Not the original one with *spits* Ricky Gervais, the much better and as it turns out GENIUNELY HEARTWARMING one with Steve Carrell and co. I didn’t expect to love it but I did! Really good fun, really hilarious and really sweet at the end.
And now I know where all the memes come from! My god this show apparently barely had a line that wasn’t meme’d! “Dwight, you ignorant slut?” The Office. “Yeah, I have questions, number one, how dare you?” The Office. “Looks into the camera like I’m on The Office?” THE OFFICE.
It is the WILDEST, DUMBEST, WORST show ever and I regret so much I didn’t watch it when it first came out. It’s the most so-bad-its-good fun I’ve had watching TV in ages, if I can ignore the fact that a lot of the “storylines” (trust me, the quotation marks are needed) are crassly ripped from the headlines half the time. Lemme recap-
Here are, in no order, (some of) the most ridiculous things that have happened during the episodes I’ve watched:
-A man has a hyper-rare medical condition which makes him appear dead. He ends up on an actual autopsy table (ick) and upon waking up scares the autopsy guy so much he passes out and cuts himself with the chest-cutter-open tool. When the emergency services turn up they VERY REASONABLY suggest that the guy wear a medical alert bracelet to stop anyone cutting him up or burying him. He says no because he “likes to feel alive” or something. Well, screw the next autopsy guy who slices himself open then.
-Four flashbacks, one after the other and only barely in coherent order, reveal that a man abused his wife into suicide but she once shot a bullet into the tree she hung herself from. Man decides to blow up the tree (??) and the bullet explodes out and kills him.
-Kenneth Choi gets in a car accident and ends up with a spike in his head. He lives! He’s put in a induced coma and everyone very briefly worries. His flaky girlfriend gets a stern lecture about how she’ll have to be there for him if he survives. He lives again! His so called friends get him a “welcome back” cake shaped like his face with a spike through it.
They look all smiley and attractive (all of the unattactive folks on the show are obviously murderers or victims) but these are awwwwwwful people.
-There is what appears at one point to be an actual zombie?
-There’s a guy called Buck who’s a poorly drawn sex addict with very few other characteristics. His name rhymes with “fuck.” He’s insufferable.
-Abby the lonely 911 operator who narrates the show and Buck find themselves in a situation where they have to rescue a small child from a swimming pool that a live power cable somehow fell into. Aw an incarnation of my beloved old whale floatie, bought from America during a holiday, has a cameo as “Thing Buck thinks he can jump on to get through the ELECTROCUTED POOL”
My whale friend was named Kyle. I’m so sorry Kyle. Also guess I’m not going in one of those small personal swimming pools which seem to be a staple of American culture again!
-Abby goes on a date with Buck and he immediately almost chokes to death on his food. I think the universe wants him dead, as do I.
-A lift plummets! The mother and son inside don’t die on impact but they do get trapped as water slowly rises around them. I forgot how that happened but Los Angeles apparently is up there with the Death Star in terms of health and safety rules. I’m never going in a lift again either.
-Buck attempts to rescue a guy from a dangling rollercoaster, and fails as the guy falls dramatically to his death. He angsts for about an episode but later it turns out the guy was suicidal anyway and this…fixes things? What?
-A man gets a massive live tapeworm removed from, ur, his rectum. (Don’t watch this show while eating.) I feel so sorry for the poor actor whose agent called him up with, “Would you like to play ‘Man Who Has Massive Live Tapeworm In His Rectum?'” I wonder if he asked any follow-up questions.
I hear there’s several more seasons of this show and a spin-off. Oh god.
Recently Channel 4 started showing trailers for a thing called Mary Kills People and it caught my interest. Turns out it’s best described as… I guess… a REALLY REALLY dark almost-comedy about euthanasia? Mary only Kills People who are already dying but are prevented by law from ending their own lives. Most of them are in pain and longing for a way out that only she and her illegal drugs can give them.
Again REALLY REALLY dark but it’s very good. It doesn’t shy away from the horrors of terminal illness or death. It also poses a lot of questions about them, none of which can be answered because there aren’t any answers.
On a much lighter note this show has a lot of gay characters in the main cast and they’re all well-developed and interesting! And all of them are women! So bearing that in mind I guess I’m sort of surprised this show never seemed to develop any of a following whatsoever? It doesn’t even have its own TVTropes page! And…
…well it is also finished now! It got cancelled, thankfully without a cliffhanger, after three seasons. Which sucks because there was so much more they could have done with it. Oh well. The story they did get to tell is extremely interesting so check it out if you can. I know Channel 4 has it on their player if you’re in the UK!
