“That’s how I was raised and I turned out TV.- Homer Simpson
I’ve been watching ridiculously large amount of television as of late. I mean really crazy stupid amounts. I have a long to-do list that’s barely whittled down because I’m either trying to catch up on old programs or I’ve made the ill-advised decision to start watching something new and have therefore sealed my unproductive fate.
The silly little problem I’m currently experiencing is that, in terms of television, we really are living in the golden age. With more and more shows really pushing the boundaries of production quality as well as attracting some truly top notch actors, it’s no wonder theater attendance has dwindled down over the last few years. The tables have turned recently as fans have flocked to theaters in anticipation of watching their favorite programs being given the big screen treatment with screenings of HBO’s Game of Thrones on IMAX as well as The Walking Dead finales and premieres.
Not only have cable companies like HBO, FX and AMC seen an unprecedented boost in viewership but streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have thrown their hats in the ring receiving critical praise and high viewership ratings for their original programming.
So I figured I would incorporate my poor excuse of a hobby and share a few of the shows that have contributed in keeping me from living in the land of productivity.
Black Mirror – Image Source: BBC
Black Mirror (BBC)
I started watching Black Mirror when I came across one of those “THIS IS THE BEST SHOW YOU’RE NOT WATCHING!” posts which described it as “a Twilight Zone-esque sci-fi series” based around technology. At first I feared this was going to be some heavy handed metaphor about the evil path that technology has taken us down but instead it tends to focus more on the pre-existing dark side of humanity and how we manipulate technology to feed it. It’s also one of those shows that will have you checking IMBD fairly frequently as plenty of recognizable faces tend to pop up from time to time.
I’m a big fan of anthology shows which are essentially like reading short stories. They often don’t get weighed down by long winded origin stories and instead typically just drop the viewer smack dab in the middle of a confusing, often nightmarish situation. What if our entire lives were recorded from our own perspective and could be accessed and projected for all to see at any time from our own minds? What if you were asked to do a perversely horrific act in front of the entire world to save one person’s life? What if you awoke to find yourself void of any memories only to discover that while most of the world was watching you, the rest was trying to kill you?
Black Mirror is not a happy show. In fact it’s a very bleak one. Though it may be lacking in joy, it’s certainly not lacking in quality.
The Originals – Image Source: The CW
The Originals (The CW)
The Originals focuses on the world’s first vampires, The Mikaelson siblings, as they attempt to restart their immortal lives in their old stomping ground of New Orleans with psychotic high-tempered brother Klaus leading the way as a soon-to-be-father who is hellbent on reclaiming his Louisiana “throne”. Things take a complicated and violent turn as he attempts to take power from his once progeny as well as protect himself and his family from both the literal and metaphoric demons of their past.
The Originals is a spinoff of another vampire drama The Vampire Diaries, which for some viewers may not exactly be a mark of high quality, however don’t let that idea discourage you. The Originals remains a complex and often violent hour of network television that has also managed to successfully do things with their roster of actors that few shows have, often replacing key characters with new actors in effectively inventive ways. This as well as a combination of a charismatic cast and a gorgeous New Orleans setting, makes The Originals definitely worth your time.
The Leftovers – Image Source: HBO
The Leftovers (HBO)
The best description I’ve read of the The Leftovers (based on the book by Tom Perrotta) is that it is like “an extended Twilight Zone episode” in which 2% of the worlds population, without warning, just disappear. The point of the show is not to discover some big reveal as to why this has happened but instead to take a journey with the folks who are left behind to continue on with their lives. Much like Black Mirror, this show rarely ends on a happy note and much is left of to viewers’ interpretations.
While the departing of friends and family does happen on a universal scale, The Leftovers focuses on the lives of those who live in the fictional small town of Mapleton, New York and how they have dealt with the variety of loss thrust upon them. The antagonist for this show are the cultish group known as the Guilty Remnant, who harass and frustrate the townspeople through silence, excessive chain smoking and a major lack of fashion sense (among other things).
While I’m not exactly sure what to make of this show, I couldn’t help but binge watch the living hell out of it.
Orphan Black – Image Source: BBC
Orphan Black (BBC)
Orphan Black initially focuses on the street smart/vagabond Sarah Manning, who while attempting to figure out how to be a part of her young daughter’s life, encounters the suicide of her seemingly identical twin. Of course, as you can determine quite easily from the show’s trailers and #cloneclub marketing campaign, she’s something far more unique than a twin.
A huge part of Orphan Black’s success is reliant on the remarkably subtle and complicated acting skills of its lead Tatiana Maslany, who by all accounts should just win every award ever. Orphan Black is one of the few sci-fi shows that manages to play well at the idea of existing in the real world (unless you’re some kind of nitpicky scientist person).
Orphan Black’s supporting cast of characters helps to create a captivating and innovative piece of entertainment unlike much of what’s currently out there.
Marvel’s Agent Carter – Image Source: Marvel/ABC
If you’ve been following this blog, it’s no secret that I’m a huge Marvel fan, both of its cinematic universe as well as its comics. When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. first aired, it admittedly was a bit of a struggle maintaining the same level of excitement for each episode like I had for each MCU film. Eventually though, the show managed to find its groove before taking its winter break allowing Agent Carter to take over for an eight episode series.
I’ve often said that not every show needs to go on forever and that perhaps allowing shows to work within shorter seasons may help to strengthen their direction and focus. Whether that is the case with Agent Carter is a matter of opinion, as personally, I find the series’ main selling point being both their charismatic and extraordinarily talented cast combined with a beautiful noir 1940’s setting.
Agent Peggy Carter, who appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger must fight her way through the misogynistic roadblocks of her peers as well as the various devious foes who cross her path. Even if Marvel and their roster of superheroes are not your cup of tea, Agent Carter very well could be.
Thanks for reading and rest assured this is just of the tip of the iceberg of my tv show rotation. I hope to share more viewing suggestions with you soon.
What shows are currently holding you captive to your couch? Share in the comments!