9 Shows To Binge Before The Clock Strikes 2016!
So you are still riding out the Holiday highs with your family. Or maybe you’ve had enough of the family and in an effort to avoid any political debates with relatives you only see once a year you need a distraction. Why not use this time to find a safe place to hide and catch up on one of this year’s best series before the New Year? Be sure to be part of the convo about these 2015 faves come January.
Master of None [Netflix]
In his post-Parks and Rec debut Aziz is back as Dev, a single, 30-year-old, up-and-coming actor navigating his career and love life in NYC. He can’t make a decision to save his life (oh hi, I can relate) which is where his best buds Arnold and Denise come in. Besides the hilarious banter among them on everything from texting etiquette to dealing with friends with kids, Dev slyly slips in some much-needed POC perspectives on Hollywood. I mean I’m not going to spoil it for everyone but somewhere around episode 5 he drops some knowledge about Indian actors and not-so-Indian actors that might blow your mind. It’s refreshing to finally give a voice to one that has been missing for very long. Plus, any scene with Dev’s / Aziz’ dad is precious. Watch and see if Dev finally gets his happily ever after.
The Man in the High Castle [Amazon Prime]
Part of the brilliance of Frank Spotnitz’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s classic alternative history novel lies in its observed failure to dwell on the background of how we got here. Instead of wasting time on exposition, the pilot throws us into the action — focusing on three characters who are set into collision in a dystopian 1960s where the U.S. somehow lost WWII, were conquered and divided by Germany and Japan (who knows what became of Italy in this scenario), and that’s that. Juliana Crain stumbles into intrigue when her sister Trudy is killed in Japanese-held San Fran, and the former is prodded into action to deliver a subversive video into no man’s land which once was Colorado, leaving behind her secretly Jewish boyfriend Frank Frink to suffer unimaginable torture. She becomes entwined with New Yorker Joe Blake, one of modern televisions most twisted characters outside of Alias or The Americans. The viewer is mostly left in the dark to his motives as Blake’s allegiances seem to change daily. Set at a measured fevered pitch, TMITHC might be a bit of a roller coaster ride of a binge, but like the novel itself, it’s hard to put down.
– Jason Thurston
Marvel’s Jessica Jones [Netflix]
The Marvel Universe has no chill in 2015. After the immediate success of the release of Daredevil Netflix wasted no time following it up with another Hell’s Kitchen Vigilante, a very female superhero, Jessica Jones. Yay for cool leather jackets and boots! Here we get the backstory of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage prior to them being a thing, as she tries to live a low-key life as a private investigator. However, a blast-from-her-past villain Kilgrave has other plans and lures her back out. Ah well, nice try on giving up your superhero title but we find out by the series end there are some things in life you cannot escape. Kudos for the character development in her sidekick Malcolm and for Jessica just being an overall bad ass. There are many Easter eggs here that hint at more of the universe coming to Netflix in 2016 and you def don’t want to miss any parts of the puzzle.
Transparent [Amazon Prime]
When we last saw the Pfeffermans at the end of Season One in 2014, they were Sitting Shiva for Dead Ed (Shelly’s second husband, who you may recall, disappeared from the retirement community). Rita, the Pfefferman babysitter (who fooled around with Josh nearly 20 years ago) tells Josh that the young man with her isn’t her new boyfriend. It’s her son. And Josh’s son. He was adopted and raised by a nice, but super Christian, couple in Kansas. Meanwhile, Josh has been trying to prove himself to the mature and self-actualized Raquel. Sarah, who was a straight suburban housewife in episode one announces that she’s going to marry her college girlfriend. (Season Two will open with their wedding.) Finally, Maura and her youngest daughter, Ali, have a blowout fight, because Ali is a mess Who Needs To Get It Together. It’s cathartic but heartbreaking, much like Season Two.
