The It List: Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan reunite in 'American Born Chinese,' PBS doc revisits all-female '70s rock band Fanny, 'MerPeople' dives into world of real-life professional mermaids and all the best in pop culture the week of May 22, 2023
The It List is Yahoo's weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. Here are our picks for May 22-28, including the best deals we could find for each.
STREAM IT: MerPeople illuminates an under-the-sea subculture
Life as a mermaid isn't all singing and flapping your tail. It takes serious work, as evidenced by men and women who entertain people by playing mermaids. This documentary series captures some of the challenges they face, including competitive auditions, health emergencies and feeling trapped in their human bodies. But it's about their joys, too, in taking on a profession (yep, it's actually a job) that allows you to both play and believe. "The weight of the world can be so intense," one of the pros says of her alter ego. "Mermaid Sparkles is an escape from all that." — Raechal Shewfelt
MerPeople premieres Tuesday, May 23 on Netflix.
STREAM IT: American Born Chinese reunites new Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan
Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu really were everything — as well as everywhere all at once — during the past awards cycle for their Oscar-winning hit. But even as they were accepting statue after statue, the trio still found time to play supporting roles in American Born Chinese, an action-packed teen drama that arrives on Disney+ in time for AAPI Heritage Month. Based on the 2006 graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, the series splits its focus between the real world and a wuxia-inspired mythological landscape populated by gods like Yeoh's Guanyin. Wei-Chen (played by Jim Liu) is the bridge between these two realms, as he helps hapless high-schooler Jin Wang (Ben Wang) deal with culture-crossing teen problems like social media bullying and getting the girl you like to like you back. — Ethan Alter
American Born Chinese premieres Wednesday, May 24 on Disney+.
WATCH IT: Fanny claim their rightful place in the rock ‘n’ roll boys’ club
In historical overviews of women in rock from the '60s and '70s, some familiar names have always been mentioned, and rightfully so: Janis Joplin, the Runaways, Grace Slick, Heart, Stevie Nicks. But Bay Area psych/folk/hard rockers Fanny, made up of Filipina American and queer teenagers, have rarely received proper credit for their contributions to rock ’n’ roll. This is puzzling, since they were the first all-female rock band to release a major-label album and have a top 40 single, they released five major-label LPs, and they worked with and/or received accolades from David Bowie, John Lennon, George Harrison, Lowell George, Sly Stone and Bonnie Raitt. “I’ve been trying to figure out all these years what happened. We were so good, and we worked so hard, and we were on the road all the time. I think it’s because we were trying to do intelligent rock. Society was not ready to accept us on that level yet,” band co-founder June Millington recently , as she pondered Fanny’s bizarre erasure. Thankfully, the acclaimed documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock, which makes its PBS debut this week, is helping these trailblazers get the credit they have long deserved. And it only took a little more than 50 years. — Lyndsey Parker
Fanny: The Right to Rock airs Monday, May 22 at 10 p.m. on PBS.
WATCH IT: Season 1 of Ride comes to an end
It's all come down to this. The season-long saga of the McMurrays and their efforts to save their Colorado ranch concludes with an episode that finds son Cash (Beau Mirchoff) behind bars, when he's supposed to be on his way to the all-important National Cheyenne Rodeo. In this exclusive clip, Cash's mother Isabel (Nancy Travis) arrives to see him in the slammer, following his run-in with Tucker Clarke (Roger LeBlanc), and Cash discovers some upsetting news. — R.S.
The season finale of Ride airs Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark Channel.
STREAM IT: Journey back to our Prehistoric Planet on Apple TV+
Ankylosaurs, pachycephalosaurs and mosasaurs, oh my! The creatures that populated prehistoric Earth may be long gone, but they've been brought back to life through the magic of special effects on the Apple TV+ nature series Prehistoric Planet. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough and overseen by the prominent VFX company MPC, the five-episode second season ventures into prehistory's badlands and down to the depths of the deepest dark oceans. This exclusive clip from the show provides a crash course in all things mosasaurs. — E.A.
Prehistoric Planet Season 2 premieres Monday, May 22 on Apple TV+.
WATCH IT: Blake Shelton vacates his Voice chair
Original coach Blake Shelton is finally retiring from The Voice after 23 consecutive seasons, and he’s expected to go out on top on Tuesday’s finale. He’s the only coach with two contestants in the top five finals: rock ‘n’ soul powerhouse Savion “NOIVAS” Wright, and the likely champion, country singer Grace West. But regardless of this season’s outcome, before Shelton abdicates this hydraulic red throne (making way for his , fellow country superstar Reba McEntire), he will get a hero’s sendoff — with Tuesday’s finale featuring appearances by past coaches Camila Cabello, Miley Cyrus, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson, Nick Jonas, John Legend, Usher, Pharrell Williams, and even his original onscreen bromance buddy, Adam Levine, who quit the show much more abruptly and acrimoniously in 2019. — L.P.
