What to Watch on Amazon Prime: 'Harlem,' 'Encounter' and Final Season of 'The Expanse'
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If you want to spend the month binging classic Seventies sitcoms while waiting for the holiday season to end, you’re in luck thanks to the debut of two Norman Lear-produced classics debuting at the dawn of the month. But that’s not all that’s coming to Prime in December, where the new arrivals include a promising looking new comedy from the creator of Girls Trip and the last hurrah of a modern science fiction classic. But first up: those classic sitcoms.
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Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons (All Seasons, December 1)
No one was more responsible for changing the face of television in the 1970s than Norman Lear, whose All in the Family made sitcoms safe for topical discussion. All in the Family adapted the British comedy ’Til Death Do Us Part and, for his follow-up, a comedy about a grumpy junkyard owner and his contentious relationship with his son, Lear turned to another British comedy, Steptoe and Son.
Lear would essentially hand the American version, Sanford and Son, off to fellow producer Bud Yorkin, but not before casting veteran comic Redd Foxx, whose cantankerous persona helped open up new possibilities for Black sitcoms. An immediate hit in 1972, its popularity helped pave the way for another Lear-produced sitcom, The Jeffersons, a spin-off of All in the Family starring Sherman Hemsley as an upwardly mobile dry cleaning tycoon. Pieces of TV history that remain fun to watch, the complete runs of both series are making their debuts on Prime.
Sleepless in Seattle (December 1)
Also debuting on Prime: this classic 1993 rom-com directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Hanks and Ryan had recently teamed up in the 1990 flop Joe Versus the Volcano, so it’s kind of remarkable the studio rolled the dice on them a second time. Then again, that movie has justifiably picked up a cult following over the years, so maybe it was obvious they deserved another chance together.
Ronin (December 1)
Scripted by David Mamet, Ronin wasn’t the last film John Frankenheimer directed but it was the one that proved he could still put together a suspenseful action scene with the best of them. Robert De Niro stars as an ex-CIA mercenary who falls into a twisty Parisian underworld of spies and terrorists.
Harlem (December 3)
Girls Trip writer Tracy Oliver created this new series about four Harlem friends (Megan Good, Shoniqua Shandai, Jerrie Johnson, and Grace Byers) navigating the unique challenges of life in their thirties. Oliver, who’s cited shows like Girlfriends and Sex and the City as inspirations is, of course, no stranger to stories about complicated friendships between women featuring appealing casts. What worked at the movies looks likely to work just as well as a TV series.
The Ferragbez (December 9)
Prime is a service with global reach and that means subscribers sometimes get an opportunity to watch shows that might otherwise have never reached viewers in the U.S. Exhibit A: this new series about Italian power couple Chiara Ferragni (a fashion influencer) and Fedez (a rapper).
LOL: Last One Laughing Mexico (December 10)
Exhibit B: the Mexican version of LOL: Last One Laughing. Developed in Japan and adapted everywhere from Australia to India (Fedez hosted the Italian version), the format is simple: comedians are placed in a room where they try to make each other laugh. The catch: anyone who does laugh has to leave.
Encounter (December 10)
The always-worth-watching Riz Ahmed stars in this new science fiction film as a Marine who has to rescue his sons. The twist: the threat doesn’t come from out planet.
The Expanse (Final Season Premiere, December 10)
Adapting a series of novels by James S.A. Corey (the pseudonym used by the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), The Expanse picked up an impassioned following during its run on Syfy, just not one big enough to keep it on the air past its third season. Fortunately for fans, Prime swept in to save the show, which begins its sixth and final season today with new episodes following each Friday.
With Love (December 17)
It’s the holiday season, and if you’re looking for a show that puts holidays at the heart of its story—and not just those found in December—look no further than this new series whose five episodes unfold over the course of a year’s worth of holidays. The cast includes Rome Flynn (How to Get Away with Murder) and Isis King (When They See Us).
Yearly Departed (December 23)
2020 saw Prime closing out the year with the comedy special Yearly Departed, in which a group of funny women closed the book on the past 12 months. That tradition keeps going with this second installment in 2021. Insecure’s Yvonne Orji hosts.
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