(BBC One/iPlayer) It was excruciating watching social-media obsessive Becky (a brilliant Erin Doherty) persist with a fake identity in order to escape her dowdy life and fit into a glossy, affluent crowd. “Stop!” you wanted to scream at the screen, sick with anxiety that she was about to be found out. But as it became clearer that she was doing this to find out what happened to her old school friend, Chloe, whose life seemed so perfect online, you started rooting for her to continue the charade and get to the bottom of it.
Our statement: Erin Doherty delivers an exceptional performance in the fast-paced, intelligently written murder mystery “Chloe,” which expertly weaves together multiple storylines.
Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams
BBC One’s iPlayer featured a three-part series that shed light on the dominance of the upper class and privately educated individuals in the sport of cricket. The well-known cricketer aimed to expose the issue of classism in the game by returning to his hometown of Preston and introducing a group of skeptical local teenagers to the exclusive sport. The result was a heartwarming and uplifting documentary that may be considered one of the best of the year.
Reworded: In Field of Dreams, the conflicts between fame and individual identity, as well as Flintoff’s personal achievements and societal issues, are effectively addressed. While the effort to involve state-school students in cricket may not have a significant impact on the goal of creating a more equal society, the exclusivity of the sport represents a larger issue of social class that persists in British culture.
Ellie and Natasia
Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White have revived the sketch show with their fantastic comedic performance on BBC Three’s iPlayer. While some sketches may have a limited audience, their writing and dedication to their roles kept us entertained. The recurring Saturday Kitchen parody was especially hilarious.
Ellie and Natasia have accomplished the challenging task of making their comedy feel authentic. It is a rare delight to hear their characters say things that are believable and slightly exaggerated for comedic effect.
(Disney+) This real-life tale about the Silicon Valley fraudster Elizabeth Holmes – who was the youngest self-made female billionaire in the US, until the rumours started – was anchored by such a remarkable lead performance by Amanda Seyfried that it made Jennifer Lawrence drop out of playing the founder of Theranos in a planned film. As she told the New York Times, “we don’t need to redo that. She did it.”
Seyfried captivates us, evoking both our empathy and interest, as Holmes becomes increasingly consumed by her desire to establish her own worth and demonstrate the value of her intellect and determination, ultimately succumbing to deceit and wrongdoing.
SAS Rogue Heroes
Steven Knight’s next project after Peaky Blinders on BBC One and iPlayer was an exhilarating and energetic journey led by an exceptional cast. Set during World War II, the show follows a group of rebellious soldiers in Cairo who devise a scheme to target Nazi supply routes in the desert rather than the sea. With its grand and bold approach, it definitely made for an entertaining Sunday night viewing experience.
We had a great time, old chap!
(BBC Two/iPlayer) Hugo Blick’s beguiling western was a stunning tale of loss, love and vengeance beautifully told. It followed Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) – a woman out for revenge for the death of her son – whose path to Wyoming collides with pawnee scout Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), who is heading home to claim his rightful land. What ensues is a classic wild west adventure, but with a female lead giving the finest performance of her career.
Our statement: The English language may not appeal to everyone, but those who can appreciate a well-executed production will find plenty to love in this surprisingly brilliant, humorous, heartwarming, and visually engaging show.
Anna Kendrick led the first season of this often overlooked series on BBC One and iPlayer. It follows a different relationship in each episode, focusing on the life of Darby, played by Kendrick. In the second season, William Jackson Harper takes on the main role of Marcus, a man in his thirties who is navigating the dating scene in New York after going through a divorce. As with the first season, the writing is touching, humorous, and at times heartbreaking. Marcus is a likable character, but he is not without flaws, making for a refreshing and honest depiction of men’s mistakes in relationships. The episode about the pandemic hits close to home for anyone who reflected on their true desires in a partner during those challenging times.
We can always expect Love Life to be a highly romantic series, even if it may have some ups and downs along the way. This is what makes it so appealing – its ability to portray romance flawlessly. However, it manages to steer clear of being overly saccharine by adding a touch of realism to balance out the abundance of cute encounters.
Jeff Pope’s ITV drama portrayed the alarming growth of neo-nazism in present-day Britain. The storyline followed Stephen Graham as Matthew Collins, who worked to infiltrate and dismantle National Action, a highly hazardous far-right organization in the UK. The show effectively portrayed the dangerous allure of fascism for those who feel angry and disillusioned.
