What Have I Been Watching: Television [March]

Smack in the middle of March, Spring Break came along and I was able to catch up on all the television I missed over the semester. With my Hulu subscription,  I watched some old episodes of Cartoon Network’s amusing, yet at times dry, Regular Show and the surprisingly good We Bare Bears. I tried my best to catch up in Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and continued my attempt to finish Tina Fey’s 30 Rock – I’m only on S02E09 after almost a year of beginning the series. My efforts to watch more episodes of these shows failed mainly because I was engulfed in the worlds of two brilliant pieces of television. They happened to be FX’s Legion and Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack.

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My Favorite Television Shows of 2016

2016 is over, finally, and although the year was universally crummy it did produce some outstanding television. Film and TV, as frequent viewers here may know, is a form of escapism for me. A way to leave whatever troubles me in the real world and get lost in some fictitious ones. This year there were a couple of shows, both new and returning, that I would return to week after week, or day after day if they were on Netflix, to get my dose of immersion. Going in fresh into 2017 I wanted to reflect on these shows and write about what I loved so much about them. So here are my favorite shows of 2016 (unranked)!

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From the very first moments of Mr. Robot’s sophomore season I knew that the show was heading into a realm that has yet to be explored on television. What I am currently praising the most from this truly brilliant piece of television is the stellar and visionary directing of Sam Esmail.

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Mr. Robot S02E04 [Down the Rabbit Hole We Go]

The fourth (technically third) episode of Mr. Robot is strange and that’s saying a lot for a show with a story and directing style that hardly resembles any other running television series. The atmosphere of season 2 thus far has been quite “off”. Its eerie, nerving and the already odd world that surrounds Elliot seems unbalanced. Some fans have theorized that the slow pacing and weird tone of this season in building to a huge twist or something bigger in the grand scheme of the narrative. Other viewers have already thrown in the towel and gave up on the future of the show entirely. So which is it? Is Mr. Robot building to something grand or has it become too pretentious for its own sake?

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Orange is The New Black Season 4 Review [Spoiler Alert it’s Stellar]

The fourth season of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is as complex as it is visceral. It bluntly throws the truth of American society at your face and barely gives you enough time to process the harshness of the reality. OITNB season 4, as all previous seasons have done so well, will rip your heart out, make you laugh, cry and scream at your television (laptop?) in agony within moments of your preceding emotion. Whatever you felt towards our beloved all female ensemble it goes without saying that the fourth season of OITNB is the show’s best.

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Is Anything Truly “Binge-Worthy”?

Television has evolved into a fantastic platform where the viewing of our favorite shows are no longer at the hands of the network of origin but at the hands of the people. Through the existence of Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and other streaming sites, viewers are able to access all the episodes of almost every season of nearly any television series. We can all catch up with a show that we may have fell behind on, watch that series that we always wanted to or watch that old show that that everyone was obsessed with a couple of years back. The God-like ability to watch whatever, whenever has promoted the popular “binge-watching” habit, or the complete viewing of an entire season or at times an entire show.

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Recognizing TV’s Strong Female Characters

16 years into the 21st century, 10 of those I can probably remember, it’s safe to say that this not the peak era for music or film (it just isn’t). However we undoubtedly  live in the Golden Age of television where directors can better define themselves as auteurs, where some shows’ writing has surpassed that of the average film, and where special effects are almost as strong as the big screen (honestly it’s really close now). The greatest thing to come out of modern television is possibly its ability to consistently represent minorities, in America that is, in a positive light. Instead of the typical white male protagonist, we have shows consisting of all Asian casts (Fresh Off the Boat), all black casts (Blackish) and ensemble shows where the cast is extremely diverse (Orange is the New Black). With this new wave of diversity we also see a growing evidence of strong-female characters. Thus I felt inclined, at least for this post, to share how the role of women is changing in modern television through a (unranked) list of my favorite actresses/ characters on the small screen.

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My Favorite Superhero Shows

The big screen proved to be too small for the superhero genre as the Marvel and DC universes continue to expand on our televisions (nowadays the computer screen ). I have nothing but respect for the producers, directors and writers of these shows who have created unique and interesting stories for some of the most beloved comic book characters of all time.  Some comic book fans have struggled to watch some of the shows listed below due to their over-jocular atmospheres or even their quirkiness. This list will not only rank the superhero shows I watch, but also defend some shows that I believe have received unnecessary backlash. Enjoy!

Personal Statement:  Certain Marvel and DC shows are not on the list as I honestly view them as canon.

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#IWillDefendSupergirl

***Supergirl is Kara

The popularity of superhero movies has grown significantly in the past 5 years and, so far, there is no sign of them slowing down anytime soon. The genre has done justice, occasionally, to some of the most beloved comic book characters and has invited newcomers to the universes of Marvel and DC. The CW’s Flash has certainly dominated the small screen and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has certainly etched their mark on the big screen. One of the latest superheroes, in fact heroines, to join the family is DC’s Supergirl. Unfortunately, this show has earned mixed reviews from critics, fans and causal viewers. Critic’s reviews often suggest that the show is too quirky with a weak plot. Fans urge that Supergirl’s writers have not done justice to the comics and criticize its upbeat, jolly tone. The causal viewer has often, of course, argued that the show is “stupid” or “sooo stupid” to emphasize its senselessness. These reviews, all of which are harsh, are what stopped me from watching this show’s pilot and the succeeding episodes. But a feeling in my gut, as a comic book fan, told me to give it a chance. What do I think about it so far? I think this show is great and if haters disagree, please let me defend my belief.

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We are all uNbreakABLE

I live overseas and Netflix is now available worldwide in over 190 countries. So…..I’ve had two Christmases in the span of 3 Weeks? Yep, just checking. Anyways. I have conformed to the America social norms and binged watched a series for my first time. This show was the comedy show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt starring Ellie Kemper. It is extremely stupid yet so entertaining, excruciatingly vulgar yet well written and dumb yet hilarious. Despite its idiocy, the show has surprisingly taught me a number of life lessons! The most important one was in the very beginning of the show when Kimmy shares her “10 seconds at a time rule”.

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