If you know me, you know I watch A LOT of television. Finding hidden gems, trying to keep up with what everyone is watching and losing myself in television is the norm for me. Television has always been my escape, even more than film. But not everyone watches as much television as I do and I know that. So in this column, I will tell you what I watched and loved and what to look forward too.
So every month, I will give you guys a television report card in a certain way. My top 10 TV shows of the month, in no particular order, some honourable mentions and what to look forward too. I will even tell you where you can watch it! Now this time it will be a little different because I want to cover shows beyond this month since a lot of great television has aired in 2019 and I haven’t covered it. So this list will be longer than usual. So here we go… Welcome to Arianne’s Watchlist.
BEST OF 2019 SO FAR
Dead To Me (Netflix), Season One Available on Netflix, Renewed for Season Two.
I like to describe Dead To Me as a soap opera if soaps were good television and that’s all compliments. Because Dead To Me is over the top all the time and yet charming and entertaining. What makes it so wonderful isn’t just the fact that exploring someone’s grief with comedy is original but the extremely flawed characters that inhabit the world just bring it to another level. It does help when your leading ladies are Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, whose chemistry is not only through the roof but also anchors the whole show. Soap can be a hit or miss, I love them but I also know they aren’t for everyone. The thing about Dead To Me is that it’s so much more. It’s also a very dark comedy, a show about friendship and family, a show about grief, etc. It’s a show that doesn’t need one label and instead brings multiple. From beginning to end, the show brings you on a wild ride that gets you through the wringer but that doesn’t matter because you are entertained from the first minute to the last.
Dear White People (Netflix) – Season One to Three Available on Netflix, Renewal Pending.
Dear White People started its life as a movie and then became a show but what the show is capable of doing is explore the themes so much farther than the movie ever could. Dear White People never pull their punches, it’s frank and honest. It’s there to represent those who are underrepresented but also educate white people. It’s a show that is never afraid to go where other shows would shy away from. While season three might of felt a little bit all over the place at times, it’s expanding cast and cinematography make everything better. If other show would have stuck to its core cast, over the seasons Dear White People moved forward by giving everyone it’s moments to shine and showcase talents that might have never found their voices had it not been for this show.
Euphoria (HBO) – Season One Available on Crave, Renewed for Season Two.
Euphoria might just be the weirdest, most complicated show I have ever seen. And yet, it might also be one of the best shows I have ever seen. I have described the show to my friends Euphoria as a glorious control visual mess that represents perfectly the imperfect world that it explores. Not only does it boost one of the best young cast, perfectly lead by Zendaya (Spiderman, The Greatest Showman), but it is just so visually insane that you can’t help but be completely transported by the storytelling that is told through the lens. Euphoria is the best representation of high school in a very long time. It doesn’t pull punches and is not for the faint of heart. It’s a shame it’s only just eight-episodes because I could spend hours and hours watching the show.
Fleabag (Amazon Prime) – Season One and Two Available on Amazon Prime, Ended.
Fleabag is perfect. That should be all I need to say but I will elaborate a little more on it. Perfect television is exemplified with Fleabag. It’s funny, witty but also dramatic and emotional. There’s not one episode that I didn’t enjoy. Coming directly from the brain of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it’s an example of why she is the most entertaining writer out there right now. She’s able to bring you into her world so perfectly that you can’t help but be completely taken by this show. Where I would have been satisfied by just getting the first season, just like Waller-Bridge wanted at first, boy am I glad that she changed her mind and gave us one of the best seasons of television ever. It was just plain fantastic, not only in terms of the writing but also the acting which continued to prove that Waller-Bridge can write for anyone.
GLOW (Netflix) – Season One to Three Available on Netflix, Renewal Pending.
I have to be honest and admit that I was late to the GLOW party. I discovered the show only when the second season dropped but the man did I love it. I binged two full seasons in one sitting and then when this new season became available, I watched it in 24 hours. I just couldn’t stop. Coming from the same people that brought us OITNB, I don’t know why I waited so long to start it. GLOW is not only funny as hell, but it’s also super original. Just like with OITNB you fall in love with this bunch of misfit and support them forever. The show doesn’t pull punches either and while season three did lose some of its underdog appeal with the show moving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas where the girls are for the first time successful as wrestlers, it doesn’t change the fact that this bunch of women own my heart and I would watch them forever. The way season three ended, it just made me want to watch the next season even more but it did leave the door open for some of the cast members to change and I just don’t want that because GLOW made me fall in love with these women and I don’t want to say goodbye just yet.
Killing Eve (BBC America) – Season One and Two Available on Crave, Renewed for Season Three.