The purpose of The Walk-In is to illustrate that there are no solitary individuals. Fascism draws in those who are isolated, marginalized, and disenfranchised, and provides them with a sense of belonging within a group. Under certain circumstances, such as those that arose during Brexit and continue to worsen due to economic struggles and social pressures, the number of individuals swayed by fascist ideologies increases.
The second season of this comedy thriller, co-created by Stephen Merchant, was back on BBC One/iPlayer with a bang. Our group of likable criminals faced even more precarious situations, leading to an increase in both tension and humor. The show managed to expertly balance comedy and real peril.
The Outlaws is more than just a thriller – it’s an elevated sitcom. The real draw is the heartwarming drama as the characters discover that their differences are insignificant compared to their shared struggle of feeling lost and directionless in life.
After being away for three years, the assassin who loves acting came back for his most serious and humorous role yet. Barry (played by Bill Hader) has returned to his expertise of carrying out murders for hire, while his girlfriend Sally (played by Sarah Goldberg) is finding success in the acting industry. The events became increasingly disturbing and by the finale of the show, it was truly terrifying.
This show may be categorized as a comedy, but it has the ability to equal the emotional depth of a fast-paced drama. It fearlessly delves into the complexities of human nature, all with a smile on its face.
The script written by Lucy Kirkwood during lockdown in response to the murders of women was full of rage, yet still managed to convey a clear and concise message. Zawe Ashton and Hayley Squires gave brilliant performances as the two Marys who reported their attacker to the police. For many female viewers, the 25 minutes of television depicting their experience was intense and powerful. This serves as a reminder that women are often told not to express anger, but we have every right and reason to do so.
Maryland represents a culmination of intense suffering and anger, spanning weeks, months, years, and even generations. I believe it would be beneficial for every female student to have access to a recording or written version of this work, to equip them for the ongoing fight. This includes male students as well, as not all men, but more than expected, contribute to this issue.
(Netflix) Season by season, the thrilling drug-trade drama got darker and darker – and it wasn’t about to stop for its final series. As Marty and Wendy Byrde desperately looked for a way out of their lives of crime, Jason Bateman and Laura Linney gave their all as one of the most evil TV couples to ever grace our screens. But it was Julia Garner as Ruth who deserves all the awards going.
We previously mentioned that Linney’s portrayal of Wendy is especially eerie, as her appearance may seem innocent but her actions reveal a malevolent nature. In contrast, Bateman’s character Marty showcases the extent to which a practical accountant can delve into wickedness without it being evident on his face.
(BBC One/iPlayer) Was this the easiest show to tear your way through in 2022? Served up in juicy 10-minute morsels, it followed the lives of Fola (Susan Wokoma) and Josh (Joshua McGuire), who meet on a work trip, have a one-night-stand … then fly home and realise they live directly across the road from each other, with their partners. It sizzled with tension and chemistry throughout. What fun.
McGuire and Wokoma are both exceptional performers. McGuire’s character is somewhat stereotypical, but he brings humor to his role as an overthinking nerd who struggles to hide or control his emotions. Wokoma, on the other hand, gives an even stronger performance as a woman who presents herself as assertive but actually carries a deep vulnerability.
(Taron Egerton) portrayed the smooth-talking con artist Jimmy Keene in this intense prison thriller, while (Paul Walter Hauser) played the creepiest character of the year, Larry Hall. In a shocking turn of events, the FBI offered Keene a reduced sentence if he agreed to enter a high-security psychiatric unit and attempt to elicit a confession from Hall for the murders of several girls. Despite the seemingly unrealistic premise, the interactions between the two characters were chilling, emotional, and made even more unsettling by the fact that the story is based on true events.
Reworded: Author Dennis Lehane, known for his crime novels, adapted James Keene’s memoir “In With the Devil” into a film. The lead role is played by Taron Egerton, who delivers a strong performance vastly different from his last role as Elton John in “Rocketman”. Lehane, also a writer for “The Wire”, has received praise for his work on this project.
