Welcome back to IRL, our series dedicated to the things that Engadget writers play, use, watch and listen to. This week, Billy Steele explains how to keep your soccer addiction fed with Netflix's 'Juventus' series, while Richard Lawler breaks down why 'Killing Eve' should be at the top of your binge-worthy list.
Senior News Editor
News that Killing Eve lead Sandra Oh snagged a (long-overdue) Emmy nomination for Best Actress should've put everyone on to the thing fans already know: It's a great show. Adapted from a series of short stories that were later released as a novel, the show comes to BBC America written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
She first crossed my radar with her Amazon Prime series Fleabag, which is due for a second season in 2019, where she wrote herself as the main character who was funny, smart and traumatized -- but not by the overused tropes of female damage. When it came to Fleabag, Waller-Bridge told Vanity Fair that "I was trying to think of the worst thing that she could do, and then try and make the audience love her anyway."
That same feeling informs Eve Polastri, Oh's desk-bound MI5 agent whose far-fetched theory turns into a real field assignment mostly because she's able to imagine a woman is a killer when others aren't. The interaction between that assassin, Villanelle, played excellently by Jodie Comer (Doctor Foster, Thirteen), and Polastri is the story here, as their mutual obsession plays out over murder, dinner and, eventually, one last climactic meeting.
I could describe Oh's performance as undeniable, but that would do a disservice to her work over the years. While she's best known as Dr. Cristina Yang in over 200 episodes of Grey's Anatomy, you should hit Netflix and watch Catfight, a "black and blue" comedy where she faces off against Anne Heche as rivals who torment each other over the years. In this show, we get to see the full range of her capabilities. Like the title character in Fleabag, Polastri isn't driven by some paint-by-numbers tragedy; she just enjoys the task to an unusual level that Oh manages to ground in reality.
In a TV world filled with cops chasing bad guys and girls, Killing Eve isn't like other shows. So many BBC-ish dramas follow the same beats, usually with lead actors or actresses who are damaged in some way that breaks their home life but helps focus a critical investigation. Polastri is, instead, a happily married, relatively-balanced person who gets caught up in what is, for her, a dream investigation. It's not without cost, and some of the punches you will see coming, but whatever the show lacks in twists it makes up for with depth and comedy. Season one has finished airing in the US and UK, and the show is already renewed for a second season.
First Team: Juventus
Senior News Editor
I watch a lot of soccer. Probably too much, if I'm being honest. Between Premier League, Bundesliga and MLS, my football slate is pretty full -- not counting Champions League, Europa League and other tournaments. Even still, I'm always up for learning more about the storied clubs in Europe I'm not able to watch on the regular. Since go90 will soon bite the dust, I won't be watching La Liga, Ligue 1 or Liga MX anymore, and Serie A was never really an option without cable or some other subscription.
However, I've seen enough Champions League to know that Juventus is a perennial power in Europe and almost always a safe bet to win Serie A in Italy. Casually catching a few matches a year doesn't really give you a look at the history or even the inner workings of the team, though. Thanks to Netflix, I have a documentary-style series to provide that more-detailed introduction to the club.
First Team: Juventus is only six 40-minute episodes, broken up into two parts. But for football fans, that's enough time to get a look into the main points of the club's 2017-2018 season. Even with the limited episode count, the docuseries still manages to span the entire campaign, from pre-season to the final Serie A match and beloved captain Gigi Buffon's last time donning the black and white. The Serie A drama, Champions League suspense and some pretty intimate player interviews combine to give you a glimpse of life off the pitch. Sure, these dudes are making loads of money, but they're also humans, and the interviews serve as a welcome reminder.
The content is good enough to catch the interest of any football fan, but First Team is also really well made. Beautiful cinematography, including pitch-side footage of the matches, makes the action on and off the field even more compelling. Amazon's All or Nothing: Manchester City hasn't debuted yet, so I can't make a comparison, but if you're looking for something to help you get through the next few weeks until the European leagues start back up, First Team is worth your time.
"IRL" is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they're buying, using, playing and streaming.