With easy access to streaming platforms like Lightbox, TV has begun to consume a bigger part of our lives than ever before. Netflix and chill, amirite? This year we’ve been treated to a fantastical array of shows, each seemingly more exciting and dramatic than their predecessors. No, I haven’t seen every show to come out of 2016 (goodbye, life). I have seen a few, however, so here’s a list of this year’s greatest offerings (or at least the greatest out of those I’ve actually seen).
Published in Issue 24, Craccum Magazine 2016.
Oh Narcos, where have you been all my life? Season 1 was a wonderfully wild ride through the cocaine underworld of Colombia and into the life of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. It ended VERY tensely, leaving viewers bewildered, stressed and irritable (just me?). The announcement of a second season was a very big relief to said anxious fans. Lucky for them, Season 2 is an honourable followup. Much like the first season, this one feels almost as though you are watching a documentary about the real Escobar and the American DEA agents who hunted him. Picking up right where the show left off, we watch as Escobar’s violence escalates and agents Steve and Javier close in. Again, Wagner Moura is polarising as Escobar, changing from the caring, generous hero of Medellin’s poor to a chilling, remorseless murderer and back again in a flash. The action and suspense is 10/10, and you’ll be hooked right up to the final episode. This is a tight unit that won’t disappoint.
The motherload. The show with it all. The greatest. Goddangit I love Stranger Things. Predominately because of those serious Twin Peaks vibes I sporadically got while watching, but for several other (very valid) reasons as well. One: the setting. Who doesn’t love the Eighties? That fashion, that music, those hairstyles and those sweet American cars. Need I say more? Even if you weren’t alive in the Eighties, you’ll be getting nostalgia hits just one episode deep. Two: the casting. Those kids, seriously. It wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re amazing actors, 100% convincing and give the show a fresh perspective and wider appeal. David Harbour is great as the local chief, and the rest of the cast are solid too. Three: the music. I literally can’t think of better theme music since Twin Peaks. So simple, yet so creepily supernatural and intriguing. The sound effects also deserve a nod. Thanks for all the fear! In sum: as near-perfect as a TV show can get. Even sci-fi and supernatural haters will love it.
J.J. Abrams and Stephen King – you can’t go wrong. If you read and loved the novel, you won’t be disappointed with the series. It’s tense, exciting and has that subtle sense of humour that King instills in all his non-horror works. James Franco is surprisingly good as divorced high school teacher Jake Epping, who is sent back to 1963 to prevent the assassination of JFK. The supporting cast are also great, most notably George MacKay as Bill Turcotte. The best part of this show is, like the novel, its suspenseful atmosphere. Running throughout is the “the past doesn’t want to be changed” theme, which adds some scary moments and keeps you wondering how the hell the damn thing is going to pan out. Second to that is the soundtrack and setting. So on point. Being young sheltered Nineties kids, we can’t imagine what life was like during the pivotal Sixties, but the foot-tapping, hand-clapping music and pristine streets of 11.22.63 sure make it look grand.