Here we are with part 2 everybody; I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath.
These are in no particular order so without further ado, let’s go!
While any number of Netflix series could have made it onto this list, none has felt more satisfying to me than Marvel’s Daredevil has. Having dug into DC’s TV time with Arrow and The Flash for the past few years, I was entirely prepared to dislike Daredevil simply because of the character. Daredevil has never been a hero I cared too much about and I imagine with no popular presence recently, I wouldn’t be alone. But what Daredevil manages to do, and what the other Marvel Netflix series have done as well, is create a truly grounded, truly human account of what it means to be a hero. Matt is hero in the Daredevil mask, but he isn’t the only one. So much of the show wrestles with the flaws inherent in being extraordinary, and many of the characters that sit on the side aren’t simply sitting, but rather proving that as humans, as normal, regular people, we can make incredible change.
I’ve watched Daredevil a couple of times through so far (only two seasons are out) and I’ve loved it enough both times I’ve watched it to maybe even watch it again.
Parks and Recreation
Oh Parks and Rec., the show I really didn’t like for so long–you’ve come a long way from there to here; you’re now one of my favorite shows.
It takes place in Pawnee, Indiana and centers around the Parks and Recreation department of the town, following the exploits of deputy Leslie Knope and the rest of the department as they deal with parks related small town what nots.
When Parks and Recreation began, it was sort of pitched to us as a “If you like The Office then you’ll love this” sort of show, since it was filmed similarly, had a similar style of jokes, and the creator of the latter was also creating the former. But something about it didn’t land with me.
I came to The Office pretty late in its run, beginning it right before season 8 started (I binged the first seven seasons in under a month). Because of that, and because of how much I loved the show, I came to Parks and Recreation with high hopes–but, also because of my feelings for The Office, I feel like what I wanted most was, well, The Office. And because I didn’t get a carbon copy of the it, I got off on somewhat of a wrong foot with Parks and Rec., one that wouldn’t work itself out for a couple of years.
I would try every once in a while to jump back in, making it a season or two before falling off again, and it wasn’t until really giving it a go, until I really just tried to love it that I ended up doing just that.
I really don’t know what it was, but Parks and Recreation just clicked with me at some point. Andy Dwyer and Ron Swanson became hilarious, Leslie Knope endeared herself to me, and the entire supporting cast created this sort of unified whole that rivaled, in my mind, The Office‘s.
The only low point in my mind is, and has always been, Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford. He has his moments, but I’ve never found him appealing. I’ve never found Aziz Ansari appealing for that matter and I think that he played a large part in what kept me from enjoying the show originally. That though is a minor grievance for an overall incredible show that everyone should watch right now.
I mean it. Go. Stop reading and watch it.
What if The Andy Griffith show were a little newer, a little more modern, but still was able to retain that sleepy town aesthetic? And rather than creek fishing and moonshiners, picnics and Aunt Bee, there were plasma generators and tachyon accelerators and the smartest human beings in the world?
It would probably be something like Eureka.
I never grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show so I have no real connection to the nostalgia, but the thing that I’ve always heard from people who continue to watch it is that it is so consistently good simply for how homey it feels. It was from a different time altogether where simple day to day city mishaps and conflicts were all there was to worry about, and while the world still spun, and there were more “important” things happening within it, the show sat comfortably separate, like a blanket in the darkness, harkening us all back with its warmth.
Eureka is often times like that. It’s about a U.S. Marshal named Jack Carter who stumbles upon the small town by happenstance and, through a series of events, is chosen to be its sheriff. The hook here is that the town is inhabited by some of the smartest individuals in the world and Jack Carter, our every man, is no genius himself, so the “conflict of the week” is often times over his head–whether it’s a girl who’s accidentally created a miniature sun or a massive piece of space debris that’s hurdling toward the planet.
Despite the differences though, it is remarkably akin to those small town shows of old, like comfort food, like childhood, and I want to watch it again. The cast of characters is wide and diverse, the conflicts and tech are too, and while we may not all be able to relate to the geniuses a part of this town, Jack Carter, like Andy Griffith, sets the stage as the every man and is, in many ways, endearing. For that, it is charming, as is the town, as is the theme, and it really just calls for us to do one thing: nestle down into it for a rainy day binge-watch and think simply for the first time in a long time.
It was ten or so years ago that a trend began which framed antiheroes in the spotlight, troubled men and women with selfish motives and irreverent goals leading us along their broken trails. Dexter did this, so did Boardwalk Empire, so did Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, and House of Cards a little later, many of the characters within every show so flawed, so, well, human, that viewers were left sort of broken themselves at the end of every episode.
Chief among them was Breaking Bad, show about high school chemistry teacher Walter White turned moonlighting meth manufacturer and shadowy kingpin of his own drug empire. There’s a lot that one could dig into when discussing Breaking Bad whether it be the cinematographic brilliance, the writing, the attention to detail, or satisfying character and plot payoffs, but so much of what makes Breaking Bad so compelling, and simultaneously so off-putting, is how morally suspect Walter becomes and how much the show reminds us of that. I won’t dig down too deeply here, but Walter White’s transformation over the course of the show, as well as the transformation of every main and secondary character, is a lot of what has drawn people in, and the mix of humor and disparagingly dark moments keeps viewers on their toes.
Breaking Bad is hardly a feel-good show, but it one that is important. It is easily one of the best shows on television in the last ten years.
Silicon Valley is a show that feels strangely foreign to me. As a guy from the south whose skills lie primarily in the artistic, the realm of tech startups is one that I am familiar with, but not intimately so–interested in, but not terribly knowledgable of. So when I watch a show that is so honestly satirical of the petty coder squabbles, bike meetings, and startup plights present in the burgeoning tech industry of Northern California, I feel as though I am being presented with an opportunity to better understand the humble beginnings of so many of the companies we so often take for granted.
Silicon Valley follows Richard Hendricks, the creator of a much sought after compression application, and his journey from coder at tech-megacompany Hooli to CEO of his own struggling startup. The supporting cast is filled out with friends and fellow engineers that, while dealing with their own disputes and insecurities, help make Pied Piper–the company they and Richard create–the dysfunctional but highly valuable thing it becomes.
It often times is a premise that is so ridiculous or would be ridiculous to someone unfamiliar with the tech world, but that is also what makes it so fascinating. The concept of the capable nerds having all of the cash would have been absurd fifty years ago, but it’s the way things work now. Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft–they’re giants in their own world and the consumer world we live in. The nerd is king, computers power everything, and the people that know what they’re doing with them, hold all of the chips. Silicon Valley never lets us forget how weird it is that the characters in it are the ones being placed in the spotlight, but it also presents them all in a way that it never is actually surprising.
Silicon Valley is hilarious, it’s smart, and for computer geeks, it’s interesting–it scratches an itch that not many shows do.