WARNING: tread carefully when asking people (read: me) their favorite television shows. Experience and long conversations that usually end in people regretting even mentioning the words “TV” and “recommendations” around me have proven that people get really passionate about their shows. With the global reach of television and social media, last night’s viewing has become the world’s easiest form of small talk, “Did you see President Obama’s tweet about the new season of House of Cards?” “Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson on True Detective? They’re doing a TV show?” Discussing hyped up television shows has become a right of passage in a way, something to talk to people about and share with people. Nowadays, there are so many different platforms for TV-like episodic content that the options are endless.
Now you might be asking, “So tell me what I should watch!” And here’s my solution for you! Here are five relatively new shows that you can catch up on and continue to watch. These are a select few that have been the most buzzed about on the Twitterverse, in the papers, and between friends on the Tube that you should be watching!
1. House of Cards (Netflix)
“That’s how you devour a whale, one bite at a time. Give and take. Welcome to Washington.”
This drama explores the corrupt underworld of politics in a (slightly?) alternative universe of Washington D.C. Francis ‘Frank’ Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a ruthless South Carolina Congressman and House of Representatives Majority Whip who is promised the position of Secretary of State when a new President is brought into office. When the President and his Chief of Staff break their promise to him, Frank goes on a tirade and will destroy anyone in his path as he tries to make his way higher up the political food chain, maybe even to the President’s position. Robin Wright also stars as Claire Underwood, Frank’s wife who is the CEO of a non-profit organization and is just as callous (if not more) as Frank in helping get revenge on anyone who has done her or her husband wrong. Based on an old BBC series, House of Cards offers a very cynical outlook not only on United States politics but also into humanity and it’s character flaws. When asked how accurate of a portrayal this show was of Washington, Kevin Spacey stated that higher ups in D.C. have expressed to him it’s very accurate. If you need any other reasons to watch, Frank’s awareness of the audience and his tendencies to address the audience directly offers an interesting point of view into the story. Also: director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) worked on the first two episodes. Hop on Netflix and don’t feel bad about binge watching this political thriller!
2. Orphan Black (Space, BBC America, BBC Three)
“She’s been duped.”
This science-fiction drama stars, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, and…Tatiana Maslany. You may think this is a joke, but it’s really not. Orphan Black tells the stories of many identical women (all played by Tatiana Maslany) who they later figure out are clones. The series starts when Sarah Manning, a con artist who’s always running from trouble, sees a woman who looks exactly like her jump in front of a train. When she finds out she could get some money out of it, she disguises herself as Beth, the woman who jumped in front of the train, but soon gets wrapped up in the many problems in Beth’s life and the clone conspiracy all these woman have found out about. This show also offers an amazing cast of supporting characters such as Jordan Gavaris as Felix, Sarah’s foster brother who always has a witty quip to add and assists Sarah in all her shenanigans and cons. Though this thriller will leave you on the edge of your seat, trying to figure out the mystery of the clones and how they were created along with the women involved, it also offers interesting social commentary about identity and the moral issues of human cloning.
3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX, E4)
“The law. Without the order.”
Some of you may know Andy Samberg from his time on Saturday Night Live and his The Lonely Island parody music videos. When he left Saturday Night Live, I was very eager to see what he would do next and Brooklyn Nine-Nine definitely does not disappoint. Set in a fictional police precinct in Brooklyn, New York City, the 99th precinct and its detectives are in for some changes when a new captain is appointed. Their tagline, “Law without the order,” perfectly describes this action comedy that follows Detective Jake Peralta (Samberg). Peralta is a great detective, but can’t take anything seriously as he is constantly pulling pranks and cracking jokes (oftentimes at crime scenes). This show explores the hilarious relationships within the office and the struggle between funny-boy Jake and this new tough-as-nails Captain, Ray Holt. Some may call it dumb humour, but it never fails to make me laugh. It also picked up a win for Best Comedy Series at the Golden Globes this past January! If you are in the UK check it out on E4 and in the US, you can view it on FOX.
4. Masters of Sex (Showtime, Channel 4)
“Arousing America’s Curiosity”
Set in the 1950s at the brink of the sexual revolution and based on a true story, Masters of Sex follows William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the team who started the study of human sexuality. Michael Sheen stars as William Masters a doctor at Washington University in St. Louis who in is free time starts to study sexuality, especially woman and sexuality. When he needs an assistant who can handle the taboo subject matter of the time, he finds Virginia Johnson, who is a single mother but with very advanced views on society and sexuality. This brilliant period drama follows their story as they try to break down barriers in medical studies and society but also their interesting personal and romantic relationship. If in the States, you can catch up on episodes on Showtime, as a new season will be premiering soon in 2014!
5. True Detective (HBO, Sky Atlantic)
“Touch darkness and darkness touches you back”
The story of how True Detective came to be is a pretty amazing one. Showrunner, Nic Pizzolatto was an assistant professor at a university in Indiana unimpressed with his job. He quit his job, started writing script after script, and moved his family to Los Angeles in hopes that one of his scripts would spark interest. True Detective intrigued HBO so much that they allowed Pizzolatto with no television or previous screenwriting experience complete creative control over the show. Even if he I new to the playing field, Pizzolatto doesn’t let it show in this captivating thriller. The first season follows Detectives Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) of the Louisiana State Police, two detectives investigating a series of murders and searching for a serial killer. The show goes back and forth between 17 years prior and present day where these two now retired detectives who had a falling out are being interviewed due to a recent murder. The story not only follows the mystery of the multiple murders, but also the personal lives of the detectives and how their time investigating these murders affected their personal lives and their relationship together. You can catch up on these episodes in the States on HBO and this show will be making its UK debut on the 22nd of February on Sky Atlantic.
Raindance offers two courses in writing for TV: