What to Watch – Summer 2017

As the nights start to draw in, it’s the perfect time to get comfy with your beloved/fluffy pet/preferred beverage on the sofa and watch some great TV. Here are my picks from the past few months:

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Last Chance U

I loved this series and was delighted to have season two back on my screen. It felt slightly different of course; the effects of the on-pitch brawl last season (not a spoiler – the first series actually begins with it) are still being felt, athletes and coaches are reactive to their portrayals on screen and the associated ‘fame’ that goes with it and the breakaway star (and heart) of it all, Miss Brittany Wagner, announces she’s leaving. It hammers home the last chances for the athletes, with some overcoming their past and some unable to escape the cycle they’re stuck in. Expect tears.

Available on Netflix

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Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press

A documentary on the Gawker vs Hulk Hogan case that saw Hogan winning $140 million in damages. It starts with a simple sex tape/invasion of privacy ruling and ends in the destruction of a company with multi-millionaires funding lawsuits to effectively silence dissenting or critical voices. It’s a fascinating (and sometimes flawed) look at the American legal system and first amendment rights and the scary AF notion that people with all the money can win at everything.

Available on Netflix

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Game of Thrones

The greatest show on Earth. No, really. I don’t think there’s enough hyperbole to describe this season. It had e v e r y t h i n g with some episodes taking my breath away and others making me shout at the television like a hooligan. The production, the cinematography, the special effects, the budgets (!) are incomparable to anything else out there on television right now. Forget that it’s a fantasy series and forgo the snobbery of people who proclaim they’ve never seen it (it doesn’t make you a better person y’know *eye roll*) to envelope yourself in winter. It’s not coming, it’s here.

Available on Sky Atlantic

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Ozark

Imagine Breaking Bad without the drugs, cancer and science in the desert, add the Ozarks (actually filmed in Georgia for the tax breaks) and money laundering and brilliant performances from Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. Seriously good.

Available on Netflix

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Atypical

An eighteen year old decides to start dating throwing his family into chaos at his new found independence. Not unusual but it presents challenges as he is also is on the autistic spectrum. It’s funny, touching and insightful to life with autism – as much as it can be – with penguins. I love the relationship between brother and sister too: “My sister doesn’t let anyone beat me up. Except herself.”

Available on Netflix

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Glow

This had me laughing out loud alone. A quirky look at the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling with a fantastic retro soundtrack and heartwarming performances. Watch it for the brilliant costumes and parody of stereotypes, stay for the sisterhood.

Available on Netflix

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How The World Made America

I really wish I could make every single racist bigot watch this and then see their ideology crumble. A fantastic series documenting the immigration patterns of different ethnic groups from across the world to the US, merging with historical events. The interviews with descendants of key figures in the making of America are fascinating. It poses the question of what is it to be American, and can you be anti-immigrant when your entire nation is founded on the backs of those very same immigrants?

Available on History

Must See TV… Gomorrah

Based on the book and the subsequent film, this Neopolitan crime drama had me watching with baited breath back in 2014. 

Imagine if Shakespeare lived in modern day Naples and wrote about a crime family that had a power struggle at its heart. King Lear meets The Wire in Italy with texting and scooters, if you will. 

They’ve made us wait two whole years for the second season but it has finally returned to Sky Atlantic. Catch up with the first series on demand now.

The people – gone are the days of the good guys and the bad guys; there’s more shades of grey here than a billionaire sadist. No situation is black and white, the characters are beautifully manipulative. You think they can’t be that cruel (they can) or that kind (even creepier). I won’t give spoilers, but it’s a joy to watch the metamorphosis of Genny from spoilt chubster to terrifying wannabe mobster. There’s a real struggle between the new and old generations where gentlemanly conduct and deference to the ruling family gives way to disrespect from the younger clan members. Even Facebook gets a mention. 

The music – who knew Italian rap was such a good thing? Jokes aside, the music in this series is brilliant. If I remember correctly, there’s a hilarious scene with a car journey and the radio and two dangerous criminals having a sing song. Plus I’m now trained to have a Pavlovian reaction to the synth string music, knowing that something terrible is about to happen.   

The violence – as I type this, I’m watching a man being beaten to death with a snooker cue. A few episodes before someone had their throat sliced open. This is not the programme for you if you blanch at the sight of blood or violence. Revenge is a common card dealt in this series and it’s often brutal and relentless. Guns and bullets are a more common sight than wallets. 

The places – forget the glamorous Italy you’ve seen in other shows. This is not the Italy or Naples we see. Most of the action takes place in the huge housing estates. Delapidated and gritty, the streets are shared by the haves and have-nots, the only difference being the interiors varying from a Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen gilt nightmare to Spartan frugal modernism. The estates begin to resemble an illustration of Dante’s Inferno and the many circles of hell. 

The language – no, not necessarily bad language. The Neopolitan dialect has me all sorts of confused if I try to follow the action without reading the subtitles. It’s a sing-song for the ears. 

I can’t recommend Gomorrah enough. Don’t be a stronzo and watch it NOW!!