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All Good Shows

Good shows to watch on Netflix and elsewhere.

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) plays two characters in Counterpart, which could seem like a recipe for disaster (cf. Gemini Man). But watching this excellent thriller it’s easy to understand why so many actors take the risk to play two characters: when it pays off, it pays off big time.And what better setting to risk it than playing two completely different personalities: Counterpart is about a world that is parallel to ours. There are two versions of each one of us, living in separate and different timelines. The link between the timelines is in Berlin, both Simmons characters (Simmonses?) work in the institution that manages this bridge.It might seem like a complicated plot but there aren’t many characters and the show is not focused on the science-fiction aspect of the story. Instead, it’s a political thriller where everyone is constantly trying to kill everyone, similar to Bourne. And beyond that, it’s a smart attempt at answering the age-old question of what influences us more: nature or nurture.

8.6

This creepy miniseries stars Jason Bateman, Bill Camp, and Ben Mendelsohn. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, it follows an investigation into the horrific murder of a child where all evidence leads to the local baseball coach, Terry Maitland (Bateman). However, Terry's demeanor and his shock when the police come to arrest him raise questions about whether he actually committed the crime. It's a grim and slow-burning story with immaculate acting although it suffers from the thing it aspires the most to: the (not entirely satisfying) book. Created by The Wire writer Richard Price.

7.8

Jim Carrey stars in this unusual show dubbed a "tragicomedy". He plays Mr. Jeff Pickles, the host of a beloved children's show who has a do-gooder way of looking at life. But in contrast to his job cheering up kids and giving moral lessons, he has to deal with a dark reality: the passing of his son. His wife left him as a consequence and he lives alone and away from his family. Kidding is about the contradictions that a life in show business brings and about what it takes for an optimistic person like Jeff to break. Produced and in part and directed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director, Michel Gondry.

7.4

It’s difficult to describe this miniseries as just one thing: it has elements of true crime, but it’s more than just a “Netflix true-crime show.” It’s also about an immensely empathetic and likable family man who joins the fight against the opioid epidemic.Dan Schneider, a small-town pharmacist, lost his teenage son to drug-related violence in New Orleans’ notorious Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. With corruption rampant in the city’s police department, he takes matters into his own hands and starts investigating his son’s murder.Beyond this murder, Dan notices a rise in opioid prescriptions from one doctor. Fueled by a relentless determination to protect other children from addiction, he quits his job and begins to gather evidence against this doctor and, by extension, the company responsible for the sale of Oxycodone: Purdue Pharma.

8.6

This historical show with immaculate production value is about the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It's fully in English, despite being a Turkish production, featuring a mix of entertaining interviews and dramatic reenactment. The way it's narrated is reminiscent of History Channel documentaries (with frequent recaps), which is unfortunate. Still, the story and the production compensate well enough.The young 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmet risks everything in pursuit of Constantinople, a city twelve armies, including his father's, have failed to take.This moment is pivotal for so many reasons: it marked the end of the Roman empire, it turned the Ottomans from local power to a global one, and the use of advanced military techniques (such as a new generation of cannons) changed warfare forever.But knowing that Mehmet will enter Constantinople (now Istanbul) changes nothing to the appeal of this show. The question is not will he win, but at what cost, and how.

7.2

This is an thrilling BBC/Netflix show and a Yakuza drama that takes place between Tokyo and London. About half of the dialogue is in Japanese and the other half is in English.Yakuza families are no longer at peace when a boss’s nephew is assassinated in London. Trying to bring the culprit in without interference from the British police, a Tokyo detective is sent to the UK to try to find him. There is an undeniable appeal to seeing the world of yakuza unfold, but the show’s title, which translates to Duty/Shame is a reference to the detective’s own personal conflict: the suspected murderer he’s looking for is his brother. Ouu.

7.8

TV nerds know that Orange is the New Black, as much as it’s hailed in the U.S. for being 'crazy’, doesn’t deserve that title. It’s only a mellow take on the women prison genre that was perfected outside the States. The Australian show Wentworth is one example and Vis a Vis (or Locked Up) is another. The show starts with an inmate being boiled alive.Macarena Ferreiro is set up by her boss/lover and ends up in prison for tax crimes. First naive and used to luxury, she has to adapt to harsh prison conditions, and harsher inmates. On the outside, her parents try to secure a large sum to pay her bail.

7.6

An extremely bingeable and thrilling Norwegian TV show about a world in which Norway decided to stop its oil production to fight climate change. Russia, with support from the EU, occupies Norway.This scenario might seem far-fetched at first, but watching Occupied I wondered how there is a future in which it doesn't happen (I'm sure there is, I just don't want you to think this show is not realistic).At the center of the story is the police department, who, just like in most occupations, have the difficult position of protecting both their population and the invaders. There are personal stories and geopolitical dynamics, all intersecting to make for a deeply engaging series.

8.7

This is an easy and funny Canadian TV show about a Korean store owner in Toronto.He completely lacks awareness of modern gender, sexual orientation, and race issues - yet his good nature redeems him. In the first episode he is confronted for saying something homophobic, but replies by pretending he has an ongoing 15% “gay discount” (except he decides who’s gay or not by looking at them).There are many other interesting themes, such as his daughter being pressured to find a “cool Christian Korean boyfriend” and her insisting that those words don’t go together.Kim's Convenience is about the Korean-Canadian experience, but it also feels geared towards a Korean-Canadian audience. It’s authentic, refreshing, and most importantly, funny.

7.9
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