• Kevin Douglas

Top 3 TV Shows (right now, at least)

I wanted to write another installation to the "Frankie" story, but I just got hit with a big tired wave and I think I'll actually call it a night early. But I'm sticking to my strict "something" regiment, so I thought I'd go with something short and easy. Here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite shows.

  1. Bojack Horseman. Anyone who knows me knows I won't shut up about this show. I've probably rewatched it more than any other show, and it is my go-to when I need 20-30 minutes of fast-paced clever comedy. What makes the show my all-time favorite is both its genuinely smart and funny writing (wordplay and puns galore in this animal-human hybrid world), and its very complex and genuine exploration of mental illness. The "hero" of the story is a deeply flawed and troubled character who, over 6 seasons, does immeasurable harm to the people he is supposed to care about. It satirizes pop culture and the absurdity of Hollywood, but it also genuinely cares about its characters and fleshes them out in ways few other shows have. Honestly, these characters are more human than any other show I have seen — and most of them are just cartoon animals.

  2. Succession. This show is at the peak of popularity right now, and it is well-deserved. Few streaming services are still releasing shows weekly, so it is refreshing to have something to look forward to on Sundays while being on the same page with friends and family who are also watching. The intrigue of who is going to take over the media empire of Waystar (a fictional combination of Disney, Fox, and other megacorporations) makes it what I describe as "corporate Game of Thrones." Unlike Game of Thrones, the show is fast-paced and witty, sprinkling in a lot of humor in its hour-long runtime each episode. Both highbrow satire and lowbrow potty humor make Succession a biting criticism of the vapid and vampiric wealth empires like Fox News sit upon. It doesn't pull its punches, and it genuinely continues to shock me each season.

  3. Dear White People. I can't speak to this show in its entirety, because I sort of hate-watched the third season, and I haven't bothered with the fourth (and final) season. But the first two seasons are composed of some of my favorite writing in any form of media. I mentioned in my euphoria post how much I love large-ensemble coming-of-age stories, and this is a prime example of that. For the first two seasons, each episode focuses on a specific character and leans into their position at the fictional prestigious school, Winchester University. As the title suggest, the show is overtly political and does not shy away from tackling intense and uncomfortable topics about race and other forms of inequality. The strongest example of this comes in the episode "Chapter V" of the first season. This episode is directed by Barry Jenkins, writer/director of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. This episode stylistically breaks away from much of the show, with one section featuring characters walking down the road and speaking directly into the camera. The episode ends on a jarring note, one that leaves characters traumatized and changed forever. I won't spoil it, but I implore you to give the first two seasons a chance. It is funny, heartfelt, and unafraid to speak uncomfortable truths that certainly stir the pot. (For the record, my beef with S3 was the change in format; episodes stopped following one character at a time, and in turn the show became, in my opinion, confusing, convoluted, and less sharp/focused as the first two.)

Honorable mentions:

  • Waco. An intense mini-series that takes a different angle on the FBI/Branch Davidian cult standoff of 1993.

  • Documentary Now. A hilarious series starring Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and other fantastic comedic actors as they spoof famous documentaries.

  • Undone. Co-created by Bojack Horseman's Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy, this sci-fi show explores a woman's struggle to grip with a newfound ability to time travel — or maybe she is just succumbing to schizophrenia, as did her father. Like Bojack, this show also tackles mental illness with care and creativity. It also sports a totally unique style of animation that makes it one of the most beautiful-looking shows I have ever seen.

  • Sex Education. A heartfelt British high school coming-of-age story. All three seasons are, in my opinion, fantastic.

  • Derry Girls. A heartfelt Northern Irish high school coming-of-age story. Totally different!

  • Nathan For You. I don't even know how to describe this show, but Nathan Fielder is probably my favorite comedian. You just have to see for yourself.

I'm sure I missed a bunch. Let me know your favorites and any recommendations you have!

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Pssst. Don't freak out -- everything is okay! I figured it's been long enough, and I'm not quite tired enough to sleep, so I'm writing these things down to manifest them/to hold myself accountable: I