If your screen time has been lacklustre of late, here are three hot TV shows, and three reasons to watch them.
TV Shows We Love #1: Master Of None
Aziz Ansari’s net worth is about USD18 million according to celebritynetworth.com. It is not immense considering that George Clooney’s net worth is about USD250 million. But hey, not many of us here in this world are worth USD18 million! And Aziz Ansari’s reason is that he’s funny, endearing, a brilliant writer, and now director.
His show (with co-creator Alan Yang) entitled Master of None debuted last year on Netflix after his stint with Parks and Recreation. He’d also been sitting pretty on the New York Times’ Bestseller list with his book, Modern Romance. The show is loosely based on Ansari’s real-life experiences. He plays the role of Dev, a New York-based actor ‘struggling to identify what he really wants, personally and professionally.’ The series features flashbacks of Dev’s younger years, and explores aspects of modern life. Expect references to dating etiquette (regarding texting and social media), and being young and single in the city.
3 Reasons to Watch It:
- Italy. The filmmaking has gone up several notches in Season 2, with a Fellini-esque black and white first episode. Thereafter, we are treated to breathtaking views and glimpses of quiet country Italian living, including a dream wedding! And the food! (In fact food is a constant theme throughout the series, as is romance and unrequited love). All-ora!
- Honest & Endearing Stories. The writing in this season has also stepped up to bat. Look out for the New York, I Love You episode, which gives us a slice of very compelling reality, taking us into the lives of three random New Yorkers, with the key characters only appearing in one scene. Brilliant.
- Supporting Cast. Apart from big names such as Angela Bassett and Claire Danes, Bobby Carnavale and Condola Rashad also make an appearance. Aziz Ansari’s parents themselves – Fatima and Shoukath Ansari – play Dev’s parents. Dev’s dad, Ramesh will have you in giggles over his accented New York street talk.
TV Shows We Love #2: The Handmaid’s Tale
There has been much talk over Hulu’s adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Set in a dystopian present, the imagery and plotlines are gripping to say the least. With skilled storytelling and performances, the next awards season will be an interesting one for the makers of this series.
3 Reasons to Watch It:
- It could happen. The story is based on an America which is in a state of military rule caused by the threat of Islamic extremists. Islamic extremists aside, the real threat here is the merciless style of governance in play. While we’re still coming to terms with the wildcards we’ve been dealt when it comes to world politics, this dystopian setting could become a reality.
- Makes you appreciate your life and your liberties. (SPOILER ALERT) Elizabeth Moss’s character, June, looks forward to long walks to the grocery store, sitting by a wall where dead bodies hang overhead, and illicitly staring at the words Nolite Bastardes Carborundorum etched into the inside of a wardrobe. Watching THT also gives you a chance to consider how you feel about the state of your country (wherever you are in the world). You’ll find yourself processing hypothetical emotions of what you would do if such a situation.
- Elizabeth Moss. What the directors have allowed us to do is to is to step into the world of THT with an up-close-and-personal voyeur’s POV. 7 out of 10 shots place us just inches away from the characters’ faces, where we are privy to Elizabeth Moss’s masterful performances. This is matched by the rest of the cast from Joseph Fiennes to Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black) and Yvonne Strahovski to name a few. We stare with voyeuristic fascination as Elizabeth takes her character through torment and fear, to feigned flirtation, and calculated sarcasm. And we feel like we’ve grown a little wiser.
TV Shows We Love #3: American Gods
The TV adaptation from the breadloaf-sized novel by Neil Gaiman is not 100% true to the book. But the clever way the stories are revealed make it a worthwhile hour-long watch.
3 Reasons to Watch It:
- The stories. (SPOILER ALERT) No matter what the greater plot is, you can be sure that the show has stories with punch. A testament to what an ingenious master Neil Gaiman is with the whole story-within-story scenario. From tales of Egyptian grandmothers being brought to the afterlife by Anubis, to two lonely Arab men who find ‘love’ in a taxi, the show is equally story-game strong.
- The filmmaking. if you’ve read the book, you may be partial to certain plotlines, but you will also marvel at how the directors reveal the story scene by scene. How much information is let loose minute by minute. American Gods gives viewers no breaks. Every moment is as intense as the next.
- The truth. The beauty of Neil Gaiman’s story is that it’s a commentary on the way we live and the new ‘Gods’ we worship. Chills go up and down our spine when Gillian Anderson’s character Media explains her hold over the human race saying how we are glued to our screens; sometimes having smaller screens in our hands our our laps while we watch a bigger screen. “Time and attention,” she says coolly. How many ‘Gods’ can claim they have as much time and attention we give to Media?
Be warned, these are not the kind of TV shows you watch to kick back and relax after a long day. Be mentally and emotionally prepared for the lessons, stories, and possibilities. Enjoy!