Mature readers like myself might still remember those days that TV series were far inferior to Hollywood productions. Younger generations, who have grown up watching high-quality HBO and Netflix TV productions, will probably have great difficulties to comprehend what I just wrote. There has been a shift in recent years resulting in some amazing TV productions. Despite being a cinephile, I too have fallen for the temptations of bingewatching complete TV series. And boy, how I have bingewatched these recent months! Traditionally the summer has always been the season for big Hollywood blockbuster films to open in the cinema. Rebel as I am, I won’t be sharing any film tips with you here, but instead want to recommend you these MUST WATCH TV series for the summer, starting with some incredible new series, followed by a few recent seasons of already established series. I’m typing this whilst I’m listening to the soundtrack of The Revenant, one of my favourite films from last year. I guess there’s still a bit of a cinephile left in me.
The Sci-Fi series Steven Spielberg never made based on a story Stephen King never wrote: Stranger Things
This brand-new Netflix mini-series is by far the best I’ve seen this year. It is set in the eighties so prepare yourself for some bad 80s pop tunes, eerie John Carpenter-ish synth sounds and great haircuts. The story centres around four young nerdy American boys whose favourite weekend pastime activity is playing the board game Dungeons and Dragons. When one of them disappears one night, they come to realise that real demons exist outside of their game world.
The series, starring Winona Ryder as the lost boy’s mother, resonates 80s classics such as E.T.and The Goonies but with a much scarier, almost Guillermo del Toro style, vibe.
Scandi detective series: Trapped
Perhaps a strange match to watch a series set in wintry Iceland during the summer months, but the intricate web of various connecting story lines will distract you from the fact that there’s at least a 40 degrees temperature difference between the onscreen world and your back garden. After Scandi detective heroines Sarah Lund and, the much smarter, Saga Norén, Trapped follows male detective Andri while he tries to solve a murder in a sleepy Icelandic town. During his investigations, the viewer witnesses many interesting plot twists and side stories.
Angels with British accents, a preacher with demonic powers whose BFF is an Irish vampire: Preacher
With Seth Rogen as one of the producers of the show, I expected loads of juvenile humour, weed abuse and embarrassing fart and vomit gags. Luckily, Preacher has none of that, but it is still rather absurd. I’ve just finished watching season 1 and I’m finally starting to figure out what the series is actually about, who the characters are and what the hell is happening on screen. Dominic Cooper plays a criminal-turned-preacher in a small town in Texas. On one (un)fortunate day he’s possessed by an almighty demon, which leaves him with great powers. It’s quite clear from the incredible events that Preacher is based on a comic book series. The preacher’s ex-girlfriend, Tulip, doesn’t only look like she came straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film, but her dialogues also seem to have been written by the great man himself. I’m not really sure where the series is going to develop into, but for the moment I’m intrigued.
James Franco goes time travelling: 11.22.63
While Seth Rogen produced a TV series, his buddy James Franco starred in the mini-series 11.22.63. The title refers to the date American president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In the series, Franco has been given the task to travel back in time and prevent Kennedy’s murder, which would then stop the Vietnam war from happening, and who knows perhaps even the nomination of Donald Trump for president (this last bit isn’t really in the TV series). Quite an intense, political version of Groundhog Day. Funny enough, unlike Stranger Things, this series is based on a Stephen King story. J.J. Abrams is also involved (as executive-producer) so you know it must to be good!
Dark British humour: Camping
It starts off as a fun holiday trip of old friends in the British countryside, but it ends in, shall we say, ‘something else’. According to hubby this series is typically British: rather disturbing and very uncomfortable to watch. Perhaps not one of the best series I have seen recently, but it’s quite interesting to get a taste of some real dark British humour.
Longer running shows
Dragons, zombies, sex and brutal violence: Game of Thrones Season 6
I found a short window of time in between work projects to plan an intense GoT season 6 marathon a few weeks ago and found myself watching the last two episodes at 7.30am on a Sunday morning before my HIIT class at the gym. Because my friends had seen the season weeks before me already, I was warned for the slow start, but that the final episodes would make up for it all. The epic beginning of episode 10, combined with the beautiful, dramatic music by GoT composer Ramin Djawadi, will make the long wait till season 7 just a little bit more bearable.
Breaking Bad prequel, the making of lawyer Saul: Better Call Saul Season 2
‘Creative’ lawyer Saul is by far one of the best characters in Breaking Bad and it’s no surprise that they created a spin-off series based on him. In season 1 we were introduced to him as Jimmy, a lawyer who intends well but isn’t that successful yet (he operates from a broom closet in the back of a nail salon). In season 2 Jimmy’s career seems to pick up, but we also get an idea of how this good-hearted guy turned into the rather sleazy lawyer Saul we know so well. I still can’t get over the incredible 14-second theme ‘song’, which is over before you can click fast forward on your remote!
Spoilt rich white girl in prison: Orange is the New Black Season 4
While season 1 was entertaining, I got more and more irritated by obnoxious Piper, the main protagonist of this comedy-drama female prison series, in the following two seasons. However, I endured and have been rewarded with a very good season 4. Piper is still obnoxious, but the viewer learns interesting background stories on the other characters. Prison director Caputo is my favourite character as he’s not only funny, but is sincerely trying to give the prisoners the best possible treatment whilst fighting the red tape bureaucracy. The season finale promises a spectacular beginning of season 5.
I’m always on the lookout for new TV series to fulfil my bingewatch cravings, so please share your suggestions in a comment below!