with a two-hour show highlighted by Michael Strahan’s interview with A Promised Land author Barack Obama, who says, “We’re not all going to live in a perfect kumbaya society. But we can make it better by working and by reaching out and by assuming the best in each other. And if enough of us do that, we move that boulder up the hill.”
The queens are back (and we are here for it)
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Season 6 (Paramount +)
Making a stylish leap from VH1 to Paramount+, 13 queens, including Pandora Boxx, Scarlet Envy, Silky Nutmeg Ganache and the show’s first two openly transgender women, Kylie Sonique Love and Jiggly Caliente, compete for $100,000 and a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.
Watch it: RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, on Paramount+
DON’T MISS THIS: Discover the Rich Culture and History of LGBTQ Life in ‘Pride’
Your summer laugh fix is here, and it involves talking animals (sort of)
When Nature Calls With Helen Mirren (ABC)
The F9 star narrates a new comedy based on the BBC show Walk on the Wild Side, in which comedians put words into the mouths of frogs, beatboxing badgers and other beasts from all over the globe. Says Dame Helen, “I am excited by the opportunity to reveal the ‘true inner lives’ of the noble creatures with whom we share the planet.”
Watch it: When Nature Calls With Helen Mirren, ABC, June 24, 8 p.m. ET
Pssst… we know what’s coming to TV this fall!
The first look at the fall 2021 season is here, and our critics have the low-down on all the new shows and what you’re going to want to watch. Be the first to know what’s up by checking it all out here: First Look: What’s Coming to TV Screens for the Fall 2021 Season
Who wants their MTV?
Whether you’re a hip boomer or a card-carrying Gen Xer, you no doubt remember the revolutionary launch of the music video channel in 1981 and all the hits and stars who emerged from that brave new world. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of MTV, our critics have highlighted the iconic albums and videos from the first 10 years, and it’s a wild trip down memory lane. Read and watch it all, right here: Every Essential Album (and Music Video) From the Golden Age of MTV
Your Netflix must-watch of the week is here!
The Kominsky Method, Season 3
When his agent and frenemy (Alan Arkin) dies, acting teacher Sandy (Michael Douglas) must deal with Sandy’s volatile ex-wife (Kathleen Turner, in her first regular role costarring with Douglas since War of the Roses 32 years ago), who’s in L.A. to plan their daughter’s wedding to an older man (Paul Reiser). Morgan Freeman and Barry Levinson appear as themselves.
Watch it: The Kominsky Method, on Netflix
This new TV binge list is our favorite of the year
As part of celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month — and the vastly different generational, cultural and historical experiences that comprise America’s fastest-growing minority — our critics rounded up 15 of the best AAPI-relevant TV shows: comedies, dramas, action serials, documentaries, even a talk show. You’ll find bawdy humor, winsome dramedy, mind-bending sci-fi, eye-popping martial arts, stately period drama and chilling horror – and that’s all in just one episode of reality show Bling Empire! Get the whole scoop and start streaming, here: The 15 Best AAPI TV Shows to Binge-Watch Right Now
New month, new Netflix!
It’s that time — you know, when Netflix rolls out a whole bunch of TV shows and movies and quietly begins pulling ones on your to-watch list from the queue. Don’t get left behind! Use our fresh list to stay in the know, here: The 21 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in June
Some of the summer’s hottest new films are coming to ... your TV!
Yes, movie theaters are back (in part), and yes, some of summer’s blockbusters are opening on big screens, but streaming powerhouses like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ are also opening big films on small screens this summer. Check out what’s coming with our critics’ guide, and plump the sofa cushions!
Check it out: AARP's Summer 2021 Movie Preview
From football and ice hockey to professional wrestling, these TV comedies are all-star fun
Take your local live sports seriously? We know, we know. But there’s a wonderfully funny world of sports sitcoms out there, and what with Ted Lasso ruling the airwaves right now (have you watched?), our critics thought it was high time we named names. From Coach to this week’s new show Big Shot, check out our hottest new watch list: The Best Sports-Themed Sitcoms to Stream Now
Love Law & Order? Have we got a list for you!
