The Right Stuff: Season 1 (2020)

Season 1
The Right Stuff

Critics Consensus

The Right Stuff contains some grace notes in its depiction of America's first slate of astronauts, but this tired retread of Tom Wolfe's famed book mostly makes the wrong moves in revitalizing space race history for the modern era.



Critic Ratings: 30


Audience Score

User Ratings: 56

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Air date: Oct 9, 2020

Upon its debut, the new government agency NASA selects its team of test pilots to serve as America's first astronauts.

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Air date: Oct 9, 2020

The team grows more aware of their celebrity status and the drawbacks to being in the public eye.

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Air date: Oct 16, 2020

Al struggles to control his vertigo as tension between the astronauts continues to escalate.

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Air date: Oct 23, 2020

The public begins to doubt the need for NASA following a failed launch attempt.

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Air date: Oct 30, 2020

A moment of carelessness leads to disagreement that could decide who is chosen to go first.

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Air date: Nov 6, 2020

The flight order is released and public attention is more intense than ever. NASA tries to keep the Mercury Project afloat while different issues threaten its existence.

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Air date: Nov 13, 2020

The night before the flight, Louise discovers that Shepard has been having an affair in Tijuana. Trudy observes Gordo make a joke about women in space on television. Glenn awaits the moment the world discovers he won't be the first man. Shepard and Glenn are pushed together after a series of weather delays, marriage problems, and interested reporters.

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Air date: Nov 20, 2020

Shepard feels disillusioned and on-edge after an awe-inspiring flight to space. Taking Glenn's advice to heart, Shepard tries to direct his ambition into gratitude for his family. Gordo and Trudy suffer relationship problems. Glenn is eager to beat out Shepard after JFK issues a challenge for NASA to send a man to the moon.

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The Right Stuff: Season 1 Videos

Tv Season Info

Cast & Crew

Jake McDorman
Alan Shepard
Nora Zehetner
Annie Glenn
Patrick Fischler
Bob Gilruth
Michael Trotter
Gus Grissom
Colin O'Donoghue
Gordon Cooper
Shannon Lucio
Louise Shepard
Eloise Mumford
Trudy Cooper
Eric Ladin
Chris Kraft
Micah Stock
Deke Slayton
Aaron Staton
Wally Schirra
James Lafferty
Scott Carpenter
Danny Strong
John "Shorty" Powers
Josh Cooke
Loudon Wainwright Jr.
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News & Interviews for The Right Stuff: Season 1

Critic Reviews for The Right Stuff Season 1

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (11)

These men deserve better than to be rendered as faceless characters living in the world of a run-of-the-mill TV drama.

Oct 12, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The astronauts have little grain or complexity, beyond one or two single traits; they're network-deep portrayals -- at least those who register.

Oct 9, 2020 | Full Review…

The Right Stuff is unexpectedly thought-provoking in its consideration of what America wants out of its heroes.

Oct 7, 2020 | Full Review…

This is Nat Geo's first original scripted series for Disney+ and it's a successful launch, pardon the pun...

Oct 9, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The Right Stuff is inoffensively bland.

Nov 17, 2020 | Full Review…

The Right Stuff glorifies is our ability to overcome, excel and achieve not because things are easy but because they are hard.

Oct 21, 2020 | Full Review…

Insightful viewers can enjoy this limited series, but as a general piece of Disney entertainment it's also a fun and exciting adventure.

Oct 15, 2020 | Full Review…

This series plays like a quickly-written nostalgia trip and nothing more.

Oct 14, 2020 | Full Review…

If you appreciate strong writing, acting, and cinematography, even in familiar settings, you'll likely enjoy the show.

Oct 12, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It looks great and the performances are strong, but it offers very little that's new to the overcrowded TV landscape.

Oct 12, 2020 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

The Right Stuff is, by far, the best traditional drama on the streamer to date, but is this the right stuff for the future of Disney+? Not necessarily.

Oct 12, 2020 | Full Review…

The premiere proves that casting is key, and the talented group fit beautifully into their respective roles and offer a worthwhile peek inside the lives of these history-making Americans.

