The Jakarta Post
A still from 'Tuca and Bertie' on Netflix. (Netflix/File)
In the face of a pandemic, there ironically seems to be an undercurrent of pressure to feel more productive than ever with all the extra time at hand. Perhaps now is finally the time to learn a new language or finally read that hefty novel that’s been sitting on your shelf but it is also OK to pass the time by binge-watching. Here are some underrated shows that may have flown under your radar to help you relax and take your mind off the news for a while.
Behold the current Phoebe Waller-Bridge renaissance. The TV auteur has become something of a figurehead for the need to tell stories of complex female characters. Before Fleabag and Killing Eve managed to find momentum in the current television landscape, there was her lesser known sitcom Crashing. A comedy that feels more lighthearted than her other work, it successfully balances traditional sitcom tropes with sharp, spitfire wit that only Waller-Bridge possesses.
Tuca and Bertie (Netflix)
This animated comedy is the more charming and optimistic sister to the darker Bojack Horseman. Created by Bojack animator Lisa Hanawalt, Tuca and Bertie explores the dynamic friendship between two bird women who live in the same apartment block. Similar to its predecessor, the series balances moments of dark humor with the levity of its anthropomorphized characters, specifically when the show takes a more serious path in the second half as it explores themes such as addiction and adolescent trauma.
Best described by its creator and star Will Sharpe, Flowers is "an uplifting comedy about melancholy". The tragicomedy tells the story of a highly eccentric and dysfunctional family set in a “nowhere place and nowhere time”. It covers a realm of dark comedy that is as amusing as it is painful to watch, with a tone in line with plays written by Samuel Beckett. What the series does best is create a nuanced portrayal of mental illness and how this affects a person and the people surrounding them.
Dramas to get invested in
Translated as Duty/Shame, Giri/Haji is a slow burning globe-trotting thriller set on the streets of Tokyo and London. The Netflix/BBC production centers on a Japanese detective who is sent to bring home his brother who is under suspicion of committing a murder in London. Giri/Haji is a soulful crime drama that explores themes of sibling rivalry, culture clash and moral absolutism, along with experimental theatrical and animation sequences in between.
Created by Jesse Armstrong, Succession is a series that breaks the conventions of both drama and comedy. It may as well be best described as a combination between The Office and King Lear. It is a satire of modern media family moguls and centers on the fictional Roy family, which controls conservative media in the United States. Both incredibly funny and deeply tragic, Succession captures the contradictions in what shapes the modern capitalist American society.
The Leftovers (HBO)
Perhaps nothing is more timely than watching The Leftovers right now. Breaking away from the fast-paced apocalyptic thrillers about the end of the world, the drama series tells the story of what happens after a mass global crisis. In essence, The Leftovers is a show about grief that zooms in on interpersonal relationships and trauma in a city that is doomed by a tragedy that wipes out half of its residents. Equal parts engrossing and melancholic, the series might serve as a catharsis for viewers looking for entertainment that can make sense of the feeling of dread permeating society. (cal/wng)
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