TV Series – What happens after death? Do you turn to dust, enter the spirit world, or join the realms of Heaven or Hell? The Good Place puts a unique spin on the ol’ “What happens to us when we die,” question.
So you’re dead. What now? Enter the almighty architect and faithful guide to your afterlife, Michael. He’s here to help your transition from life on earth to death in the Good Place. You’ve made it into Heaven! Good for you! For Eleanor Shellstrop, this reality is hard to believe. She was pretty much the worst kind of person on Earth–self-centered, greedy, and has never done a nice thing for anyone in her life. She’s pretty sure there’s been some mistake and any second she’ll be dragged down to the Bad Place. She’s terrified Michael will realize his error. In the Good Place, you are paired with your soulmate, and that’s how Eleanor meets Chidi, philosophy and moral professor. They couldn’t be more different, but Chidi agrees to help Eleanor learn to be “good.” With fellow couple, Tahani and silent monk Jianyu, the four delve into what it means to be good.
One of my favorite aspects of the show is that residents of the Good Place are rendered incapable of using curse words. Eleanor has quite the risque vocabulary, which is censored and ends up saying “fork” often. Janet is by far my favorite character. Like a humanized robot version of Siri or Alexa, Janet is a personal assistant to each resident of the Good Place. Simply say “Janet,” and she appears! I love the show’s premise and incredible cast. It’s hilarious, full of drama, and leaves us feeling good. Check out Season 1 and 2 of The Good Place today!
TV Series – Father Thomas Ortega is an up-and-coming young priest in Chicago, rebuilding his long-neglected parish and working with the bishop and a local fundraising committee to organize the Pope’s visit to the Windy City. His neat professional trajectory is interrupted when Angela Rance, one of his parishioners, comes to him with a request: her daughter is possessed by a demon, and she wants him to do an exorcism. Rebuffed by the bishop, Ortega turns to Father Marcus Keane, a renowned exorcist who Ortega has never heard of — until the fellow priest appeared in his dreams. Meanwhile, Angela struggles to keep her family together as the demon’s power over her daughter grows more malevolent by the day.
I’m not usually a huge fan of religious horror, and I didn’t much care for the original Exorcist – I just don’t find it all that scary. But while the TV series has just as many jump scares and gross-outs as the movie, with a whole season it has time to do some more interesting things, too. The Rance family dynamics are fascinating, even before the demon shows up, and Father Thomas and Father Marcus are polar opposites in the classic tradition of buddy-cop dramas. There’s conspiracy and ominous foreshadowing; there’s tension over what it means to be a priest; there’s discussion of Gnostic heresies and the dangerous influences of Ouija boards. Most interesting, though, is the portrayal of demonic possession from the point of view of the girl being possessed, letting you see both the power it offers her and the subtle ways it makes her suffer. I really didn’t think you could make a feminist version of The Exorcist, but I think this show has pulled it off.
TV Series – David Haller knows what his problem is. He has schizophrenia. He’s doing much better in the institution, but it’s a pretty boring life, until Sydney shows up. She doesn’t like to be touched, doesn’t like people getting to close to her at all. Soon she and David fall in love. But on the day Sydney leaves the institution, something explosive and incomprehensible happens — something that makes it clear that David’s problem isn’t schizophrenia, it’s that he’s a mutant with superpowers, and he’s going to have to learn to control them before someone else does it for him.
Legion is a terrifically artistic TV show based on a character from the X-Men comics. While it’s produced by Marvel Studios and connected to the current X-Men movie franchise, you don’t have to have seen anything else to understand it — the characters are probably more confused than you are. The first couple of episodes use a very non-linear structure to put you in David’s head: it takes a long time to figure out when now is and exactly what that means. But it’s a terrific ride getting there, and unlike some shows that pay more attention to their aesthetics than their story, it’s never frustrating or too hard to follow. Legion packs a lot of story into an eight-episode season, and it’s tremendously binge-worthy.
Season Two of Legion just finished airing on FX this summer, and the show has already been renewed for a third season.