Oct 9, 2020 | Rating: 4.25/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Right Stuff: Season 1

  • 3d ago
    Are actori si cam atat
  • 3d ago
    Imperfect, but watchable. The material is worth exploring, and the story of the Mercury 7 never gets dull. But the writing was humorless and lacked a sharp focus. As other critics have suggested, it seems as though the writers didn't appreciate author Tom Wolfe's humorous and insightful take on the early days of the space program. Wolfe brought genuine wisdom and real affection to the story; the show seems merely serviceable. That said, the rocky relationship between Gordo and Trudy Cooper nicely foreshadows the rising tide of feminism, and the season finale includes a bittersweet, yet hopeful moment when Trudy takes to the skies with her daughter in a small tailwheel airplane.
  • 4d ago
    LOVE! Good, quality, wholesome content we need more of to highlight the great and trying moments in our history.
  • 4d ago
    This series is a melodramatic soap opera that just happens to be set within the Mercury program. As other reviewers have noted, this incarnation of Tom Wolfe's astro-epic is more Peyton Place than dramatic adventure series. It started out "meh" and then just kept doubling down with each successive episode. Any science or space nerd will naturally feel compelled to watch, but don't expect complex characters, dramatic tension (save the astronaut-hubby v. left-on-the-ground wife argument scenes, which were too many to count), or any fresh info or insights into the Mercury program. The majority of the main characters are one-dimensional, entirely uninteresting, & always fail to surprise with their words or actions. The female astronaut subplot is based on historical fact, but it's just shoehorned into this series to accentuate the marital tension between one astro & his wife. Jamming this storyline in here just muddles up the main plot line, does a disservice to its actual history (which is fascinating and very complicated), and needlessly imposes a cloak of victimhood on the wives of the Mercury astronauts which I'm not sure they'd appreciate. Finally, the name of the series almost feels like an act of Grand Theft Title as the story bears only a minimal resemblance to either Wolfe's classic book or Kaufman's equally superb film.
  • Nov 17, 2020
    This was just a week after week of personal drama series. I didn't expect it to be an all the time space hardware, USSR competition series (Although I was hoping) but there are times I forget what the story was supposed to be about. If they did a 20% drama mixed in with the technology side it would have been good. But 90%+ just kills it. I guess with Disney owning Nat Geo now, the budget was cut down or the space side was too techie for their tastes. Good actors, flawed story line,
  • Nov 17, 2020
    Very well done. It's like you're back during the space race. Better than most things on TV for sure. Not sure what the critics were thinking but this is well worth watching
  • Nov 14, 2020
    So far seven of the eight episodes of this mini series have been released, and it feels like Disney+'s biggest misfire to date. Honestly this whole endeavor should have been scrubbed before it got off the pad. It feels like the show was pitched as "Mad Men IN SPACE" to the network executives, but the writers failed to realize that such a premise misses the original premise of the original The Right Stuff (1983) and the book both stories are based on. The show's strongest point is its actors, they can make the thread bare material manage to feel dramatic due to their performances despite the thin writing. Even then, its clear the direction of the show is struggling to handle an ensemble cast of seven astronauts and all their spouses, as such the focus narrows to just Alan Shepard and John Glenn and their rivalry. The biggest misfire though, is this rivalry happens all on the ground. You'd think a show all about test pilots turned astronauts would be about you know, flying. Instead the only main cast member to ever sit down in a cockpit once in the entire first 7 episodes is Gordon Cooper, in what feels like an odd decision as his plot is pushed into the d-plot of this series. It means the two main leads Alan and John have yet to have a single moment in the cockpit in the air. It makes it really hard for us the audience to see "The Right Stuff" for what it is when none of the pilots are actually flying. Instead the show wants to focus on the astronauts personality clashes, their relationship with their spouses, and their affairs. There is a lot of horniness and PG-sex for a Disney show, it almost feels like this story was intended for a service like HBO before Disney/NatGeo got a hold of it and toned back the sexiness; while still keeping enough of it that it ends up as an awkward plot element. Its clear the series makers wanted to show the misogynistic vices of the Mercury Seven and how their newfound fame affected the wives they left at home, but its heavy handed and almost farcical in its presentation. It feels like a bad parody of the complicated relationship between Neil Armstrong and Janet Armstrong in 2018's First Man (First Man also managed to fit four flights in its 2 hour 21 minute run time, which is about four times more flights than Disney+'s right stuff has yet to manage...) I can almost see the awkward romances as some replacement for the a strained VFX budget and the lack of actual flight scenes. The show constantly tries to offer this sort of critique on 1960's America beyond sexism, also facing other aspects like pointing out the former Nazi scientists in the space program or bringing up the Bay of Pigs invasion. But, the show fails a basic storytelling principle of "show don't tell." We get told VanBraun is a former Nazi, but instead we just see him stumbling around drunk in a Santa outfit. We are told how shocking Yuri Gagarin's space flight was to the American program, but we do not get to see any action on the Soviet side showing how they managed to get Yuri in space first. The women of the "Mercury 13" group are treated as a sideshow d-plot tenuously linked to Trudy Olson Cooper. Its like the showrunners think they have something