With its noirish murder mystery miniseries The Night Of, HBO has introduced yet another innovation bound to alter people’s TV-watching habits. The show officially premiered on Sunday, July 10, but the cable network made the first episode (of eight) available to subscribers through HBO On Demand and its online HBOGO service more than two weeks earlier.

In her 1991 autobiography Ginger: My Story, Ginger Rogers didn’t mince words: “It was tough being a woman in the theatrical business in those days…women were not allowed in the production department or in the directorial field. We had script girls, dress fitters, costume designers, and stand-ins, but no women were on the cameras or operating the sound boom, or, indeed, working on any of the sound equipment. There were no women set designers, nor were females allowed to act as assistant directors or directors.” In 1982, a comic strip summed up Hollywood sexism in one memorable phrase: “Sure [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards…and in high heels!”

It’s hard to say exactly what the title of Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series is meant to signify. It could be Bamford’s manic depression—her sense that, at any moment, everything in her life could explode. It could be her fear, common among introverts, that if she doesn’t please everyone around her, her fragile relationships might come crashing down like a demolished building. Or it could be the fact that Bamford, who has toiled in C-list obscurity for years, is finally, at long last, blowing up.

When Alex Haley set out to write Roots, he spent seven years searching for the name of the ship that brought his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, from Gambia to Annapolis in the 1760s. He traveled to Africa and met with griots—oral storytellers trained to recite the history of their village—who recounted detailed genealogies of the previous two centuries. Corroborating these accounts with British military logs, Haley was able to narrow Kunta’s abduction to 1767, and the ship to the Lord Ligonier, bound for Annapolis in July of that year. It is here that Roots begins.

Satire has long provided relief from the turbulent waters of politics (at least in countries where satire is legal). This is why The Onion has dominated print humor for almost three decades, and why Jon Stewart achieved so much success during those eight long years of President George W. Bush. On HBO’s Veep, Selina Meyer serves as an especially welcome ambassador of this brand of comedy, now that Stewart is in New Jersey rescuing dogs, and the American presidential election fills newsfeeds with satire-ready fodder on the daily.