There are too many good shows out there to waste your time on the mediocre ones. My personal preference will usually be shows that pull you in by making you laugh and cry–sometimes in the same episode. Shameless UK is still my favorite show of all time (see older post). It’s gritty, sometimes nasty, and shows a side of England’s “estates” that we oftentimes never see. The show ran for 11 seasons and is based in Manchester. (My second favorite is The Wire.)
I seem to lose interest in many American series after a few seasons. I tried to watch season three of Bloodline, but I couldn’t take the same characters making the same horrible decisions. We slogged through the third season of Orange is the New Black, but just can’t seem to start season four, much less five.
One thing I love about shows in other countries – they show “real” people. Not everyone is beautiful, has perfect teeth, or thin. The Killing was one of the better American remakes of a Danish series – the actors didn’t let their physical appearance define their character. Compare that to Bosch where even the serial killer was handsome. In Happy Valley, they played Tommy’s good looks to show the dichotomy of a person who is so handsome on the outside but absolute poison on the inside.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu offer a great selection of foreign TV shows. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed:
- The Break (Belgium)
- Spiral (France)
- Gomorrah (Naples, Italy)
- Wentworth (Australia)
- Gogglebox (UK & Australia)
Most of these are subtitled so you have to pay attention (especially Gomorrah–the Neapolitans are fast). You also get to learn about another society–typical family life, crime, how the police operate, their justice system, gun ownership, immigration, health care systems, right down to their transportation systems.
I loved The Soprano’s from the first episode, but Gomorrah (the crime syndicate is Camorra) was more interesting and some would say a more realistic portrayal of the systematic violence associated with the criminal underground, the power struggles, and how it permeates society. From Gomorrah, I learned more about Italy and Naples in particular. The series prompted me to read the book it’s based on by Roberto Saviano.
Hulu has all 11 seasons of Shameless UK streaming. They also have my favorite political TV show – The Thick of It. I can only hope Armando Iannucci (also created Veep) will bring back another season with the unparalleled Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Between Brexit & the Conservative-DUP coalition, I’m not sure what storyline he’d have the most fun with. There’s nothing like a Malcolm Tucker verbal colonic. In the meantime, we’ll continue working our way through Wentworth and how Bea is navigating the Australian prison system.