Sex Education: The first great TV show of 2019

I think we can all agree, the only thing more awkward than the greasy, confusing, acne-ridden years of puberty were the embarrassing and wholly uninformative sex education classes taught by your elderly Maths teacher who broke into a sweat every time he said “vulva”. “Sex” was the hushed word on everybody’s lips and with it spread increasingly ridiculous myths like a bad case of oral herpes. No one knew anything, even the people who had already “done it”. Thankfully, current media has picked up the mantle school curriculums so clumsily dropped and have taken it upon themselves to impart their wisdom of the nether regions. Netflix has already opened eyes to the grim truths of puberty with their hit show Big Mouth – a funny and ridiculous cartoon that everyone should check out, even if they think they know everything about S-E-X – and now they continue their wildly entertaining educational journey with Sex Education.

Sex Education follows Otis (Asa Butterfield of Boy in the Striped Pyjamas fame), a sexually repressed young man with a sexually liberated mother, Jean (played by the utterly fantastic Gillian Anderson of X-Files). Jean works from home as a sex therapist and despite this being a topic of distress for the irked Otis, it soon becomes apparent that her skills have rubbed off on Otis. Maeve (Emma Mackey) – a wickedly smart and blunt social outcast at high school – recognises Otis’ talent after seeing him couch a fellow student through a sexual problem. Maeve, being the cunning young entrepreneur that she is, convinces Otis to set up a high school-based sex counseling business with her for their sexually hapless student body. The plot unfolds with all the whacky fun and explicitly captivating sex tales you would imagine from this setup.

Along with a long line of ridiculous yet fully relatable sexual drama, the show also outlines a clear and captivating story arch thanks to the brilliance of the characters. It would have been so easy to simply rely on worn out high school stereotypes but thankfully Sex Education takes time to craft fully realised, complex characters. Thanks to this, it’s difficult to find a character you fully dislike as everyone has a characteristic that people can relate to or empathise with. The show strives to show that there’s more to people hidden behind the guise of Jock or Bully or Popular or Nerdy – everyone’s going through similar puberty issues and everyone’s got their backstory.

The realness portrayed on screen is helped in large part by the excellent casting. There wasn’t a weak performance in the bunch; everyone fully encapsulated their character. Amazingly, the majority of the main young cast are all fairly new to acting, with some only having two or three credits on their IMDB pages; this would not be at all recognisable based on their performances. Performances from Ncuti Gatwa (who played Otis’ enthusiastic and lovable best friend, Eric) and Emma Mackey, in particular, demonstrated a sort of tender beauty which should certainly help launch their acting careers.

The series offers more than any school curriculum could – it’s got intelligence and heart. The wide and inclusive scope of topics explored are handled with care and respect. The show takes time to analysis and explores each character’s issue and it gives the audience time to care and empathies even if they cannot personally relate. Although the show seems to tick off the list of topics that should be discussed, it never feels forced or like the audience is receiving a lecture and that’s mainly because the show as a whole feels so real and cleverly crafted.

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Brains isn’t all Sex Education has, it’s bright in more ways than one. The actually visual aesthetic is brilliant in its fun, retro style. The series looks like a visual ode to American 80’s rom-coms from the likes of John Hughes, with enough eye-assaulting bright colours and clashing patterns to give a vintage fashion fan wet dreams. Despite the complete 80’s feel with aged architecture and furniture completing the retro portrait, it’s clear the series is not actually set in this period due to modern technology continually cropping up. Visually, it’s more like a little-idealized pocket of time that’s free from the constraints of reality.

This series was a delight, with far too many brilliant plot points and characters to discuss in just one review. Sex Education should be added to everyone’s Netflix list, whether you’re a sexual novice or practised expert. It’s difficult not to feel attached to the characters of Sex Education and with a second series planned, fans will surely be excited to see what’s still to cum (sorry). – Michaela Barton (@MichaelaBarton_)              

rating 9

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A Series Of Unfortunate Events continues to be a delightfully dark and faithful adaptation

words fae olivia armstrong (@starcadet96)

Before I begin, I would like to say that the review you are about to read is very unpleasant. It tells of many awful things, such as a Netflix adaptation of an exceptionally depressing series of children’s books, detestably great casting choices and adaptational changes that serves the story well. It is my sad duty to document this series and inform of whether it is worth your Netflix subscription. But you could certainly find more pleasant things to read on this site, such as Looking Back At…Elephant –  The White Stripes by Ethan Woodford or Every Biffy Clyro Album, Ranked from Worst to Best by Liam Menzies.

However, if you wish to read about this sorry series, we shall press on with the second season of this adaptation of the trials of the Baudelaire orphans.

