1. Watch Mom
A new network sitcom that’s actually good!
Mom, about a recovering alcoholic single mother (Anna Faris) and her mother (Allison Janney), is the latest project from Chuck Lorre, who inflicted upon the world a little show called Two and a Half Men. It’s pitched at about the same comic temperature—medium-wacky, with a biting undertone and a willingness to go for really obvious jokes—yet the absence of swagger makes it play as more humane. I don’t want to oversell this show, but there’s potential here. —Matt Zoller Seitz
CBS, Mondays, 9:30 p.m.
2. See Arguendo
Elevator Repair Service speeds up.
Known recently for their marathon great-lit adaptations—Gatz, The Select (The Sun Also Rises)—Elevator Repair Service doffs its briefs in Arguendo, a lightning-quick, 80-minute, astonishingly creative staging of Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. For non-SCOTUS groupies, that’s the 1991 case in which the Supremes decided that strip-club nudity doesn’t constitute free speech. —Scott Brown
Public Theater, through October 13.
3. See The World of Jacques Demy
A universe under his umbrella.
You can get to know the oddest ball of the New Wave at Film Forum’s comprehensive Demy retrospective, featuring all of the director’s features, plus shorts, plus three films by Demy’s wife, Agnès Varda, plus a restored The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The rarity: Demy’s 1982 Nantes-based “tragic opera” Une Chambre en Ville, in which Dominique Sanda, Danielle Darrieux, and Michel Piccoli sing against “a background of street scenes of labor unrest.” —David Edelstein
Film Forum, October 4 through 17.
4. See You Are My Sunshine
A growing scene.
If you want to see how alive Bushwick is these days, start with this large group show, wedged into a teeny space full of artists doing strange things with plants. Being a serial plant killer, I swooned for things growing on walls, paintings, bricks, junks, and planters. Trees, shrubs, cacti of all kinds, and blooming bushes confirm that something important is in the offing here. Bring it! —Jerry Saltz
Associated Gallery, 566 Johnson Ave., Bushwick; details at associatedgallery.tumblr.com.
5. Hear Fountains of Wayne, Soul Asylum, and Evan Dando
One plus two.
No offense intended, but what are Fountains of Wayne doing on this bill? Soul Asylum and Evan Dando are graying alt-rockers, offering the kind of queasy nineties-nostalgia trip best taken elsewhere—like, by renting Singles and kicking back with a six-pack of Zima. Fountains, on the other hand, are among the great pop bands of the past fifteen years, an indelibly witty and tuneful chronicler of bridge-and-tunnel folkways. In a just world, they’d be headlining the Garden—or at least the Nassau Coliseum.—Jody Rosen
Webster Hall, October 5.
6. See Olivo Barbieri’s Alps—Geographies and People
Barbieri’s show (opening Yancey Richardsons new space) turns Alpine summits into near abstractions, some with fantastic textures that evoke what you’d see through a microscope. Their formal qualities are so arresting that you’ll almost forget the practical questions: Where did he put his camera to make these pictures, and how on Earth did he get there?
Yancey Richardson Gallery, 525 W. 22nd St., through November 2.
7.–12. Read The Man Booker Prize Short List
Our critic ranks the six titles, in order.
Need something to read? How about six somethings? You’ve got two weeks before the short list for the Man Booker Prize turns into the very, very short list. If you’re pressed for time, I suggest you approach them in this order: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, Jim Crace’s Harvest, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, and Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary. Get cracking. —Kathryn Schulz
Award will be presented October 15.
13. See Valentine Road
It’s screening for just one week in New York.
So much injustice … so many rage-inducing documentaries … Perhaps it will help to see Marta Cunningham’s delicately structured yet devastating documentary Valentine Road with a large, vocal theater audience. (It will be shown on HBO starting October 7.) It’s the story of an effeminate Oxnard eighth-grader shot twice in the back of the head by a macho classmate—and the community’s sympathy for the devil. America—hell yeah. —D.E.
Quad Cinema, October 4 through 11.
14. Watch Bear Stearns Bravo
As @horse_ebooks gallops off into the sunset.
For four years, the Twitter account @horse_ebooks has been accumulating followers based on its aphoristic, presumably robot-produced, borderline-gibberish, weirdly entertaining feed. Last week, the proprietor revealed himself to be not only a human being but an artist, as did the owner of the similarly daft YouTube channel called Pronunciation Book. Last week, at the Lower East Side’s Fitzroy Gallery, the two mystery figures launched a conceptual-art project; a very strange video version of it is up at bearstearnsbravo.com. And it turns out one of the guys has been working at BuzzFeed all along.