Here we are back for a third TV series recommendation list, we find mostly ensembles and comedy from the US but also Canada, Denmark, and South Korea. We alternate between well known, critically acclaimed and smaller productions and newcomers.
Even more after re-reading the whole thing I see I have a type: funny and uplifting with a twist of relatable. Dare I even say, didactic? Yes. I do like to learn. I also like strong female leads since as it turns out this selection is again led by all women.
Selina Meyers can be described as many things: vice-president, politician, workaholic, bitch? VEEP is an excellent, award winning show in the mockumentary form which centres around an ever-prodigious Julia Louis Dreyfus and her entourage. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious, full of tension and releases and -as the six seasons carried on- sadly less and less of a caricature. Not because they softened their take but because reality itself took a theatrical turn. Threading the line between satirical and informative, this show will leave you wanting for more every time.
IMDb rating and synopsis: Former Senator Selina Meyer finds that being Vice President of the United States is nothing like she hoped and everything that everyone ever warned her about. 8.3/10
Created by: Armando Iannucci
Better Things (2016)
This show sometimes feels like an indie short film. It takes off into speechless wonders, long shots set to music that put you in a contemplative state of California Dreaming. Just at easily it will shove unedited scenes of family drama in you face, crazy kids, screaming teens, disgraceful young and older adults all collapsing into the arms of the main force of the family: Sam Fox. The divorced mother of three works as an actress in a Hollywood stripped off of its glamour: the aesthetic is more subtle, flaws add to the picture and mistakes into creating full fledged beings that are not eager to rush into shame. This series portrays unconditional love through imperfection: brilliant, touching, poetic, funny and raw all at the same time.
IMDb rating and synopsis: An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. 7.7/10
Created by: Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.
Jane the Virgin (2014)
Jane, Jane, Jane. Who doesn’t like this show? If you think you won’t, you still will because Jane’s life is more that of a virgin’s, it’s a Virgo’s: RELATABLE. Honestly, this show is therapeutic and not only for cathartic purposes: it has taught me a number of anxiety management tactics (inhala-exhala). This is a feel good show if I ever saw one, not rose tinted and not tragic either: just in the sweet in-between of magical realism. Adapted from a telenovela it revisits the genre and has continued to renew itself and cover an impressive amount of themes and issues.
IMDb rating and synopsis: A young, devout Catholic woman discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated. 7.8/10
Created by: Jennie Snyder Urman
Workin’ Mums (2017)
Coming to us from Canada, this show really grabs you in within seconds of watching. Without being a mother myself, this feels like the most honest and accurate portrayal of parenthood: perhaps because there is a lot of swearing. What is great about it is that it skips all the clichés, all the pitfalls you would expect from a Mummy and me group. The characters are three dimensional, not a stereotype of every type of mother in the book, they are women with complex relationships and the whole ensemble is terribly funny. Often sarcastic over its own topic, the representation and portrayal of motherhood in the media, this show isn’t afraid to widen the frame and make space for these women to figure it out as they go.
IMDb rating and synopsis: Four very different thirty-something working mothers and friends try to balance their jobs, family life and love life in modern day Toronto, Canada. 7.3/10
Created by: Catherine Reitman
One day at a time (2017)
I wasn’t convinced at first by the “live studio audience” kind of old school ensemble family comedy One Day at a Time was buying into. But I quickly realised that if the frame was old-school we were not going to witness any old tropes. ODT in its 2017 remake is refreshingly relevant: gender, identity, consent, racism, mental health all are addressed in a non-patronising way. Perhaps because they got to learn from past mistakes after being cancelled? The show builds stories grounded in real life experiences, this family is attaching, growing, learning to cope as we do alongside them. Once again this inter-generational show rests on the shoulders of a hard working single mum and just like in real life, challenges don’t get in the way of joy: it succeeds in a feel good comedy you will have binged in no time.
IMDb rating and synopsis: Follows three generations of the same Cuban-American family living in the same house: a newly divorced former military mother, her teenage daughter and tween son, and her old-school mother. 8.2/10
Created by: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce
This show just completely blew my mind. You cannot help but see yourself in at least one of the students portrayed on this series or empathise with the teachers who invest their time in them. We follow Rita, a character that is cool but also “fucked up” as she is often described by her children (who often stay at the house). Although she may try to hide it she still had a very big heart, after all nobody is perfect. The setting allows us to witness the effects of political games and class struggles through the lens of the schooling system. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more out of the devoted teachers story-line they throw back to the main characters formative years. A must see, tak me later!
IMDb rating and synopsis: Following the life of a very outspoken and rebellious woman, Rita is a school teacher who is competent in the classroom, but seems to need a teacher of her own, when it comes to her personal life. 8.1/10
Created by: Christian Torpe
Hello My twenties/Age of Youth (2016)
Under this name on Netflix and only season 2 onward. My introduction to Korean drama, so naturally at first I was a bit shaken by the different acting style. However once i got used to it I couldn’t stop myself from watching the whole season. I particularly took a liking to the tomboyish character of the mysterious Jo-Eun that comes in for season two. All these women live together in joyous camaraderie and their home is a warm hub of fun and friendship. In the backdrop this show explores a lot of societal issues (especially those faced by women) such as starting work, harassment, body image, etc. Also a wonderful comedy with such varied profiles and great style. Give it a try!
IMDb rating and synopsis: 5 college students, from different walks of life end up living together in a fictional house share called Belle Epoque. 8.3/10.
Created by: Park Yeon-seon