The best lock down TV shows


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On the rare occasion I ventured outside during lock down I took advantage of breathing in the fresh air, observing the way water flows in streams and the greenness of the outside world. But let’s be real. Most of us have spent it indoors…bingeing!

The past few months, as we all know, have been particularly challenging. Days are turning into weeks and weeks are turning into months and months are just…a figment of my imagination. Some of us may be navigating ourselves back out into some sort of adjusted reality or new normal but if like me you’re in your own voluntary lock down or in an actual lock down or phase returning, one things for certain, TV is hot stuff right now and one of the only things that is keeping me sane and in touch with what life used to be like.

The past few months, as we all know, have been particularly challenging. Days are turning into weeks and weeks are turning into months and months are just…a figment of my imagination. Some of us may be navigating ourselves back out into some sort of adjusted reality or new normal but if like me you’re in your own voluntary lock down or in an actual lock down or phase returning, one things for certain, TV is hot stuff right now and one of the only things that is keeping me sane and in touch with what life used to be like.

Staying at home for such a long period of time has forced me to face my own subconscious; things that I’m triggered by and my self esteem. The recent social unrest over the George Floyd murder has opened a wave of issues experienced by various minority groups. It’s opened up my own can of worms. But in a way that forced me to look deep at each and every worm that consumed my behaviour, art, thinking…my existence. I was aware of the microaggressions, privilege, white fragility, cultural appropriation, racial prejudice, self hatred but I didn’t have to deal with it like I did in lock down. I had nothing to distract me from the pain. I had brushed it under the carpet and now I’ve been forced to deal with it.

So now that the worms are out for all the world to see and with the mass backing to support, I’m able to continually dissect my own experience. And where better to turn to validate those experiences than TV!

The list below are a comprised list of the best shows that touch on or are about gender discrimination, transphobia, racism and privilege. Things myself and many others have experienced. If you fancy learning a thing or two about the people who don’t look like you then you may want to take a gander. Or if you want to remember what the world used to be like then these shows will definitely jog that memory. And even inspire an understanding to recognise what needs to change in society.

I would also like to mention here that too much stimulation of any kind is unhealthy and it became apparent during lock down that I have an addiction to TV. Even though I have consumed everything in the list that I’m about to impart I would definitely recommend consuming any form of media in moderation. So…without further adieu and in no particular order…

Made in Heaven

From the Director of the fantastic Gully Boy (a must see film too), Zoya Akhtar brings us a highly entertaining show as we follow two wedding planners as they face the many social issues often presented to couples and surrounding families during the wedding. Already can’t wait for the second season. Their realistic and occasional comedic navigation during the 9 episode season comments on a wider society and a culture in flux. Vijay Raaz’s performance is exceptionally good as was his performance in Gully Boy. Season One available on Amazon Prime.

The Morning Show

Available on Apple TV+ The Morning Show takes us on a descending journey as it’s ‘dramatic retelling of Matt Lauer’s #MeToo-fuelled fall from grace on NBC’s Today show’ highlights the misconducts when it comes to sexual harassment in the work place. Through character flashbacks do we uncover the truth of what happened. It’s a stark reminder that, just like the characters doubts, there’s a question mark over the validity of those speaking up about harassment. If Jennifer Anniston’s outstanding powerhouse of a performance isn’t enough then The Morning Show is a must watch for Cory Ellison alone! A character who has no morality and revels in the mic drops he throws so casually to his explosive colleagues.

‘I’m doing it because it’s fun, I’m very very good at it and it’s easier to get laid when you’re employed.’

Pose

Even though I binged Pose before lock down I would watch it again as it’s more timely than ever. Although some of the acting is questionable Pose is big, bolshey, unashamedly queer and a glamarous tale (over two seasons) of drag ball culture. It embraces the historical issues around gender, money, politics, sexuality in the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s a glimpse into this history highlights our current position and how far we’ve yet to go. Pose’s story line also allows the incredibly talented MJ Rodriguez and Billy Porter to show off their vocal range. And not just when it comes to singing in Porters’ case. Pray Tell’s hilarious quick witted one liners alone are worth tuning in for. Season One and Two available on BBC iPlayer.

Noughts and Crosses

A six part drama adapted from Malorie Blackman’s novel series highlights the consequences of love in a dystopian world where the power of privilege shift into the hands of the most oppressed. Hugely successful in its simple premise Noughts and Crosses puts those most privileged into a position of understanding. Intended for a young adult/teen audience the TV series has the potential to shape views and inspire those of us who are also a bit older. Available on BBC iPlayer.

She

An Indian Netflix TV series about a police officer posing as a prostitute (notice how I didn’t put female in front of police officer?). This show is all kinds of thriller. Some have criticised the protagonists authenticity when it comes to their sexually aggressive choices but the plot is a great opportunity to highlight gender issues that are apparent in India. It’s themes aren’t just for a country far away though. The TV Series triumphantly translates similar social concerns we have in the west too.

Vida

Vida is available on a channel called Starz and there are 3 whole seasons to devour. Yep. Lock down was busy! Contains sexually explicit content from the get go. But the shows deep message manages to accurately convey the conflicts of gentrification, cultural appropriation, homophobia and transphobia within the LGBTQ of the Latinx community. And what a tight nit, loving and loyal community it is. I found that this wasn’t just an addictive binge worthy show but it helped me to learn about my own appropriating actions of the Spanish culture. I’ll definitely be more considerate, aware and attempt to change my behaviour when I plan my dream holiday to Mexico. All series available on Starz.

I May Destroy You

There is so much hype around this show currently and rightly so. Michaela Coel has written and directed Arabella; a Writer who’s night of esacpism from an unfinished draft turns into an examination of race, consent, rape and gender.

Go watch to see what all the fuss is about and if you still don’t feel it’s enough you can catch the podcast on BBC Sounds to get your TV thirst quenched. With a predominantly all black cast (down to the shopkeeper) Coel is proof that performing, writing and directing your own work ends in fantastic results. All episodes available on BBC iPlayer.

Snowfall

Believe it or not but Damson Idris who plays business savvy and focussed Franklin….is British! If you’ve already seen this 1980’s piece of art then you may too be shocked, as his ability to flip between accents is outstanding. Having a Brit play the lead makes me incredibly proud (and slightly enviable but I’m still rooting for him). But this powerful drama about the cocaine epidemic in L.A changed a community forever. Under a 1980’s backdrop Snowfall highlights the lack of opportunities for young black people despite their natural business acumen and intelligence. Choosing to save your family with money now or education for an uncertain future when society is against you, doesn’t make the choosing between the two, difficult. Superb.

Mrs America

Cate Blanchett portrays the real life Phyllis Schlafly – a right wing anti feminist. Schlafly led a group of friends to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, running a campaign that took the U.S by storm. With a 5 state stronghold supporting the group we saw the tactical battle play out between them and the liberal elites run by Gloria Steinham.

Underneath each of these compelling stories and intricate details lies a vital lesson. I’ve switched away from each having understood a bit more about why we are where we are…now! And how humans can make the worst possible choices. They’re laced in truth. And TV, film and plays for me are the best ways to imbed understanding and create change.

But if it wasn’t enough for me I’ve been keeping a close eye on ‘A Suitable Boy’ which has recently started on BBC iplayer. What shows have you enjoyed during lock down, what are your recommendations and are you as glued to the screen as I am?

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