I noticed that many people ask what series to watch, and surprisingly some of them never heard of some of my favourite series. Some lists and blogs give advices on what to watch and my series are not there. It will be quite possible to argue that series I list do not encompass series listed elsewhere, but that is precisely the point of this post.
I suppose it is all about preferences. I like everything related to time travelling, supra natural, and also series that present social relations and everyday lives. In that, I do not care if the series is a quality series or a humorous sitcom. I still see value in sitcoms if they represent one view of the everyday reality of a group of people in a certain society.
So, let’s go. Here are my good series to watch based on categories I just outlined. I will write about my favourite series, both contemporary or classics but I will start with more contemporary ones in every list. What is important is that all series are all still available to watch, on Sky, Netflix, etc. This is the first blog in the series, and there will be more blog posts on good series to watch in everyday lives and sci-fi categories (classics and contemporary).
* Series representing social relations and everyday lives *
The US version of Shameless gives a story of a deprived family from the Southern Side of Chicago who struggles to survive, basically by being shameless and doing what it takes to survive. The first version of the series was produced in the UK. I watched UK version of the series but did not finish all seasons, as the story deviated from the original and too many main characters left the series. When I found a US version on Netflix, I was happy to start watching the American series just to see how the American version looks like, but soon I found myself hooked up to an extent I am currently re-watching the series and eagerly waiting for the new season. The actors are convincing, realistic and the story has its own cultural element coming from the US context, which is done really well.
The series follows the Gallagher family. The father Frank is a single father who is also an alcoholic and a drug addict spending all money on his habits. It is not only that Frank spends his money on his pleasures and pays no attention to his children, but he also eats their food and when possible steals their money. Monica is his bipolar ex -wife who left him, but she appears a few times in the series and causes chaos, steals money from the squirrel fund (children work during the summer and contribute money to the squirrel fund to survive the winter; mind that with exception of Fiona all children are minors). Because the parents are self-centred addicts, Fiona as the oldest daughter cares for all her siblings as a second mother. She abandoned school to look out for them, wakes up in the morning to prepare them breakfast and get them ready for school, and genuinely loves her brothers and sisters as if they are their own children. Obviously, such a life style and constant chaos has an impact on her private life and some decisions she is making. Her other sibling are Debbie, Carl, Lip and Ian all with issues of their own, but all except Carl are doing great in school, which makes Fiona proud. Lip nevertheless becomes the first family member to graduate from High School and go to college. Fiona’s pride mirrors pride of parents at graduations when Lip brings his diploma back home and when he enrols and earns a scholarship to go to MIT. On the other hand, Ian is gay in a deprived area marked by masculine culture and obsession with sex and drinks. While he has no problems with his sexual identity, his partner does and throughout the series we see conflicts between two lovers on how to express their gay identities. Family’s best friends are Kevin and Veronica (usually called just V) who are also jumping out of usual population structure of the area for V is black. Their life style however resembles the culture where they live, as everything centres on sex and drinking, until they get children, which brings unexpected conflicts.
There is so much more to say about this series, however, going into too many details would be a spoiler. This series is so much more than an average TV series showing daily lives. This series shows how some people get deprived of opportunities simply by making wrong choices such as when Fiona cheats one of her boyfriends, which brings a chain of misfortunate events, while others struggle because they do everything right and yet they can’t cope with pressures and problems (e.g. Lip, when he fails to complete an application for the second year of college because nobody in the house has given him his mail). It is a truly well done and an amazing series with lots of action and constant new events, while at the same time describing one particular group of people and the life choices and options they are faced with. In one word: amazing and possibly my favourite series of all times. I simply can’t wait the next season.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
This amazing series portrays lives of female prisoners. When Pippa goes to prison for a crime committed long time ago when she was a young and inexperienced girl, she discovers a whole new world in prison. We meet women of various backgrounds and origins and learn about their destinies and what brought them to prison. The latter is done in a very good way because we are presented with something that is currently happening in prison, and then we have a life story taking us back to the life of an inmate to get to know her. These flashes from history keep appearing throughout the series, and add to the excitement and the storyline. In addition, we learn from this series that racism can come from all groups and that there is no such thing as having a predisposition for going to prison due to background, education or colour of the skin. I have written about this beautiful series that kept me locked up in a front of the TV every day until I finished all five seasons in one of my previous blog posts. You can read it HERE. I am currently eagerly waiting for a new season, and am pleased that Netflix has confirmed it. It just can’t arrive soon enough.
