Taste in television is extremely personal. But even so, I’m always asking my friends what they’re watching, hoping to discover our next favorite series. I rarely watch tv unless I’m with my husband, and then we tend to watch two or three series at once, mixing drama and comedy, for an hour or two in the evening. Since it’s for both of us, that narrows down the possibilities even more, as he doesn’t like science fiction (alas–I have to watch Star Trek: Strange New Worlds by myself).
In that vein, I thought I’d share some series we’ve enjoyed in case they give you a laugh or a fun or thoughtful way to spend time with a loved one during this season of short days and long nights.
- Derry Girls. This series, set in Northern Ireland in the mid-1990s, is hilarious. Characters are constantly saying the silliest things at a rapid pace and with a particular accent, which made me eventually have to put on the subtitles so I didn’t miss any jokes. Even though the end of “The Troubles” is happening during this time period, the serious only rarely raises its head—mostly this is just wonderfully fresh humor. For those of you who went to Catholic school, it’s a can’t miss: Sister Michael steals every scene she’s in. On Netflix.
2. Slow Horses . An English drama that follows an old spy who’s been relegated to run Slough House and the unfortunate agents who were demoted there. Gary Oldman is so gross (the eating scenes—ugh) and mean at times that it makes you cringe, but he’s also so smart that you wonder if being part of his group isn’t really a demotion at all. Ok, so their building is old, smelly, and dirty and they never have the budget they need, but there’s cunning and under-the-surface caring about human life. Everybody’s miserable to one degree or another, and they’re frequently assholes, but there’s a pretty boy for eye candy when you get tired of looking at Oldman’s “it’s-a-car-wreck-can’t-look-away” disgusting habits and appearance. That guy’s truly a chameleon, folks. And I found a compilation of some of the funniest—in that dry, sarcastic, British way—moments of the show. Despite this, it really is a drama, folks. Dark, gritty, suspenseful, and really well-written. On Apple TV.
3. If I’m going to talk about Apple TV, I have to talk about Ted Lasso. The thing is, you expect it to be a very long SNL sketch about an American football coach who is hired to coach…an English football (soccer) team. But the writers and actors make this come alive, combining American and British humor with amazing actors like Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham (who played The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, by the way) . Jason Sudeikis gives depth to the walking Hallmark Card that is Ted Lasso, with his character’s kind instincts often—but not always—leading to catharsis for his players. If you need something to help you remember there’s good in the world, particularly after watching something as dark as Slow Horses, I can’t recommend this sweet show enough. Well worth getting Apple TV for. Here’s a scene that made me laugh, though you can find a ton of other ones on YouTube.
4. Our Great National Parks , narrated by Barack Obama. If you’re like me, you love nature and animals, but often avoid nature documentaries because they’re depressing about climate change or they make you care about an animal—and then it gets eaten. I found this a refreshing change from those standard approaches because it focuses on wonder. This short series shows you some of the most amazing animal behaviors and landscapes in the world in order to help you see what’s worth saving. So even though I know a bit about animals and the natural world, I learned things from watching this, and they never killed off an animal they’d made me care personally about. Some of the national parks, in fact (around the world, not just in the U.S.), have made profound positive changes to the ecosystem in a short amount of time. Hope can be a powerful motivator, I believe. And you get to hear it all in the intelligent, reasoned voice of former President Obama. Here’s the trailer for it. On Netflix, but I think possibly also on YouTube.
So please–share your television picks! What do you like to watch? Include the streaming service, please, as I just don’t do television with commercials anymore. And tell me something about the show: what makes it appealing? What can I expect if I watch it? Why do you like it?