profound to say about Cold War America, but they can't actually articulate it; other than a few awkwardly placed monologues from flight control about "how important we are doing this stuff to fight for freedom our way of life and like um... all that." Its heavy handed at worst, and just confused storytelling at best. As for the two leads, despite their actor's best efforts both Alan and John come off as very clumsy character building. The show seems to want us to root for Alan as a sort of alpha-male hero, he gets the girls, has the attitude of a pilot, and constantly puffs up his ego; but the result is Alan comes across as slovenly and selfish. Meanwhile John is treated as the goody two shoes Bible School boy who obviously is not flying the first space flight like Alan because he "lacks the Right Stuff," but since this show doesn't seem to understand what "the Right Stuff" actually is John comes across as the earnest hero who seems to sometimes magically break the fourth wall, seeing the audience suffer with him then try and mold the show into something a little bit more barrable. Maybe the show does intend for Alan to be the antagonist and John the hero, but I can't really decide if that was the intent or not since the show itself is constantly throwing mixed messages about what it wants to be. The show can't seem to explain why Alan was chosen for the first flight, and doesn't really bother to beyond a few lines of dialogue were Alan strokes his own ego. Again the two actors are making the two lead characters better than they have any right to be, but the story direction is so thin it turns them into the worst tropes possible. Its worth mentioning that Chuck Yeager who was a secondary star in the original 1983 film and the book is completely absent, and it highlights why the showrunners for the Disney+ adaptation actually fail to grasp what "The Right Stuff" means. Sure its a catchy title, but it has to be understood that it is also the ethos of the original story. Yeager showed in the 1983 film what the Right Stuff is in the opening scene with his Bell X-1 flight, setting a path that the Mercury 7 years later would follow behind him in. Yeager's shadow sets the tone for the 1983 film, and without it the Disney series wanders aimlessly looking for plots in the obtuse side stories. So what is for me then the Right Stuff as it is laid out in the 1983 film and lacking in the Disney+ series? The Right Stuff is a drive, a skill of mechanical knowledge, an innate understanding of physics, gumption and dumb luck that pushes pilots to the point they are willing to break records at risk of life and limb. The Right Stuff is the willingness to strap up to an undertested rocket and launch up in space just to say "I did it first," its a solitary bravery in knowing that every flight could be the day that they buy the farm; knowing its the price that needs to be paid to become a true trailblazer. By wanting to be "Mad Men IN SPACE" Disney+ has seemed to decide that "The Right Stuff" is the ability to schmooze, scheme, drink, party, seduce, and claw the way to the top; more a self reflection on Hollywood ideals than it ever is about NASA's early years. In the process the series manages to rob its characters of any appeal, while also coming off so overbearing that it borders on bad parody. Its not that showing the flaws of a historical figure is a bad thing, again look at the spectacular First Man as a great example of a movie that manages to humanize an astronaut while also showing a light on their weaknesses! Instead though The Right Stuff goes at it in such a haphazard method, that by the end it leaves the audience more confused. Were we supposed to root for these characters, or are they meant to be a clumsy spoof of the historical figures they are based on? It seems the show doesn't quiet know itself and just wants it audience to try and glue together the broken pieces. I think next week after the final episode of The Right Stuff airs, I am renting the original film on Amazon Prime to watch it and wash the memory of the Disney+ series out of my mind.
  • Nov 14, 2020
    Great fan of the book and movie for decades, and of aviation history. Always enjoyed reading about Chuck Yeager's time as a test pilot. Still enjoying this series despite it deviating from this original book and some areas misting, well made and well acted. I'm a fan of this story and anyone who loves this history would enjoy watching these figures and this story come to life, despite the negative and a greater focus on human frailty. I'm not American and unfortunately while I love American history there is a tendency to over exaggerate and promote this grand and glorious heroism all the time. Just get over it, you aren't this god like people saving the world always. Humans make history and they have flaws, so this perspective on these hero's is absolutely appropriate.
  • Nov 12, 2020
    I really don't like how most of the story line has to do with the extra-marital affairs these guys are participating in. I think for interest sake, the space program and space opportunities are being ignored. There has hardly been any "action" whatsoever and have found myself forcing to watch it. Very poor adaptation in my opinion,...just seens like a lot of the show revolves around sex, not science.
  • Nov 11, 2020
    I have read many of "Professional" reviews and I'm sorry but they need to find new careers. Having read the book and watched the movie multiple times, I have to disagree highly with their assessment of this show. It was captivating. What people must realize is that these were the lives of real people. This encompasses the struggle, sacrifice and triumphs of the men an women associated with the Mercury Space Program. This isnt Sci Fi and its not Jane Austin. The characters actually lived through this, some of them are still alive. In today's world, as we find the United States entering a new age of space exploration, its nice to be reminded that the pioneers in the field didnt have it just handed to them. They werent some mythical beings. The were people like you and me, venturing into a new and unknown realm of science and discovery.

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