What to watch

9 posts

American Horror Story 1984

American Horror Story is consistently well written (by the same people that do Glee) even when it’s consciously been written badly. The ninth season, 1984, is a classicover the top slasher picture with sporadic—but sparingly— blood heavy scenes. And just enough shocking moments to keep it original (there’s an oven scene to dieeeee for). 

american horror story

Set mostly in a typical American summer camp, a bunch of young adults are terrorised by a serial killer at large. But each character comes with a dicey past and their own demons, which provides discernible motivation for escaping LA and taking up residence at the camp. 

It’s not really until the third episode that it gets into the core plot. There seems to be a lot of padding in points and flashbacks so the chronology is a bit confusing, perhaps intentionally so (the season is only halfway through).

Eighties nostalgia translates really well on the small screen, particularly when done well like in ManiacStranger Thingsand Black Mirror. And AHS are renown for taking solid horror tropes and aesthetics and making them interesting still/again. And the eighties aerobics scene/s are everything though. Everything!

However, this season is the ultimate let down. I don’t say this lightly as I will totally stan AHS, even Roanoke. But don’t totally disregard it as it dallies around some pretty intriguing sub plots about the psychology around why serial killers kill, in an almost homage to the popular series Mindhunter. High fructose corn syrup was one theory why more people were being murdered…

With a noticeable absence of the usual cast of Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters or Kathy Bates, it is reasonably lacklustre. However, Angelica Ross is outstanding and almost makes up for the lack of usual talent. 

Angela Ross is amazing in American Horror Story 1984

Time to check out some more horror shows?

What to watch after Fleabag

So you’ve finished watching Fleabag and kind of, sort of, gotten over the Hot Priest. After you’ve come down from the absolute genius that is Fleabag you’ll be scouting around for your next “dark and dry” to keep fuelling the fire if your inner unexpressed angst. 

I don’t know about you but I am grieving the end of the show and miss it like a beloved friend has moved away. Which is silly because it’s *just* a TV show. Right?

Here are some shows that you can watch next:

This Way Up

I love a post breakdown recovery series. Irish comedian, Aisling Bea, has created a very witty series called This Way Up about getting your life together in your thirties.

Back to Life

what to watch after fleabag back to life

By the producers of Fleabag, Back to Life is about a woman in her thirties returning to her hometown after serving a jail sentence. 

Pure

This is a little hidden gem, Pure, tackles some huge, unexplored issues such as sex addiction and intrusive thoughts. Be warned: it gets pretty real.

Crashing 

This is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s other show but Crashing didn’t quite grab me. You might like it though.

Game Face

what to watch after fleabag game face

A hilarious, modern look at being a hot mess in your thirties. Not a unique TV premise but I can’t get enough. Can you? Tell me what you think of Game Face.

Finding Joy

what to watch after fleabag finding joy

Finding Joy is about a woman struggling to get her life together in her thirties… I mean, you get the idea, right?

Okay, I should rename this post from what to watch after Fleabag to ‘shows about women in their thirties’ but that’s not as fun. 

Not sure what to watch next? Read the television blog.

Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill tells the story of three relationships (and more) across three separate decades.

Beth Ann (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the perfect doting nineteen sixties housewife, Simone (Lucy Lui) is an eighties socialite and Kendall (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) is a modern day feminist in an open marriage. 

why women kill tv show

This is not a podcast cum documentary like the title would suggest but a camp dark comedy that looks at infidelity and negotiating romantic unions throughout time and how each woman, in her own ingenious way, deals with it. And sometimes with fatal consequences. But not without rediscovering who they are and what they truly want out of life. 

Infidelities, which sprout in their own ways with their own meanings pertaining to each couple, are revealed early on, so it’s clear the TV show is not about how infidelity spells the end of a relationship. In fact, this show depict how it’s the start of every good story.

why women kill tv
Photo credit: Jessica Brooks/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc.

All tied together by one house, Why Women Kill is like Desperate Housewives (both were written by Marc Cherry) mixed with Mad Men but on a heap of sugar. And the outfits are off the hook. It even has fun episode titles like I Killed Everyone He Did, But Backwards and in High Heels.

Should I watch Why Women Kill?

Yes, it’s super fun.

Cheat

Cheat is a British psychological thriller that tells a story in a tight four episodes. How often do you watch a dark TV series these days that has a four ep season? 