A classic. This series has had a major popularity in the US that went to an extent some doctoral dissertations have been written about it. I watched it several times in Croatia where it also has a legendary status, and I purchased DVDs that I keep re-watching from time to time. Many members of UK public will not know about it, but I do recommend buying it on DVD and immersing itself in the story. The story happens in Cicely, a small town in Alaska that represents a utopian society where everyone gets along and lives together in peace regardless of their distinctive origins. Well, except for a N.Y doctor who had a scholarship to study medicine. As a result, he is obliged to work as GP in Cicely. After initial shock and hysteria, Dr Fleischmann gets used to the city but never truly embraces it. The series had six seasons and all are equally interesting and worth watching. The major distinctive factor of this series and all other series ever made that I have watched is its spiritual and educational character mostly represented in legendary radio shows by Chris who hosts a highly popular Chris in the Morning radio show where he reads poetry, discusses philosophy and reads literature. In addition, this series represents Jewish tradition and faith as no other series I ever saw, regardless of doctor Fleischmann falling within a typical stereotype of a neurotic Jew, inherent to the US television.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Availability: Netflix and Sky
The Big Bang theory is an unusual sitcom I really enjoy to watch for its entertaining character. There is not much to learn here in my view, but the story is written well and even thought the series is in its 10th season it still interests and entertains me. I have written about this series in one of my previous blog posts. You can read it here.
In short, we are all either geeks ourselves or we have considered someone to be a geek. Well, this story is about them and about their everyday lives. And it is funny, entertaining and sometimes ridiculously hilarious.
Availability: DVD and some TV channels are broadcasting various seasons/episodes
One of my all time favourite sitcoms for many reasons. I love this sitcom so much that I even wrote an academic paper about it, see at this link.
The story basically follows lives of a group of Americans in their 20s at the beginning of the show, and then in their 30s later in the show. Three friends are American Christians and the other three are American Jews. While the series suffers from lots of traditional stereotypes about American Jews, which is a practice inherent to the US television, it still offers an interesting portrayal of American Jews and American lifestyle, as well as issues young people face in their adulthood (whether it is about their career or about their private lives). The film has been announced for this year, and it is stating the obvious to say that I will go and see it as soon as it comes to the UK.
* Time travelling and supra natural things *
I enjoyed this series enormously and I was locked up in a front of TV until I watched all seasons. I already wrote about it in other blogs, see AT THIS LINK.
The series follows lives of people with extraordinary abilities, each one different and unique but it is mostly centred on time travelling, seeing things through, flying, etc. In that, they need to deal with villains such as Sylar who is trying to kill them to get all of their abilities, as well as other villains who are trying to turn against those with special abilities for their own benefit. Certainly worth watching.
This is a fascinating series showing supra natural things happening in a small town where a boy goes missing, and his family will not give up from looking for him. In that, we are introduced to the underworld and the supra natural, which takes children to some vision of Hell. The series reminds to Greek mythology with its depiction of an underground world and the supra natural. Netflix announced second season and I am truly looking forward to it, especially given a dramatic ending in the last episode of the first season.
Touch is a beautiful and imaginative series depicting a boy Jake who can read and understand things as well as communicate his thoughts through numbers. His father leaves everything to look out after a boy and helps him resolve crimes and save other righteous people like Jake who only use their abilities to help the world. I also wrote about this series in my other blog, see at this link.
I have written about this series in my other blog, see the blog post. It is a very imaginative and good series that depicts a young detective being able to talk to her father (also a detective) in the past. The duo then works on cases together and consequentially changes the future as it goes, which is then represented in changed memories of the daughter an we are able to see them. What is different than with other series is that she is able to remember both life before she changed it as well as newly created memories, which causes chaos in her head but she still caries on in an ultimate attempt to catch the mass murderer, the Nightingale…
Thank you for reading.
Topić, M. (2017, forthcoming). “Do You Even Understand What Off The Rack Means?” Americanization and Jewish Identities in the Television Series Friends. International Journal of Religion and Society, Vol. 5, No. 2.