The final episode of Pamela Adlon’s semi-autobiographical comedy series on BBC Two and iPlayer was its strongest season yet. The fast-paced fifth season captured the ups and downs of motherhood, showcasing both moments of pure happiness and the heartbreaking conflicts that arise when raising teenagers. Its conclusion has left a notable void in the world of television comedy.
We described it as a bold and imaginative approach to storytelling, characterized by rapid shifts between characters, dialogue, and settings. This technique effectively transforms the complex and subtle range of emotions in the show into captivating entertainment.
Is my behavior unreasonable?
The first scene of Daisy May Cooper’s comedy-drama on BBC One/iPlayer was shocking. It showed a man dying after his coat got stuck in a train door while he was standing on the platform. This set the strange tone for the story of Nic, a woman who is secretly mourning the man she was having an affair with. Her only reliable person is her new friend Jen, who has her own dark secrets. The series had many unexpected twists and turns, including more affairs, unreliable flashbacks, hallucinations, false identities, and even a cremated pet cat. While it may have deviated from its main storyline at times, it was still a fresh, confident, and humorous take on female friendship. It also introduced us to a talented young comedian, 13-year-old Lenny Rush.
Reworded: Cooper continues to shine as a remarkably talented comedian, able to bring heart-wrenching vulnerability to her performances as seen in This Country. Hizli is also an exceptional actor. And the addition of Rush is a true blessing, possessing comedic skill and emotional depth beyond his years, and sharing a delightful chemistry with Cooper on screen.
(BBC Two/iPlayer) By some distance the most jaw-dropping TV moment of the year, this staggering documentary that played out like a wild spy story showed Putin’s nemesis, Alexei Navalny, team up with investigative journalists, phone up the people who poisoned him with novichok – then ask them one by one why they tried to kill him. Unforgettable.
Our review: This story reads like an exciting yet unbelievable spy novel.
Frozen Planet II
It’s beneficial to have a clear understanding of what to expect from a David Attenborough series, whether it be feeling emotional as a grizzly bear pursues a muskox calf without its parents, or being amazed by a Lapland bumblebee’s ability to reconstruct its colony using its furry body. However, in this particular series, there was a heightened sense of urgency in its message regarding how the climate crisis is causing destruction to these creatures, as we witnessed a polar bear struggling to hunt due to the melting ice.
Our statement: The newest release from the expert group and Sir David successfully achieves its objective, evoking a childlike wonder within us. It is impossible to not be captivated and moved by the beauty of nature displayed.
(Channel 4) “When I look at you, I become as dry as sand.” In the second season of Tony McNamara’s bold and intense period drama about Catherine the Great, Catherine (Elle Fanning) delivers one of the funniest lines of the year to her husband, Peter (Nicholas Hoult). Along with the usual clever comebacks and frequent sex, the show delves into deeper emotional territory – at one point, we even feel a twinge of sympathy for the murderous Peter. The icing on the cake is Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Catherine’s mother, whose hilarious demise occurs after a tryst with her son-in-law. It would be remiss not to end this with a resounding “Huzzah!”
Our statement: Each scene and dialogue in Tony McNamara’s script exudes its own sinful indulgence – there is always something to relish that is bolder, more foolish, or wittier than what other shows would even consider including.
I prefer not to be embraced as I am feeling scared.
(Channel 4) Channel 4 took a risk by converting a bizarre YouTube series into a 30-minute comedy, but it paid off well. The talented cast, featuring Phil Wang, Lolly Adefope, and Edinburgh Comedy award winner Sam Campbell, delivered darkly humorous performances on vibrant sets with puppetry. Each episode was a mix of catchy songs about jobs and shocking skits about death, making it a truly unique and unforgettable show unlike anything else on TV this year.
We described it as clever, dark, endearing, disturbing, and humorous. Beyond that, it remains true to its roots as a web series – a unique and genuine product of two individuals’ creativity and shared unique perspective. It maintains the feeling that they are always enjoying themselves.
In the beginning of this heartbreaking yet inspiring four-part series, Anne Williams (played by Maxine Peake) bids farewell to her teenage son and his friend as they head to watch a football match at Hillsborough. It is the year 1989, and the audience is aware of the tragic outcome of that day. Peake delivers a poignant portrayal of a mother who spends 23 years advocating for the truth to be recognized regarding the loss of her son and the other 96 individuals who perished in the tragedy. This TV series undoubtedly presents a powerful argument for never giving up in the pursuit of justice.