Cheat TV series

In Cheat, a university professor is stalked by her student, who quickly becomes more aggressive and conniving in her exploits. All the while, those around the professor are discrediting her as being paranoid, including her own husband who continuously dismisses her fears and even begins to side with the stalking student. As with any high stakes thriller and precarious dynamic between characters, it escalates and ultimately ends up fatal. 

The writers create great audience empathy with the protagonist. Her frustration and confusion is portrayed well and believable without being melodramatic. 

What’s odd about the telling of this story, is the choice to flash forward in the first episode to the conclusion. Essentially, giving away a chunk of the ending. Which isn’t a terrible spoiler as there aren’t any dramatic surprise twists (maybe one quite easily guessable one).

cheat tv series to watch

Other reviews have penned this as chilling but I think that’s hyperbole. It’s intriguing and watchable but it won’t give you nightmares.

Molly Windsor plays the student and her portrayal is excellent. I expect her to appear in many more delicious dramas and thrillers. Including the upcoming Traces (which features an all female production crew).

Should you watch Cheat?

Yes because the storytelling is riveting but it can be lagging at times.

You will like Cheat if you liked:

  • Gypsy
  • Deep Water
  • Black Swan

On Becoming a God in Central Florida

This dark comedy, set in the heart of the early nineties, explores the predatory and cult like nature that are multi level marketing schemes.

Forced to take on her husband’s downline (upline? I don’t know, I’m confused how it works) Krystal (Kirsten Dunst) has to keep up the constant hustle just to make ends meet. After realising that resisting isn’t getting her anywhere, she dives straight into the con herself like only a broke Florida housewife can. And hopes—and works hard— for the riches and fame that the company undyingly promises. 

on becoming a god in central florida

Dunst is exceptional in this. You are on her side from the very start and will spend every bit of your TV watching energy rooting for her to win (but also find a way out of the cult that is the featured MLM that sells cleaning products). 

This show is as much about Krystal’s fierceness and continuous resourcefulness as it is explicitly exposing every MLM that has ever existed. Not surprisingly, it taught me a lot about cult psychology and how MLM companies will take advantage of anyone, no matter how much they are struggling. Whilst the premise could certainly be true, it doesn’t appear to be based on any real life situation. However, the New York Post speculates on the likeness between the show’s company and Amway.

Another highlight of On Becoming a God in Central Florida is the epic eighties and nineties soundtrack.

Should I watch On Becoming a God in Central Florida?

Most definitely. It’s very satisfying.

You’ll like this if you like:

  • Why Women Kill
  • Lodge 49
  • Glow

American Gods

Watch on Prime.

Based on the awardwinning novel (published in 2001) of one of the world’s most loved authors, Neil Gaiman. American Gods is a dark and suspenseful spec fic TV series. The book and author has a cult following and it’s not hard to see why.

American Gods review on prime

With a promising opening credit sequence, it sets the scene for dark fantasy and neon horror. And yes, it’s intriguing as it sounds. 

The rich and complex scenes are concurrently fast paced and slow burning. Which develops the fullness of all the characters (based on deities), mainly the protagonist, Shadow. Who is every bit as his name suggests, in the best possible way. The story is told in a series of vignettes. Which are slowly revealed as connected by the main character (bad guy turned good). 

Each scene in American Gods is highly visual and palpable stories in and of themselves. From the elderly babcia who tells fortunes with tea leaves to the futuristic leader called Technology Boy. To the sexual representation of goddess Ishtar who literally devours her subjects with her genitals. The details are complete and thick. And provide a great mattress for the obvious tension in every scene between at least two of the characters. 

american gods review

American Gods is heavy with mythology and historical legend and how the universal learnings apply to all humanity in today’s world. And it’s all complemented with an evocative gothic soundtrack. 

Gaiman is one of the executive producers which gives comfort that there is some authenticity in regard to the novel. 

american gods gillian anderson
Gillian Anderson as Lucille Ball

Should I watch it American Gods?

Yes. Especially if you love your mythology. Also yes just to see the incredible Gillian Anderson play Lucille Ball-Riccardo,  Marilyn Monroe and David Bowie.

If you like TV shows based on books, read the Alias Grace review.

