Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Aug. 19-25.
HOW TO COPE WITH PEAK TV
Often, talking to TV lovers, I hear about how lost they get while looking to find something good. They sit in front of the TV and wind up spending too much time looking, looking, looking.
And most often, the central issue is Netflix, which is so over-stocked with material that you ultimately get overwhelmed while looking for a show to watch. Every week, a few new series sneak onto the streaming service, then quickly sink down into its quicksand-like coffers. They become mere “content,” just more titles crammed under the Netflix logo.
When I make my way through Netflix, I feel as though I’m picking through the bins at Filene’s Basement, an endless process that doesn’t always end in success.
Some of the services and cable channels are a little less overwhelming, and a lot more selective than Netflix in what they choose to offer. Hulu and Amazon, for example, are a little easier to negotiate, although, as time goes on, they, too, are getting chaotic.
Right now, for instance, Amazon is beginning to dip into stand-up specials — a genre formerly dominated by Netflix — with last week’s “Quality Time” from Jim Gaffigan and this Friday’s “My Mama Is a Human and So Am I” from Alice Wetterlund. (Also coming to Amazon in the near future: a stand-up a special from “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer.) Before long, the Amazon lineup is probably going to seem as bottomless as Netflix’s.
How to cope with overload? Here’s some very complicated advice: KEEP A LIST. Yup, that’s how I do it: an old-fashioned, low-tech handwritten list. It’s the antidote to endless shopping. Here are the instructions:
1. If you see an ad, or a feature, or a review of a show you think you want to watch, add it to the list.
2. Keep the list near your TV.
3. If you like, you can put the list in your phone for easy access.
4. Use the list.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. Kirsten Dunst was a kick in season two of “Fargo,” as the wife of Jesse Plemons (who is now her real-life fiancé). She’s back on TV starting Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime, in a dark comedy called “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.” Set in early-1990s Orlando, the show takes place at a water park, where Dunst is an employee who seeks greater fortune through a pyramid scheme. Mel Rodriguez, Beth Ditto, Ted Levine, Alexander Skarsgård, Mary Steenburgen, and Julie Benz also appear on the series.
2. It’s anyone’s guess how the final season of Showtime’s “The Affair” will turn out. Two of the stars — Joshua Jackson and Ruth Wilson — won’t be back, fueling my fantasy that the other two main characters wind up back together. That’s right, I ship Dominic West’s Noah and Maura Tierney’s Helen, after all they’ve been through. I feel as though that twist would tie the loop of the titular event and bring the whole series back around. The season will include time jumps, so that Anna Paquin will appear as the adult Joanie. The season premiere of the uneven but engaging show is Sunday at 9 p.m.
3. The second season of FX’s “Pose” wraps up on Tuesday at 10 p.m. I was less in love with it this time around; the season had a few too many precious and sentimental moments, and the character played by Patti LuPone didn’t make any sense. Did they bring her onboard simply so she could sing the house down in the cabaret episode? I still think Mj Rodriguez is amazing as the mother of the House of Evangelista, though, and there was plenty to enjoy despite the excesses and too-familiar tropes.
4. The Liza Mandelup-directed documentary “Jawline” looks into the burdens and the bliss of online fame by focusing on a teen Instagram model named Austyn Tester. He’s a fountain of positivity whose livestreams draw devoted teen girls, and he’s hoping his social media profile will help him find his way out of his poor Tennessee family. Hulu bought the documentary at Sundance earlier this year and it premieres on Friday.
5. Also at Sundance, Netflix bought the documentary “American Factory” (76 on Metacritic). From filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, it looks into the clash of cultures and the changing nature of labor at an Ohio auto-glass factory populated by American workers but owned and managed by a major Chinese company. Guess who are among the producers? The Obamas, who have a deal with Netflix. (Here’s a list of their upcoming shows.)
After what happened happened, the season finale has arrived. TNT, Tuesday, 9 p.m.
“13 Reasons Why”
The controversial teen drama returns for season three. Netflix, Friday
“Hollywood Game Night”
Kyle Bornheimer and Ne-Yo play party games with Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Dirk Blocker, and Joel McKinnon Miller from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” NBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.
“The This Old House Hour”
It’s the 40th-anniversary special. WGBH-2, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Sixth-season premiere, followed by an after-show at 9. Starz, Sunday, 8 p.m.
“Hitsville: The Making of Motown”
A documentary that follows Motown from its start in Detroit in 1958 until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Showtime, Saturday, 9 p.m.
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME
This week, I want to remind you about “Lodge 49,” which has just returned to AMC for its second season and airs Mondays at 10 p.m. It’s a warm, bittersweet series that you’ll probably either love right away or dismiss as too low-key. I can’t think of another show to compare it to; it’s unique.
Wyatt Russell’s Sean “Dud” Dudley is a surfer dude in Long Beach, Calif., who has been down and out since his beloved father drowned and the family’s pool-cleaning business tanked. He wants to get his modest old life back, but in the meantime he cruises around in his yellow VW Thing, combs the beaches with a metal detector, barters with a slimy pawn shop owner, and watches bad TV with his twin sister, Liz, beautifully played with cynical despair by Sonya Cassidy.
Dud is easy to be around; he has a golden wire of optimism threaded into his circuitry. And that optimism only grows when, in his search for meaning, he becomes deeply involved in a lodge, its spirituality of alchemy, and its offbeat community, which include plumbing-parts salesman Ernie (Brent Jennings), a weed dispensary owner named Blaise (David Pasquesi), and journalist Connie (Linda Emond). They are all a treat to spend time with, as they refuse to let their financial struggles get them down.