TV Series – It seems to me that the TV series Girls has become an obsession in the world of millennials, and just in general. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of mid-twenties life that I’ve seen in a television show. Sure, certain aspects are clearly dramatized, as in any popular series, but it just feels real.
Lena Dunham stars as the main character, Hanna, but is also an executive producer, which is pretty impressive. The series follows a group of budding adults: our starring character, Hanna, her best friend, Marnie, the bubbling Shoshana, and eccentric Jessa. They each have such distinctive personalities; it’s fascinating to see how they change and grow as the seasons progress. They’re in that phase of their lives where they’re cut off from their parents, struggling to pay rent, while also trying to maintain friendships, romantic relationships, and holding down jobs to support themselves. The experiences can be crude, disturbing, and intensely sexual, but it’s also though-provoking and something good to reflect on. It deals with difficult topics including: mental illness, drug use, sexuality and the daily struggles of life.
I turn to The Office when I need some comedic relief after watching Girls, which often makes me think too much about my own 20’s life. It presents characters that feel like people I might know and provides a good example of how relationships change after college. I really enjoy this series as a whole. As an added bonus, Adam Driver stars in the show, albeit as Adam, an often disturbed/disturbing love interest. I adore Adam Driver as the angsty Kylo Ren, so it’s always a pleasure to see him on screen.
TV Series – Currently in its third season after first airing in September 2016 – this show still has not lost momentum. After reading all the hype, I decided it was worth watching an episode to see what all the buzz was about. It didn’t take long for me to fall in LOVE with central characters Kevin, Kate and Randall – siblings of the same age and their parents, Jack and Rebecca. Told from shifting perspectives and from the present to the past, we see each one’s trajectory, and what lead them to be the person they are. As when the siblings were young, their stories intertwined with one another, it also does with them in adulthood. The show’s title – This Is Us couldn’t be more apropos, as it reflects characters or life situations we can relate to. The series touches on topics such as: struggles with weight, fears, race relations, emotional trauma, death, marriage, alcohol and drug, abuse.
The show is definitely an emotional heavy hitter. Nevertheless, sit down with a box of Kleenex, a chocolate bar, tea and enjoy the journey with this family.
TV Series – If you are a fan of suspenseful spy thrillers, then you will get hooked on The Americans. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings seem like a typical middle class American couple living in suburban D.C. during the Reagan era. They run a travel agency and have two children. But in fact, they are KGB agents in an arranged marriage whose goal is to get Cold War secrets for Mother Russia at any cost. Which means being masters of disguise, betrayal, and sleeping with whomever it takes. In their minds, they believe they are making the world a better place. If being spies in an enemy country isn’t complicated enough, their new neighbor is a counter intelligence FBI agent and their teen-age daughter who is suspicious of their behavior, becomes very active in a Christian youth group. Elizabeth and Philip also fear that their children may also be recruited by the KGB or their fates if the parents are captured or killed.
The drama was created by.former CIA agent Joe Weisberg and was inspired by the true story of Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley. Donald and Tracey were agents of Putin unbeknownst to their sons until they were arrested in 2010.
If you like House of Cards, Homeland, and Scandal you will probably enjoy The Americans. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The Americans is a show on FX and only streamed on Amazon Prime, but the Library has all the current seasons on DVD.
TV Series – Just as the name says, this show is Shameless. A story about a family that does everything they need to make ends meet. A father with a drinking problem and no job, six siblings ranging from mid-twenties to under a year, and neighbors and friends that do their best to help where and when they can.
The shows centers around the Gallaghers, a dysfunctional family with a lot of problems and a lot of heart. Frank (William H Macy) is an alcoholic determined never to work a day in his life. Ironic that he works so hard at trying not to work. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) keeps the family in line and afloat doing everything she can to make sure the bills get paid and there is food on the table. Lip and Ian are the next in line trying to stay in school and help out where they can. The younger branch of the family is Debbie, Carl and little Liam. They also do their part to help out with family responsibilities.
Shameless is very raw and depicts a lot of hard/ harsh situations. Though a comedy, Shameless has a lot of everyday drama. Using a chair to keep the washing machine door from opening because there is no money to buy a new one. Taking every odd job out their just to put food on the table. Sending your sister to school with her baby brother for show and tell because there is no babysitter and everyone has things to do. This is what I mean by every day drama. It may not be the drama you’re used to, but this is the reality for some. The Gallaghers struggle, but work together to get things done and compromise at every turn to make sure they survive to fight another day.
