Damn, it’s gotten cold all of a sudden. And if you’re 100-year-old house is anything like most of New Zealand’s 100-year-old houses, it’s pretty hard to keep that cold out. So that means retiring to the comfort of the duvet with a nightcap and a laptop earlier and earlier to stream some premium TV. Here are five of our picks.
Master of None
Comedian Aziz Ansari (who, if you’re not familiar with from his stand-up, was the racist fruit-seller in Flight of the Conchords) stars in and co-created this semi-autobiographical auteur comedy about a struggling actor in New York. It’s funny, originally creative, mildly romantic in a non-cheesy way, and so so easy to watch. Kinda like Louie but a little lighter and younger. Episodes vary in style and substance, some advancing a vague plot about Ansari’s romantic life (including the best TV version of Tinder dating that I’ve seen), some just asides that barely feature the main cast at all. Oh, and great music too.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale is one of those book, like Orwell’s 1984, that have shot up the Amazon rankings in the wake of election of the 45th President of the United States. Why? Because the tale takes place in near-future dystopia where a uber-conservative totalitarian government has taken over the US and imposed some sort of Christian martial law, enslaving unsavoury women for their reproductive capabilities. Whether you’re ‘Yeah, that’s not too far from what’s going on now’ or ‘That could never happen’ may largely depend on your politics, but either way, this is an insanely well-made must-watch show. It’s brilliantly written, beautifully shot and gives at least one visceral gut-punch per episode.
Another adaption from a popular novel, this time from Neil Gaiman, that guy who has written almost every kind of book from comics to kid’s books. His stuff is always dreamy and twisted and dark and American Gods is no different. The basic setup is that all old gods (like actual gods worshiped around the world for the last few thousand years) are living normalish American lives and are being brought together to confront the new gods (the media, globalisation, technology, etc.) In the wrong hands, this could be pretty cringe-worthy, but in the hands of two guys who are partly responsible for Hannibal and the new Aliens movie, it’s anything but. Oh, and the cast is amazing: Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson and Crispin Glover among others who you’ll recognise from somewhere but won’t be able to place. A warning though: It’s pretty confusing at the start, so if you’re in for one episode, you should at least commit to three.
It’s back. I haven’t seen it yet, so probably should just keep my mouth shut, but David Lynch’s return to TV is basically required viewing. Twin Peaks: The Return takes place 25 years after the final of season two, with Agent Cooper still trapped in the black lodge, that inter-dimensional netherworld where there’s the red room with zig-zag carpet and a little person with a helium voice. So, at a guess, it’ll be weird, confusing and leave audiences as lost as they are thrilled.
Veep is back and is harsher than ever. In this new political climate, many have been saying the Washington is currently House of Cards but with the characters of Veep. Meaning, it’s corrupt and conniving, but, more than anything, essentially incompetent. It’s brutal, dirty, completely cynical, and beyond funny.