While most people spend the summer going to festivals and swimming, I’ve been backstroking in the entertainment-less abyss that is my showhole left by the hiatuses of my favorite regular season shows. You know, the ones that weren’t cancelled. RIP The Passage.
Thanks to premium channels and streaming services, there’s always new shows to discover. So here’s how I spent my summer vacation: binge-watching a variety wonderfully weird, deliciously diverse, fantastic new television. Since there’s still a good three weeks before the new TV season gets into full-swing, I’ll share the best binges I’ve had this summer, excluding the food truck festival I went to in July...
When I was a teenager, I had a hard time relating to high school dramas, mostly because they never captured the true confusion and difficulties of growing up. Euphoria, HBO’s explicit and lyrical drama about a drug-addicted teen, has not only managed to capture the angst, ennui, confusion and utter pain of being a teenager in today’s world, but it conveys it in truly beautiful and whimsical ways. Rue, played expertly by Zendaya Coleman, struggles with her own mental illnesses and losing her father at a young age, and uses drugs to escape. Until she meets, Jules, and instantly falls in love. Whether it’s romantic or platonic love no one knows, but Jules encourages Rue to do better. The show’s eight episode first season omnisciently touches down on different characters, digging into their psyches, and quickly disseminates the teenage archetypes to show the vulnerable people behind it. It’s messy and vulgar and sparkly and confusing, much like growing up is. When I was a teenager, I dealt with crushes and petty fights with my friends, but I also dealt with friends’ suicide attempts, bullying, school shootings and divorce, much like the teens on Euphoria. Thankfully, I didn’t have to contend with social media, like these teens do.
Euphoria is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on television, and “Shoot One: Part II” is one of the most moving and flawlessly directed episodes of the last decade, at least. During the perplexing and poetic musical number in the last 10 minutes of the season, I felt a perverse, chilling joy that solidifies that Euphoria is one of the most imaginative shows of 2019, and Zendaya probably secured her first of many Emmy nominations.
Before diving into the final season of Starz’ drug-dealing saga, I had to watch the first five seasons. I finished the show in about three weeks. Power, starring Omari Hardwick, Joseph Sikora, Naturi Naughton, and Lela Loren, contains everything one wants in a crime-drama: love, passion, laughably-depraved murders, and evading the law.
It’s easy to get swept up in businessman and drug kingpin’s James St. Patrick’s fantasies of going legit and living happily ever after with his first love and the one-that-got-away, Angela (who happens to be a federal prosecutor). It’s also just as simple to be horrified by the lengths he’ll go to to make that happen; and to realize the scarring effects of poverty and institutionalized racism has individuals. In a perfect world, Ghost and Tommy would be business moguls, instead of drug dealers and murderers.
Some emotional moments don't pack as visceral a punch as they potentially could have, but the show is immensely watchable. Sikora’s Tommy provides a much-needed injection of sadistic humor that even makes producer 50 Cent’s turn as a psychotic rival drug dealer mostly palatable. The entire cast is absolutely stunning and capable. And Loren makes Angela, one of the most aggravatingly stupid women on TV, more than likable. The final season will pit the once unshakeable duo, Ghost and Tommy, against each other in a war that's sure to have some devastating casualties.
Southern Charm New Orleans, Bravo TV
In today’s insane times, we need reality shows more than ever to offer a salacious escapism from burning Amazon rainforests, the 47 people running for President, and the insanity than is America. Enter Southern Charm New Orleans. Unlike its predecessor, Southern Charm New Orleans is free of would-be rapists and plantation owners, and follows a diverse mix of successful friends as they navigate divorce, marriage, dating and raising children in The Big Easy. Follow former NFL-player Jeff’s rocky road to self-improvement as he tries to move on after divorcing wife Reagan, who may or may not have reconnected and gotten pregnant to her future husband while she was still married. Watch the enrapturing Tamica Lee as she restructures her busy life to spend more time with her family and friends and stir up more drama than a Louisiana hurricane. New Orleans offers an entertaining mix of fights, friction, and shenanigans from a group of friends that have clearly known each other for decades and genuinely love each other.
No Good Nick, Netflix
I’m a sucker for sitcoms, so I’m always on the lookout for watchable new ones that won’t be summarily cancelled like CBS’ Happy Together. Enter Netflix’s No Good Nick, a genre-bending revolutionary sitcom that combines family lessons and classic humor with the intrigue of G-rated crime. Sienna Agudong does the heavy lifting as the titular Nick, a foster kid-turned-scammer sent to infiltrate an upstanding suburban family to fleece them for their riches.
The most refreshing aspect of No Good Nick is it trades the soft talks over canned muzak for honest family moments where the answers aren’t easy or immediate, adults aren’t always right, and the realization that sometimes life is incredibly hard. Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin (Stranger Things, Lord of the Rings) share a cozy chemistry leaders of the imperfect Thompson crew, while Kalama Epstein regularly steals scenes as the Type-A golden boy, Jeremy. This timely sitcom is a standout on Netflix, and one I hope they can keep going for seasons to come.
What shows are you currently binge-watching? Share in the comments below.
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Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.