Season one of Killing Eve was my favourite show of last year. It was such a good mix of comedy and drama. A cat and mouse game with a twist, plus it was written by Fleabag’s mastermind Phoebe Waller-Bridge and starred Grey’s Anatomy favourite Sandra Oh. While Season Two never met the perfection that was Season One, I was still hooked from beginning to end and that is all thanks to the amazing performances given by the two leading ladies, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (The White Princess). Killing Eve is surprising and plays against expectations and that is why you always come back to it. Just when you think to know where things will be headed, the writers pull the rug from under your feet and you are back to not knowing what the hell is happening and that’s just so wonderful.
Orange is The New Black (Netflix) – Season One to Seven Available on Netflix, Ended.
Orange Is The New Black is the reason we binge shows today. Think back to the beginning and OITNB started it all. If the show might have lost its way after season four, it truly returned to form with its finale season. Maybe it left some story too open-ended but it also proved that it still is one of television’s best. For me, OITNB means so much and to see it ending breaks my heart but I will take this ending with all the love that was poured into it. Just like it’s first few seasons, it brought laughter and tears with every episode and reunited us with some of our favourites. We all screamed when Poussey appeared one last time, or when Sophia walked in looking better than ever. But it also made us cry with the immigration storyline centred around Blanca and Maritza (bringing even more tears when you think about Diane Guerrero’s own story) and then wrecked you with Lorna and Red’s stories. But OITNB stayed true to itself for its last season and brought it all home one last time.
Russian Doll (Netflix), Season One Available on Netflix, Renewed for Season Two.
Sometimes television can be relaxing and what you see is what you get and then there’s the television that makes you rethink everything about life. Russian Doll is the second one in this example. It’s a wild ride that takes you left and right and you go along with it because it’s so damn entertaining. Time loop isn’t a new concept in television and film but that doesn’t matter because when you have a show centred around Natasha Lyonne (Orange is The New Black) you can’t go wrong, then put in a time loop story where the characters must change and help each other in order to break the loop and you have a success. Also, that woman can do no wrong really and she’s also hilarious without even trying so imagine when she says well-crafted jokes that fit her perfectly. Russian Doll is not only entertaining but it’s also damn funny, after all, it’s Natasha Lyonne. With this show, you never get what you expect and the unexpected brings some of television’s best work. It’s lead characters, it’s a story and the infinite possibilities of what can come next, makes me love it even more.
Sex Education (Netflix), Season One Available on Netflix, Renewed for Season Two.
Sex Education is what I would qualify as Skins’ little brother. The one who’s calmer and prettier but also very deranged with a lot of problems. It’s a show that knows what it is from its first moment and walks its path in a straight line bringing it all home by the end. What makes Sex Education special is the subject matter. Maybe it’s because we live in a world where sex is so censured in North America but to see a show like this is refreshing. Because if other shows violently use sexuality, portraying it negatively and very often in a sexist way, Sex Education does the exact opposite. It uses humour to educate, to show that sex isn’t all bad and should be about more than sex. Also, it’s really funny to see a kid who can’t even masturbate be a specialist at giving sex advice. Sex Education knows that it is and is best for it because it never tries to shy away from it. The characters are quirky but that’s okay because the subject is too, the jokes are dirty, that’s okay it’s a show about sex. It’s all a balance act and Sex Education does it perfectly.
When They See Us (Netflix) – Limited Series Available on Netflix.
One thing you should know about me is that I will watch anything Ava Duvernay creates. She could just film a white wall for hours and I would still watch it. That’s just how highly I think of her and again she proves how much of a force of nature she is. But this time, she brings all the emotions and tears. I knew nothing about the Central Park Five case. I didn’t know these men, I didn’t know who they were and what happened to them but that didn’t matter because Duvernay captured my heart and then wrecked it. She explored the injustice in the justice system with her documentary 13th (also available on Netflix) but with this, she brings something more, something I have such difficulty to explain. When They See Us takes your heart and then breaks it but at the same time it’s necessary because what happened to these children is the most horrible thing that could happen to anyone. Divided into four sections, four episodes, Ava can explore the world of the justice system in a way that hasn’t been done. We see the injustice done to these innocent children from the beginning to the end. I also recommend watching the interview Oprah did with the five men on Netflix after watching the series because it brings home the subject even more.
Queer Eye (Netflix), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO), Gentleman Jack (HBO), Stranger Things (Netflix), The Good Place (NBC), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC), One Day At A Time (Netflix/Pop), The Boys (Amazon Prime), It’s The End of The Fucking World (Netflix).
WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
Why Women Kill (CBS All Access – August 15th), Mindhunters (Netflix – August 16th), The Dark Crystal: Age of Innocence (Netflix – August 30), Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu – September 4th), Unbelievable (Netflix – September 13th), Stumptown (ABC – September 25th), The Politician (Netflix – September 27th).