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A New Class of Hard-Ass Heroes

Dec 19, 2016

For 11 seasons on the FXX series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Kaitlin Olson has brought a loopy, dark mania to each of her drunken rants as sociopathic aspiring comedian Dee Reynolds. Now she's coming to network TV as the least likely of saviors.

On Fox's The Mick (debuting Jan. 1), Olson plays Mackenzie Murphy, a woman whose own alcohol-fueled thrill ride of a life doesn't exempt her from having to clean up her sister's messes. She ends up playing mom to her wealthy nephews and niece--taking up residence in their Greenwich, Conn., manse--after Sis flees federal charges. It's a fish-out-of-water story in which Olson flops about with fearless élan, scared only of her own propensity to actually be good at this.

Elsewhere, FX mixes up the superhero template with Legion (Feb. 8), in which Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens plays an institutionalized mental patient slowly discovering that what he long thought was illness may actually be a very special set of gifts. It all ties into Marvel's X-Men universe, where differences represent strength.

But comics are hardly the only place where divergent skill sets come in handy. Nicole Kidman (below), Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley band together in HBO's Big Little Lies (Feb. 19), an adaptation of Liane Moriarty's hit novel about a group of suburban mothers who resist a world determined to break them. To that subset of viewers interested in seasoned female actors assaying morally complex characters: this is your Avengers.

--D.D.

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