This season continues where the last left off, with the Baudelaire’s being sent to boarding school at Prufrock Preparatory and Count Olaf hot on their tail with his intent to capture their large fortune. The structure of this series is the same as the first, with each book being split into two episodes going from book 5 to book 9, with more details of the true underlying story unravelling and more quirky characters to be found as the Baudelaire’s situation worsens with each passing episode.

The show continues integrating the VFD plot into the narrative much more than the books did and the few adaptational changes they make in terms of detail and characters are welcomed. Olaf’s henchman, in particular, are given far more character and screen time than they ever had in the book and the expansion on the VFD agents as they track down the Baudelaire’s ties the mystery of the story in much more closely. This season also marks the darker territory of the later installments in the series, with The Hostile Hospital being particularly dark even by the standards of the series. But there is just enough of that dark whimsy that keeps it a hugely fun ride. While there are a few modern references and fourth-wall jokes, most of the dialogue lifted from the books keep in with the quirky and timeless dark humour of the books.

As established in the first season and the book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events is set as more of a dark tale in an ignorant world as opposed to any sort of realistic setting. The adults of the world never being able to recognise Count Olaf even when he is right in front of them and the Baudelaire’s being the only characters who seem to have any common sense are stables of the series at this point and should be expected from fans of the original books. It’s a surreal yet delightfully macabre story of children who are never listened to in a world that refuses to take them seriously, highlighting the absurdity and ignorance of the world of adults who refuse to listen to the children.  

The original actors continue to reprise their roles and do an exceptional job. Patrick Warburton once again sells the gloom and dark humour of Snicket’s overwrought dialogue and the comic timing of Neil Patrick Harris as Olaf and his acting troupe keep the dark giggles coming. As far as new characters, two casting choices emerge as the stand-outs. Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats deserves her due, as she turns a character who is unbearable on paper and makes her hilariously obnoxious as a complete brat who makes Count Olaf look bearable by comparison.

Another standout is Lucy Punch as Esme Squalor, who is the absolute highlight of this season. When you manage to out-ham Neil Patrick Harris in every single scene, you’re doing it right. She completely steals the show as the devious partner/semi-girlfriend of Olaf who is insufferably rich and completely fabulous in her deviousness. Lucy Punch is already a great comedic actress but it’s wonderful to see her take a larger part than is usual for her and run to the moon and back with it.

Netflix’s adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events continues to be a delightfully dark and faithful retelling of the series, with some adaptational changes which are very welcomed for the most part. If you love series or dark comedies, you’ll watch this sorry tale until the end and won’t be able to look away, to Lemony Snicket’s dismay.

TV REVIEW: Master of None – Season 2

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Allora! Turns out it just means ‘well’ but I can’t help but agree with our main man Dev Shah: it’s a pretty word.

Master of None seemed to catch everyone by surprise, Aziz Ansari previously being primarily seen as the pain in the ass Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation. I think a lot of us expected something more akin to his Parks and Rec role for Master of None season one but his performance as Dev Shah surprised us by being an incredibly deep ‘little bud’ that is full of life, energy and love.  If anyone watched the first series without wanting to hug him every time he smiled then I would argue that they don’t deserve Netflix. Now that the show has returned for a second season, let’s venture into this series full of wit, heart and, most importantly, pasta.

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Dev spends the early parts of the second series getting over his break-up with Rachel, and it’s evidently a pretty pivotal theme of the early half of the series: Dev spends a lot of quality alone time (not the bathroom kind), eventually meeting and gaining the phone number of a very nice British lady and then immediately losing said number to a thief. The black and white of this episode in the setting of Moderna, (vaguely ironic I suppose) makes the episode absolutely stunning and there’s something about riding a little bike around Italy and making pasta in black and white that just makes me want to be Dev.
We also see Dev dining on more pasta alone, and with his big bud, the lovable Arnold. Arnie teaches him how to say “hi cutie” to some ‘hi cuties’ and Dev takes this as an excuse to send a little ‘hi cutie’ flirtatious Gif to Rachel.  We get some obligatory pasta scenes in “Osteria Francescana”, one of the world’s best restaurants and honestly you can try not to salivate over it but that scene is amazing.  Arnie also has some ulterior motives in regards to his own lost loves which Dev has to talk him down from with the help of some tasty melon and a scooter trip. It gives Arnold some serious scenes which he sells incredibly well but it maintains its comic brilliance behind it so that no one sinks into some terrible depression over any lost loves in their own lives.

