Worth the Watch

August 8, 2018

The art form I have always inclined to binge myself with are TV series. Like movies and books do, TV series bring us to whole new worlds, usually impelling their viewers with a side effect of gaining a broader perspective on things at hand. Though television is certainly a medium of entertainment rather downplayed and associated by critics as some sort of brainless engagement and tawdry rhetoric, it has patently influenced the masses in the most critical times of history. One TV series, though usually disclaimed, maybe for a matter an indirect reflection of prevailing contexts of our society today.

Moreover, as the media shift from previously eminent television screens to newly introduced digital playgrounds seconded by original contents from streaming sites, TV series just keep on evolving. From rarely tackled, sensitive topics to diverse and pragmatic castings and depictions of characters, story lines of these contents have been creative outlets that go beyond imaginations and even realities. However, the rationality of plots and scenes should always take precedence for TV series to be truly called an objet d’art and not to be some mere pretentious block-timers or advertising vacuums, just as what is happening in the Philippine television. It is also important for us viewers to sift out the good ones from the bad ones; to critique the thought-provoking ones from the obtuse ones. Thus, I’m sharing to you the 8 TV series I highly recommend for their great writing, swooning scores, and the stark, out-from-the-cliché narratives.

1. The Americans

The series features the cat-and-mouse plot of Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russel), undercover KGB spies in D.C., and the FBI authorities epitomized by their clueless but leery neighbor, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) in the midst of the Cold War era . Each episode is packed with staggering action and deliberately etched theatrics as they switch from one veneer to the other. Apart from this, the series also revolves around the couple’s family life and struggles in order to realize their patriotic duties while rearing their children in an environment distant from their ideological standpoints and mores.

2. Dark

Regarded as a darker and more in-depth version of Stranger Things, this Netflix original has earned its reputation as more perplexing and dumbfounding than the former. The narrative starts with mysteriously successive disappearances of children in Winden, a rural German town (Yes, it’s in German language!), only to be discovered that they are strewn among four different timelines by an ineffable force that cycles every 33 years. There’s a lot of characters to familiarize and to intertwine, so make your notepads handy!

3. Scandal

Led by Olivia Pope (Kerri Washington), a DC fixer and crisis manager, and her team of Gladiators-in-suits, get ready to be flabbergasted as they use each bag of tricks to aid DC’s most influential while juggling the harsh circumstances of their personal lives. Each case they handle makes them miracle workers who either walk the talk or be dismissive with wayward clients. What makes Scandal more scandalous are its depiction of savage political vendetta, heinous power plays, and appalling amorous affairs. An added subplot in the series revolves around the operations of a rogue organization, running outside the US government called B613.

4. The Blacklist

Get inside the criminal underworld and the psyche of the most notorious in The Blacklist. The ensemble is led by an FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), as she and her team of covert FBI operatives incarcerate (or sometimes set free) America’s most wanted with the help of America’s most wanted, himself, Raymond Reddington (James Spader), who brokered a deal to reveal the personalities in his “list” in exchange for his emancipation. Though using the usual contextual matrix of procedural dramas, James Spader’s monologues and the multifaceted backstories of each “blacklister” is sure enough to get you hooked in this series.

5. The Handmaid's Tale

Set in a period after a fictitious Second American Civil War, an infertile-causing plague, and a peak in environmental pollution in the distant future, the story exploits on everyone’s inclinations on the “what ifs” of a possible dystopian society where castes are made and where civil rights are uncompelled, as previously reprised on the silver screen by The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies. It centers on the silent melee of “handmaidens” who are deemed to be capable of childbearing and are thus subject to religious oppression and ideological anomalies just to continue the growth of the country’s population.

6. Narcos

An unadulterated narrative of Pablo Escobar’s life as a drug lord and a family man, while being hailed by his countrymen as a “champion of the masses.” It comes to grip with the unceasingly tedious drug war that has plagued the Americas in the 90’s with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency posing as the gringos who can always save the day with direct political and socioeconomic interferences among its belligerents. It also presents the lavish lifestyles of the members of drug cartels and series of killings that dominates the global scenes while concealing the ill-gotten wealth that conveniently pedestaled them on top of the food chain.

7. Young Sheldon

The comic relief in this TV series comes from the seemingly innocent and delicate brain waves of a 9-year old child who is way more advanced than people double or even triple his age. As the name suggests, the series is a prequel to the life of The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper (Ian Armitage/Jim Parsons) as he faces, alongside his pious mother Mary (Zoe Perry) and scatterbrained father George (Lance Barber), the hurdles in having an enormous frontal cortex while still addressing the rather gullible and rudimentary milestones of his humble life in the South.

8. The Gifted

A weekly dose of X-men is finally here. The series is set on haughtily degrading period of the almost never-ending rift between humans and mutants, but the twist is set in the fact the primary defenders of the mutants, the X-men, is nowhere to be found after a succession of events that led to an all-out hatred and annihilation of humans to the mutants. Maybe not a newfangled story line, however, it takes us to the extremes where mutants seem to be as destructive as a nuclear weapons but as powerless as a wailing sheep because of uncoordinated efforts. The series brings to life the comic book characters of The Fenris, Polaris, Dreamer, Thunderbird, Blink, Eclipse, The Stepford Cuckoos, among others.



For a creative like me, TV series are imaginations turned into fruition. They bring us to discrete spheres that gradually accompany us to a whole new world of possibilities and to far-reaching outlook on the circumstances that surround us. They facilitate us to think, and that I believe is the most overtly powerful fashion to be influenced by the characters that we love to hate and hate to love and to engage in intelligent discussions that beget creative ideas and thought-provoking, enmeshed involvement. How about you? What makes you consider a TV series that will take up an hour or so of your precious time?

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