Oh hey! They’ve made a drama about a true-crime story I actually remember happening! The Charles Ingram Who Wants to Be a Millionaire case. It was big news for a couple of days, IIRC, and then, well, then 9/11 happened and it got pushed out of the news. (This is mentioned in the show itself too.) I couldn’t remember for the life of me whether the Ingrams got declared guilty or not guilty so that was a surprise too.
It’s a great show to binge-watch while on lockdown, anyway. (I say binge-watch. There’s only three episodes.) True-crime stories without particularly high stakes are my favourite kind of stories. It’s pointed out in the show itself that is stealing a million pounds from a company who had more than that to give away really a crime deserving of the sort of justice the Ingrams recieved? They didn’t kill anyone, didn’t hurt anyone. And I appreciate it left things open-ended as to whether they even did what they were accused of.
Also Michael Sheen is fantastic as usual. ALSO also about halfway through the show I drank a glass of water wrong and had a massive coughing fit, how incredibly ironic.
It came out almost a year ago but I finally got to see Doom Patrol! It was… how to even describe it? DC does Deadpool? Justice League via the most batshit insane fever dream you’ve ever had? I got nothin’.
But the CAST! My god the cast! It’s so good to see Brendan Fraser again and he looks like he’s having the time of his life, I’m so glad. And Cyborg, that’s Joivan Wade from Doctor Who!
But Diane Guerrero oh wow! She did not have to Go That Hard, as the kids say. She was amazing playing several very different and usually terrifying people (sometimes in the same scene even.) WHAT A PERFORMANCE, damn.
If you are interested in watching actors kill it in the most ridiculous of scenes please watch this show! Also watch it if you are interested in any of the following:
Matt Bomer, specifically, doing musical numbers
friendly sentient streets
Alan Tudyk wearing the most amazingly terrifying grin I have ever seen on TV outside of political broadcasts
a person with a dinosaur for a second head
a person with a dinosaur for a second head who wears a mask over both heads when robbing a store
tortured parent-child relationships
the weirdest damn sex scenes you can possibly imagine
Brendan Fraser as a robot wrestling a massive alligator while you cry tears of heart-wrenching sorrow
Ever since yesterday afternoon I’ve been bingewatching The Act. (Apparently it first came out in 2019 but it only seems to have made it to Britain now.)
I came out of thinking, wow AMAZING performances from the entire cast (my god I barely even recognised Patricia Arquette), really well done show that had me constantly on edge, but there’s no way most of that was true right?
I WAS VERY WRONG. THE REAL STORY IS EVEN WORSE. (The potential poisoning?! That horrible extra detail about the night of the murder?! The fate of the ashes?!) Holy fuck. While I’m writing this, right now, I still absolutely cannot wrap my head around any of this. I had definitely heard the name “Gypsy Rose Blanchard” before but I had no idea this was the story connected with it. I can’t believe this happened only a few years ago and I’d never heard of it til now. Honest to god I’m still reeling. Bloody hell.
If you see this pop up on the Netflix homepage, I highly recommend it! It’s cute and creative and beautifully animated. As well as great main characters it has astronomer wolves, ’80s raccoons and an evil monkey voiced by Dan Stevens. It’s a blast.
And in the middle of it all there’s a really good, sweet, simple coming-out scene. In an ideal world that probably wouldn’t be a big deal but it is, especially since this show seems to be aimed mostly at kids and teens. So go check it out if you wanna/you can!
Continuing on from my favourite films of the decade, here’s my favourite (not necessarily best) TV shows! Alphabetically, of course, and illustrated with gifs.
Honestly Adventure Time is a masterpiece. A surrealist masterpiece, an animation masterpiece, a masterpiece of children’s television… call it whatever you want but “masterpiece” needs to be in there somewhere. It was weird, touching, occasionally terrifying, and never lost sight of what it wanted to do…for nine years. I’m sad that it’s (mostly) over but so, so glad it happened.
Come 2013 I was suddenly seeing this show everywhere. I knew the names of all the characters before I ever sat down to watch it, and most of the best jokes. That didn’t dent my enjoyment in the slightest. Brooklyn 99 is so, so good in just about every way. It’s funny, it’s smart, it has people in it who you just don’t see as main characters, like Captain Holt. The fact that Fox *spits* cancelled it and then it was almost immediately picked up by NBC just goes to show how much of a impact it had.