Bless this Mess

Watch on iTunes

The classic tree change sitcom, written by and starring Lake Bell, is a new comedy on the screen scene called Bless This Mess.

A fed up New York couple— a therapist, Bell, and music journalist, played by Kristen Bell’s husband, Dax Shepard— moves to Nebraska. In search of a simpler and possibly happier after they’ve purchased a farm. Upon arriving, they realise it’s actually a dilapidated and unworkable property (who buys before checking it out, seriously?). Nonetheless, they are committed to making it work. Of course, nothing ever lives up to the fantasy. And as a farmer’s daughter, I can confirm that farming is glorified by those who have never done it. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a story.

The “fish out of water” theme in Bless This Mess is still a lovable approach to watch. Who doesn’t relate to getting judged for wearing their activewear to the corner store? But it’s hard to forgive the irritable nature of the main characters. Especially because as the neighbours point out, ‘you don’t just decide to be a farmer.’

Bless this Mess review

Bless This Mess is quite cliché but it’s redeeming in that the main characters are charming and naively enthusiastic and have a great, respectful relationship. Until the cracks in their marriage start to appear as their ill purchased house begins to crack.

Bless this Mess review tv
Image credit: Fox News

However, the side cast (think Lennon Parham from Parks and Rec and David Koechner from Anchorman) are much more interesting and funny. Albeit stereotypical small town views and narratives. 

Still very early on in its life, I’ll be disheartened if this gets renewed for more than two seasons and genius, relatable comedies like Alone Together didn’t. 

Should I watch Bless This Mess?

Yeah, I guess. Just lower your expectations. A lot.

Four Netflix things to watch

Sometimes, no matter what you try, you can’t seem to shake a bad mood. It happens to the best, and chirpiest, of us. But here are four Netflix things to watch that will almost certainly pull you out of a bad mood and have you sparkling again.

The Good Place

the good place on netflix
Ted Danson in The Good Place

A delightful and wholesome comedy that will help alleviate your existential angst, whilst teaching you about philosophy. In an afterlife where you can’t swear that was created by a character played by Ted Danson, a pleasant omniscient computer in human form called Janet and a protagonist played by everyone’s favourite Kristen Bell, there is a lot to love about The Good Place. 

​Jim Gaffigan – stand up specials

On Australian Netflix there are five Jim Gaffigan stand up specials: Obsessed, Mr Universe, Beyond the Pale, Cinco and King Baby. His jokes are gentle and unoffensive (except, maybe, to vegans) and it’s a refreshing change from all the shouty, frustrated white man comedy that dominates the stage. Gaffigan gets bonus points for never making fun of “being too PC”.

Schitt’s Creek

schitts creek tv series
Dan and Eugene Levy. Image credit: Getty Images

Created by and starring charming father and son duo, Dan and Eugene Levy (those eyebrows!), this surprising comedy relies on the vigour of all the well crafted characters. As well as the absurd setting that the Rose family have found themselves in. Schitt’s Creek is a “fish out of water” tale that is cringe worthy without being painful. It’s also rewarding when we get to witness vapid characters experience personal expansion.  

Now You See Me

now you see me movie

Perhaps I’m swayed by my love of magic and illusions but this heist movie (and its sequel) is one of the most pleasurable movies to watch on Netflix. The Now You See Me cast is so robust with Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and more. And the ongoing tricks, mystery and sense of theatre are thrilling and unpredictable. Great if you like movies like the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy.


​Watched them all and need more Netflix things to watch? Why not try Pine Gap?

parks and rec tv show

Five writing tips I learnt from Parks and Recreation

Watch on Stan

parks and rec stan australia

There are a lot of lessons that watching plenty of TV can offer particularly when it comes to writing.  Parks and Recreation is one of my most beloved sitcoms and I have spent years falling asleep to its obnoxious “doot a la doot” theme song.

​Here are four things I learnt from the writers of Parks N’ Rec. What I learnt from Parks and Recreation

  1. The character of Lesley Knope was already formed in creator, Amy Poehler’s head, she just needed to write the TV show that would fit around her and refine how the world and responded to her.
  2. Fart jokes are always funny.
  3. Write the lines for the characters, not for the audience.
  4. A writing project is just like any other project and a project needs a good leader – either in a team or a part of yourself.
Stan TV series

Catch all seasons of Parks and Recreation on Stan.