Though it clocks in at just a heartbreakingly small 20 episodes, AMC’s “Lodge 49” might be one of the most life-affirming television series ever made. The characters seem like real people with real problems. The cast is free of distractingly famous TV stars; nominal lead Wyatt Russell might be the closest thing to a celebrity, mostly by virtue of being Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s son. The cast is diverse in race and age, and the characters are broke, aimless, and stressed in ways that are relatable without being depressing.
Besides being a Thomas Pynchon reference (per The New Yorker), the title refers to a fictional, somewhat mystical ancient order in the manner of the Masons, but it’s really just a device to meet these beautiful, complicated people as they hang out, go on foolish quests, and spend their idle time at bars and strip malls, living one day after the other in hopeful confusion. They seek gold (and even Bitcoin) and deal with banks and creditors, but the real value is the friends they make along the way, and the show manages to be a thousand times as earnest as that cliché without even being remotely cheesy. On top of all that, “Lodge 49” is beautifully shot in sun-dappled Southern California, and has one of the most eclectic and unique soundtracks of surf-rock and psychedelia you’ll ever hear. It’s the epitome of a feel-good watch if there ever were one.