Through most of TV history, Friday nights were a deadzone. Networks never scheduled anything with much buzz when people were, presumably, getting ready for the weekend, watching movies, and not discussing TV at the watercooler the next day. But streaming changed all of that, and viewing habits shifted. Netflix started the trend of dropping full seasons to binge on Fridays for weekend viewing, but Disney+ tweaked it: Friday is still a marquee day, but for single episodes rather than seasons. Beginning with The Mandalorian and coasting through the start of 2021 with WandaVision, the streaming platform reinvigorated Friday appointment television, delivering—rather than a binge—a weekly morsel of (presumed) delight. Following suit, the most recent trailer for MCU series Loki suggests we will have new Friday episodes of blockbuster TV shows through June.
But at the moment, Disney+ is struggling a little to catch viewers’ full attention with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a slower, almost too-dark Marvel TV series that’s currently in that hyped Friday slot. Fortunately, Amazon Prime (whose own release schedule has been all over the map) has picked up the slack with Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s fantastic animated hero show full of dry humor, thrilling violence, and jaw-dropping twists. If you’re not watching Invincible weekly on Fridays, you should start. Here are three reasons it’s winning the weekend TV war:
Invincible follows the father-son duo of Nolan Grayson/Omni Man (J.K. Simmons) and his son, Mark (Steven Yeun). A dorky high schooler, Mark stumbles his way through his own superpowers, dating, and a flawed relationship with his father. But while Mark and Omni Man are the heart of Invincible, a hearty ensemble accompanies at the wings: there are two crews of other superhuman-esque folks to follow, along with rowdy high schoolers who come of age with Mark.
Whereas two side characters are lazily spun into main characters in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, everyone feels like a protagonist in Invincible. Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), a teen girl with the ability to change the molecular composition of any item, rides in the back seat for the majority of Invincible—and yet, she always feels worthy of attention when she’s on-screen. She’s not even the love interest of the series (yet—this could change), but each scene spent developing her minor arc captivates just as much as the leads of the show do.
After its initial three episode drop, a weekly episode structure has really benefited this show, just as it did WandaVision. The same has not been true for fellow Friday Super Series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are so many reveals that make Invincible exciting to look forward to weekly. But the darkness that surrounds The Falcon and the Winter Soldier makes it drag, too slow to carry even a mere six weeks of discussion. So, if you’re looking for something to sprout new conversations and discourse on the weekly, Invincible takes the cake.
It’s true, the fight scenes in both series are great. One major positive of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that its two titular characters are born and bred for soaring, action-packed battle scenes. When those scenes end, though, there’s not enough meat to the story to keep the series afloat. Invincible boasts the same caliber of fight sequences and adventurous storylines, but never expects to carry itself on these scenes alone. Here is a show that cares about developing the story behind its lead, unfurling new endearing aspects of its protagonist every week. Yes, the fight scenes are the meaty core of both Invincible and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they’re what you tune in weekly to watch—but there’s some actual spice, more that lingers in the palate with Invincible. Plus, a real shocker of a twist arrives at the end of the first episode, one that is sure to keep you intrigued throughout.
None of this is to say diehard MCU fans should stop watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Like all MCU productions, even when it’s not at its best it’s still just fine. But if you’re looking for a show to replace the heart-pounding, WandaVision-shaped hole in your Friday watching habits, Invincible has swooped in to save the day. It’s light, but also serious when it needs to be. And, perhaps the most appealing part, it features a cast list chock-full of familiar voices and star performers (including many from Kirkman’s juggernaut show, The Walking Dead).
If you haven’t started yet, you’ve got a quick four episodes to catch up and you’re part of the crew. After that, embrace the weekly release schedule. Nothing screams TGIF like a bevy of cussing superheroes, bubblegum pink martians, and heart-wrenching plot twists.
The first four episodes of Invincible are available to stream on Amazon Prime, with new episodes premiering weekly on Fridays.
Fletcher Peters is a New York-based journalist whose writing has appeared in Decider, Jezebel, and Film School Rejects, among other spots. You can follow her on Twitter @fietcherpeters gossiping about rom-coms, TV, and the latest celebrity drama.
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