Greetings loyal readers! You may have noticed that I have been absent since…(checks posts)…July 15th. Wow, that has been a while. Life got on top of me for a moment there, as I recently bought a flat and went on holiday to Disney World, so haven’t had terribly much to blog about as I haven’t seen too much! However, I still need to post my (probably fairly short) review of the new Lion King film, and I thought I would clue you all in to my recommendations as to what to be watching, just in case you needed. So, in reverse chronological order, here is what I have been watching this Summer!
The Boys (Season 1) – Amazon Prime
The Boys taps into one of my main loves: superheroes. However, it does tell the story in a different way. It answers the (unasked) question of how superheroes would work within our own society, and the answer is interesting to contemplate. We are very used to superpowered people having strong morals and a drive to save the world and assist humanity, but is this realistic? Moreover, is it right to hold superpowered people to higher standards just because they have these superhuman abilities?
Within The Boys, we are introduced to this concept through Hughie Campbell, who begins to detest superhero group The Seven. The Seven are funded by a powerful corporation Vought Industries, which uses “Supes” as business tools. There’s a lot of talk of “points” and public approval ratings, as well as mentions to superhero films alongside assigning them to various areas. On the flipside, we also have the character of Annie January, who joins the Seven as Starlight and, similarly, discovers that they are not the idealised image that is presented to the public.
My explanation cannot do this series justice. Highly engaging, dark and gritty, it’s an entirely different and welcome spin on the superhero genre.
Archer (Season 10) – Netflix
Adult animated sitcom Archer is back for a tenth run, subtitled “Archer: 1999”. While beginning its life as a serialised entity, following titular character Sterling Archer being shot, series have taken on an anthology concept, with the same core group of characters being reconceptualised in entirely different situations and settings. Season 8 saw the group in a 1940s noir, followed by Season 9 based upon a remote island, and Season 10 sees the group go to space. Off-beat and still delightfully amusing, the anthology concept helps keep the series fresh – though it is frustrating to still have no closure over the “real” Sterling’s fate while he is in a coma.
Orange is the New Black (Season 7) – Netflix
“Orange is the New Black”
The final season of Orange is the New Black was released in late July, and follows the continuing saga of Piper Chapman as she is released from Litchfield Penitentiary. While she struggles to adjust to ordinary life once again, this series also explores immigration detention facilities and the harsh reality of these situations. Orange is the New Black continues to be delightfully well-written, featuring brilliant nuanced characters, and even finds some small parts of our characters’ backstories to explore. It provides a fitting resolution to the series, though perhaps could have benefitted from being a few episodes shorter.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Season 3) – Netflix
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power”
She-Ra‘s latest collection of episodes is its shortest offering yet, clocking in at just 6 half-hour instalments. However, it is drastically more streamlined than the collections that have come before it, as well as offering some delightful character developments. Adora and Catra continue to be inexplicably drawn to each other in continuously more toxic ways, while Adora continues to struggle with what having the mantle of She-Ra really means. We are also treated to some essential development in our more villainous characters, and come to understand characters like Entrapta, Hordak and Scorpia much more than previously. The stakes are getting higher, and as the series truly finds its feet with its characters, the story is going from strength to strength.
No Good Nick – Netflix
“No Good Nick”
I have to be honest, I only watched this because I saw it on Melissa Joan Hart’s Instagram and I have loved her since Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, my method of discovery is irrelevant. No Good Nick is a comedy series, in which Nicole appears on the doorstep of the ordinary Thompson family claiming to be an orphan and that they are her closest living relatives. However, it turns out that Nick is in fact running a scam on the Thompsons for her own devices. Delightfully amusing and captivating, No Good Nick features brilliant performances across the board as well as engaging and three-dimensional relationships depicted. By the end, you are tremendously invested in the goings-on of the Thompson family, and a lump came to my throat several times while watching through the first season. My one concern for this series is an uncertainty as to who its target audience is. Though it seems to be angled towards children, the presence of adult themes makes it slightly unclear who is meant to be watching.