Reworded: Peake is perfectly cast as a seemingly pale and fragile individual, but with a fierce determination burning within her. She portrays Williams’ struggle with confusion and vulnerability in the beginning, but by the end of the first episode, she exhibits the powerful strength of a working-class woman who has faced injustice.
(After a year of original Star Wars content on Disney+, which included some subpar (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and weak (The Book of Boba Fett) shows, expectations were low for the prequel to Rogue One. However, its dark and contemplative interpretation of the Star Wars universe has revitalized the TV adaptations. The journey of rebel hero Cassian Andor (portrayed by Diego Luna) was expertly paced, brilliantly acted, and presented a refreshing and minimalistic approach to the faraway galaxy (with hardly any stormtroopers in sight) reminiscent of George Lucas’ original films.)
The pleasant memories of the latest Star Wars installment, Obi-Wan Kenobi, have been replaced with something more intense. This version has a rougher edge and a colder demeanor. Learn more
The popular webcomic by Alice Oseman, “Netflix,” has been transformed into a unique and uplifting gay romance set in a British school. Fans of the show, of which there are millions, will easily recall the most heart-racing moments from the first season, such as rugby player Nick falling for drummer Charlie. Will the snowball fight, first kiss, or Nick ditching the rugby game to hold hands with Charlie take the top spot? And let’s not forget Nick’s touching moment of coming out to his mother, played by Olivia Colman. Rest assured, fans, there are still two more adorable seasons to look forward to.
We find it incredibly calming to spend time in its presence.
(Sky Comedy) This hugely underwatched sitcom was one of the feelgood TV experiences of the year. Its tale of a woman who moves back to her home town in the wake of a family trauma was packed with joy and warmth. The tomfoolery between lead Sam (a wonderfully versatile Bridget Everett) and her new bestie Joel was glorious, as were Sam’s steps towards finding herself within a community and the moments of self-discovery that went along with them.
Our statement: Although not much occurs in Somebody Somewhere, don’t be fooled. This comedic work is a subtle newcomer that doesn’t boast about its appeal, but instead gradually reveals its surprising beauty.
In 2022, Sarah Lancashire made a name for herself in the US by portraying and embodying Julia Child, a famous cookbook author who changed television with her cooking show, The French Chef. This drama follows Julia as she uses a lot of butter, makes chicken puns, and wins over the American audience, despite the TV executives’ doubts. Indulging in rich food has never been more entertaining. Enjoy your meal!
Julia is a story about a woman who defies the odds to achieve even greater success. It is set in a world similar to Mrs. Maisel, where men try to limit her potential, but she perseveres and finds a way to succeed anyway. To learn more, continue reading.
The sci-fi drama created by The Duffer Brothers on Netflix was a huge cultural phenomenon in the past year. Not only did its fourth season contain some of its best episodes yet, but its dark and horror-themed feature-length episodes also gained attention for featuring Kate Bush and earning a Metallica song its first ever placement in the Top 40 charts. This accomplishment is even more impressive considering the emotional storyline centered around community trauma.
The popular show, Stranger Things, has shifted its focus to a more intense and dramatic storyline, assuming that its original audience of 12-year-olds are now 18 and ready for darker content. Previously a charming and eerie thriller influenced by Steven Spielberg, the show now incorporates elements of full-fledged horror reminiscent of The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
After appearing in the Fifty Shades movies, Jamie Dornan showcased his acting prowess in this suspenseful thriller set in Australia. Despite grappling with amnesia, assassins, and monster trucks, Dornan delivered a captivating performance. The addition of Danielle Macdonald’s impressive portrayal of a tough local police officer and the endearing relationship between her and Dornan’s character added heart to the show. Not only was it action-packed, but it also had a genuine emotional depth.
Our recommendation: We highly recommend watching this entertaining, fashionable, and self-assured adventure. It is full of surprises and dynamic characters to engage with.
Tips for Hanging Out with John Wilson
After premiering in the United States, John Wilson’s unique and calming documentary series finally made its way to the United Kingdom following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. Each episode, focusing on topics like small talk and memory improvement, provided a chance to escape and unwind for thirty minutes as Wilson shared his clever, heartfelt, and occasionally humorous observations on social interactions, accompanied by masterfully edited footage of everyday life in New York City.
