Quaran-stream: The bingeable shows InQuire watched in lockdown

September 22, 2020

 Image Courtesy of: Armaan Latif

 

Remember the days when your Grandmother would scold you for spending too much time in front of that blasted idiot box? Or when your whole family would have to share that great big computer that lived in your parents’ room? Or even having to wait a whole minute for a pixel-y YouTube video to load? Well, thank Reed Hastings we don’t live in those times anymore. Instead, we’ve just been figuring out how to cope with this seemingly endless pandemic - have you heard about it?

 

Arguably, what’s been getting everyone through this quarantine is the chance for all of us to sit down and binge-watch new shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whatever streaming service you fancy. So let’s InQuire into what bingeable shows the new Editorial Team have been watching… see what I did there?

 

 

Better Call Saul (Netflix): Rory Bathgate, Newspaper Editor

      Image Courtesy of IndieWire

 

At this point, “Better Call Saul” has definitely eclipsed “Breaking Bad” in my eyes. Season five is brimming with talent and ingenuity, from the deeply emotional performances of its leads Odenkirk and Seehorn, to the stunning writing and direction each episode boasts.

 

If viewers had doubts about the potency of the series in its first two seasons, in which law disputes took up far more screen time than the high-octane tension of its much-loved predecessor, by now they should have been well and truly quelled.

 

While Kim faces some truly compelling courtroom drama, Jimmy (finally operating under the name Saul Goodman) continues to spiral into the incredibly dangerous world of cartel drug smuggling.

 

Certainly, “Better Call Saul” is closer to “Sicario” these days than “Matlock.” For my money, “Better Call Saul’s” fourth season was one of the best ever put to television, and season five proves this was no fluke.

Easily one of the best things you can watch right now, and highly bingeable from the comfort of your room, I would recommend “Better Call Saul” to anyone (providing you have seen “Breaking Bad” first).

 

 

Criminal Minds (Prime Video): Emily Webb-Mortimer, Website Editor

 Image Courtesy of Looper

 

After years of ignoring my friends because I wanted to be different, this quarantine, I caved. I started the 15-year long series “Criminal Minds.” I wanted to slap my 14-year-old self in the face, how could you be so blind? It’s serial killers and Mandy Patinkin, those are your two favourite things!

 

Of course, I fell immediately in love with the BAU in this show that I like to call “Mindhunter” on crack. More interesting than your average crime procedurals – my hatred of which being what made me wait so long to watch in the first place – as it uses real life psychoanalysis tactics that the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit employs, rather than the usual boring stuff of usual boring cop shows.

 

Unfortunately, Mandy Patinkin leaves, but it doesn’t matter because I adore the rest of the cast whose chemistry is the saving grace amongst the truly horrible crimes they witness that allows you to binge all 15 (yes, 15!) seasons. You absolutely will get nightmares, and don’t watch if you are more afraid of serial killers than fascinated by them, but for everyone else, I say it is more than worth it.

 

All I wish is that I’d actually started watching it when I was 14 like my friends told me to – my new hyper fixation on Matthew Gray Gubler would be much less embarrassing.

 

 

Mystery & Makeup (Bailey Sarian, YouTube): Samuel Watson, Newspaper Features Editor

 Image Courtesy of iHorror

 

Like almost everyone in the world, I have sought for a new source of entertainment over lockdown. And since being introduced to Bailey Sarian on YouTube as a way of distracting myself from the ongoing issues of the world, I have delved into hundreds of hours of binging watching.

 

I had initially heard of her through memes, until one day my girlfriend showed me Bailey’s channel. I never thought I would enjoy watching a make-up tutorial, but this is so much more.

 

Every Monday, Bailey uploads a “Mystery & Makeup” video where she discusses true crime stories whilst applying make-up. This may sound odd at first but after one episode, I realised how much research Bailey does on her weekly videos. Plus, her make-up skills are immaculate (coming from someone with no experience).

 

I have never watched make-up videos online before, but Bailey has something more than the usual tutorial or long form sponsored adverts. Bailey Sarian is one of the few YouTube creators who are passionate about their art form, making it entertaining . I highly recommend her channel.

 

 

Outer Banks (Netflix): Emily Regan, Website Features Editor

     Image Courtesy of Variety

 

“Outer Banks” is a new Netflix original series which follows the lives of John B, Kiara, JJ and Pope - nicknamed the Pogues - as they search for answers over John B’s father’s mysterious disappearance.

 

I stumbled upon this show when I was looking for a new series to watch, and I was hooked from the start, finishing the 10-episode series within about 24 hours. The drama starts almost immediately, with class warfare between the Pogues and the Kooks, the latter coming from much wealthier backgrounds.

