Arianne’s SXSW 21 Television Round Up

South by Southwest might be over, but I watched a lot of things during the festival. Some were great, others not so much. But there are a few that I want to talk about without going into deep detail, either because it wasn’t long enough or because I don’t have enough to say.

For this list, we will focus on the television program I had the chance to watch during the festival. Some were just one episode, others I got lucky and had the chance to watch more.

MADE FOR LOVE written by Patrick Somerville.

I was lucky enough to watch the first four episodes of Made For Love and let me tell you, it might just be one of my favourite shows I have watched in a while. It was wacky, weird but also insanely funny. Starring Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother, Palm Spring) and Ray Romano (The Big Sick, Everybody Loves Raymond), it is one of those shows that the whole time had me wondering what the hell was happening, and yet, I needed more and wanted more. I don’t even think I would be able to do justice to the show with a simple description, but in a very vague way, this show is about a woman (Milioti) running away from her husband after ten years of marriage. But that is just barely what this show is about, describing how weird and niche this is would be hard. Now, I have seen only the first four so I can’t speak on the whole season but if the quality of it all continues in this way, then I can say that Made For Love was made for me.

Made For Love premieres April 1st on HBO Max. In Canada, all the episodes will arrive on Amazon Prime on April 16th.

PARKED IN AMERICA created by Kayla Yumi Lewis.

Parked In America premiered at SXSW as part of the Episodic Pilot Competition, which means it doesn’t have more than just the first episode yet, but if the rest of what is planned resembles what the pilot showed, I am excited about this show. It feels fresh, a show that yes, uses tropes that we have seen before in high school shows, but Parked in America feels different. Yes, the premise isn’t new and it’s another high school coming of age story but it just works. When Jamie moves with her relatives in Illinois from Korea after a family tragedy, she must navigate high school and this new world. It’s simple but to the point, the show has a line of sight and knows where it’s going, you see that from the first episode, you understand the dynamics and the way things might unfold. It leaves you wanting more by the end, leaves you wondering what will happen with Jamie, with the people she meets in the show. Parked in America deserves to be a show that is on television and I hope we get to see it.

CRUEL SUMMER created by Bert V. Royal

When a beautiful popular teen, Kate, is abducted, Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outlier to the most popular girl in town and, by ’95, the most despised person in America. This is the premise of Cruel Summer, it’s an interesting take on showing us three different years in one show, but the problem is that Cruel Summer banks a lot on keeping us interested to come back. I have watched only the first episode, so maybe this will change, but the idea of Cruel Summer doesn’t seem to be able to be sustained past one season. It’s an interesting concept, telling a story over three different summers all at once, but how to do you sustain that. The pilot covers a lot of ground, introducing us to the major players and the intrigue of the show, but that is also a problem. Because it covers a lot. While I found myself enjoying it at times, the show tried so hard to be mysterious that I lost interest quickly, yes they got me back at the end with a cliffhanger that will have me go watch the second episode once it airs, but the problem is, I just can’t see the show go past one season.

Cruel Summer premieres April 20th on Freeform.

CHAD created by Nasim Pedrad.

Chad would not exist without Pen15, let’s be real. Created by Saturday Night Live alumni Nasim Pedrad, who also stars as Chad, a 14-year-old Persian boy who desperately tries to fit in, cope with his mother’s dating life, and figure out his cultural identity. It’s a show that is absurd and over the top but it’s the vehicle that Nasim Pedrad deserves. Chad is a show that might not work for everyone, but it worked for me. The absurdity of it all made it so much better, it’s silly and doesn’t take itself seriously and yet, it also tackles subjects that we can all relate to. What I think makes this show works perfectly is Nasim Pedrad, she finds a way to portray this teenage boy so well and you can’t help but feel bad for Chad as he tries to become popular and yet, just fails miserably. Chad is a weird show, it’s out there with its concept, but I for one, can’t wait to watch every single episode.

Chad premieres April 6th on TBS.

FOR THE RECORD created by Julian De Zotti.

For The Record follows Ray and Angela who just broke up, but what if the iconic songs we all know and love had the power to bring them back together? It follows the interconnected people, stories & music that mend their broken hearts. It boast a soundtrack that is to die for and performances that are on point, For The Record won’t blow you away with their premise or cinematography, but it’s a cute little web-series that deserves attention. I have seen the first three episodes (I will have a full review coming for the show at some point later) but by the end of the third episodes, I was totally in for what the show was trying to do. It isn’t all about Ray and Angela, yes they are at the center of the show, but it is also about those around them and the consequences of their breakup. It’s funny because it is true, once you break up, what happens to the ones around you. For The Record is about that, the after. If you come for the soundtrack, you stay for the characters and the story.

For The Record is available already in Canada on CBC Gem.

4 FEET HIGH directed by Maria Belen Poncio.

4 Feet High is probably my favourite series I watched at SXSW and I hope that it will get distribution because I want to watch every single episode. Juana, a 17-year-old wheelchair user, aims to explore her sexuality but is ashamed of her body. Trying to find her place in a new high school, she will go through failure, friendship, fear and politics until she builds her own pride. It’s a simple concept, another coming of age story, but the show just captivated me from the very first frame. Juana is nothing like what we usually see, whether in a webseries or television series, it felt so fresh to watch such a character. But it isn’t just her, every single character felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s original, efforlestly queer but most importantly, it tells a story we haven’t seen enough of. I hope we get to experience every single episode because I want to know what will happen next with Juana.

Those are just the TV shows I saw at SXSW, stay tuned for my film round-up, coming soon.