My interpretation: This piece is unique and uncommon, and when it hits its stride, it is a heartfelt and beautiful tribute to the individuals and quirks that make life captivating. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To learn more, continue reading.
This City is Under Our Control
David Simon and George Pelecanos, known for their work on The Wire, brought us yet another Baltimore-based drama about policing. However, this limited series took things to a whole new level of shocking criminality as it told the true story of drug cops who became criminals themselves. The performances by Wunmi Mosaku as an idealistic civil rights lawyer and Jon Bernthal as a corrupt cop with an oversized ego made for a riveting and thought-provoking viewing experience.
The text is saying that those who want a guided experience through this complex story may not be satisfied. Rather, this six-part series is a gritty and authentic tale of police corruption that immerses you in the intense events.
Abbott Elementary, available on Disney+, is a heartwarming series that centers around Janine, a passionate teacher (portrayed by creator Quinta Brunson), and her diverse group of colleagues as they tackle the challenges of working in an underfunded school in west Philadelphia. With its clever humor and clever use of deadpan looks-to-camera, the show is an absolute delight, but also offers a touching portrayal of flawed yet devoted adults doing their utmost to make a difference.
We stated that the pace remains constant and the depictions of the characters are outstanding. The timing of the actors is flawless. The quick and continuous delivery of jokes, even without the customary glances of surprise, discomfort, or acknowledgement to the camera that are characteristic of mockumentaries, will leave you in awe.
The whodunnit series created by Sharon Horgan, “Apple TV+”, had a promising beginning. The main character, JP (portrayed convincingly by Claes Bang), is found dead and all of his sister-in-laws are potential suspects. The show takes us through comical flashbacks of the sisters’ fantasies of killing JP, who had been a bully to each of them. Meanwhile, two struggling insurance agents are determined to uncover the truth behind JP’s death. The series gradually improves with each episode as the audience’s desire for the villain’s demise intensifies. The season finale provides a satisfying reveal, making it one of the best of the year. With a star-studded cast including Anne-Marie Duff, Sarah Greene, and Horgan herself, it was expected to be a hit.
Reworded: Bad Sisters is a fantastic example of catharsis, showcasing expert construction, seamless pacing, and stellar performances. Horgan shines as both writer and actor, supported by a talented cast who deliver flawless performances.
“Station Eleven” on Starzplay may have raised concerns regarding its portrayal of a pandemic. However, the show proved to be a remarkable and inspirational piece of television that reflects on the importance of persevering in life. Through the Traveling Symphony theatre troupe, the post-apocalyptic world is offered art. This show is undeniably the most poignant and emotional of the year, highlighted by a tear-jerking reunion scene.
Reworded: It is quite unusual and disturbing to have the ability to compare a fictional pandemic with a real one. I first read Emily St John Mandel’s popular novel, Station Eleven, when it was released in 2014. At that time, the story of a mysterious flu spreading worldwide and disrupting everyday life seemed completely unimaginable. However, with the recent television adaptation by Patrick Somerville (known for his work on Maniac and The Leftovers), the story is now resonating with current events.
Pete Jackson’s powerful drama tells the story of 18-year-old Danny, who is instructed by his father, Steve, to stay inside their home due to dangerous creatures. When Steve passes away unexpectedly, Danny ventures into the outside world for the first time and moves in with his aunt. The show delves into complex emotions, particularly in the strained dynamic between father and son. It can also be challenging to watch in one sitting – the scene where Danny chooses his outfit for the funeral is guaranteed to evoke tears. However, the most special aspect of this series is the bond that forms between Danny and his socially awkward cousin, Aaron. Despite initially dismissing Danny as strange, Aaron becomes a supportive friend and it seems their unlikely friendship may ultimately save them both.
My interpretation: “Somewhere Boy” is a unique drama that skillfully explores various themes, giving each one equal attention. It delves into topics such as starting over and finding one’s place, dealing with trauma and abuse, the importance of family and love, and the existence of both metaphorical and real monsters.
