So you wanna watch…
House of the Dragon: Rejoice Game of Thrones’ junkies! The long-awaited prequel is finally here. Set 300 years before the HBO series—and adapted from a slice of George R R Martin’s novel ‘Fire & Blood’—it charts a bloody civil war that plunges Westeros into chaos. It all kicks off when King Viserys (Paddy Considine) names an unexpected heir to his throne—pitting the Targaryens against one another. Of course, there are dragons in the mix as well.
TIME has everything you need to know about how it connects to the original series. FYI: you don’t have to worry about David Benioff and DB Weiss ruining this one. Martin has hand-picked Ryan Conda who plans “to adhere closely” to the novel’s narrative.” There are no reviews as yet. The series airs August 22 on HBO and HBO Max.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: Hot on the heels of ‘Ms Marvel’, this is Marvel’s next female superhero show. Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a whip-smart, ambitious lawyer who also happens to be Bruce Banner’s (Mark Ruffalo) cousin. And she shares the same familial and familiar trait—of turning into a big, green, fighting machine. As she is trained in the Hulk-ian way by Banner, she is picked to lead a superhuman team of lawyers.
The Guardian says it is “enormously funny and has such confidence, style and brio that it is impossible not to love it.” A grumpier Cnet is less impressed by a show that lacks “the delicious courtroom chicanery of a proper legal drama, the rousing action of a sci-fi show or the heart of even other Marvel shows.” Check out the first episode on Disney+ Hotstar.
NOPE: This is a big one for fans of director Jordan Peele—who made a huge splash with the racially scathing horror flick ‘Get Out’. In this one, a family in rural California is being terrorised by something in the sky—and they decide that the best way to deal with it is not to look at it.
We’d say more but The Guardian advises “it’s best to see ‘NOPE’ unprepared and spend a healthy amount of time wondering ‘WTF is going on?!’” But it also warns: the film too often seems to be heading somewhere extraordinary, only to disappear into an ambitious conceptual hole that, while occasionally startling, is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.” OTOH, New York Times praises the movie’s “fascinating internal tensions,” and “impeccably managed suspense, sharp jokes and a beguiling, unnerving atmosphere of all-around weirdness.” Drops in theatres today.
Bad Sisters: Grace is part of a tight-knit clan that is fiercely protective of one another. She also happens to be married to John Paul—whom her sisters have nicknamed ‘The Prick.’ He is smarmy, abusive, an all-round ass—and very dead. The series opens with JP’s funeral and then jumps between timelines. Flashbacks reveal Grace and her sisters plotting to get rid of him for good. The present-day plot centres on insurance agents Matthew and Thomas Claffin—who smell foul play. What follows is part murder-mystery and part comedy.
The reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Hollywood Reporter says ‘Bad Sisters’ is “never boring. With so many moving parts, there’s always some fresh detail to be unearthed in flashbacks or some new scheme for the characters to cook up and execute.” Chicago Sun Times finds it to be “a very smart show that makes it easy for us to keep up, even as we’re consistently thrown for a loop by some unexpected development.” The first two episodes drop today on Apple TV+
A list of good reads
- Variety looks at whether ‘RRR’ offers India’s best chance of an Oscar nod in years.
- Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic pens a lovely essay on romance novels—and what they offer women.
- Popular Science looks at the latest TikTok trend: ‘vabbing’—i.e. rubbing your vaginal secretions on your face. No, it isn’t some bizarre beauty regimen but a ‘dating trick’ to attract suitors. Does it work? Well, you’ll have to click through to find out.
- The Guardian raises some good questions about vertical farming—which is being touted as a sustainable alternative to traditional agriculture.
- BBC News reports on an infestation of yellow crazy ants—yes, that is what they’re called—in Tamil Nadu, where they’re driving everyone, well, crazy.
- Bloomberg Businessweek offers a behind-the-scenes super-gossipy-look at high end gyms for the very rich.
- Also in Bloomberg News: the best five cities in the world for expats—which includes Bangalore. Hmm.
- Architectural Digest has a lovely feature on the evolution of the Indian chair—plus very pretty pictures.
A good listen: The first episode of historian William Dalrymple’s new podcast series ‘Empire’—which he co-hosts with Anita Anand.