When Hulu’s “Maggie” dropped their whole season in July, I binged the whole thing.
Like many viewers, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the 13-episode comedy about the titular psychic (Rebecca Rittenhouse) who can see everyone’s future but her own — until she does a reading for Ben (David Del Rio) and sees the two of them getting married. A foretold happily ever after that seems too good to be true quickly unravels, throwing Ben and his girlfriend (Chloe Bridges) into the lives of Maggie and her parents (a superb Kerri Kenney-Silver and Chris Elliot). Less “That’s So Raven” and more “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” the premise is simple, silly, and sweet. The love interest is suitably charming, and the friends surrounding Maggie sufficiently quirky and endearing to keep me invested for hours on end. “Maggie” won’t be on my personal best of 2022 lists, nor will it go down in the annals of televisions for changing the game — but it’s one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences I’ve had recently and a show I’ll recommend widely.
Easy viewing like “Maggie” is not a new phenomenon, but continues to be a relief when TV is abundant, nihilistic, and cutting edge. The most-lauded comedies of our day are laced with existential dread; the most-viewed dramas an ode to violence and gore. As someone who spends my workdays unpacking the emotional motivation behind every battle move in “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” I can’t put a price on what it means to have a show I can turn on to tune out and unwind after a day of devastating news, overwhelming heat, or anything else.
“Maggie” compares easily to “How I Met Your Mother,” another comedy that had what every imitator since “Friends” has hoped for: the right group. It’s notably what Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father” couldn’t quite recreate, throwing characters together in the pilot and then never quite accounting for why these strangers are schlepping across New York City to hang out. The main characters on “Maggie” are certainly a motley crew — Maggie, her best friend Louise (an excellent Nicole Sakura), her parents, Ben and his girlfriend, Ben’s sister (Angelique Cabral) and her fiancé (Leonardo Nam) — but circumstance throws them together just believably and serendipitously enough in a duplex that Maggie’s parents own. So many shows about adult friendships don’t reckon with how difficult it is to form meaningful connections as one gets older and how often convenience factors into it, but “Maggie” makes the argument implicitly.
“Maggie” is not “Grand Crew” or “What We Do in the Shadows” — shows punching at the top of their weight class when it comes to cast chemistry or finding humor in the supernatural — but its central characters are easy and enjoyable companions for passing time. Its attractive white female lead is not the cloyingly oblivious Emily of Paris or the self-absorbed grenade steering Flight Attendant. She’s grounded, a little unsure of herself, and feels like an outsider. Her best friends are a vivacious former nerd and a psychic mentor with more charisma than most casts combined (Ray Ford). They find themselves less in outlandish sitcom shenanigans than muted dinner parties and work-related stress. Despite the clairvoyant premise, the show feels grounded and lived in, inviting viewers to join Maggie’s inner circle and experience day-to-day life with her gift.
“Maggie” also hit a rare sweet spot with its release, tucked into the dead of summer while surrounded by behemoths like “Stranger Things,” or mindbending gems like “Moonhaven.” The episodes are just over 20 minutes to account for commercials (the show was originally developed for ABC), offering built-in breaks and breezy runtimes that modern TV viewers simply aren’t used to anymore. The season is also 13 episodes — not the stilted eight or 10 that has even the best shows leaving you wanting, or the bloated 20 and above that networks still carry week-to-week. “Maggie” would not work as an episodic release, or even a full-season drop if episodes were longer or higher in number, with plenty more opportunities for viewers to drop off and never return. In the streaming era, a show’s release can make or break it; there’s skill if not science to plotting the right release format, and “Maggie” nailed every aspect of its premiere.
There is, as always, far too much TV; an embarrassment of riches when it comes to channels and streamers, cerebral dramas and whip-smart comedies. And luckily, to go along with all that, there are shows like “Maggie” that carry you along on a cushy ride and provide a pocket of cheer and solace. Its dreamy aesthetic recalls “Younger” and “The Bold Type” — two prime examples of airy comfort viewing packed with memorable fashion, cute apartments, and likable characters. Other than an obligatory storyline about online dating, the show doesn’t go out of its way to prove it’s tech-savvy and up-to-date, evoking classic sitcom nostalgia in these moments. “Maggie” might be a drop in the ocean of shows aimed at 20- and 30-somethings figuring life out in this era, but its tone and timing combine give it a winning edge in a sweltering summer TV lineup. It’s like they can see the future.
“Maggie” is available on Hulu.