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Culture » Arts & Entertainment

True TV: All-American TV to Stream

Celebrate 'Merica with TV shows of questionable patriotic value.


  • Warner Bros. Television
  • American Woman

Last year, around the Fourth of July, I assembled a random group of movies based on a search of the term "American." That made a decent column—I got paid, after all—so this year I tried it with TV shows. I didn't get many ultra-patriotic hits, because TV producers will just slap "American" on anything with no concern for accuracy (shocking, I know). Here's what the Al Gore Rhythm gave me.

American Woman (2018; Paramount+): When Paramount Network came to be in 2018, the suits didn't know that all they had to do was run Yellowstone and Bar Rescue 24/7 and not bother spending money on "premium TV" content like American Woman. Still, the story of a just-divorced housewife (Alicia Silverstone) struggling to find her way in 1975 Los Angeles is an entertaining watch. The '70s aesthetic is spot-on, and American Woman serves up a tasty fondue of second-wave feminism and suburban sleaze.

American Gigolo (2022; Prime Video): Showtime's update of the 1980 Richard Gere movie American Gigolo couldn't find a plot as an eight-episode series, but Jon Bernthal gave it his all. Julian Kaye (Bernthal) is fresh out of prison after a 15-year stint for—you guessed it—a murder he didn't commit. As he looks for the real killer, he also attempts to reconcile with his suspicious ex (Gretchen Mol) and get back into the sex worker game. None of it pans out, but at least we get a remix of Blondie's "Call Me."

American Housewife (2016–2021; Hulu): The sitcom was originally titled The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport, and ABC will never be forgiven for watering it down to American Housewife. Headlined by the comic dream team of Katy Mixon and Diedrich Bader, American Housewife is a standard-issue family comedy juiced with smart writing and a sprawling guest cast of killers (including, at various points, Ali Wong, Leslie Bibb and even Drew Carey). Over five seasons and 103 episodes, the duds are few.

American Gods (2017–2021; Prime Video): The TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods novel started well enough, with a splashy first season that convinced skeptics that maybe it could be done. The series introduces Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), an ex-con who accepts a right-hand-man job from Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), a sketchy character who also happens to be the god Odin. There's also the matter of Shadow's dead wife, Laura (Emily Browning), who's alive but still quite dead. Just go with it.

American Auto (2021–2023; Peacock): Back when NBC could actually produce a decent comedy that's not a Night Court retread, American Auto was one of the network's most promising new vehicles. It was created by Justin Spitzer (Superstore) and starred Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live) and Harriet Dyer (Colin From Accounts), but it only lasted two seasons. Admittedly, a car company was a harder sell for a workplace comedy than the chain big-box of Superstore, but American Auto was still funny as hell.

American Dad! (2005–present; Hulu): American Dad! is a far superior show to its predecessor, Family Guy—have at it, Redditors. They have Seth MacFarlane in common, but the surrealistic twists of American Dad! are as consistently surprising as Family Guy's are tedious. Also, the characters are better: Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane) is Sean Hannity with a smaller head, alien Roger (MacFarlane again) is reliable comedy gold and Francine (Wendy Schaal) is animation's sexiest mom ... did I make it weird?

American Crime Story (2016–present; Hulu): The lesser-known anthology cousin of American Horror Story, has produced three excellent seasons staying mostly under the radar. The first two sizzled, but they can't compete with season 3, Impeachment. The installment about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal of the '90s is all about the casting: Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Cobie Smulders as Ann Coulter and Billy Eichner as Matt Drudge. Perfect.