I’m one of those terrible people that like to say “No, I don’t watch a lot of TV,” when in reality, I’m a fiend for Netflix and I can keep up with ten shows at a time (not that I recommend that. Seriously, don’t do that). It’s true that I don’t watch just anything. I haven’t seen a lot of the most popular shows, like Game of Thrones, or Orange is the New Black or Grey’s Anatomy… and the list goes on and on. That being said, there are a few shows I’ve been hooked on for the past little while so I thought I’d give them the attention they deserve.
“The Dark Comedy”
Inside No. 9
This is an anthology style dark comedy series that airs on BBC Two. With 4 seasons and 6 20-minute episodes per season, it’s easy to get lost in. I discovered it not too long ago after seeing someone make a comparison between it and Black Mirror, which is one of my all-time favourite TV shows. Here’s the thing: to me, it’s nothing like Black Mirror at all, it’s deliciously unique and exciting in its own way. Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, the creators (pictured above), appear in every episode as different characters, showcasing their chameleon-like acting skills and their incredible versatility. It’s genius!! Genius genius genius. The best part is that if you’re some kind of psycho, you can watch the episodes out of order, as each story is self-contained. I suppose in that way, it’s a bit like Black Mirror, although I always recommend watching BM in order anyway (because then, catching the easter eggs is so much more satisfying). The only thing binding them together (that I know of…) is that each one takes place “inside number 9”, whether it’s a house number or a hotel room, or even a size 9 shoe. Perhaps my favourite part of this show is the suspense. Once you start watching, you figure out that each episode has some kind of (usually sick and macabre) twist at the end. Though this is not always the case–there are a couple of what I like to call “soft” episodes that are equally enjoyable–it’s thrilling to try to anticipate what will come next. It’s definitely a winner in my book, demonstrating masterful writing. Here’s a shortlist of my favourite episodes:
- S01E02 – “A Quiet Night In” (an AMAZING showcase of acting with almost no dialogue)
- S02E04 – “Cold Comfort” (filmed entirely through a CCTV camera in a call centre, very dark)
- S03E01 – “The Devil of Christmas” (director’s commentary on an old b-movie)
- S03E03 – “The Riddle of the Sphinx” (mind-bending, involves fascinating cryptic crosswords)
- S03E06 – “Private View” (I love the set in this one, beautifully designed yet still wicked)
- “Once Removed” (creative backwards chronology storytelling)
- “To Have and to Hold” (the twist in this one shocked me! That’s all I’ll say)
“The Historical One”
Call the Midwife
I know what you’re thinking. Hear me out on this one. Call the Midwife has been a favourite of mine for YEARS now. Unlike No. 9, this one is a bit of a commitment. Based off of a real woman’s memoirs, CTM has been running since 2012, which, now that I’m thinking about it, is a hell of a long time. There are 8 hour(ish)-long episodes per season and Christmas specials in between. It’s on its seventh season, running on BBC One, and I’d imagine it’s most popular amongst middle-aged British women (please correct me if you’re not a middle-aged British woman and you love this show). I’m not a middle-aged British woman, but there’s something special about watching midwives and nuns of London’s East End deliver babies and get into all sorts of antics throughout the 50s and 60s (Dammit. I sound like a middle-aged British woman). The magic of this show is never lost on me–it gets impossibly emotional at times, lighthearted at others, and honestly, I’m still not tired of watching them deliver babies on Sunday nights. I find that it does a great job of exploring various social issues without coming across as preachy. Plus, it comes with a lot of knowledge I’ll never use about mid-century midwifery and random medical problems. Even though many of my favourite characters have left the show, the new ones never fail to disappoint. Needless to say, I’ll keep watching this show until it dies. I can’t really name my favourite episodes for this one as they aren’t self-contained, so you’ll just have to trust me on this if you like historical dramas.
“The True Story”
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Admittedly, I decided to watch this show because I’m a notorious fan of Darren Criss (even though I’m not a Glee fan) and have been for a long time. I saw that it was going to be on FX, which sweetened the deal for me as one of my all-time favourite shows is FX’s Fargo, and I really enjoyed the first season of Legion as well. I think that this show is an obvious choice if you’ve seen the previous “American Crime Story”, “The People v. OJ Simpson”. I’m a horrible researcher because I haven’t seen it, but I’m assuming that if you liked that you’ll love this. It’s true crime, what’s not to love? Week after week, the story of the murder of Gianni Versace is told, sometimes chronologically, and sometimes retroactively. Darren Criss’s performance is breathtaking (and no… I’m not just saying that). One of my friends noted that they won’t be able to look at him in the same way anymore. His portrayal of cold-blooded killer Andrew Cunanan is enough to make even the toughest person sweat. Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace is surprisingly refreshing. I was worried she would be over-the-top, due to my limited knowledge going in about Versace and the world of fashion in general, but she makes it look easy. It’s a bit slower at times, as it sometimes repeats itself for clarity’s sake, but it’s original and well-executed enough to keep me watching. The show airs on Wednesday nights, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. It keeps me on the edge of my seat, even though I know what’s on the horizon.
Let me know what you’re loving on TV right now, or whether you’ve seen some of these. I’ll see you next time! xox