It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a show that revels in juxtaposition. It follows five people united by firm friendship but divided by firmer self-interest. The cast are limitlessly lovable while portraying people who are truly despicable. Although the show is unbelievably consistent throughout its 11 current seasons, it never fails to push boundaries and create narratives bursting with endlessly quotable, cringey and comedic content. This is a show with so many quality stories and running jokes, it’s impossible not to discuss your favourites among fellow fans. If you haven’t tried the Sunny life yet, give it a season to warm yourself up to the torrential humour and get hooked.
Game of Thrones
Confession: I’m fairly recent to the Game of Thrones bandwagon. But if binge-watching five seasons over an Easter break taught me anything, it’s that GoT deserves its status as one of the best modern TV shows, and this year’s sixth season has maintained this. So far this series we’ve had resurrections, visions of the past and more gruesome deaths than you can shake a stick out. Throw in the potentially saddest death in the whole show so far, and it’s clear that GoT still has it, becoming one of the few shows you can guarantee all your friends will be talking about the next day. Plus, with a few episodes left until the current series ends, I’m sure there’s many more twists and reveals to be had.
When I was younger, I would perform one-woman shows for my family in the living room, where I would act out different scenarios via swift costume changes hastily performed in the hall. Needless to say, I think you could tell I was the same person.
With Orphan Black however, Tatiana Maslany pulls off a feat of acting quite unlike anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. She has played no less than TEN different clone characters thus far, and I am genuine when I say I have Googled to see if she really is part of some sort of super-secret nonuplet acting dynasty. Her breadth of diverse emotion and charismatic individualities for each of her characters is nothing short of mind-boggling and something that absolutely everyone should witness. And Maslany’s only part of the action – the supporting cast play off of each other beautifully, bringing real emotional depth to each of their characters alongside a pretty radical storyline. Summing up Season 4 so far is difficult, since SO MUCH has happened, but if you’re into not-too-sci-but- still-definitely-fi type TV shows then I couldn’t recommend joining ‘Clone Club’ more.
Watch Orphan Black now on Netflix, new episodes weekly.
Personally my favourite show the year has been Louis Theroux’s new BBC2 documentaries; Drinking to Oblivion and A Different Brain. These documentaries have received a lot of criticism since they aired, and as a huge fan of Theroux I’ll be the first to admit they’re not his best topics. However, I’m just glad we had a new one back on our screens, perhaps I’m just biased! Both documentaries explored relative and interesting issues, particularly as Louis explored the effects of both alcoholism and brain damage on the younger generation and on families. These episodes are definitely worth a watch. Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Film is also coming out at the end of this year, so the hour long documentaries are a nice build up to its release.
The not-so-accurate portrayal of wild and frivolous uni life is what makes Fresh Meat one of the highlights of this year. Perfectly capturing the uni lifestyle we all expected to have when we became freshers, Channel 4’s Fresh Meat reached its finale in 2016. Without giving too much away, the final series saw each lovable character rewarded with a well-fitting farewell as they ventured into their post-uni lives. With its classic one liners and bizarrely relatable scenes, this is definitely a must watch for those of us not quite ready to leave the student mentality behind.
The series getting me through second year has to be The 100. After the Earth was almost completely destroyed by nuclear Armageddon the only survivors were the 400 inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit at the time. Three generations have been born in space, the survivors now number 4,000, and resources are running out. The series follows the story of a group of 100 juvenile prisoners to the Earth’s surface to test whether it’s habitable. Despite its improbable settings, the series manages to retain the allusion that the situations they are in could actually happen, which adds to the series. After 3 series, The 100 has remained as good as it started, and I look forward to the next series getting me through the next academic year.
If there was ever a show to recommend you this year, it would have to be 5*’s The Magicians. When our Hogwarts letters failed to arrive, The Magicians has us holding out for an invitation to magic university, where every day is sunny and every night is party night. Adapted from Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, this show makes good use of the latest CGI technologies and familiar architecture to give a sense of realism amidst the spellcasting and apothecary. Currently available on 5OnDemand and Saturdays at 9pm on 5*, this is definitely a show to pick up now exams are done and summer is in swing.
Peaky Blinders, since it started airing, has become my favourite show on television. Over the top, exciting and utterly ridiculous it grabbed me from the very first episode and refused to let go.
Despite this, I went into the third season, currently airing on BBC Two, with a sense of trepidation. I feared a drop off and a move to America, something that is overdone and predictable. Obviously, Peaky Blinders scoffed and flipped my predictions completely. Every episode of the third season is beautiful, with a strong cinematic element to almost every scene. As the Shelby’s have grown so has the show. Everything is polished and has an ‘epic’ feel to it. I urge you all to watch the series, it is the next great British export and, as some reviewers have described it, could be the Godfather of our generation. Peaky Blinders is the best show on TV this year.
The Night Manager
The line between film and television nowadays has blurred so much that both media have started to overlap. The recent BBC miniseries The Night Manager has showcased this brilliantly, adapting the John le Carré spy novel into what is an extended film split into 6 parts, each directed by Susanne Bier (rather than following a traditional, multi-director format). It is essentially Tom Hiddleston’s James Bond audition tape as he plays the lead role of ex-soldier Jonathan Pine, who is recruited by Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the organisation of Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), a slimy international arms dealer. Peppered with an all-star supporting cast, what makes The Night Manager stand out are the tense interactions between Pine and Roper maintained throughout a globetrotting story, yet still keeping a sense of “Britishness” thanks to Hiddleston and Laurie. Much like le Carré’s other work, The Night Manager can be a slow burn at times, but it is well worth giving it a chance.
The Walking Dead
For six years now, The Walking Dead has been gracing our screens with brutal zombie violence and moral ambiguity aplenty – yet its latest season was a return to form for a show that has increasingly become all-too reflective of its name. Season 6 had much to offer – from an extended account of a hectic few days in the season’s first half, to the shock, awe and the calmer aftermath of the second. Characters like Rick and Carol have continued to shine this year – with the likes of Morgan also having been great additions to the regular cast. Though it’s certainly not flawless – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive the show for its antics in the finale – when it’s focused on morally ambiguous heroes and villains, the unrelenting brutality of the post-apocalypse and not cheap tricks and thrills, The Walking Dead is one of the best shows around.
After a rocky fourth season, this year saw New Girl coming back to its former glory. As one of the few comedies that even remotely fills the Friends-shaped void in my heart, each episode of New Girl is packed with laugh out loud moments, quirky humour while showing the steady progression of many of the show’s beloved characters. While the temporary arrival of Megan Fox while Zooey Deschanel was away having her first child worried many a viewer, the show managed to make this a valuable cast addition rather than letting it derail the season, showing just how strong the writing and production has been this series.
Whilst I named Peaky Blinders as my ‘show of the year’, there is another show that I have to highlight as the most underrated show. Grimm is a series that started slow. It has grown however into spellbinding TV. Unique, mysterious and vastly entertaining Grimm is a series that not many people know about. It has its flaws, as many shows have, but the action, drama and fantasy that it brings to TV is fantastic.
Grimm is a show that you can marathon and the most recent series saw a broadening of its scale. It combines fairytale monsters with global politics whilst including a huge helping of rebellion, badass fighting and creepy supernatural powers. The latest season, which just finished airing, was compelling television. Grimm is a show for all fantasy fans who thrive off that slightly eerie, slightly scary atmosphere.