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showmood: Thought-Provoking

Some of the best black actors working today team up for When They See Us - the list includes Michael K William (Omar Little from The Wire) Jovan Adepo (Fences) and Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight). And as most on-camera faces in this miniseries are recognizable (there is also Felicity Huffman and Michael Peña), so is the writer, director, and creator of the show, Ava DuVernay. She is the director of Selma, for which she became the first female black director to ever be nominated for an Oscar. I’m spending a lot of time on credentials because the performances and high-quality direction are one of the few things that will get you through this show. It’s a tough watch - chronicling the story of five black teenagers who get falsely accused of rape. The case, known as The Central Park Five, was also made into an excellent documentary by the same name (available on Amazon Prime). When They See Us goes through the mechanisms and details of how the U.S. justice system framed these teenagers. It also pays special attention to their time in prison, and their family relationships. It’s an excruciating but incredibly important watch.

9.4

As the name indicates, Losers tells stories of failure in sport - an unconventional way to look at competitive personalities. The first episode is on boxing, the second is on soccer, and so on. But if you stick around, you’ll make it to episode five - my favorite (full disclosure: it is set in Morocco, where I’m from).Every episode is about a different story, so you can watch one or two not in any particular order, then keep the rest for later. It is the perfect documentary style with enough of a narrative to keep plot-addicted people like me captivated.A bonus is that this show is created and directed by renown animator Mickey Duzyj - prepare for stunning yet purpose-driven animations.

8.4

Something happens in Forever episode three that I can’t tell you about. If I did it, I would spoil the show up for you. I don’t want to do this. So I will try very hard to sell you on the first two episodes, just remember, the show gets very different afterward. Both in premise, general vibe, and humor.Here’s my best pitch: Fred Armisen. That face, that tone, that voice. How can you resist a TV show that doesn’t have many characters and yet he’s the main one.Pitch No. 2: Maya Rudolph. She is funny, expressive, and whenever she looks at something, that thing instantly gains a lot of interest. This is the best performance of her career so far, I would wager.

8.6

Maniac is really original. Original as in aesthetically weird, in a good way. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone star in this tale set in an alternative world that is a blend of 1990s technology and fictional words and concepts. Their characters, suffering respectively from schizophrenia and heartbreak, participate in a drug test that was supposed to cure their problems. Things don’t go as planned. This show is like if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had a child with Inception, and then that child grew up to marry Get Out. The child of that marriage is Maniac. A refreshing, original and beautifully creative miniseries well worth your time.

7.8

The first episode is directed by the maker of Warrior, Gavin O’Connor, and shares its emotional, yet suspenseful and action-packed flow.A white police officer and his squad are involved in an attempt to cover up the hit-and-run murder of a black teenager. You’ll see the officers weigh guilt and remorse against their fears of exposure and a backlash. You’ll also meet the teenager’s heartbroken family and a disorganized prosecutor.Its tales of race and institutional bias are compelling, but its greatest strength is the script. Add strong acting, especially by Regina King and Russell Hornsby, and you get one of the best police dramas Netflix has ever had.

7.8

What would you do when 2% of the world's population and among them a good bunch of people you knew just disappear? This show is one of the most captivating things to have ever graced television. It is relatively unknown compared to other HBO shows but it definitely isn't inferior to any of them. The cast is as great as any with Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, and Liv Tyler giving great performances. A must-watch mixture of mystery and drama with a great premise which has been maintained throughout the three seasons.

9

Who doesn't need a good 20 minute-per-episode comedy show in their life? We all do. The Letdown delivers on that front, but because we live in the age of the "cerebral" TV (or whatever you want to call it) it tricks you with some deep feeling stuff. It's like paying for laughs. The show is about motherhood, as it follows a new mom and her struggle to cope with the demanding turn her life has taken. If you're not yet a mom (for example, if you're a man), this show will be really instructive for you; but if you're a mom, you're bound to see your experience portrayed maybe for the first time in an honest way. And with that honesty comes hilariousness on one hand, but also a lot of hard stuff (aka deep feeling stuff). A fun, real, and well-written show. 

8.1

A dramatic take on the life and capture of Ted Kaczynski, popularly known as UNABOMBER(UNiversity and Airline BOMber) from the eyes of an FBI profiler. Kaczynski was responsible for 16 bombings, and it took 17 years for the FBI to catch him. To date, he's the target of the most expensive chase the FBI has ever launched. The show is not a mystery (facts are the matter of public domain) and doesn't even pretend to be one. Instead, it focuses on the complex motives of the UNABOMBER, as well as the bureaucracy that the FBI ran through trying to catch him. It's a really well-made, engrossing show that's hard not to watch in one take. It's 8 episodes of 40 minutes, so pick the time you start it wisely.

9.4

A Netflix documentary mini-series that follows the relocation of a cult from India to a small town in Oregon and the ensuing events. It's a completely true story, but the events it portrays are so bizarre and unexpected that they have to be seen to be believed. The cult, led by a controversial Indian guru, drew worldwide attention to its beginnings in India and then to its conflict with the locals once it relocated to the United States. If you were a contemporary, you must know that the town is Antelope and the guru is Bhagwan or Osho, but if you were not, it is very unlikely you've even heard of it. What was a very significant moment in American media and history has been long forgotten, and is retold here in a captivating way. An extremely well-executed and a powerful account of a very unlikely story.

9.8