I don’t necessarily believe in telling people that they “should” be watching or reading any particular thing, because there are so many worthwhile books/movies/TV shows out there that you can’t possibly consume all of the things that you “should” consume in your lifetime. But I’m going to talk about things that I liked, and hey, if you’re looking for something to do, you might like these things, too.
Shows I kept current with: Broad City, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Elementary, Girls, Ground Floor, How to Get Away with Murder, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jane the Virgin, Kroll show, Man Seeking Woman, Marry Me, Marvel’s Agent Carter, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Sleepy Hollow, The Americans, The Flash, The Good Wife, The Mindy Project, The Musketeers
Non-current shows watched: Never Mind the Buzzcocks (seasons 23, 24, 25, 28), Peaky Blinders
- Marvel’s Agent Carter:
- Genre: historical drama/sci-fi/action
- Time commitment: 4 episodes so far (8 planned), 40-42 minutes each
- Why you should watch this: Because it combines comic book spy capers with dealing with being a woman in the workforce after World War II, and where else are you going to get that? Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter has managed to find the right blend of action, drama, and lighter moments. Peggy has the type of tragic backstory that we typically associate with manpain, and a lot has been said on this already, but luckily, the show isn’t all about wallowing in that angst. There are plenty of witty comebacks that, while not necessarily laugh out loud funny, definitely lighten the mood. The fight scenes are excellent (this quote about Peggy’s fighting style has been floating around Tumblr) and there’s one in episode 2 that especially stands out and is indicative of the showrunners’ clever use of the period setting. Hayley Atwell is of course super charismatic and that may be reason enough to watch; she also totally rocks the 1940s styling. The commentary on gender is perhaps not super subtle, but that’s probably fine for the show’s intended audience?
- Peaky Blinders:
- Genre: historical crime drama
- Time commitment: 12 episodes (2 seasons so far, with a third commissioned), 60 minutes each
- Why you should watch this: This show is just really fucking cool and it knows it. To that end, I think much of the criticism that it’s received has been for being more like an extended music video than anything super substantial. And maybe that’s fair–a lot of it is long shots of cool dudes brooding to contemporary music or cool dudes brawling to contemporary music or cool dudes solemnly riding horses to contemporary music. But it does touch on some heavy stuff–season 1 deals a lot with the whole issue of all of these guys coming back from WWI with serious PTSD and struggling to function in normal (gangster) society. It definitely provides an interesting contrast to the version of 1920s England that we get from Downton Abbey, especially since it doesn’t have characters doing the whole “haha this newfangled [insert technology/philosophy that is now commonplace] will never catch on” that is one of the many unbearable aspects of DA. And Peaky Blinders has somewhat more representation of racial and ethnic minorities (fuck yeah Jewish gangsters even if they may not actually be portrayed by Jewish actors) than I’ve seen in most period dramas, at least in terms of the casting for extras and minor characters.
- Additional comments: I mean, this is the point where I have to admit that I’ve seen 21 Cillian Murphy movies, so I may be biased. But he plays the whole ruthlessly competent but emotionally damaged gangster thing so well and his face is so great.
- The Flash:
- Genre: superhero
- Time commitment: 11 episodes so far (still in its first season), 43 minutes each
- Why you should watch this: So I could not get into Arrow because it was too committed to the ~dark and gritty~ thing (and it didn’t seem like Stephen Amell could really act, but I didn’t watch enough to be able to say that with certainty). And while The Flash does have the whole dead mother/wrongfully imprisoned father/unrequited love for adoptive sister whom I can’t reveal my secret identity to for REASONS angst, it also acknowledges how fucking fun it is to have superpowers and manages to come up with creative uses for superspeed (like taking better selfies). It’s just a thoroughly enjoyable show if you’re into the genre, with some occasional real emotional weight (the relationship between Barry and his adopted father is particularly well done). The unrequited love plotline is not great, and that seems to be the most common complaint about the show; I think the main issue is that Iris hasn’t had quite enough character development for us to buy that the reasonably attractive and well-adjusted Barry Allen wouldn’t have moved on by now.
- The Musketeers:
- Genre: historical action-drama
- Time commitment: 14 episodes so far (currently in its second season), 54-60 minutes each
- Why you should watch this: Hot dudes with swords and muskets and manpain. That’s pretty much the show. (I mean, okay, my liberal arts college background obliges me to mention that it also delves into issues of gender and race and class in 17th century France.)