Pick of the week
“You don’t chase a market,” says a drug company executive, “you create it.” It’s the statement at the heart of this bleak, striking series telling the story of the American opioid addiction crisis from the perspectives of the predators who punted an addictive drug (OxyContin) to doctors and patients; the patients themselves; and the cops trying to get to the bottom of the scandal. Essentially, it’s the story of a transitional point in US capitalism, where the amoral marketeers of a dangerous product fed upon the decline of older kinds of industry such as mining – and the despair left behind by their passing. Michael Keaton stars as troubled doctor Samuel Finnix; Rosario Dawson is a driven DEA agent.
Disney+, from Friday 12 November
The Shrink Next Door
Marty Markowitz (Will Ferrell) is a people-pleaser. So when he has a panic attack and his sister suggests seeing a psychiatrist, he agrees. It’s then that he meets Dr Isaac Herschkopf (Paul Rudd), who spots his passive, obliging streak and spies an opportunity. This black comedy based on a hit podcast tells the true story of how the manipulative shrink took ownership of his client’s life for three decades, eventually occupying his home. It’s nicely performed – Rudd in particular manifests Herschkopf’s slippery, jittery charm perfectly – and a darkly fascinating insight into doctor-patient power dynamics gone awry.
Apple TV+, from Friday 12 November
In My Skin
Here’s a second, concluding series for this touching drama starring the excellent Gabrielle Creevy as Bethan, a Welsh teen whose cockiness and immaturity at school belie the challenges of her home life. Bethan’s mum, Trina, has bipolar disorder, her father, Dilwyn, is abusive, and much of the time Bethan is the only grownup in the room. Now, Trina’s health is improving and Bethan is enjoying a more normal teenage life but difficult choices soon return. A big-hearted and compassionate tale whose first season was deservedly showered with Welsh Baftas.
BBC Three, from Sunday 7 November
To UK eyes (and ears), a nature series on Netflix is never going to enjoy quite the cachet of a David Attenborough extravaganza. This lavish Netflix affair (from the makers of the spectacular series Night on Earth) attempts to replicate the gravitas of Attenborough with celebrity charisma – famous voices include Bryan Cranston, Rashida Jones, Rebel Wilson and Pedro Pascal. Expect to get up close and extremely personal with, among other photogenic beasts, a mother lioness, a kangaroo joey and a young giant Pacific octopus.
Netflix, from Wednesday 10 November
Curse of the Chippendales
Due to assumptions made about gender and commodification, the all-male 80s erotic dancing troupe the Chippendales were presented as a more “innocent” proposition than an equivalent group of women might have been. Sure enough, it all seems rosy at first as this series tells the story of the group’s ascent, via lashings of luxuriant mullets and baby-oiled six-packs. But darkness lingered just below the surface; the era-specific, VHS-fuzzy nostalgia eventually gives way to a timelessly grim tale of dysfunction, disillusionment and murder.
Amazon Prime Video, from Friday 12 November
Trans life is too often portrayed in terms of struggle and strife. So while this new four-part docuseries, offering an intimate portrait of transgender teen Jane Noury as she navigates various challenging personal issues, verges on gushing in places, that’s fair enough under the circumstances. Happily, Jane is facing life with the support of what appears to be an incredibly loving and supportive family – the series balances issues unique to Jane with a cheerful and pretty universal depiction of functional everyday family life.
Amazon Prime Video, from Friday 12 November
90 Days: Single Files
You might already recognise a few of these faces from the endless minor variations on the 90 Day Fiancé formula in which couples have three months to decide whether or not to take the plunge and get married. This latest spin-off series sees several of them renewing their frenzied and hysterical attempts to find love via a simulation of dating apps (literal gun shots go off during one dinner date). It’s blatantly and shamelessly exploitative of their various foibles but likely to be guiltily addictive fun if wallowing in trash is your kind of thing.
Discovery+ , from Friday 12 November