Usually, I’d be on here ranting about politics, but I’d like to mix it up a little bit this week. Since I reprised my Netflix account this past summer, I’ve found that my tour through television isn’t nearly over with. I’ve labored away for years watching the classics: “The Wire,” “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood,” “Breaking Bad,” and others. It is overwhelming how great television is.
People will forget that before the Sopranos and further back to “Twin Peaks,” television was a joke. Nobody really took it seriously and nor should they have. The acting was soap opera-esque, the story never took any chances, and the production value was cheap. Nowadays in the age of “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” (terrible these days), we are accustomed to large budgets, risky storytelling and brilliant acting.
Netflix is a unique place to watch a show. It is packed full of binge worthy masterpieces. This isn’t a binge list, but certain shows on here could, if physically possible, be consumed without stop. Currently, I am trying not to already tank my GPA by watching too much “Sons of Anarchy.” So here’s a list of the best shows I’ve watched recently or one’s that I’ve watched too many times.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:” I’ve watched this show, well specifically, seasons two through seven, at least 40 times. Each time, I’ve loved it. The gang of misanthropes, sociopaths and illiterates never fails to make me laugh. Now on its 12th season, the show continues to make some of the best comedy on television without really any award praise or big commercial success. It’s a cult-classic. Unlike terrible sitcoms, it subverts many of the tropes of mainstream comedies in favor of never compromising its horribly dark comedic nature and the character’s inability to ever improve. As one critics said, “It’s Seinfeld on crack.” Well said.
“Peaky Blinders:” British television is taking on many of the characteristics of its American counterpart without risking its own specific nature. In this dark and atmosphere-heavy show, we meet Thomas Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) as he runs his gang in post-World War I in Birmingham, England. The coal mining town is trying to lift itself out of the worst war in history (at that time) and Shelby’s gang, called The Peaky Blinders, are the rulers of the streets. Although this show goes close to the usual tropes of Peak TV, its smart storytelling and complicated characters doesn’t, making it not just another show. It is above the competition and it’s returning for a fourth season.
“Black Mirror:” This show will make you depressed. There should be a warning before every episode to remind you just how brutal this show can be. Thankfully, each episode is its own or else we’d have to endure miserable things happening to the same characters every episode. The premise of the show is about the future of technology and the ways in which our society runs the risk of abusing and misusing it. These are mostly dark tales, but there’s a level of dark humor which evens things out. One specific episode has a huge spider with a person head on it. Really f-ed up. There’s not a bad episode in its three-season run and each story leaves something with you to think about. This is intellectually engaging and never boring.
“Twin Peaks:” I put this on here because this show is not only brilliant, but after 25 years of being off air it’s coming back this summer. In the early 90s this was THE show. Everyone wanted to know who killed Laura Palmer. David Lynch being David Lynch decided to undermine and overthrow many established storytelling and thematic elements of the day and instead transform the television show as a medium. The small screen was no longer a place for cheesy soap operas and boring stories. Okay, that stayed, but this show certainly changed a lot. Lynch and his co-creator, Mark Frost made some of the most memorable characters in television history. Only on for two seasons, it was way before its time and I have a feeling like it’s returned at the perfect moment.
“Narcos:” Yeah, I dressed as Pablo Escobar for Halloween. Just by happenstance I had the perfect costume. Except for the mustache. Wasn’t really able to get that part down. This show, especially the second season, is one of the reasons Netflix is becoming more and more respected. Just a few years ago, you could find great shows made by other networks, now it is that network. It is the place to make Peak TV. Narcos follows the life of Pablo Escobar, the people he brutalized and the men and women who took him down. You will love him, hate him and want him dead. One of my few criticisms of the show is seeing little of his rise as king of Colombia. But never does this show slow down, so watch and read closely (it’s in Spanish), Narcos is television at its finest.
“Sons of Anarchy:” I’m on season five, so I can’t give a full endorsement of the show. That said, it remains as one of the best shows I’ve seen. It’s binge-worthiness is rivaled by few. It can be corny and tropey, but it never disappoints in making you select the next episode. The characters, poorly written at first, have turned into well thought out and acted never ceasing to scheme and brutalize their opponents. The villains are almost always winning as I like to joke, nothing ever good happens. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this one.