I have watched an unhealthy amount of television over the festive break, so I thought I would put my binging habit to good use, and recommend some of my favourite series for you to enjoy while you procrastinate during the coming semester.
The continuing misadventures of neurotic New York stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York friends.
Seinfeld is the pinnacle of situation comedy; it is endlessly entertaining. It is, fundamentally, about nothing – each episode revolving around the everyday events of the four principal characters, Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards). Despite 180 episodes, the characters do not learn, nor do they grow; it is stripped of complexity (something I often gravitate towards), leaving room for flawless comedy. Despite the lack of progression, each episode, each situation, feels fresh, and while being stupidly funny, it remains exceptionally clever. Jokes carry effortlessly through episodes, the use of secondary characters is exceptional – some appear sparingly (like Jackie Chiles), some often (like Seinfeld’s parents, and Jerry’s nemesis, Newman), but they all find a way to charm or excite an audience. Watching Seinfeld, it’s influence on subsequent sitcoms (like Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and How I Met Your Mother) is evident – perhaps without knowing it, these shows borrow from plotlines pioneered by Seinfeld. In all respects, Seinfeld is the perfect series. If you are looking for something entertaining – to binge or to wind down with – watch this show. I guarantee that you will fall head over heels in love with it.
THE END OF THE F**CKING WORLD
James is 17 and is pretty sure he is a psychopath. Alyssa, also 17, is the cool and moody new girl at school. The pair make a connection and she persuades him to embark on a road trip in search of her real father.
You can watch the trailer HERE.
I stumbled upon an advert for this show one morning and, six hours later, had watched and adored every episode. It contains everything that I look for in drama – wit, complexity, satire and heartbreak – and delivers a detailed look at the way that we characterise ourselves, and the effect of human connection and experience on that characterisation. James (possible psychopath) and Alyssa (very angry teen) have, on the surface, fairly singular notions of self. But, as their relationship intensifies, prior ideas are torn apart and are replaced with complex layers of suffering and emotion. Alyssa’s character (played by the incredible Jessica Barden) was particularly interesting. On the surface, she is selfish, antagonistic and angry. But underneath this brash exterior, there is a poignant desire to be loved, that she cannot express. (MILD SPOILER) There is a scene that I love that develops this idea, in which Alyssa initially escapes arrest (for shoplifting), and stumbles across a lost child. She chooses to return the child to her father (forcing her to return to the shop) despite knowing that this will result in her arrest. It is a simple scene, but it offers a view into Alyssa’s battle with what she desires, and what is right, that is shown throughout the show. The End of the F**cking World is a phenomenal series. Perfect if you want something quick, but also packed full of emotion.
After finding out he has an STD, Dylan must get back in touch with every girl he has ever had sex with to let them know the bad news.
You can watch the trailer for the first season HERE – don’t mind the fact that it used to be called Scrotal Recall. Or do, because it’s hilarious.
Lovesick is phenomenal – I watched all available episodes in less than 24 hours. Told somewhat retrospectively, it details the influence of past experience on the current predicaments of the principal characters: Dylan (Johnny Flynn), Luke (Daniel Ings) and Evie (Antonia Thomas). As each mid twenty-something navigates the dating climate, Lovesick explores what it is to love – both the possibilities and difficulties. I adored this show for multiple reasons: it’s set in Glasgow, a city that I know and love, full of familiarity; the story is both poignant and hilarious; the characters are imperfect in wonderful ways. Luke possesses a deeply complex sensitivity; Evie’s cynicism is very apparent, but it changes in subtle, interesting ways as the series progresses; Dylan is (minus the STD) me. Dylan tackles nothing with logic, worries too much, pushes people away while attempting to pull them closer – despite the negative notion of each quality, it is always nice to feel represented on screen. What I presumed would be a simple comedy, turned out to be a poignant look at friendship, love and heartbreak – honest, and a little bit beautiful, while also being very funny (in a typically self-deprecating British fashion). A good watch if you want to laugh, but also want to feel involved in something.
Thank you for reading!