Call the Midwife
Call the Midwife has only been going since 2012 but it feels like it’s been so much longer. (That’s a good thing.) This is a pro-NHS, pro-feminism, pro-LGBT show that goes out prime-time on the BBC and I’m so grateful it exists. It never shies away from the rough parts of history, but instead pulls them out into the light to remind us of our responsibilities. It angers me no end that critics sometimes dismiss this show as frivolous nostalgia for the past, because there is nothing nostalgic about this show. It DESPERATELY wants you to know how horrible it was being a woman even within living memory. It’s a sucker punch to the gut with occasional upbeat ’50s music and some neat dresses.
All the praise to Netflix, because if it hadn’t existed and advertised this show on its front page I would never have discovered it. And I love it. This is an adult cartoon done right, i.e. using animation to tell a story of vast scope instead of using it to tell fart jokes. (Though there are probably a couple of those, even if I don’t remember them.) It’s like… how can I even describe this show… the ambition of Star Wars meets the themes of Guardians of the Galaxy meets the zest of Futurama. AND it has a adorable squishy space pet/planet-destroyer! This show not having a much bigger fanbase is such a dang injustice.
I’d heard of Gravity Falls, and heard nothing but good things, but I didn’t actually see it until several years after it came out. And I’m SO CROSS because the show was set up as a big mad mystery to be solved, and it would have been great to be able to trade theories and decode the end messages along with everyone else. But as it stands… I got a fantastic experience anyway. I knew all the major twists, but I’d never really met the characters properly. So now I love them all, especially Soos. And I also love the show’s central theme, which is that growing up is hard as hell and you need a good support system.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale has always been one of my favourite books and this adaptation was more than I could ever have dreamed of. It took characters I already knew and built them backstories and new futures. It cast unbelievably talented actors for even the smaller roles. And my god the visuals, the punch-you-in-the-face visuals. The red-and-white Handmaid uniforms are seen at political protests a lot now, and they should be. This show demonstrates how unforgivably close we always are to losing everything we hold dear.
His Dark Materials
I read all of the His Dark Materials series as a kid and I remember liking them, especially the third book. This TV adaptation brought all of that crashing back and then some. I have some qualms (it’s obvious that the budget couldn’t stretch to one visible daemon for every human, for example) but my gosh, what an absolutely beautiful job they’ve done with everything else. And the acting is wonderful, although Ruth Wilson is the standout the child actors are like… clearly the best in the business, holy hell. I can’t WAIT for the next couple of seasons.
The Last Man On Earth
The Last Man on Earth massively lit up my life… for the few years it was on. My god, Fox had no idea what they had on their hands. After the dodgy first season it suddenly turned into this amazing, beautiful, touching tale about life after the end of the world. Characters underwent development! They got married! They had kids! And then all of a sudden… end of show. Right after a cliffhanger ending, a major one. Sigh. I’ll always miss LMOE but I’m grateful I was around at the same time it was.
I’d wanted to watch Superstore for ages but I only finally got to see it when it came on British TV. And even then I managed to catch only the season one finale before anything else. But it hooked me instantly and I quickly went back to the beginning to see what I missed and then forward again to season two. By the season two finale I had utterly fallen in love with it. It’s hilarious but it pulls no punches about how inhumanly terrible the American retail systems are – how inhumanly terrible a lot of systems are, in fact. Also, Mark McKinney’s “Muppet voice” for Glenn is possibly the best comedy voice that has ever been created, EVER.
This show. Rarely have I seen anything so bleak and depressing and yet so triumphant at the end. Marie, who is very VERY closely based on a real person, goes through an amount of trauma and distress which would destroy most people (and very nearly destroys her) but she gets to walk away vindicated, thank god. The intervention of two female detectives saves not only her but a multitude of other women. It seems to me to be so rare that such a terrible story has a happy or just ending, so thank god this show arrived with its pointed message: when it comes to rape cases, we need to be better. So, so much better than we currently are. Please watch it.
Honourable mentions: The Good Place, Steven Universe, the Moffat and Chibnall eras of Doctor Who (not eligible because the show itself started last decade…), Broadchurch, Orange is the New Black, and probably a few more that I forgot, sorry.
Like a lot of Brits I was kinda intrigued by the trailers for The Accident. It looked sort of unimpressive aesthetically, I thought, but it had some good actors attached and an interesting premise. So I watched it. Hooooo boy.
Here is a summary of the first episode of The Accident:
Down-to-earth Welsh hairdresser Sarah Lancashire walks into her 15-year-old daughter’s room and finds her having sex with an older guy. Instead of ripping his balls off or calling the police (as having sex with a 15-year-old girl is you know ILLEGAL) she seems pretty chill about it all and tells the guy (uh, the pedophile) to escape out of the window before the girl’s dad comes back. Okay.
