WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead for each show mentioned. Proceed with caution
Bojack Horseman (2014-2020)
What seems like years ago, Bojack Horseman came to an end. Season 6, part B went live on Netflix on January 31st and we made quick work of it. We tried not to devour it too quickly, tried to make sure we were processing this amazing show’s last few minutes to the fullest extent properly, but we couldn’t help ourselves. Season 6 in its entirety went from uplifting and hopeful, to devastating, then to bittersweet and oddly inspiring. Bojack Horseman, the show, not the character, taught us that life doesn’t have to end because of the people we once were – as long as we are able to hold ourselves accountable, to own up to our mistakes and actively try to be better, and to accept that we may lose things and relationships because of our own actions. It taught us to move on, but not forget.
Catherine Feeney’s sad, but triumphant and all round lovely song Mr Blue rung in the end. Bojack resigned to finish his stint in prison, aware that he won’t have the people he loved around him anymore when he regains his freedom. But his life won’t be empty. It’ll just be different.
Bojack Horseman tells the story of a washed up sitcom actor who struggles with adapting to his life – he grapples with his declining mental health and addictions in Hollywood. His friends include Diane, Mr Peanutbutter, Todd and Princess Carolyn who, over the course of the show, cope with their own struggles; in relationships, work, controversies and their own mortalities. I promise, it’s way funnier than it sounds.
The Queens Gambit (2020)
This show came completely out of left field and was insanely good. I was not expecting to enjoy it half as much as I did. Anya Taylor-Joy was captivating, Beth Harmon was deliciously intriguing, and it highlighted the intricate and wildly exciting nature of chess. I got my fiancé a chess board for Christmas, largely because we enjoyed the show so much. I had to tell him I got him one to stop him from buying me one, too.
The Queens Gambit tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan who becomes an unstoppable force in the chess culture of the 1950’s and 60’s. With minimal to no guidance, she navigates relationships, addiction, competitive spirit and her own self-worth. You can find this limited series streaming on Netflix.
This one is hot right now, and rightly so. Bridgerton is both lovely and spicy, and laced with shade and intrigue. Then it gets just, super fucking raunchy at the sixth episode, which is insanely NSFW and not family safe. I’ve watched the full show twice in the short amount of time it’s been available to watch on Netflix and enjoyed it thoroughly both times. It wasn’t without its flaws (like, for a main character, Daphne was kind of boring?), but with a diverse cast, so many different interwoven plots, and beautiful regency action, it was never something I regretted watching. I eagerly await season two and will probably end up re-watching it at least once this year.
As a mysterious Lady Whistledown starts circulating her society gossip rag, we see the Bridgerton family deal with their own dramas in love, friendships, sex and ambitions. Eldest daughter Daphne makes her debut into society and begins a pretend relationship with brooding duke Simon Bassett to make herself appealing to potential suitors while making him appear unavailable. Her younger sister Eloise laments her future with her best friend Pen Featherington; being pushed into wifehood before she can truly discover herself. Oldest son and patriarch Anthony struggles as he adapts into his position of head of the family, who must guide his siblings towards favourable matches and happy lives – he isn’t ready, however, to let go of the carefree life he shares with his lover, the lowborn Siena.
Normal People (2020)
I went feral for this book. And for Sally Rooney’s debut book Conversations with Friends. I patched completing my fourth year coursework to binge this show, turning half an hour breaks spent watching one episode into hours long breaks making excuses to watch just one more episode.
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal stunned as they brought troubled lovers Marianne and Connell to the screen. This adaptation was dutifully faithful to its source, and absolutely did not suffer for it, not one bit. Since watching and loving the show (several times), I’ve scooped up a copy of its scripts in hardback so I can pour over every moment on the page as well. I will absolutely be returning to this again, and rumour has it that we can expect to see Conversations with Friends on the small screen next.
If you’ve ever spoken to me in the history of ever, you’ll know how mad I am for this show. I’ve probably recommended it to everyone I’ve spoken to this year. And I recommend it again. It’s perfect.
Normal People follows Marianne and Connell from being awkward and confused seventeen-year olds, showing them age into awkward and confused early twenty-somethings. As they come together and fall apart, repeatedly, they grapple with depression, abusive relationships, loneliness and estrangement.
Peep Show (2003-2015)
Golden oldie! It’s on Netflix and while doing a shitty job, I found myself with an abundance of free time and in need of something easy and entertaining. I’ve been intrigued by Back (2017-present) too, and figured that watching Peep Show would be something like spiritual preparation for more Mitchell and Web viewing.
