For the last few years, TV viewers have been overwhelmed with quality shows through streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
And there’s a point most people reach where they just want:
a) A break from new production so they can catch up
b) Loads of free time around the house to actually do that
Well, for almost all of us now, that fantasy has become reality, so we asked TV guru Daisy Richards, a PhD researcher for De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Cinema and Television History Institute, to give us her top five series to get stuck into right now.
Check it out:
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, USA, 2005 –)
Available to rent online, or to stream for free as part of Amazon Prime’s Video subscription service.
Grey’s Anatomy is an award-winning medical drama series that everyone should see. Set inside the walls of the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital in Washington DC, the story follows a group of interns as they climb the cut-throat ranks of professional medicine together.
Aside from a huge back catalogue of episodes in which to lose yourself (the series first aired in 2005 and is now the longest-running prime-time medical drama ever made), the programme’s cultivation of intense melodrama is played to perfection, providing audiences with some of the most authentic-feeling moments of genuine joy, romance, and sadness available on television.
If there is one particular area in which Grey’s Anatomy excels, it is in the creation of complex, multifaceted characters that feel so real you could almost swear you were friends with them in real-life. Of course, this kind of gradual investment does mean that the narrative heartbreaks feel all the more painful, but if you want to be distracted from the real world, prepare yourself for all the love, lust, and loss that you could ever ask for, and dive in.
Stath Lets Flats (Channel 4, UK, 2018 –)
All episodes available to stream for free via Channel 4’s online streaming platform, 4OD.
Created by and starring Jamie Demetriou (whose acting credits include Fleabag, Drunk History and Paddington 2) as the eponymous Stath, this brilliant series focuses on the trials and tribulations of a Greek-Cypriot letting agent in London, who really only has his job because his father is the owner and manager of the company. Alongside his sister, Sophie (played by Demetriou’s real-life sister, Natasia, best known for her role as Nadja in the 2019 TV adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows), Stath manages in almost every way imaginable to be the worst letting agent on Earth, and the unintended consequences are hilarious.
The most enjoyable part of this series is the palpable comedic chemistry between the small cast, who clearly improvised their way to the top, with gags so fast that you have to pause so that you can laugh without missing the next whip-smart line.
Years and Years (BBC One, UK, 2019)
All episodes available to stream for free via BBC iPlayer.
As a dystopic coproduction financed by both HBO and BBC One, and created by British television luminary Russell T. Davies, Years and Years is a six-part drama that was destined for success.
The miniseries follows the Manchester-based Lyons family as they negotiate the intricacies of their lives, until one crucial night in 2019 brings them all together in a way they never thought possible. Over the next 15 years, as Britain is rocked by unstable, and at times, frightening political, economic and technological advances, each family member must face up to the uncertainty of the future.
While featuring a fairly large ensemble cast, the handling of the show’s undoubtedly bleak narrative arc is deftly and expertly executed with tact and believability. This series is potentially not for younger viewers, as some moments are genuinely harrowing, but the overall theme of the programme (which focuses on the innate good of humanity) is undoubtedly universal.
Russian Doll (Netflix, USA, 2019 –)
Available to watch via Netflix.
Russian Doll is an incredibly poignant, funny, and touching exploration of how the lives of two strangers can intertwine irrevocably for the better.
Created by Amy Poehler (of Parks and Recreation, Mean Girls, and Saturday Night Live fame) and starring Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black), the series follows the eccentric, straight-talking Nadia as she is forced to relive the same day over and over, dying in a variety of hilarious and macabre ways before she can see the next sunrise.
Viewers who enjoy the pleasures of mind-twisting time-bending narratives such as Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run will find plenty to love with Russian Doll, not least a fantastic electronica-inspired soundtrack.
Euphoria (HBO, USA, 2019 –)
Available to view now with a Sky+ or Now TV subscription.
Executively produced by Drake, and featuring a score and soundtrack composed by Labrinth, Euphoria presents an investigation into the dark and often dangerous life of the modern American teenager. Each episode focuses on one member of the cast, exploring their families, home lives, backgrounds, insecurities and fantasies.
Presenting a frank, intense examination of issues including (but not limited to) sexual assault, drug addiction, gang violence, abortion, and revenge-porn, this series is certainly not for younger audiences. However, director Sam Levinson truly pushes the boundaries of television with Euphoria.
A special mention must also go to Doniella Davy and Kirin Rider who, as the make-up artists for the series, create some of the most unique, expressive, and innovative looks on-screen today.
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Posted on Monday 30th March 2020