Downstairs the husband comes in and he’s dressed in a banana costume for a fun run. The adults go off to the fun run and while they’re there they listen to some clunky foreshadowing about how much everyone loves the village and will fight for it etc etc. Meanwhile some teenagers including the daughter are meeting up at an old abandoned building.
These are BAD KIDS! You can tell because some of them have DYED HAIR and PIERCINGS. They sneak under the extremely ineffective barbed wire and start vandalising the place. One of them spray-paints a willy which is the only realistic thing anyone in this story does. While the daughter and her friend are painting a butterfly mural on the upper floor of the building for some reason, there’s a massive gas explosion. Oh no! The explosion can be heard at the fun run zone and all the adults decide to go and see what happened. Okay, that I can buy, as I also live in a village and villagers are nosy AF.
The parents hear that kids are inside the building, which is odd cos no-one saw them go in, and start worrying. A phone call comes in from one of the girls (the daughter’s friend?) which confirms that a whole bunch of teens are trapped. Cut to some heroic firemen working to free them, using a angle grinder, WHICH SHOOTS SPARKS EVERYWHERE, in a GAS EXPLOSION. I considered for one second that that maybe was a plot point and the rest of the show would be about prosecuting incompetent rescuers, but… um, it seems not.
Anyway at this point the head of the company which owns the building shows up, despite this apparently being a pretty remote Welsh village, how the hell did she get there so fast?! Sarah Lancashire, whose daughter is trapped within rubble and possibly dead, hits this lady with the mild insult “you built this place cheap as chips!” Um, it’s past the watershed, you can swear, you know. A TV camera is filming this because the TV cameras are there, in this remote village where an explosion happened apparently less than an hour ago.
Then the building collapses completely and kills almost everyone inside! Who saw that coming? Dust fills the air. Everyone looks… peturbed. Maybe shocked at a pinch. And… that’s it for the big scene of horror and grief!
But, seeing as Sarah Lancashire is the main character her daughter survives, albeit so severly injured she might be disabled for life. Emergency services whip body bags out right in front of the crowd, way to go guys. Also one of the firefighters is dead, this is Alan who is married to Debbie, a deaf woman. Casting a deaf actor (Genevieve Barr) to play a deaf character and making her disability not the most important aspect of her is the only good move this show appears to have done, I think.
Okay so Sarah Lancashire heads to hospital with the other parents and watches them one by one learn their kids have died. This is the episode’s only actually well-done scene. One of the mothers (the mother of the daughter’s friend?) walks past SL and snaps sharply and horribly “She’s dead” and that got me right in the gut, credit where credit’s due.
While in the hospital SL talks to a guy who apparently saved her daughter in the building but we didn’t see him there who what why?? Also the nurse lets her go in the room, what the hell kind of hospital is this?
Back at home it turns out SL’s husband has been beating her and is about to do so again. She lets him do it and then comforts him for a while. That scene got a lot of criticism on Twitter (yes, I was eagerly Twittering along with others as it aired, and there was barely a positive tweet in the bunch) but actually I was okay with that, it’s definitely not outside the realm of possibility for a victim of domestic abuse to act that way. Refuge thought so too and posted about it which I thought was a good move.
Nearly at the end now. SL’s daughter starts communicating with her mother via blinking and the grieving parents hold a vigil. Company lady goes on TV, the clip of SL shouting “cheap as chips” gets dramatically played over and over and I found that hilarious, oh god I’m sorry. Not only am I not convinced the writers of this have ever met a Welsh person I’m not entirely sure if they’ve ever met a British person, no one has said that phrase in years.
The ‘next time’ trailer sees the deaf lady being beaten up, so much for a sense of community spirit.
This show is getting rave reviews across all the major British outlets and I have honest to god no idea why. See, it almost reached “so bad it’s good” levels, but the thing is: this was loosely based on two real-life tragedies: Grenfell and Aberfan. The Accident – a show about specifically children dying in a Welsh disaster – aired almost 53 years to the day after Aberfan. If you’re British or keep up with world news I won’t have to tell you about Grenfell, which was only a couple of years ago. Even sidestepping the issue of why there are so few Welsh actors in a drama inspired by Aberfan and so few black and Muslim characters in a tale inspired by Grenfell, the tweaking of the story (the death of innocents caused by bad corporate policy) to make the victims partly responsible for their own deaths leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. No-one in Aberfan or Grenfell Tower were breaking into a building when they were killed. This show, it feels exploitative and just so… cheap.