The Daily explores lower-profile pop culture offerings worth tuning into this spring

Comedian Rob Delaney stars in laugh-out-loud British comedy "Catastrophe." CleftClips via Flickr

This spring is turning out to be a busy season for pop culture watchers. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” roared into theaters this weekend, garnering almost $170 million at the box office. The ever popular “Game of Thrones” is set to air its highly anticipated sixth season on April 24, and acclaimed cable dramas like Starz’s “Outlander ” (2015-present) and FX’s “The Americans” (2013-present) are also premiering new episodes this spring. Meanwhile, Netflix just dropped season two of “Marvel’s Daredevil” (2015-present), and in the music world, big names like Zayn Malik and Gwen Stefani are promoting their new albums. Amid all these high-profile releases, lesser-known pop culture gems can get lost in the shuffle. The Daily takes a look at some more offbeat choices worth checking out this spring.

“Catastrophe”

This British import (2015-present) is the rare sitcom with the ability to make viewers actually laugh out loud. The comedy, which American fans can watch on Amazon Prime, stars comedian Rob Delaney as Rob, an American who hooks up with Irish schoolteacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan) while in London on business. She winds up pregnant, and he moves across the pond in an attempt to make the relationship work. Delaney and Horgan, who also write the show, have impressive comedic chemistry and are able to lend their characters’ fledgling relationship a genuine tenderness without sacrificing any of the crackling humor. The supporting cast is equally funny, none more so than Carrie Fisher, who stars as Rob’s foul-mouthed and overly critical mother. The writing is bitingly honest and desperately funny, the situations outlandish without being too absurd. The six-episode first season is available now on Amazon. Season two will be available on the platform starting on April 8.

“The West Wing Weekly”

This year’s election season may have turned into a neverending nightmare in which everyone’s favorite racists and/or misogynists Donald Trump and Ted Cruz attempt to out-crazy each other on each and every platform available to them. But political junkies weary of the sound and fury that is the presidential campaign can find respite from the madness in the new podcast by actor Josh Malina and musician/composer/podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway. The pair have teamed up to host the “The West Wing Weekly,” which will revisit each and every episode of Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed drama “The West Wing” (1999-2006). As fans of the TV show already know, Malina himself is a “The West Wing” alum: he starred as speechwriter Will Bailey for several seasons of the drama. Despite this rather high-profile status, Malina has always been impressively game to go out of his way in order to engage with fans (just check out his charming and often silly Twitter account and weekly blog for Entertainment Weekly to see just how very endearing Malina can be). The first installment of “The West Wing Weekly,” which premiered on March 23, sees Malina and Hirway discussing the storylines in show’s pilot episode, reflecting on how today’s political climate has shifted since “The West Wing” was on the air and rather effusively expressing their love of Sorkin’s characters. With 153 episodes of the drama still to get through, “The West Wing Weekly” will likely offer political junkies an escape from election insanity for many months to come. 

“Gaycation”

This Viceland travel docuseries has at least one high-profile name behind it: actress Ellen Page. Page, who came out as gay two years ago in an emotional speech at a Human Rights Campaign conference, hosts the new series with her best friend, filmmaker Ian Daniel. The show follows Page and Daniel to Japan, Brazil, Jamaica and the United States, as they explore what it means to be queer in different countries across the globe. Though “Gaycation” begins as a rather lighthearted travel adventure, the tone soon becomes much more serious as the show documents the violence inflicted on queer people in each country Page and Daniel visit. The pair also accompany their interviewees through intense and emotionally raw interactions with friends and family, and though it undoubtedly feels a bit odd to have such intimate moments captured on camera, “Gaycation” mostly manages to avoid feeling exploitative and voyeuristic. All four episodes can be found online on Viceland.com.


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