An upside to the social distancing has been our sampling lots and lots of television series. As our normal fare ended their runs, we began working through shows across the various streaming platforms.
I’m having trouble recalling all the shows we’ve worked our way through, enjoying most of them to one degree or another. Highlights have included Hulu’s Mrs. America, with Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, surrounded with a strong cast; Little Fires Everywhere, where the teen actors more than matched the leads in a powerful adaptation of the novel, and PBS’ Beecham House (a shame it didn’t get renewed by ITV).
We have finally, after being in Maryland for seven years, started watching The Wire and we’re three seasons in and total get why everyone has raved about it since it debuted. Similarly, we’re also finally getting around to Boardwalk Empire, about the Prohibition era, a time I am particularly interested in. And we’ve been working our way through Silicon Alley, the HBO sitcom that appeals to Deb’s techie heart.
Normally, we enjoy mixing heavy drama with lighter fare, usually ending on the latter note for the evening. As some of the shows wound up, we found ourselves with lots of heavy drama and began looking for more variety in content. I put a call out to my Facebook friends and was flooded with tons of suggestions, many repetitious and several we’ve seen, but now have quite a bit of material to sample.
Since the dozens of titles came in, we’ve begun several, starting with the acclaimed Schitt’s Creek, which we abandoned after four episodes. When the characters are uniformly too stupid to live, we give up. We prefer smart comedy, and this just didn’t work for us.
Instead, hitting the exact tone we’ve wanted was Canada’s Republic of Doyle and as we near the end of the first season, we’re content with the setting and characters. Another lighter show we’ve begun this week was Fox’s Lucifer, which I initially avoided since it didn’t seem faithful enough to the Vertigo source material. But on its own merits, it works just fine.
A side note: One reason we’re getting through so many series is that they run from 6-12 episodes a season, most running only a few seasons. Lucifer, being a traditional prime time show, suddenly feels very long.
We recently completed Cursed, which is also very far afield from the source material but is engaging enough that I bought the book it’s based on for my classroom library. In a similar vein, The Witcher proved to be very entertaining, even without being familiar with the source material. In this case, I wanted to watch it for showrunner Lauren Hissrich’s work since I enjoyed her West Wing efforts and the work she did on Netflix’s Marvel series.
Foreign fare remains a part of the mix, which is somewhat new for us. My students in the spring raved about Money Heist so we watched the first two parts and I liked it far more than Deb so I’ll need to find the time to watch the next two parts (the second heist) on my own. Switching from Spain to France, we’re enjoying Call my Agent, a French show that is a change of pace drama for us. The catch remains, we have to watch these shows for the captions meaning I can’t read and Deb’s knitting pace slows.
Given the algorithms, Netflix kept suggesting Last Tango in Halifax, a BBC series about two seniors who rekindle a romance fifty years later and their extended families. With Derek Jacobi anchoring a multi-generational cast, it’s a fine domestic drama that suits us just fine.
Several shows we’re looking forward to are coming in October so we have September to keep watching the 38 other recommendations on our list.
#Tags: Beecham House, Boardwalk Empire, Call my Agent, Cate Blanchett, Cursed, Hulu, Last Tango in Halifax, Lauren Hissrich, Little Fires Everywhere, Lucifer, Money Heist, Mrs. America, Netflix, PBS, Republic of Doyle, Schitt's Creek, Silicon Alley, Spain, The Wire, West Wing