The Voice Season 23 finale airs Tuesday, May 23 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
STREAM IT: Zooey Deschanel asks, What Am I Eating?
When HBO Max relaunches as simply Max, the former New Girl actress will be one of its stars, headlining this docuseries that follows her as she investigates what's truly in our food, despite the myths around it. Things like: What is the healthiest oil to cook with? Is bread really bad for us? (Please, please, no.) She seeks answers from people who manufacture and prepare our meals, meeting chefs in their restaurants to the people who cook and bake alongside them, as we've become used to seeing in the ever growing category of food shows. — R.S.
What Am I Eating? premieres Tuesday, May 23 on Max.
HEAR IT: Matchbox Twenty step back into the Light
After releasing records at a steady clip from 1995 to 2002 while frontman Rob Thomas juggled a concurrent career as a pop solo star, Matchbox Twenty slowed their pace, taking a decade off between their third and fourth albums. Now, after another recording hiatus — one that actually lasted 11 years! — they’re finally back with Where the Light Goes, and this fifth album will be highly relatable to the Gen X and millennial fans that grew up with the group. “This new record is filled with questions about mortality and questions about the difference between where you are and where you think you're supposed to be,” the now 51-year-old Thomas recently told Yahoo Entertainment, revealing that his new lyrics were inspired by the death of his mother, his “difficult” relationship with his father and his desire to be a stand-up husband and dad. “These are things that everybody deals with, and if you don't spend time thinking about them and really giving them a good, thorough investigation, then you're probably not doing it right.” — L.P.
Where the Light Goes by Matchbox Twenty is available Friday, May 26 to download/stream on .
STREAM IT: Sorority recruitment is the star of Bama Rush
"Greek life is everything at Alabama," notes one of the many blond young women in this highly anticipated trailer for the documentary about sorority rush at the University of Alabama, a cutthroat venture that has hopefuls jumping through all sorts of hoops to conform to sorority ideals. The process here, apparently like none anywhere else, became a viral phenomenon thanks to TikTok's #RushTok, and judges the girls on everything from hotness (as determined by the University of Alabama fraternities) and style to social media and, apparently, race. And, promises one of the documentary's participants, "It's way more dramatic than you're thinking it is." Perfect. — Beth Greenfield
Bama Rush premieres Tuesday, May 23 on Max.
STREAM IT: Gizmo gets animated in the Gremlins prequel, Secrets of the Mogwai
Three decades after Gremlins 2: The New Batch, we finally get a fresh batch of new adventures starring that cuddly midnight-snack avoidant Mogwai named Gizmo. The animated series, Secrets of the Mogwai, turns back the clock to before Joe Dante's two live action movies and depicts the backstory for how Gizmo came to end up in that Mr. Wing's curiosity shop in the first place. Gremlins star Zach Galligan is also returning to the fold as a yet-to-be specified character. Maybe he'll be voicing a Gremlin for once? — E.A.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai premieres Tuesday, May 23 on Max.
HEAR IT: Sparks are still flying on their 25th album
Art-pop sibling duo Sparks always had a fanatical underground following. But in 2021, when one of their biggest fans, director Edgar Wright, took it upon himself to create the 140-minute, labor-of-love documentary The Sparks Brothers — which starred other high-profile Sparks superfans like Jack Antonoff, Beck, Björk, Depeche Mode/Yazoo/Erasure founder Vince Clarke, Duran Duran, Flea, the Sex Pistols’s Steve Jones, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, and even Neil Gaiman — Ron and Russell Mael experienced once the greatest late-in-life career resurgences in rock history. That same year brought another Sparks silver-screen tour de force, when the Maels collaborated with Leos Carax on the music and story for the Adam Driver/Marion Cotillard film Annette. Now Sparks are back with, incredibly, their 25th album, The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte. The music video for the LP’s title track is another cinematic affair of sorts, as it stars another famous fan, Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett. — L.P.
The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte by Sparks is available Friday, May 26 to download/stream on .
WATCH IT: PBS's National Memorial Day Concert returns to the U.S. Capitol
Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise join forces again to host the 34th edition of the National Memorial Day Concert, organized annually by Capital Concerts and broadcast on PBS direct from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. This year's event features musical performances from Trace Adkins, Jo Dee Messina and Yolonda Adams, while John Slattery and Mary McCormack emcee a 50th anniversary tribute to the return of Vietnam War POWs and Megan Hilty leads a World War II remembrance. — E.A.
The National Memorial Day Concert airs Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m. on PBS.