How else can I describe Peep Show other than, it’s a show about two men who are bad at being humans struggling through life? When anything good happens to either main character Mark or Jez, they fuck it up for themselves or for one another. Mark is jealous, petty and elitist and Jez is weirdly wholesome, entirely misguided and often immature to the point of chaotic destruction. They are often joined by local crack addict and villain, Super Hans.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
Did I watch this for Rahul Kohli? Kind of. Also, I really enjoyed its predecessor the Haunting of Hill House (2018).
Honestly, I’m sad to say I was a bit disappointed by this show, particularly its ending. I was definitely gripped by its earlier episodes, and its quiet and eerie vibe it carried throughout really hooked me. So, when I invested so much time and emotion in it just to be thoroughly underwhelmed by the last couple of episodes, I wasn’t thrilled.
That said, I was so happy to see a short form, limited horror series that was a women and WLW centric functional adaptation of Henry James’ the Turning of the Screw.
This show follows Dani, an American fled to England to escape her past and traumas. She takes a job as an au pair in the massive Bly Manor, undertaking the care of youngsters Miles and Flora. She struggles to break down her co-workers and housemates for the truth, for any explanation of the strange goings ons in the house.
I absolutely loved this show and will probably watch it again soon, but turning it on for the first time definitely came from a place where I had far too much time on my hands. My loving partner describes the shows target demographic as middle aged, sexually depraved women.
And what of it? Poldark is juicy, dramatic, horny, sometimes funny, and we do love a good costume drama.
When Ross Poldark returns home to Cornwall after the American war, he finds his father six months dead, his lover engaged to marry his cousin, and his mines that previously provided his income, failing. He meets a plucky young woman, Demelza Carne, and helps her escape from her abusive family home and into fair employment at his house. Scandalously, the pair falls in love years later and marry. We follow Ross and Demelza has they and their love grow older and less fiery, along with Ross’ first love Elizabeth and his Poldark cousins.
How to Get Away with Murder (2014-2020)
This show is super crazy, but I’ll admit that I watched at so fast a pace that I actually barely remember what happened. Like, I know the big plot points, obviously, and followed the basic premise, but thanks to binging and paying half attention, I feel like all of the final season’s episodes melded together.
On top of that, I just didn’t enjoy this season as much as I did the earlier ones. This might be down to a mix of things like my not liking the development in character arcs, not liking how rushed it felt (even though I sped through it, I still definitely thought it was a bit rushed), and the ending just….wasn’t it for me. The whole build up to the ending and then where it ended up thoroughly underwhelmed me.
I had more questions than I did answers. When I have the time, I might watch the series from start to finish again in order to properly digest it all, but I’m just not sure if it’ll be totally worth it considering how little I liked the ending.
How to Get Away with Murder sees a group of young hungry law students embark on a criminal law course with notorious professor Annalise Keating. They assist her with complicated and dramatic court cases (which made for some really fun scenes) and, after a traumatic accident, the group of students become deeply entwined, holding each other’s secrets to their necks like daggers.
The Umbrella Academy (2019-present)
I’m someone who doesn’t typically enjoy superhero type stuff but the Umbrella Academy was delicious. I love all of the characters and find it so funny and stylish, and was particularly impressed by season two’s music choices. I rewatched the first season as well this year because I finally convinced my partner to watch it. I was watching the last couple of episodes of the second season when he started watching, and committed to only watch season one so we could see the final episodes together for the first time.
What’s not to like about this show? It’s hilariously witty, emotionally apt, dark, complex, and versatile. Each character brings something so unique to the table, and as every episode features on a different sibling, viewers definitely get a lot out of the wide range of plots. I firmly believe that this has something for everyone.
In 1989, several children are simultaneously born all over the world to women who were not pregnant before labour came upon them. Fascinated by this unexplainable occurrence, eccentric billionaire Reginald Hargreeves sets out to adopt as many of these babies as possible, and ends up with seven. As the children grow, Hargreeves discovers that each one possesses a superpower or ability and exploits this to build a real life comic book franchise from his adopted kids. As adults, they’re separated and living their own lives, pushed farther apart by their resentments of their father. When he dies, however, they are brought back together to mourn him (to put it politely), and are forced to remain together to solve the mysteries that unfold following their fathers’ death.