The actor and comedian Mo Amer, known for his role in the HBO sitcom Ramy, may seem like he relies on his on-screen charm for big, loud laughs. However, his semi-autobiographical show, which follows a Palestinian refugee in the United States, showcases Amer’s talent as a writer and performer with a deeper range. From tackling heavy topics like opioid addiction and the struggles of obtaining citizenship in a bureaucratic system to navigating love and religion, the show is a unique and heartwarming watch thanks to Amer’s charisma.
Reworded: This story is a beautiful and intricate depiction of one person’s life, helping us to better comprehend aspects of humanity. It unfolds through a diverse mix of languages, cultures, and beliefs, tied together by determination and humor. It is incredibly amusing and worth reading.
The White Lotus
It could be argued that there should not be a second season of Mike White’s holiday mystery, as it would be hard to top the shocking image of hotel manager Armond defecating in a suitcase. However, the show’s clever humor is enough to entice viewers to tune in again, along with the stellar cast including standout performances from Jennifer Coolidge and Aubrey Plaza. This season, there is more emphasis on sex, but there are still ample chances to laugh at the absurdity of the wealthy.
Reworded: The writing remains dense and multifaceted, with impeccable plotting that keeps viewers’ sympathies or antipathies constantly shifting. While the characters may be seeking relaxation, White ensures that his audience stays engaged.
The TV series Pachinko, available on Apple TV+, was expertly crafted and watching it on a laptop felt like a crime. The show, based on Min Jin Lee’s novel, follows the story of Sunja and her family over multiple timelines. Sunja, a strong-willed woman, is forced to leave Korea in 1915 after being betrayed by a man she loved. She starts a new life in Japan, where she faces challenges with romance, identity, and culture. The show is filled with emotional moments and the title sequence was especially noteworthy, making it a truly special experience.
Reworded: This is a grand and luxurious TV show that follows the story of a dynasty and its political struggles, resembling the type of show that is rarely produced nowadays. The score, composed by Nico Muhly, features enchanting strings that add to the overall effect. It brings to mind the historical dramas from my childhood, such as Roots, Tenko, and The Forsyte Saga.
(Disney+) Was it a goofball sitcom about the hip-hop industry? A Black Mirror-inspired anthology series of darkly comic takes on racial politics? Attempting to categorise this chameleonic comedy became futile long ago, but its third series saw it broaden its sights more than ever, as Earn and co travelled Europe, cocking a snook at continental habits, and on more than one occasion, delivering such shocks that it was all you could do not to leap out of your seat.
“Atlanta surprises viewers with its blend of humor and horror, drawing inspiration from both internet memes and award-winning films. Just when you think it’s a lighthearted stoner-comedy, the show reveals a deeper, more absurd side reminiscent of a haunting presence. It’s a unique mix that sets this television series apart.”
(Sky Atlantic) A stellar cast of retro greats – including Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci – were on fine form in this menacing survival story about a girl’s high-school soccer team in a plane crash that you could never quite put your finger on. Was it a modern-day Lord of the Flies? A cannibalism-packed story of blood-hungry forest spirits? A whodunnit revenge thriller featuring drugs, murder and shady politicians who’d do anything to survive? You never knew – and that’s what made it so gripping.
Imagine if The Craft and The Island with Bear Grylls had a baby, but it also had a sense of humor like Lost, and a touch of Big Little Lies, except it focused more on cannibalism rather than luxurious real estate.
The Game of Thrones prequel, airing on Sky Atlantic and HBO, satisfied the desires of many fans with its themes of fire, frenemies, fights, and foot fetishes. Matt Smith’s portrayal of a lovable villain and Emma D’Arcy’s performance as a Targaryen queen captured the hearts of viewers. Despite the taboo relationship between their characters, audiences found themselves invested in their power dynamic. The 10 episodes were filled with intricate plots, betrayals, and the creation of a world on the brink of a civil war. Just when it seemed like the show might lose its grip on viewers, a dramatic turn of events in the finale left audiences on the edge of their seats. Rhaenyra’s intense expression in the final scene, after learning of her son’s fate at the hands of a Black dragon, hints at the chaos and destruction to come in the already confirmed second season. Let the flames rage on.
A compilation of the best moments from Westeros when it was at its most intense.
