From ‘Dr Death’ to ‘Schmigadoon!’: streaming shows everyone’s talking about

Here are five shows to catch over summer, based on topics such as the real-life neurosurgeon who botched surgeries, to a magical town in which everyone is a 1940s-musical character

Are your WhatsApp group chats filled with talk of how horribly smarmy and sociopathic the usually-amiable Joshua Jackson is being right now? Do debates rage over coffee about whether Gossip Girl 2.0 is richer or poorer for knowing straight off the bat who the xoxo-purring gossip queen of Manhattan really is? And for the love of streaming, which Never Have I Ever love interest's side are you on for season two: Team Paxton or Team Ben?

With the whole of summer to catch up on all the shows that are currently trending across social media, here are five which need to be on your list right now:

‘Never Have I Ever’, season two, Netflix

Fans of the first season of this hilarious Mindy Kaling-created show, which is partially based on the experiences of her youth, will remember having been left wondering who would win in the race to become the object of loveably messy protagonist Devi Vishwakumar’s (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) affections. Would she opt for her solid, dependable former frenemy Ben Gross, or mega-jock heart-throb Paxton Hall-Yoshida? Former tennis ace John McEnroe returns as narrator and hearing his clipped, no-nonsense explanations of teen drama remains a highlight.

The Vishwakumar family’s looming move back to India, where Devi’s mother Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) hopes to find the wider support system she feels lacking in the US following Devi’s father’s death. The move casts a shadow over Devi’s me-centric teenage life, as does the arrival of Aneesa Qureshi (Megan Suri), whose confidence, beauty and Indian-ness threatens Devi.

In scenes that will resonate with women everywhere, Devi’s brilliant and beautiful cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) starts her PhD, only to find herself underestimated by and condescended to by the men on the course.

‘Schmigadoon!’, Apple TV+

Naturally, the famous Lerner and Loewe musical, Brigadoon, is the first thing that springs to mind when hearing the title of Apple TV+’s new show starring Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong. There’s a reason for that – Apple’s latest comedy hit is about a couple on a backpacking trip who stumble across a magical town where everyone acts as if they’re in a 1940s musical. There’s even a very obviously fake horizon in the background.

Some of the world’s most famous musicals, from The King and I to Carousel, are referenced as the townsfolk sing and dance their way through myriad awkward scenarios. There are in-jokes aplenty, which musical theatre nerds will love, and corniness abounds as it does in any Golden Age theatrical piece.

Josh (Key) and Melissa (Strong) can’t leave the town until they find true love, which is particularly awkward since they’re in a long-term relationship. Jane Krakowski, Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming also star.

‘Dr Death’, Peacock

Joshua Jackson replaced Jamie Dornan in the titular role in this drama about Christopher Duntsch, the real-life former neurosurgeon who earned the nickname Dr Death after he killed two patients and maimed several others, after failing to perform the correct surgery while working at hospitals across Dallas-Fort Worth. Following the successful 2018 podcast of the same name, debate still rages today as to whether his gross malpractice was the result of extreme incompetence or sociopathic tendencies.

Jackson throws himself into an unsympathetic role, showing how Duntsch turned to lucrative neurosurgery after accumulating over $500,000 in debt, and how he got away with his lies and incompetence for so long. Kelsey Grammer plays Duntsch’s medical school professor, while Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater star as neurosurgeons Robert Henderson and Randall Kirby, joining AnnaSophia Robb’s assistant US Attorney to bring Duntsch to justice.

‘The White Lotus’, OSN Streaming

The satirical series from HBO follows a week in the lives of the staff and guests at The White Lotus, a luxury Hawaiian resort where holidaymakers go to be pampered and rejuvenate in paradise. It starts, intriguingly, with a death, and we rewind from there.

Shane (Jake Lacy) is at the airport getting ready to fly home with the remains of someone who died while he was on his honeymoon. Is it his wife? Who knows, because The White Lotus pays as much homage to Agatha Christie as it does to the rich person insights of the late, great writer and director, Nora Ephron.

This opening scene turns the six-parter into a gigantic whodunnit (or should that be who-died-it?) because everyone we meet from here on could be the person in the box.

Jennifer Coolidge pops up as Tanya, that person on holiday who wears nothing but flowing robes and believes it's Maui’s responsibility to centre her, while Connie Britton and Steve Zahn play the ultra-wealthy Mr and Mrs Mossbacher, whose kids show mum and dad the generational divide every time they sit down to tuck into fresh lobster.

‘Gossip Girl’, HBO Max

Gossip Girl 2.0 debuted on July 8 as a 10-part series, spinning off where the original version, which ran for six seasons from 2007 to 2012, left off. This time, however, there’s no mystery about who Gossip Girl actually is, a blessing really when you consider who it implausibly turned out to be in the original series.

The next generation’s Blair Waldorf is Julien (Jordan Alexander). No longer just an Upper East Side princess, Julien is an influencer whose best friends Monet (Savannah Smith) and Luna (Zion Moreno) work hard to ensure their bee is constantly buzzed about.

Picking up the Blair and Nate relationship baton from the original are Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) and Aki (Evan Mock) for whom the spark has long gone but they’d rather not talk about it.

The big ol’pair of Gucci loafers Chuck Bass left behind are stepped into by Obie (Eli Brown), Julien’s boyfriend and the super-rich son of real-estate developers who do very little by way of actual parenting. It’s not until the new girl arrives at school, Zoya (Whitney Peak), who is none other than Julien’s half-sister that the real drama kicks in.

Updated: July 22nd 2021, 5:31 AM