All week, I have been asking you questions. On Friday, the end-of-day post takes another form. This is what I am watching or reading this week, but haven’t yet had time to digest and write about in detail. Think of it as a preview for what is to come, and an opportunity to catch up, if you are so inclined. Have a great weekend!
1. “The True American,” by Anand Giridharadas: Full disclosure, I picked up this book because Kathryn Bigelow is adapting it for Tom Hardy to star in, producing a movie that will inevitably reach new frontiers in sheer masculinity. “The True American” is an account of what happened when a self-described “American terrorist” tried to kill a number of gas station employees he thought were Muslim in retaliation for the September 11 attacks, and the aftermath, in which the victim who survived decided to forgive him. The book is inconclusive about what the rapproachment between the survivor and his attacker’s daughter might produce, and whether Giridharadas thinks the survivor is an opportunist. But that uneasy note seems appropriate.
2. NBC’s “Undateable”: There is only one way to describe NBC’s luck in launching a new comedy about awkward guys learning to date from a pickup artist with his own set of issues the week after a mass killing spurred a national conversation on the less-funny side of those very subjects: not great. LaToya Ferguson takes the show — which relies heavily on NBC’s commitment to Chris D’Elia’s dirtbag charms — apart over at Morning After. But since “Undatable” debuted with decent ratings, it will be with us for a while, and I am mulling what it and “Mixology” mean for what television thinks we are and what we like.
3. “Congo: the epic history of a people,” by David Van Reybrouck: One of my projects for this year has been to read more fiction by African authors and more African history. I highly recommend Dayo Olopade’s “The Bright Continent,” which I knocked off earlier this year. Now I am making my way through Van Reybrouck’s history of the Republic of the Congo. The book revisits some of the same territory covered in “King Leopold’s Ghost,” but has a much greater scope. And Van Reybrouck did a great deal of reporting, letting the first-person experiences of Congolese citizens illuminate his narrative.
4. Starz’s “Power”: This new drama, about a drug dealer (Omari Hardwick) who finds himself attracted to the legitimate attention he gets after opening up a nightclub to launder his illicit profits on a larger scale, does not premiere until June 7. As with many aspirants to be the Next Big Show, the episodes I have seen rely too much on cable’s license to depict sex and violence. But “Power” has an intriguing sentimental streak, and thanks to its showrunner, Courtney Kemp Agboh, more focus on female characters than the average entrant in the field.