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SMALL SCREEN HITS

Thursday, January 12, 2017

With so many shows on so many channels, it takes something truly extraordinary for one to stand out on television these days. Pearl Mathias brings you a list of shows launched in 2016 that managed to hold our attention

At a time when television is at its peak, it’s tough to narrow down your favourites and make a list. Although recent years have brought us hit series such as Game of Thrones and Black Mirror, which aired their best-ever episodes in 2016, this year has had its share of newly launched shows that stand out as well. And, some of them are on our binge-watch list. We bring you our favourite shows of 2016 and tell you why you need to start watching them as the year draws to a close.

Fleabag
Based on a one-woman play by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars in the show, Fleabag is a heartfelt British black comedy unlike anything you’ve ever seen on television. The show is funny in unimaginably dark ways, while Phoebe’s sardonic, impulsive nature elicits a surprising amount of empathy for a highly unsympathetic character. If this description already has you running to put it on your watchlist, let us just add that the show deals with them in a way that feels beautifully relatable rather than depressing. And, you won’t be able to take your eyes off her from the get-go. So, watch this young woman navigate life in London as she bluntly narrates her exploits to the camera, while quietly dealing with the pain.

The Crown
If you assumed that this show was a biography about the early life and the rule of Queen Elizabeth II, you should know that Netflix’s lavish series is about so much more than that. It portrays post-World War II Britain beautifully, while diving deep into the complexity of being a woman in power. It also takes a look at how the love lives of the royal family were often derailed by conventional notions of gender and class.  As the show examines the traumatic circumstances under which Elizabeth (played with precision by Claire Foy) first ascended the throne, it makes a compelling case for why the Royal Family has remained the subject of such endless fascination.

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story
The infamous trial of O. J. Simpson found new relevance this year in Ryan Murphy’s limited series, which follows Simpson (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) from the days of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder through to the verdict. Although this murder trial is one of the most well-known and widely-discussed stories in recent history, every episode of FX’s ten-part miniseries feels fresh and dynamic. Launching a worldwide obsession, the show has everything you could ask for — an addictive true-crime story that unpacked the consequences of race, fame and class, as well as an outstanding cast of actors who portray the people involved in this real-life soap opera perfectly.

Stranger Things
If you’ve watched this show or even heard of it, you know that there’s no way that it wouldn’t make the cut. Regarded as the biggest show of the year, Stranger Things came more or less out of nowhere, creating a phenomenon over the course of its eight episodes. The supernatural series, which brought ’90s star Winona Ryder back into our lives, is deeply thrilling. Not to mention, it was one of the most binge-able shows we’ve seen all year. With adventure tales full of late ’80s nostalgia, the show taps into a certain something that the films we used to love back in the day had in spades.

The Night Manager
Would you pass up the chance to watch Tom Hiddleston on the small screen? Although his intense performance in The Night Manager was somewhat overshadowed by a short, but widely covered romance with Taylor Swift at the time, he’s definitely one of the (our) main reasons that this limited series is worth a watch.  Based on John le Carré’s novel, the show portrays issues of war and power, weaving a complicated, yet interesting love story. It introduced us to the marvellous Elizabeth Debicki and brought back our favourite British actor Huge Laurie, four years after his hit series House ended.  A second season is reportedly on its way... We’ve got our fingers crossed.

 

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