-Katherine M. Hill
Seasons One through Three of Fargo can be watched on their own. (Katherine hasn’t finished Season One.) But Fargo is far and away the best show on television, and worth a few hours of your time. (Plus, Season Three will reference Seasons One and Two.) Fargo examines the events in 1979 that lead to a massive shootout (“The Castle”) Lou mentioned That One Time to Molly in Season One. The youngest Gerhardt of the Fargo crime syndicate murders three at a diner, including a judge he planned to extort. At the same time, his father has a stroke, and the family matriarch takes the reins. Rye is leaving the dinner when unsatisfied-with-life Peggy runs him over (and drives him home, in the windshield of her car). Peggy’s husband Ed kills Rye, and disposes of the body at the butcher shop he plans to buy. Everything falls apart. The cops and the mob are after Peggy. A rival mob in St. Louis are after the Gerhardts. Lou and his father barely survive the shootout, in part, because the family adopted a Native American they systemically abused for decades. His rebellion is powerful—and he becomes Moses Tripoli. Ed dies. Peggy’s destined for jail. All of the Gerhardts die (except the grandson, who is jailed). All of the women are worse then they started, and the supposed king of the St. Louis mob is given a narrow office with a window.
-Katherine M. Hill
Mr. Robot [USA]
Some vigilantes scale buildings in one jump and toss cars, others have social anxiety disorders and save the world from the comfort of their computer. Enter Elliot, a cyber-security programmer by day and hacker by night. He usually goes after society’s scum but is faced with a moral dilemma when he is recruited by an underground anarchist called ‘Mr. Robot’ to attack the company he actually works for. What is a hacker to do? What if the dilemma is not with Mr. Robot but with himself? So many plot twists, so little time. The scariest part about this drama is it actually mirrors what’s happening IRL, so much so that the finale had to be postponed from airing as to not upset viewers. Season 2 promises to be even tougher so you def want to be caught up by then. Tune in on Tuesday, December 29th, when USA airs a 24-hour marathon of season 1 beginning at 11pm.
Man Seeking Woman[FXX]
Simon Rich’s absurd-to-the-extreme vignettes about the dating life of 20-something Josh Greenberg (portrayed to the perfect neurotic extreme by Jay Baruchel) may not be for everyone’s sense of humor, but if your sweet spot lies somewhere between The Naked Gun, Tim Burton, and Rashomon, boy have we got a series for you. MSW lives in a Walter Mitty world of exaggeratedly ill-fated encounters. It’s a world where Josh’s blind date bridge troll is an actual bridge troll, where a Dr. Strangelove-esque military team is gathered to debate the intricacies and examine the potential pitfalls of a first text, and where a destination wedding involves a literally Hell-ish journey — complete with lakes of fire and wisecracking demons. When the concept falls flat, the over-the-top nature can exacerbate the sighs, but once your drawn in, the ten 20-minute episodes are easily snackable candy, and it’s worth getting wrapped up in its world to get to the penultimate episode where they switch up the protagonists and place the fantastical spotlight on Josh’s usually hyper-competent sister Liz (the delightful Britt Lower).
You’re the Worst [FXX]
Edgar changes the most and is The Best. He takes an improv class, finds a girlfriend, and nearly moves in with her. (She’s sort of the worst in that she’s Always On. But she never makes fun of Edgar’s PTSD, and she can handle these clowns, so.) Becca has changed the least—still pregnant, still trying to destroy those around her—and is Literally The Worst. Lindsay, bless her heart, thoroughly divorces Paul, who is happy with his female equal. Lindsay has a rough road, living alone and learning to pay her electric bills, and impregnates herself (with a microwaved condom…) and is now stuck with Paul. Gretchen spends most of the season supine, suffering depression. (But first she starts a feud between Sam, Honeynutz, and Shitstain.) Jimmy almost cheats on Gretchen, but doesn’t, and professes his love in the finale, and Gretchen promises to see a doctor because riding out a crippling depression is not managing things. Seriously though, the portrayal of depression here is astounding.
-Katherine M. Hill
While it’s hard to deny the lightweight stature of Rob Thomas’ zombie procedural, it’s quite the enjoyable view. Like his previous cult phenomenon, Veronica Mars, the pop culture references fly fast and furious and the characters, despite their oft-fantastical nature, are dark, complex, and deeply etched. Liv Moore’s still coming to terms with her recent turn to the undead, and her coping mechanism — not to mention, source of cerebellums — is to take a job as assistant in a morgue, where freshly killed brains are plentiful, with neither stress nor moral quandary, and her secondary quality of peeping the memories of the brains she’s consumed allows her to excel at solving crimes. Yes, in some sense, it is murder-of-the-week material, but there is a definite thread as the zombie subculture begins to take unique and ever-more-dangerous forms, and Liv has to navigate her way between worlds, living and not-so