If you’ve been part of Law & Order nation since Jerry Orbach was shaking his head at corpses on the mean streets of New York in the 1990s, we know you’ve followed the spin-offs and have watched some of them become blockbusters. But which ones are the best of the best? Our critics have ranked all seven Law & Order iterations, plus offered up the very best episode from each series to watch right now. It’s a dream come true. Check it out here: What’s the Best Law & Order Series of All Time?
George Clooney is out of this world!
What do AARP and George Clooney have in common? Our biggest cinematic honor, it turns out. The 60-year-old actor and director received AARP Movies for Grownups’ annual Career Achievement Award, at the Movies for Grownups Awards, broadcast for the fourth consecutive year by Great Performances on PBS. Read all about it here: George Clooney: Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Honoree
Also Catch Up With ...
In the Heights (HBO Max)
This plucky, messy, tongue-twisty spectacle transports Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton Tony Award–winning musical to the talkies. Directed by Jon M. Chu, who helmed Crazy Rich Asians, the movie embraces Spanish-speaking immigrants making their dreams come true in Manhattan’s gentrifying Washington Heights. Vibrant and lively, the film is dense with acting, singing and dancing talent. A high point that gets the balance right is the song “Paciencia y Fe,” by neighborhood matriarch Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz, 65). Always welcome is charismatic leading man Jimmy Smits (65) in a supporting role, as Kevin Rosario.
Watch it: In the Heights, on HBO Max
Don’t Miss This: The 11 Best Movie Musicals Set in New York City
Lupin, Part 2 (Netflix)
Part 1 of this suspenseful, mirthful, utterly wonderful thriller-comedy — inspired by a famous French literary character, gentleman thief Arsène Lupin — was Netflix’s utterly unexpected No. 1 hit this year. Omar Sy portrays the character modeled after Lupin, Assane Diop, who is out to avenge the downfall of his late father at the hands of rich guys who aren’t half as clever.
Watch it: Lupin, on Netflix
In Stephen King’s favorite Stephen King story, Clive Owen plays a Stephen King-like writer mourned by his widow, Lisey (Julianne Moore), and hounded by a professor (Ron Cephas Jones) and a mad fan (Dane De Haan) who demand the writer’s manuscripts, with Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lisey’s sensible sister and Joan Allen as her catatonic sister in another dimension.
Watch it: Lisey’s Story, on Apple TV+
DON’T MISS THIS: Jennifer Jason Leigh Isn’t Afraid of Anything
In a landmark six-part documentary, six top LGBTQ+ directors tell heroic and heartbreaking stories of the struggle for civil rights: the 1950s FBI Lavender Scare, 1980s club culture, 1990s culture wars, right up to today.
Watch it: Pride, streaming on FX on Hulu
DON’T MISS THIS: 12 Great LGBTQ Movies to Stream During Pride Month
1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything
Nostalgia alert! This eight-part docuseries will take you back to the heyday of a few acts you may recall: the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, the Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Elton John, Gil Scott-Heron, Sly Stone, Carole King and more.
Watch it: 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, on Apple TV+
The Underground Railroad
You knew this 10-episode adaptation of MacArthur genius Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning novel about escaping slaves by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) would be worth seeing. But it turns out to be an epic, Handmaid’s Tale-topping dystopian masterpiece that dwarfs every other new film or TV show.
Watch it: The Underground Railroad, on Amazon Prime
DON’T MISS THIS: 11 Black Filmmakers You Should Know
Comedian/actress and force of nature Wanda Sykes produces and stars in a sitcom about an Indianapolis working-class couple, Bennie and Regina (Mike Epps from Survivor’s Remorse and The Facts of Life’s Kim Fields), who are raising three kids and his teen son from another woman. But Bennie’s biggest challenge is his tart-tongued sister-in-law, Lucretia (Sykes), who thinks he’s a charming, well-meaning and total mess of a man.
Watch it: The Upshaws, on Netflix
DON’T MISS THIS: Wanda Sykes Brings the Funny When We Need It Most
In the intergenerational show of the year, Jean Smart (Designing Women, Mare of Easttown) stars as a Las Vegas comedy legend forced to mentor an up-and-coming comic (Hannah Einbinder). The show is much-buzzed, and insiders predict that Smart, who got Emmy nominations for Watchmen, Fargo and 24, may land her first lead actress nomination for this extremely juicy role. High time!
