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This week’s TV: Novel ideas, getting ‘Physical’ in the ’80s, and a Juneteenth celebration

Rose Byrne is an '80s California housewife who discovers aerobics as a way out of domestic misery in "Physical."
Rose Byrne is an '80s California housewife who discovers aerobics as a way out of domestic misery in "Physical."Apple TV+

Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers June 14-20.


Variety had a “Virtual TV Fest” last week, with various panels featuring writers, producers, and actors. One of the panels talked about TV adaptations of books, which are more popular than ever these days.

The list of books that have recently made it to the home screen is very long; it includes Stephen King’s “Lisey’s Story,” Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton,” Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” Lindy West’s “Shrill,” Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere,” Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials,” Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend,” and Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies.”


Some of TV’s best-ever series and miniseries have been based on novels, too, including Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive Kitteridge,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” (the 1995 BBC version), and Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited.”

In the panel, Kristin Hannah, the author of “Firefly Lane” (on Netflix), beautifully expressed my own feelings about TV adaptations. It’s just not worthwhile spending a lot of time criticizing a show because it’s not as good as the novel, or because it’s different from the novel. They are each their own thing, and must stand or fall on their own merits.

“What I say to my readers is that the novel is always there,” Hannah said. “Pick it up anytime you want, it is in amber. It will always be there, but try to enjoy this expanded version as I have. They’re two different pieces of art.”


1. The 1980s gets a thorough going over in “Physical,” a darkly comic Apple TV+ series starring Rose Byrne as a frustrated San Diego wife and mother with an eating disorder. Her ticket out of misery: aerobics. While her extremely unimpressive husband (played by Rory Scovel) tries to run for state office, she secretly finds empowerment and builds a business. The 10-episode, half-hour series premieres Friday.


2. Your wife wants to leave you, but you’ve got a long-planned, expensive grand tour of Europe on the calendar. What to do? In “Us,” the new PBS “Masterpiece” series that premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on GBH 2, Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves star as a couple who go on the vacation with their teen son despite their imminent split. The two-parter, which also looks back at the early years of their relationship, is based on a novel by David Nicholls.

3. The documentary “Revolution Rent,” executive produced by Neil Patrick Harris, follows director/actor Andy Señor Jr. to Cuba as he stages “Rent.” It’s the first American production of a Broadway musical to premiere there in more than half a century. The film also chronicles Señor’s personal journey, as he returns to the homeland of his exiled parents. It airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Former president Barack Obama sits down for a one-on-one interview with Michael Strahan for ABC's “Juneteenth: Together We Triumph."
Former president Barack Obama sits down for a one-on-one interview with Michael Strahan for ABC's “Juneteenth: Together We Triumph."JEFF NEIRA/ABC

4. In ABC’s “Juneteenth: Together We Triumph,” Michael Strahan sits down for a one-on-one interview with former president Barack Obama about race and resilience. Premiering Friday at 9 p.m., the interview includes Obama saying, “We’re not all going to live in a perfect kumbaya society. But we can make it better by working and by reaching out and by assuming the best in each other.” Other segments in this observance of Juneteenth will include a look at the history and meaning of Black cuisine, a portrait of the challenges facing Black farmers, and performances by Jimmie Allen and Leon Bridges.


5. The semi-experimental series about the life of a sitcom wife, called “Kevin Can F**k Himself,” has been available on AMC+ for a day now, but Sunday at 9 p.m. it will premiere on regular old AMC. Annie Murphy, so good as Alexis on “Schitt’s Creek,” stars in the dark satire, as it toggles between the artificial world of a brightly lit multi-cam sitcom and the bleaker world outside that stage set.


“Penguin Town” Patton Oswalt narrates this look at penguins flocking together in a South African town. Netflix, Wednesday

Michael Bolton and Zooey Deschanel cohost "The Celebrity Dating Game."
Michael Bolton and Zooey Deschanel cohost "The Celebrity Dating Game."Craig Sjodin/ABC

“The Celebrity Dating Game” Zooey Deschanel and Michael Bolton host a revival of the game show with twists that include parody songs by Bolton. ABC, Monday, 10 p.m.

“iCarly” A revival of the 2007-12 Nickelodeon sitcom with original stars Miranda Cosgrove, Jerry Trainor, and Nathan Kress. Paramount+, Thursday


“Kevin Can F**k Himself” A inventive satire about sitcoms and sexism starring a charming Annie Murphy. AMC, AMC+

“We Are Lady Parts” An entertaining British comedy about the members of an all-female Muslim punk band. Peacock

“Starstruck” A rom-com about the relationship between Rose Matafeo’s London twentysomething and a movie star. HBO Max

“Lisey’s Story” A plodding Stephen King adaptation starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen. Apple TV+


“In Treatment” A decent revival of the classic therapy series, this time starring Uzo Aduba. HBO

“Hacks” Jean Smart shines plays as a legendary comic mentoring a young comedy writer. HBO Max

“Mythic Quest” The second season is a giddy take on power in the workplace. Apple TV+

“Girls5eva” A lively, goofy comedy in which a late-1990s girl group considers a comeback. Peacock

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.