The Best of Three:
Believe it or not, we have hit the Autumn months. Try as you might, those legs of yours will soon be concealed beneath tights. Forget about brandishing that fading tan, the clocks have changes and the nights are really drawing in. It feels as if we are retreating into that inner mammal that lurks in all of us. As October chimes, we batter down the hatches, buy a new fleecy blanket for our beds, and begin our period of hibernation.
Speaking of hibernation, warmth, and that generally lovely snuggly feeling, we should probably be looking back to Netflix for our bed-ridden entertainment. In dark caves across the country, the young and old have Netflix as their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, and best friend that will see them from the dark Autumn through to the Winter months. So as you order that first Dominos of the post summer season, or heat up that Sainsbury’s side dish of ratatouille, pause and think about what you should be watching.
There is always that seminal ‘new’ series that is hailed as the revolution in bed-based television watching. You’ll never need Sky or even the BBC again now that you have the enticingly interactive and on-demand world of the Netflix TV series. However, you have a job, you have friends, you may even have a romantic partner; you do not have time to waste clicking away at episode after episode in your screen-lit lair. But actually, you do: those Monday to Wednesday nights, in fact. By keeping it low key for half the weekdays, you not only save money to splurge at the weekend, you are also sober and well rested for work, and most importantly, you have the evenings free to immerse yourself in the fictive world of a Netflix series. With this structure in mind, the weekends are profoundly social, yet you are capitalising on those boring, and (let’s face it) depressing post-weekend days of the early week. So SANT has graciously sacrificed their summer social time, and has instead watched a handful of series over the sunny months to provide you with a condensed a la carte menu for your post Summer series binge.
There is something indulgent and almost a little adventurous with starting an established series from its beginnings, especially those that had its first pilot in the late 2000s. To this end, The Vampire Diaries is first on the list. Many are initially suspicious about this series, often dubbed a Twilight copycat; after all, it was released in the same year as the first feature film. Yet don’t be fooled, SANT readers. The Vampire Diaries is a surprisingly entertaining foray into the world of the supernatural. The series centres around Elena Gilbert, played with relish by Nina Dobrev, who stars as a high school student living in Mystic Falls, Virginia. We find her orphaned and living with her young aunt and her drug addicted brother.
Get past that often tricky pilot episode, and you will find none of the predictable romance plots that plagued the Twilight series. In The Vampire Diaries, when you think the characters are set on their path to romance or success, they shift gear and change at a drop of a hat. Neither are there any ambiguous references to teen high school sex lives , or the strange lack of sex that is so prevalent in many conservative American ‘high school genre’ TV series. The Vampire Diaries remains a more realistic account of adolescent issues including sex, drinking, drugs, and bereavement than many similar shows attempt. The Vampire Diaries also has a knack for poking fun at the absurdity of its supernatural goings on, where the characters are often permitted to comment on the fact, such as the existence of a gang of vampire-werewolf hybrids, or the fact that its starring character Elena is the doppelganger of 15th-century Bulgarian badass Katarina Petrova. So if escapism is what you desire from a series, The Vampire Diaries is one that delivers and is still accessible to twentysomethings. If SANT can watch it, so can you!
Next we have Narcos, a biographical series based on the beyond shocking escapades of Columbian bad boy Pablo Escobar, one of the most famous drug dealers ever to have lived. If you don’t think drug heists and gang-based violence are your thing in entertainment, please make an exception for Narcos. The series is so gripping, fast paced, and intelligent that it will not even occur to you the genre of the series you are watching. This is no Jason Statham-esque series. Normally, when you find yourself watching a film or series based on true events, you feel almost bullied into feeling amazed at the fact that it is a true story.
Narcos, on the other hand, is working with material that is so extraordinary in its factual evidence that you do not need to be reminded that you should be amazed. As the episodes blur and you are immersed into the wild world of Pablo’s cartel activity and his game of cat-and-mouse with the authorities, his talent for ‘getting away with it’ is awe inspiring. This is partly down to actor Wagner Moura’s complete embodiment of Escobar. Even as we, the audience, hate him for indiscriminate murder of men, women, and children in order to maintain his hegemony over the cocaine trade, we are almost enamoured by his ability to escape prosecution time and time again. But it is his love for his wife and children, and their moments of domesticity in hiding that makes Narcos such an interesting watch. We naturally root for his comeuppance, yet we almost understand his humanity as a husband and father, and almost respect his ability to constantly evade the police. If this type of genre is not normally your first choice on a Netflix night, try it. You won’t need to keep an open mind for long; Narcos will instantly suck you in as quickly as white powder through a money straw!
Now, the next series on the list is what many might call an obvious one. Orange Is The New Black has indeed become a cultural trend to watch. A favourite among, but of course not exclusive to, women, many have applauded the diversity of female actresses who star in the hit series. From women of every age, ethnicity, class, and sexuality, Orange Is The New Black is a refreshing alternative to mainstream American mini series that either premise straight white heterosexual women, or light skinned black women as the ‘stars.’ Some might argue that watching episode after episode of female lives in prison would be a claustrophobic experience; however, you soon forget about the spatial confines of their entrapment, so vivid and multi-layered are the female characters that dwell within. A little like Narcos, the characters in Orange Is The New Black are not drawn along the lines of villains versus heroes. They constantly shift, inspire, surprise, and sometimes even disgust us, and this makes for interesting viewing. Watching a show like this from its start to its latest episode produces a change of heart in the viewer. You wouldn’t have believed when you started to watch that hyped first episode that you would be hankering for more stories about a bleak American prison weeks after you finish it.
So dim the lights, hear that microwave ping, and get to it, fellow Netflix friends!
Words: Annie May
Tags: #Autumn #Netflix