 

“Outer Banks” is able to balance the action, crime and drama that comes from the overarching mystery with romantic storylines that are synonymous with soapy-teen-drama. Throughout the show, we are kept on the edge of our seats, because before you know it, a new problem has arisen.

 

I highly recommend “Outer Banks”- the summer setting is perfect, and throughout the series it is made clear that ‘friends are the family you choose’.

 

 

The Midnight Gospel (Netflix): Armaan Latif, Head of Design

 Image Courtesy of Netflix

 

Colourful, wacky, and full of heart, “The Midnight Gospel” is my go-to pandy (pandemic) show. Times have been intense lately, reality has been abrasive and in times of stress, much like a turtle or a snail or some other slow, slimy shell creature, I like to retreat into the comforting bosom of media.

 

“The Midnight Gospel” allows for initial escape but eventually gets you to face the daunting onslaught of life with child-like excitement and a newfound optimism.

 

The brainchild of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward and comedian Duncan Trussell, the show’s host (Duncan) and his many veterans of life guests guide the viewer through death, love, and the human experience.

 

It features many familiar voices like those of Dr. Drew Pinsky, Joey Diaz and Christina Pazsitzky. It is a good one, I definitely recommend.

 

 

The Blacklist (Netflix): Ainy Shiyam, Head of Photography

     Image Courtesy of Variety

 

This quarantine, I took the liberty of starting a show that has been on my watch list for the longest time - “The Blacklist.” The series follows a high-profile criminal, Raymond Reddington (James Spader), who voluntarily surrenders himself to the FBI in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and the chance to work with rookie profiler, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

 

The series expands through seven seasons and explores different major plots and how they intertwine with Liz and Reddington’s relationship. The mysteries of Reddington's and Liz's lives, and his interest in her, are gradually revealed as the series progresses.

 

Additionally, each episode features one of the global criminals that Reddington must assist the FBI team in tracking and apprehending. The rank and name, or alias of the featured criminal on the list is displayed at the start of almost every episode. It took several sleepless weeks to get through 7 seasons of “The Blacklist” and I can’t wait to see what we’re treated to in season 8 this November.

 

 

Giri/Haji (Netflix): Tarini Tiwari, Newspaper News Editor

      Image Courtesy of Financial Times

 

I spent lockdown succumbed to the world of Netflix reality television. However, I have since blocked that period from memory and replaced that void within my brain with “Giri/Haji” or “Duty/Shame,” a Japanese detective thriller.

 

“Giri/Haji” follows Detective Kenzo Mori as he investigates the disappearance of his younger brother, a hitman for the Japanese yakuza, a mystery which carries him overseas to London. The show is not rooted purely in the main plot of Mori’s brother, and chooses to explore the underworld of British and Japanese gang culture, the Japanese concept of honour, and frayed family relations.

 

What I really enjoyed about the series was its incredible aesthetics and colouring. They also seamlessly incorporate illustrations into the scenes without it feeling like a crutch to set the show apart.

 

One of the major strengths of “Giri/Haji,” is how it enables English-speaking viewers to adapt to the show’s native language, in the same way other cultures have with British and American programmes. Much of the series is in Japanese while still clearly aiming to appeal to a Western audience, and this encourages accessibility for all those who are interested in watching this gritty thriller.

 

 

RuPaul’s Drag Race (Netflix): Lucy O’Brien, Newspaper Opinion Editor

 Image Courtesy of Daily Xtra

 

As the weeks of lockdown dragged on in what felt like an endless summer, Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race seemed to be the only thing I looked forward to. Releasing weekly episodes, the show essentially became my only concept of time.

 

The show’s uplifting, light-hearted and fun nature was certainly a great break from the monotony of lockdown and became one of the only things to look forward to. Just like it’s viewers, Season 12 felt the impact of the worldwide pandemic; though the competition was pre-filmed months before the outbreak of Coronavirus, the live finale, which took place in May, had to be filmed over a Zoom call.  

 

A huge and never-before-seen task, I commend the Drag Race team for not only soldiering on with the show in such unprecedented times, but also setting an example for the rest of the nation in putting safety first and remaining at home. The result was a virtual lip sync eleganza for the crown between the final three contestants.

 

Although it wasn’t quite the extravaganza fans are used to, one can hardly complain in such circumstances. In the end, the show exceeded my expectations as one of the best seasons yet.

 

 

Money Heist (Netflix): Claudia Sofia, Website Opinion Editor

 Image Courtesy of Newsweek

 

I did not intend to become as hooked on “Money Heist” as I did, having ironically watched the first half of the series premiere because I was not going to eat my dinner in silence. Its obvious title seemed to me reason enough to stay away but its beautifully convoluted plot – characteristic of European dramas – could not be more enthralling.