The London-based drama about a drug gang on Netflix has never been so expansive. In its second season on the streaming platform (the fourth overall), we follow Dushane (Ashley Walters) as he continues to struggle in his pursuit of wealth. The story takes us to murders on boats in Spanish waters, executions on Moroccan beaches, and a strange encounter with a fox in a bush involving Sully (Kano). The power dynamics constantly shift, with Jamie (Micheal Ward) freshly released from prison and Sully trying to distance himself from his former best friend by hiding out on a houseboat. Jaq (Jasmine Jobson), a fiery but devoted member of the gang, adds to the ever-changing dynamic. Just when you think things have settled, a shocking ending turns everything upside down. We can’t wait for season five.
Reworded: One of the reasons why Top Boy is so impressive is its ability to portray characters in a complex and unpredictable manner. We witness moments of genuine kindness and then sudden acts of extreme violence, and none of these actions negate each other. Dushane, Sully, Jamie, and Jaq are all ruthless and morally questionable individuals, yet we still root for their success.
This is Going to Hurt
(BBC One) This darkly comic adaptation of Adam Kay’s memoir of life as a junior NHS doctor rapidly became one of the most talked-about shows of the year. For every spiky gag there was an emotional gut-punch, for every snippet of existential malaise about life spent on (literally) crumbling hospital wards, there were big-hearted characters desperately battling to help patients. It was moving, funny and unflinchingly honest in a way that, at its best, felt like a masterclass in ambitious, accomplished TV writing.
The initial episode of the show featured a lot of humor and a storyline centered around Kay (portrayed by Ben Whishaw) as he navigates the challenges of a heavy workload and understaffing on the obstetrics and gynecology wards, which became a popular topic of discussion in the TV world.
Lisa McGee’s incredible coming-of-age comedy received praise from big names like Matt Groening and Martin Scorsese and featured appearances from Liam Neeson and Chelsea Clinton. However, the show remained grounded despite its success: the final season remained just as sharp, touching, and funny as before. With GCSEs and relationship confusion being just as important as the looming Good Friday Agreement, Derry Girls once again demonstrated the inseparability of personal and political matters, both in individual lives and within communities. The best sitcoms manage to balance humor with genuine emotional depth – and by the end, Derry Girls held its own against the very best of them.
What we said: Absolutely. Cracker. The fact is, I love Derry Girls like I loved what I loved when I was a teenage girl. With all my heart. Read more
Industry, the hit TV series on BBC One, has caused a lot of anxiety among viewers due to its depiction of the cutthroat and sexually charged world of finance. The second season, written by bankers-turned-writers Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, continues to explore the aftermath of the pandemic on the City. While the Pierpoint graduates may have settled in, this only leads to more risky behavior, poor choices, and wild parties. These elements are what make the show so captivating.
Reworded: Returning three years later, the Pierpoint graduates are no longer youthful and optimistic. Instead, they are jaded and struggling with drug addiction as they chase after wealth and achievement. This desperation adds depth to the finance drama, solidifying its place as one of the top TV shows.
Better Call Saul
The last season of this spin-off of Breaking Bad on Netflix was nearly perfect. It had everything: appearances by Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul), a change in the narrative that shifted from a prequel to an epilogue, and an impressive directorial debut by Rhea Seehorn (playing Kim Wexler). The final episode not only ended well, but also brought this story to a satisfying conclusion with emotion, flair, and predictability – with one final, touching surprise.
We have now discovered that the makers of Better Call Saul were holding back their most impressive feat for the end. This feat was executed so perfectly that it seems inadequate to simply label Saul as one of the top shows of the year. It has now reached a level of excellence that will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.
(Channel 4) Jack Rooke broke hearts with this autobiographical series about the best friend he made while grieving his dad. Thankfully, he constantly made us laugh between the tears too. As Jack (Dylan Llewellyn) and Danny (John Pointing) navigate university together, Jack becomes more confident in being gay and finding his identity. Danny, though, struggles with his own declining mental health, while hiding behind big smiles and laddish banter. What ensues is a beautiful, thoughtful and honest story about male friendship.
Rewording: This show is a valuable recommendation that I strongly believe has the potential to positively impact, and possibly even save, the lives of men.