What/If – Netflix
This is truly an entirely bizarre show. I am still trying to work out whether it is self-aware enough for this to be a parody of the genre, or whether it is in fact just awful. Either way, it is deliciously addictive viewing. Renée Zellweger stars as mysterious and wealthy Anne Montgomery, who offers Lisa $80 million to start up her molecular sequencing enterprise in exchange for one night with her husband. The conditions of this agreement are, however, a Non-Disclosure Agreement, meaning that Lisa will never know what happened on that night. As the plot unfolds, it turns out that Anne planned the following events with such prophetic wisdom that she could really be considered a clairvoyant. Even looking back on this series, I am slightly uncertain how they managed to stretch it out to 10-episodes, but I do remember being delightfully entertained.
You Me Her (Season 4) – Netflix
“You Me Her”
You Me Her revolves around suburban couple Jack and Emma Trakarsky as they embark upon a threeway relationship with graduate student Izzy. What I love about this series is just how real it all feels. Instead of being a TV programme about how sexy and fun a throuple could be – which is easily a road it could have taken – this is a love story at its heart. A thoroughly unconventional one: which is what I love it for. It isn’t played for laughs, and it is unapologetic in its depiction. Season 3 dealt with the fallout of Emma abandoning the throuple and starting a lesbian relationship, before rejoining Jack and Izzy upon discovering she was pregnant. The third season ended with a polyamorous commitment ceremony. Throughout this fourth season, the trio navigate the problems that “majority rules” can take, as it constantly seems that Izzy is compromising and slotting in to what Jack and Emma had as a life before her. Emma throws herself into polyamory research, constantly shouting “poly-foul”. Moreover, the three start thinking about a tri custody agreement for Emma’s twins. The exploration of this relationship from all sides is truly captivating, and you really get to root for all of the characters involved. I cannot get enough of this show, and I cannot wait for its fifth and final season.
Stranger Things 3 – Netflix
“Stranger Things 3”
It’s the Summer of ’85, and the kids of Hawkins are having all sorts of fun. Max and Eleven are bonding like never before, and have cast off their boyfriends Mike and Lucas. However, something seems to be stirring underneath the Starcourt Mall; Steve, Dustin and new girl Robin hear a mysterious Russian message and Eleven and Max start to notice something strange with a few residents of Hawkins, which leads them into a mystery that undoubtedly involves the Upside Down.
Jessica Jones (Season 3) – Netflix
While Season 1 focussed upon Jessica’s conflict with Kilgrave and Season 2 was an exploration of Jessica’s relationship with her similarly superpowered mother, Jessica’s foe in this series is entirely human. It requires Jessica to mend her fractured relationship with her sister Trish, but the pursuit of this dangerous individual leads to devastating losses for the pair that send them hurtling on a disastrous trajectory. It is the most human of the three series and is wholly focussed upon Trish and Jessica’s dynamic, and how delicate the balance is between heroism and tyrannism.
Sex Education (Season 1) – Netflix
Sex Education follows Otis, a socially awkward teenager, who starts a sex therapy business with the assistance of peer Maeve, after inadvertently helping the school bully to orgasm during sex with his advice. Otis’ mother (who is delightfully played by Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist herself, who continues to embarrass him and cross boundaries through her frank discussion of sexuality with her teenage son. A delightful enough premise, which leads to multiple hilarious situations and skits, though it’s the characters, ultimately, who sell the series. The hint of romantic potential between Otis and Maeve is more than enough to keep me invested and watching.
Schitt’s Creek – Netflix
Schitt’s Creek isn’t technically a Summer watch of mine, but I thought that it deserved to be mentioned on this list because of its high quality and because I have yet to blog about it. Schitt’s Creek follows the wealthy Rose family, consisting of Johnny (Eugene Levy), Moira (Catherine O’Hara), David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy), who lose their fortune and are forced to remain in their sole remaining asset: a town called Schitt’s Creek. Relocating to a motel in Schitt’s Creek, the Rose family soon find their snobbery at odds with the attitudes of the inhabitants, including Mayor Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott) and motel owner Stevie (Emily Hampshire). Laughs are aplenty in this half-hour sitcom, as we see the wildly out of touch Roses try to adapt to normal life. Words simply cannot do justice to the quality of humour that this show has to offer, so I shall instead include a variety of amusing compilations to whet your appetite and (hopefully) persuade you to watch it.
There we have it, folks! A return to blogging with a mammoth post, and hopefully this (very brief) synopsis of each programme has helped you pick something to watch, if you needed a recommendation.