With the coronavirus closing restaurants, eating out has become a vicarious pleasure. But at least we have American-Korean chef David Chang to step into the breach. Series two of Chang’s documentary Ugly Delicious , now showing in four Netflix instalments, remains true to its original inquisitiveness about food and its origins while benefiting from an increased travel budget (Tokyo-Mumbai-Sydney-Los Angeles). Guests Padma Lakshmi, Nick Kroll and Aziz Ansari are among those doling out dollops of wisdom and humour. Admittedly, the intricacies of guac sev puri might not be of interest if all you want are rudimentary recipes and shots of sizzling meat, but those with spare neurons to rub together should welcome an expansive agenda that also touches on veganism and compassionate farming. The key to this approach is Chang himself. Once considered a contrarian, impending fatherhood turns him into an open, understanding host – one who even admits, “I don’t know what the f*** is what,” as he confesses his ignorance of Indian cuisine. Humility suits him. HBO’s The Plot Against America imagines an alternative US history In 2016, incredulity was the reaction in literary circles and beyond. In his “alternative history”, The Plot Against America (2004), novelist Philip Roth imagined how a xenophobic, populist United States president would rouse the rabble against a scapegoat minority and cosy up to totalitarian powers. In the book, those powers are 1940s Germany and Japan, the fictitious president none other than Charles Lindbergh, aviation pioneer, all-American hero and Nazi sympathiser. Propelled by the America First organisation, Roth’s Lindbergh graduates to full-blown persecution of Jews. The real America First Committee was indeed pro-fascist, anti-Semitic and all for keeping the US out of the second world war. And yes, Lindbergh was a Hitler favourite. Now look where we are, post-2016’s presidential election, says David Simon, co-creator of the novel’s first adaptation (Tuesdays at 9am on HBO Go and HBO, repeated at 10pm on HBO). We might be in mid-20th century New Jersey on screen, but the terrors experienced by a persecuted minority are all too contemporary. At least Lindbergh’s followers, however misguided, are shown to be manipulated by a genuine hero, one who has distinguished himself through an act of prodigious courage. Prominent among them in Simon’s cast are Winona Ryder as Evelyn Finkel, whose doubts about “Lucky Lindy” are demolished by collaborationist rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf, played with supreme slipperiness by John Turturro. Nevertheless, the creeping sense of alarm, rising to mortal fear, felt (in today’s parlance) by the “others” is almost palpable, as is the anger that galvanises them to fight back. Simon is undoubtedly rebutting the tattered adage that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. “It’s like Hitler – everyone thinking he doesn’t mean what he says,” spits an enraged Herman Levin (Morgan Spector), listening to an inflammatory Lindbergh. Even more timely is his observation: “There’s a lot of hate out there; and he knows how to tap into it.” Meanwhile, the “America Firsters” declare: “We have taken back America!” Sound familiar? Roth’s fictionalised history has become a searing, six-part tragedy and is no longer a “what-if?” story. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.