Watch it: Hacks, on HBO Max
DON’T MISS THIS: Getting Smart: Jean Smart shares her secrets about feeling sexy and nabbing the best roles of her life at 69
Godfather of Harlem, Season 2
(Epix, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)
Forest Whitaker, 59, returns for his second season as Bumpy Johnson, the real-life 1960s mobster who dated Lena Horne, played chess with Lucky Luciano and befriended Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Joining the cast are Cliff “Method Man” Smith, as the Philly Black Mafia chief Sam Christian, and Annabella Sciorra, as mob wife Fay Bonanno.
Watch it: Godfather of Harlem, on Epix
Don’t miss this: Forest Whitaker talks with AARP about playing Bumpy Johnson and looks back on his life and shares what he knows now.
Mayans M.C., Season 3
(FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)
Sixteen months after the cliffhanger Season 2 finale, Edward James Olmos returns as the troubled patriarch whose once-promising sons got mixed up in a motorcycle gang on the California/Mexico border, in a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy.
DON’T MISS THIS: Edward James Olmos tells AARP his plan to live to 120
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Singer Andra Day channels Holiday’s haunting voice and haunted soul in Lee Daniels’ film about the jazz genius and Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger’s relentless quest to destroy her. Why the obsession? Not merely because Holiday had a drug addiction — the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit” threatened to become the mournful anthem of a movement. “She kicked off the civil rights movement by defying the government to sing a song about Black people being lynched,” says director Daniels, the first Black Oscar nominee for both best picture and director (for Precious). —Lisa Kennedy
Watch it: The United States vs. Billie Holiday, on Hulu
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Viola Davis and, in his last role, the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) star in Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s illustrious tale of Ma Rainey, the 1920s Mother of the Blues. It’s hard to say which actor scores the more towering performance. It’s like a duet between geniuses — or, since they’re fighting bitterly over how Ma should record her music, old-dirty-blues-tent-show style or hepcat modern jazz style — an acting duel. Both win, as do all of us.
RELATED: Viola Davis tells AARP about Ma Rainey, August Wilson, aging, her big break, and what happens when you get everything you always wanted. Read it here: Viola Davis Finds a Powerful Voice
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy
(CNN, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)
Who needs a real trip to Italy? It’s more fun to tag along with The Hunger Games star and eloquent gourmand Stanley Tucci as he returns to the land of his forebears, noshing and sipping his way through six cities and their signature dishes — from Naples tomatoes to Milanese pizzoccheri.
Watch it: Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, on CNN
GET BEHIND THE SCENES: Tucci talks with AARP about his touching new film Supernova, which follows a couple (played by Tucci and his longtime real-life pal Colin Firth) on a last sentimental journey to England’s picturesque Lake District, the land of Romantic poetry, as Tucci’s character copes with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Read it here: Stanley Tucci Explores the Landscape of Love and Early Dementia
Call Your Mother
(ABC, Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)
In her new sitcom showing off her comedy chops, The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick plays an empty-nester mom who moves thousands of miles to get back into her kids’ lives.
Watch it: Call Your Mother, on ABC
RELATED: Kyra Sedgwick tells AARP how she dealt with her own empty nest, shares the quarantine baking project she’s obsessed with and explains how Call Your Mother can help us all get through pandemic times: Read more here.
Bryan Cranston, who played a good-hearted teacher forced to go criminal to save his family on Breaking Bad, plays a New Orleans judge scheming to help his son escape a hit-and-run accident charge in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with the law.
Watch it: Your Honor, on Showtime
RELATED: Cranston talks with AARP about his two good bad-guy roles and his real-life near-recovery from COVID-19: Bryan Cranston Is Back to Challenge Our Loyalties in Your Honor
The Life Ahead
At 86, Sophia Loren is back! In her terrific new tearjerker, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she heartwarmingly plays a former prostitute, Holocaust survivor and caretaker for streetwalkers’ children. She looks after an orphaned African street kid (Ibrahima Gueye), grudgingly at first, and develops a deep bond with him.
Watch it: The Life Ahead, on Netflix
RELATED: Sophia Loren tells AARP about her comeback and her six life lessons
Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection
Netflix unveils a useful, intelligently curated menu of 48 or so top titles including When They See Us, Moonlight, Malcolm X and the current must-see, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which could win star Delroy Lindo the Oscar he’s deserved for some time, and maybe the Emmy, too).
Watch it: On Netflix
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.