There is a lot of swearing, nudity, alcohol, and drug abuse. If this is not your thing, I would steer away from this one. But for people who can relate to harsh family upbringings, family resilience, and not take yourself to serious then I would check this out. The show takes place on the south side of Chicago. Shameless is ending its seventh season this December.
Book – The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey is perfect as a small gift or stocking stuffer. Known for beautiful costumes and settings, great characters, stories, and excellent writing – Jessica Fellowes has compiled some of her favorite quotes from the show. The book is beautifully illustrated with color stills from the series. Paging through it the reader will be reminded of some of the most memorable scenes and the personalities of the characters. It’s also interesting to experience all the social changes that happened over the six seasons.
Some of the best quotes are from Violet played splendidly by Maggie Smith. “Have we all stepped through the looking glass?”, “Poor souls. It’s bad enough parenting a child when you like each other.” Speaking to her grown son Robert: “When you talk like that I’m tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper.” And loving words between one of my favorite couples: Mrs. Hughes: “You can always hold my hand if you need to feel steady.” Carson: “I don’t know how, but you manage to make that sound a little risqué.” This is just a small example of many, many more. A fun little book that is truly witty and wise.
You may also like Behind the Scenes of Downton Abbey, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, Downton Abbey: A Celebration, and The World of Downton Abbey.
TV Series – In Silicon Valley, Erlich Bachman (TJ Miller) runs an incubator. This is a place where programmers can go and develop software, code, programs, and ideas into the next big thing in tech. Erlich pays all the overhead costs and provides them a place to stay and work. All Erlich wants is ten percent. At least that’s what he says.
The show centers around Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) who is developing a music application called Pied Piper. Nothing special just something people could use to help identify music. What is impressive is a compression algorithm within the coding of the app. This leads to a bidding war between two feuding tech billionaires, Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) and Gavin Belson (Matt Ross). Gregory wins the bidding war and becomes a mentor type to Richard. Richard hires everyone in the incubator to help with Pied Piper, except his friend Big Head (Josh Brener). Big Head stays working with a parody company of Google known as Hooli. Odd thing is Google exists in this make believe Silicon Valley world. Big head “works” his way up the Hooli ladder because of his relationship with Richard and nothing more. Big Head does nothing and keeps getting promoted. As the show continues the group must compete at TechCrunch Disrupt a competition for programmers. The group lead by Richard and Erlich do not feel they will be ready in time. In addition, Hooli unveils a competitive service to rival Pied Piper. The show descends into talks of major defeat, sex acts, and anarchy, making the last couple episodes very hilarious.
The show has a great supporting case including Amanda Crew who plays Monica, and Zach Woods who plays Richards assistant Jared. It is very laid back, not as tech jargon ridden as other shows. Miller’s, character keeps the show from taking itself too serious and assists greatly in satirizing the tech sector. I would recommend it to viewers who like satire, the tech industry, comedies, and raunchiness. The show just wrapped its third season and has been picked up for a fourth.
TV Series – Family, friends, and servants assumed that Captain Ross Poldark did not survive fighting in the American Revolutionary War, but after a 3 year absence he returns to Cornwall and instead of a hero’s welcome he is faced with heartbreak and ruin. His father has died, his beloved is engaged to his cousin, and his family estate is in severe neglect, the house squatted in by “faithful” servants.
The division and tension of the classes is even more apparent after the war. Ross has to make a living and needs means to restore the family estate, so he decides to open his father’s old copper mine. He is no longer interested in his role as a gentleman and works side by side with the workers he employs. This surprisingly creates much resentment from his peers who would relish in his failure. Poldark maintains his integrity and he is fiercely loyal to those devoted to him.
This superb historical drama could well fill the void for Downton Abbey fans. It gives a strong sense of time and place – the beauty of Cornwall – and is rich in character development. Aidan Turner is wonderfully cast as Poldark and is complete eye candy too!