Welcome back to your hard-earned weekend. Here are three TV recommendations, plus notes on entertainment news from the last week.
Tracy Morgan’s new show lampoons NYC yuppiedom
The main reason to tune into TBS’s new show The Last O.G. is to watch two hilarious actors, Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish, riff off each other. Morgan plays Tray, a former drug dealer who just got sprung from jail after serving a 15-year sentence, and Haddish plays Shay, his ex-girlfriend, who’s now a successful businessperson in a happy marriage. As you might expect, Tray’s plan to reconnect with Shay does not go well.
But the other reason to check out this new show is that it slyly mocks the rise of artisan Brooklyn and modern-day yuppie culture.
As soon as he steps off the bus from jail, Tray encounters a bunch of latte-sipping hipsters hanging out near a food truck in his old neighborhood. While a mom crouches on the sidewalk to feed her baby alkalized seaweed, a guy in a fedora walks by, barking into his cell phone: “It’s not Michelin starred, it’s Michelin rated — there’s a huge difference.” Tray takes a look around and screams, “What the fuck happened to Brooklyn?”
In the second episode, via a cooking montage that is surely inspired by Chef’s Table, Tray explains that in jail he discovered he had “mad culinary skills,” and now it’s time to “share his gift with the world.” His signature creation is a mashup of snack foods that he calls the “dessert loaf,” which, truth be told, is not all that different from the Compost Cookies at Milk Bar. Tray hoofs it around town with his dessert loaf in tow, trying to get a job as a chef.
After striking out at a fancy restaurant, Tray finds a job at a trendy coffee shop that’s owned by Wavy (played by Malik Yoba), one of his associates from his drug dealing days. “This coffee game is more lucrative than slinging ever was,” Wavy explains. ”Coffee beans are dirt cheap from Colombia — all we do is sprinkle some hot water on that shit and sell it for like four or five dollars a pop.”
Soon, Tray is working behind the bar, laying down his own wildly inappropriate style of customer service, much to the chagrin of his pencil-pushing manager, Elizabeth. It’s a rocky start for the ex-felon, but later he tells his friend that he hopes to become the “head pastry designer” at the cafe and maybe even a partner in the franchise someday.
The Last O.G. is full of crass one-liners that might rub some viewers the wrong way. But the show is always entertaining and bizarrely compelling thanks, in large part, to Morgan’s charismatic performance. The first three episodes are now available to stream on TBS.com, and the season is also available to watch on Amazon Video.
Are you tuning in to The Last O.G.? What do you think of the show so far? And would you eat Tray’s dessert loaf? Reply to this email or head over to our Facebook group Eat, Drink, Watch this weekend to discuss.
Streaming selections du jour
The Problem With Apu
Watch it on: TruTv
The gist: This excellent short documentary from comedian Hari Kondabolu explores how one racist cartoon character — Springfield’s resident Squishee purveyor Apu on The Simpsons — has perpetuated negative stereotypes about Indians in pop culture for nearly three decades.
Kondabolu talks to other Indian-American entertainers about getting compared to the Kwik-E-Mart owner at various points in their lives, and he uncovers the sad truth about how the character was shaped by actor Hank Azaria and folded into the fabric of the show by its writers. The Simpsons recently addressed the documentary in a completely toothless bit that further stoked the flames of the Apu backlash.
The Problem with Apu features cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, W. Kamau Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Aparna Nancherla, and several other smart, funny people.
Iron Chef Gauntlet
The gist: Last year’s revival of the Food Network’s original culinary competition proved to be such a hit that the network recently brought it back for a second season. Just like the first batch of episodes, this new season cranks the ridiculousness up to 11, with dizzying camerawork and bombastic action movie music, plus a creepy ingredient coffin that spits dry ice fumes. Alton Brown is back in the hosting chair, and at the end of the season, the winning competitor will face off against Iron Chefs Stephanie Izard, Michael Symon, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
And in other entertainment news…
- Fans of Wong Kar-wai’s films should make sure to keep an eye out for the forthcoming Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown, because the filmmaker’s frequent collaborator Christopher Doyle helped shoot this installment of the travel show. In an interview with Eater this week, Anthony Bourdain remarked: “To be mentored by Christopher Doyle and work alongside him for a whole episode and go back to the Chungking Mansions, the site of one of his greatest films, it really was one of the most outrageously wondrous things that’s ever happened to me in my television career.”
- On the latest episode of the Eater Upsell, Giada De Laurentiis talks Vegas, cooking on TV, and her reactions to the sexual misconduct revelations about her old mentor and friend Mario Batali.
- Does the world need another high-minded documentary about an intense fine dining chef? Probably not. But this Alain Ducasse documentary doesn’t look half bad.
- It turns out that Flavortown Mayor Guy Fieri doesn’t love every dish he samples on Triple D. The easiest way to stay on his good graces, though, is to “treat the bun.”
- “Diner Lobster” is pretty much an instant classic SNL sketch.
- Adam Richman, the TV host whose career was derailed by a social media fiasco a few years ago, is filming a new travel show called Slice, wherein he will eat slices of things around the world.
- And finally, the food in A Quiet Place looks great, but according to a few scientists, the characters probably couldn’t enjoy it very much if they had to eat in complete silence.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and if you’re looking for something special to cook for guests or just yourself, consider making some of Elisabeth Pruiett’s ricotta dumplings from Tartine All Day.