“If you could gaze into the future, you might think life would be a breeze… but it’s not that easy.” We learned that from the original millennial television psychic Raven Baxter, but that sentiment may as well have come from the star of new Hulu series Maggie (whose high school classmates used to call her “That’s So Not Raven”).
Despite what the bullies said, Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse) has a lot in common with her Disney Channel predecessor. A longtime psychic, she gets flashes of the future out of context and tries her best to understand them–but more often than not she interprets her visions wrong, which leads to, you guessed it, comic and/or dramatic results.
out of the gate, maggie could set some better ground rules about the titular psychic’s abilities. Not everything magical needs to be explained and defined, but this is a show hanging its hat on the tagline “She can predict the future, just not her own.” So we were thrown when we discovered that Maggie actually sees her own future pretty frequently. Sometimes she accepts it without question; other times it baffles her enough to ask a search engine, “Can psychics predict their own future?” For someone who has been getting visions for two decades, she’s remarkably insecure about the whole thing.
Another nitpick: It’s not immediately clear if this is a world where psychic abilities are normal or not, because everyone in Maggie’s life, even brand-new acquaintances, are completely on board with her powers. (They’re just an unusually open minded group of friends, it turns out—the concept of doubt is eventually introduced in the fifth episode.)
While the show takes a bit to find its psychic footing, it has its sitcom formula down. Maggie has a goofy, checked-out dad (Chris Elliott), a wacky, hands-on mom (Kerri Kenney), and a wise mentor in Angel (Ray Ford). (A recurring bit in which Angel is eating a comically large quantity of food, often to digestive distress, is hilariously dropped throughout the first half of the season and then randomly stops.) superstore‘s Nichole Sakura, as Maggie’s kooky bestie Louise, is as reliable as ever for her stellar joke delivery. David Del Rio is also well cast as Maggie’s charming would-be love interest Ben, and their chemistry is fun to watch when they’re not falling into overly familiar love triangle tropes.
After years of turning into solid TV performances (on Red Band Society, The Mindy Projectand Four Weddings And A Funeral), Rittenhouse is worthy of her own starring vehicle. And even during Maggie’s most frustrating or outrageous moments, the actor makes the character feel likable and real. Maggie makes some real leaps of logic in her interpretations of the future, but it’s somehow easy to follow them in Rittenhouse’s hands.
As the episodes progress, the series becomes more comfortable and confident. The cast finds a great groove, so much so that we even believe that a couple would invite their brother’s landlords to their wedding. It’s often sweet, frequently quite funny, and occasionally has something interesting to say about how always looking to the future will have real consequences in the present. There’s enough here, in other words, to keep us excited about the future of maggie.