Watching: A Poignant New Comedy

And a high-concept show for the middle school crowd.

Dear Watchers,

It’s Labor Day! When we celebrate the movement that brought us better hours, higher wages and an end to child labor by embracing federally sanctioned idleness. My plans? Sun, sprinklers, burning any white shoes.

You’ll be back with Margaret on Wednesday, so let me quickly say that it’s been a pleasure watching with you, however virtually. For our last dance, why not wake up, tidy up and crush out on some very adorable ghosts? See you on a screen, sometime, somewhere.


Tell me what’s so funny about systemic oppression

Lamorne Morris in “Woke.”Joe Lederer/Hulu


When to watch: Arrives Wednesday, on Hulu.

In the first episode of “Woke,” Keef Knight (Lamorne Morris), a cartoonist about to start syndication, finds himself at the wrong end of a police tackle. Mistaken for a mugger — a mistake that has everything to do with his skin tone — he walks away with an awareness of his own vulnerability and a strange form of post-traumatic stress: He sees animation everywhere. Malt liquor bottles, wheelie bins, Sharpies, they all want to raise his racial consciousness. Cocreated by the cartoonist Keith Knight and based partly on his own experiences, the half-hour comedy, set in San Francisco, sometimes works with a broad brush and sometimes with a much finer one. Absurdist, jittery, not quite cynical, it takes on race, identity, gentrification. Is Keef a casualty of systemic racism or is he just drawn that way?


What should I do with my dozens of luxury shoes?

Joanna Teplin, left, and Clea Shearer in “Get Organized With the Home Edit.”Denise Crew/Netflix

‘Get Organized With the Home Edit’

When to watch: Arrives Wednesday, on Netflix.

A show for anyone who threw “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” against a wall before replacing it neatly on the bookshelf, this peppy reality series is less about learning to live minimally than about coordinating the junk you can’t bear to throw away. A TV adaptation of an Instagram-savvy decluttering service, it stars the Nashville-based organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, the kinds of well-groomed monsters who sort books by color. Each episode features a famous person and a not-famous person. But come on. Who are you watching for? Reese Witherspoon and Neil Patrick Harris, or some rando? (Witherspoon, who appears in the first episode, is an executive producer.) Its embrace of consumption can be queasy-making, as the Home Edit ethos depends on buying more stuff, mostly plastic, to store the stuff you already have. But if you have ever wanted intimate access to Khloé Kardashian’s garage, welcome.


I want to rock ‘n’ roll all night, if my parents let me

From left, Jeremy Shada, Madison Reyes, Owen Joyner and Charlie Gillespie in “Julie and the Phantoms.”Kailey Schwerman/Netflix

‘Julie and the Phantoms’

When to watch: Arrives Thursday, on Netflix.

A high-concept show for the middle school crowd, this adaptation of a Brazilian series stars the newcomer Madison Reyes as a teenager mourning her mother. She finds her voice — literally! — when a trio of teen boys tumble into her garden studio space. The catch? They’re three quarters of a grunge-pop band who died in the ’90s just before hitting it big. Or medium. Produced by the teen whisperer Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical,” “The Descendants”), the show has cute boys, cheerful bops, teenage romance and soapy family stuff. It also has Cheyenne Jackson as an undead impresario and some flashy nightclub-of-the-hereafter production numbers, because why not, I guess? It’s about love or life or possibly the immortal power of a decent guitar hook. Try not to think too hard about the metaphysics while you sing along.

Also this week:

Not all cop shows have been defunded. The second season of “L.A.’s Finest,” starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, premieres Wednesday on Spectrum. Fox will air the first season later in September.

Your newly available movies

A scene from Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” with, from left, Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis.Mary Cybulski/Netflix

After several frustrated attempts at a theatrical release, the live-action remake of “Mulan” becomes the latest streaming gamble with a three-month “Premier Access” window on Disney+ that requires a subscription and an extra $29.99. Charlie Kaufman comes to Netflix with “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” a challenging and allusive head trip based on Iain Reid’s acclaimed novel. And HBO Max subscribers will want to take a look at the wild, tragicomic documentary “Class Action Park,” about the rise and fall of a dangerous New Jersey amusement park.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fee between the distributor and theater of your choice. Other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms — Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube — unless otherwise noted. — Scott Tobias

‘Class Action Park’ (HBO Max only)

“Class Action Park” loses its footing somewhat in the closing passages; Scott and Porges don’t seem to know quite how to wrap things up, and the film’s big tonal shift is a turning point that is all but impossible to come back from. But that shift is effective, and necessary, slyly replicating the experience of visiting Action Park itself: it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. — Jason Bailey (Read the full review here.)

‘Feels Good Man’ (A Critic’s Pick)

The co-opting of Pepe is not easy to trace, and “Feels Good Man” plunges into that ribbit hole with clarity, humor (when called for) and outright horror (frequently). The director, Arthur Jones, is also an animator, and vibrant cartoon sequences give the movie a refreshing rhythm and visual texture. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review.)

‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ (A Critic’s Pick; Netflix only)

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” has some of its own flights of inventiveness and fantasy — a ballet sequence, a satirical poke at Robert Zemeckis, a couple of songs from “Oklahoma,” a curious homage to “A Beautiful Mind” — but they always land in the same dark and lonely place. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Isadora’s Children’ (A Critic’s Pick; Mubi only)

“Isadora’s Children” is made with such unusual delicacy that it may elude the grasp of audiences who demand things such as, well, plot. But its sensitivity is rare and valuable. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

Set jointly in the Old World and in that newer mythic realm of happily-ever-after female empowerment, this live-action “Mulan,” directed by Niki Caro, is pretty much what happens when a legend meets Disney’s global bottom-line. It’s lightly funny and a little sad, filled with ravishing landscapes and juiced up with kinetic fights (if not enough of them). It has antiseptic violence, emotional uplift and the kind of protagonist that movie people like to call relatable. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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