 

The show is one thrill ride of warm, bitter, and triumphant moments shared between a bunch of wildcards set on the stage of the Royal Mint of Spain. Yes, you have to read the subtitles, which sounds like a horrible task when most of us may have Netflix on as background noise, but it’s 2020 people! Grow up and just read the god damn subtitles!

 

“Money Heist” is truly an immersive experience that you’ll have no other choice than to put down your Nintendo Switch and watch. I promise.

 

 

Pose (Netflix, BBC iPlayer): Jake Yates-Hart, Newspaper Entertainment Editor

  Image Courtesy of Marie Claire

 

Emmy snubbing be damned, Ryan Murphy’s “Pose” is one of the most ground-breaking television shows currently airing, with a compelling, expertly written premise and beautifully acted by the largest trans cast in television history. Yes, it’s that good.

 

“Pose” focuses on the lives of Black and Latinx transgender women in the New York Ballroom scene during the late 1980s. Each episode is an hour-long revelatory love letter to the LGBTQ community, exploring the trauma of homophobia and transphobia at the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, while simultaneously focusing on the power and influence that queer people have on culture. For instance, I was completely unaware that ‘Voguing’ was created by Black and Latino LGBTQ communities in the Ballroom scene until I watched this show, and in that regard, Murphy marries education and entertainment wonderfully.

 

When we discuss LGBTQ issues, we should look at “Pose” as an example of how black queer resistance against patriarchal order usually takes the form of art.  To put it simply, “Pose” is a perfect, unapologetically queer show that seeks to occupy a space on mainstream television, and I hope other shows follow in its footsteps.

 

 

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (Disney+): Yoan Dzhugdanov, Website Entertainment Editor

   Image Courtesy of Disney+

 

“Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” debuted on Disney+ an odd 6 months after “The Mandalorian” started streaming in October 2019. Fans have been eagerly anticipating this eight-episode docuseries, which takes audiences on a thoroughly engaging exploration into the various components that went into the making of the first ever live action Star Wars TV-Show.

 

Each episode delves into a specific aspect of the filmmaking process, pulling back the curtain on how the cast brought the show’s characters to life, the artistry behind the practical and special effects, Ludwig Goransson’s unique score, as well as the series’ profound connection to Star Wars lore.

 

The blend of behind the scenes footage and roundtable conversations featuring cast and crew members, hosted by showrunner Jon Favreau, works exceptionally well in highlighting the collaborative vision and effort by all involved in bringing the show to our screens.

 

The sheer enthusiasm and passion shared by all is highly evident throughout this docuseries, and if the impressive use of innovative and ground-breaking technologies showcased in the making of the show’s first season is anything to go by, then fans can rest assured that the second season of “The Mandalorian” is bound to deliver.

 

 

Canada’s Drag Race (BBC iPlayer): Morgan Rodway-Wing, Website Culture Editor

 Image Courtesy of Daily Xtra

 

I am usually sceptical when I hear that “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” is getting another variation of its show - after all, could it live up to the popularity of the original? But the first season of “Canada’s Drag Race” gained just as much attention as the OG series, even if not always for the right reasons.

 

The diversity of the contestants surpassed my expectations, with the inclusion of plus size, Francophone, and queens of colour. This diversity was echoed in the competition, with design, acting and dancing challenges similar to the original show.

 

Unfortunately, the judging was disheartening to say the least. The new layout of three judges and a guest host was promising, particularly as judge Brooke Lynn Hytes was a contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race not long before. But the critiques from the judges were inconsistent and often insensitive, upsetting both contestants and viewers.

 

There was also a lack of accountability for the elimination results as the judges’ individual decisions remained anonymous.  If there is to be a second season, and I hope there is, a serious reassessment of the judging panel is crucial.

 

 

Cobra Kai (Netflix): Joe Acklam, Newspaper Sports Editor

    Image Courtesy of GamesRadar

 

I never watched “The Karate Kid” before watching “Cobra Kai.” The show’s recent purchase and subsequent marketing drive by Netflix, combined with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka’s appearances on one of my favourite shows, “How I Met Your Mother,” convinced me to give it a try.

 

I eventually watched “The Karate Kid” and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it did not prepare me for how much I would love “Cobra Kai.” Where the 1984 film deals with a simple conflict of good-versus-evil, the 2018 action series mixes in far more shades of grey to its characters and redeems Jonny Lawrence, who is the main protagonist of the show, without making him out to be whiter than white.

 

All the characters are eminently likeable, whilst also having fundamental flaws so you are not sure who to root for. The fight scenes are very enjoyable and well-choreographed, particularly in series one, as in series two they neglect to include any consequences to public brawls. I really didn’t expect to love this show as much as I did, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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