Tony Schumacher spent 11 years working as a night patrol officer in Merseyside, a job that eventually led to a nervous breakdown and PTSD. He drew from his experiences, including the chaos, trauma, and humor, to create The Responder, a BBC drama that is known for its rawness. Martin Freeman portrayed Chris Carson, a constable who was on the brink of collapse, and possibly death. Freeman delivered an impressive performance as the officer who often engaged in questionable and reprehensible actions. He had to search for body parts on the side of the motorway and frequently resorted to violence against the very people he was supposed to protect. In one scene, he even stole a flask of soup and a pack of cigarettes from a deceased woman. The show presented morally ambiguous situations, making it both captivating and thought-provoking, while still maintaining the fast-paced intensity of a thriller.
Our statement: Although it may seem bleak, it was a true representation of a dysfunctional life within a flawed system. This was a significant commentary on the state of the nation and resulted in a Bafta win. Impressive for a former police officer in his debut TV writing role. Read more
The streaming platform Prime Video presented not one, but two exceptional seasons of this story about two comedians who are pushed into an unlikely writing partnership. Due to a delay in its release by a UK broadcaster, we were able to enjoy two seasons this year. The first season followed the story of a young and cocky jokester, Ava Daniels (played by Hannah Einbinder), and a successful but out-of-touch comedian and QVC presenter, Deborah Vance (played by Jean Smart). It was a consistently hilarious tale that unexpectedly evolved into a heartwarming story of friendship. Season two continued with the duo’s falling out over Ava leaking personal stories about Deborah to a TV show, but ultimately making amends and embarking on a tour together. They went on a lesbian cruise, dealt with the aftermath of a suicide, and almost ended their working relationship. Luckily, we can look forward to a third season, so there are surely more adventures in store for this dynamic duo.
What we said: Hacks has an unusual degree of emotional acuity but crucially, it never forgets for a second that it’s a comedy … It’s an admirably complicated relationship, brilliantly brought to life by the two leads: Smart, particularly, is a revelation. Read more
As the Omicron surge ended and workers returned to the office, Apple TV+ debuted a show that captured the heightened tensions surrounding our relationship with work. Titled Severance, this paranoid-thriller puzzle-box mystery centered around employees at Lumon Industries, a questionable biotechnology company. The premise of the show was highly conceptual, with employees undergoing a process that split them into two selves: an “innie” and an “outie”. While the outie retained memories of their leisure time, the innie had no recollection of life outside of work, essentially becoming trapped in 24/7 servitude. Despite its unusual premise, Severance remains engrossing thanks to the stellar performances of its star-studded cast, including Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken. The show’s visuals are also stunning, and with director Ben Stiller at the helm, it is no surprise that it is one of the most intriguing shows on TV right now.
In a time when numerous shows depend on spoon-feeding their audiences, Severance should be commended for its steadfast refusal to do so.
The BBC One/iPlayer show not only tells a gripping story about a killer who uses a bow and arrow in the forest, but also delves into the lasting effects on former mining communities. Writer James Graham, drawing from his own experiences living in Nottingham, creates a vivid portrayal of the ongoing divisions in the city, stemming from the miners’ strikes. Along with fast-paced crime elements, the show features a dynamic police duo whose initial dislike evolves into grudging respect, making it a standout narrative arc among the well-developed plots and flawlessly written characters.
I have a strong appreciation for a well-rounded cast, and this particular one is top-notch. The performances by Claire Rushbrook and Lesley Manville as feuding sisters are outstanding, but the entire ensemble shines and flawlessly delivers their East Midlands dialect. If Sherwood doesn’t sweep the Baftas, I will insist on evidence.
The TV show “The Bear” on Disney+ features a lot of violence and drug use, as well as a dark storyline. It takes place in a sandwich shop in Chicago and, although it may be difficult to watch at times, it is ultimately a satisfying experience. The main character, Carmy, who is known for his fancy cooking skills, leaves the high-end restaurant scene to help his brother’s chaotic business while also dealing with his brother’s death. The emotional climax of the show occurs during an AA meeting, providing a cathartic moment for viewers. Overall, “The Bear” is an intense, claustrophobic, and visually impressive show.
Our offering: The Bear consists of eight meticulously prepared and cooked courses, each expertly seasoned and served with perfect balance. It is a delectable dining experience to be savored. Click for more details.