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“La Nozze” allows Arnie to bring our little Dev back to the Big Apple and back to his friends and family and new gig, hosting ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’. When back in New York, Dev has a difficult situation to face with his parents: they ask him to lie to his super religious relatives about his dedication to his faith and of course Dev obliges but feels off, he is eventually persuaded to tell the truth after a chance encounter with Denise when Dev and his Cousin skip Eid prayer to go to a Barbecue and eat Hella pork with a wide set bearded man. Obviously, this causes friction between Dev and his parents who ,I’ve got to say, I thoroughly enjoy watching on screen. Dev’s Dad Ramesh seems to quickly resolve everything by letting Dev know that he can do what he wants, eat pork, “smoke Mary Jane” but doing these things infront of his mum is not cool and “it hurts her feelings”. Soon after Dev and his mum reconcile and it just manages to be another amazing episode in the series and is probably one of my favourites of the second season.

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The season continues, as does the theme of break ups, seeing Dev start to delve into the terrifying and daunting world of online dating. It’s immediately clear that they’re tackling both the ease of access of the new online dating community as well as the idea of over dating: you can see Dev meets a total mix of people from friends he already knew, new friends he thought he had a chance with and the racist he goes home with. This episode lets us see into the world of moving on and Dev stares down rejection and girls he has no interest in, and through that we see some hilarious interactions and truly awkward moments and a totally new side to Dev and the way it’s cut makes each First Date work so well together.

We start to see a bit of a shift in the direction of the series when Dev’s lovely Italian friend comes over from Moderna. Francesca and Pino take a trip to New York, while Dev weighs up his happiness at “Clash of The Cupcakes” as we see him growing more and more unenthusiastic about his “uninspiring” role. Dev and Francesca visit a musuem together and start to catch up while Pino has to work. This is the first time we see Dev start to mix his work and personal life, as he meets up with producer and celebrity Chef Jeff who invites him and a guest to a dinner party. Dev weighs up who to take, contemplating one of the girls from the previous episode, but after 2 dates the conversation has gone flat (not sparkling) so instead he takes Francesca and immediately we see the flicker of excitement as something starts to brew beneath the surface. This episode is probably one that doesn’t have as much magic as the rest of the Series but Dev’s interactions are amazing, and there’s no doubt romance is in the air as soon as the John Legend cameos behind a grand piano.

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It’s not often you see a series step away from its main character and focus on the people they pass on the street. Master of None manages this beautifully as we meet a barrage of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives. We meet Eddie the doorman, the loveliest doorman in New York, a man who does everything he can for those who inhabit his building. He attempts to medicate a parakeet on incredibly vague instruction, and is taken advantage of by a horny Mr Strickland and his mistress. When caught, Strickland lets out a tyrade against the poor doorman, who ain’t taking none of it. Honestly this segment is excellent, a primarily ignored doorman becomes the sole focus and it sits so well, it’s easy to love Eddie and it’s just as easy to love Maya, the store clerk who is having a little trouble in the bedroom department.

Maya is deaf and it makes for one of the most interesting scenes in the series, with no sound and all interactions in subtitled American sign language, it’s easy for the characters to think they have privacy, and their topic of conversation provides one of the funniest scenes of the show so far.

The transitions were amazing and we’re led seamlessly into meeting Samuel the taxi driver who lives in a cramped little apartment with his roommates. They save up their cash to head out for a night on the town and get turned away from the nightclub they’re hoping for, eventually being persuaded into a shady little bar blasting ‘vengaboys’. The boys leave and meet a group of girls and they get to partying in a closed burger shop! Once again, it’s just an incredible sequence which manages to create a sense of belonging for these characters who are simply passersby in the life of Dev as they all venture to the Cinema.

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Vaguely reminiscent of the episode dedicated to parents in season one, we have door 3. Dev grows increasingly exasperated by his job hosting Clash of the Cupcakes, leading him to seek wisdom from papa Ramesh (the best part of any episode). Dev’s story is not the sole focus here as well, as we see Dev’s good friend Brian and his dad, who has just started dating again. Caught between two woman, who each have a trait Brian’s dad can’t resist. Honestly, the interactions between both father and son parties makes this episode amazing, incredibly funny and one warning to anyone who visits Dr Ramesh Shah’s practice, don’t touch his trinkets. Dev’s story leads to him having the opportunity to pitch a new show idea to Chef Jeff, which he takes to immediately but Dev’s mind is elsewhere with the news of Francesca and Pino’s engagement. 

It’s not often that you get two absolute belters from a show but that’s exactly what Master of None consistently offers, especially when after ‘New York, I love you’ we are gifted the absolute peach that is Dev’s Thanksgiving traditions. The episode is primarily flashbacks seeing the growth of his friendship with Denise or apparently… DD. It shows Dev’s relationship with Denise’s family and how welcomed he is as part of the family. We see how Denise’s mum and her aunt take to the relationships she has, their reactions to her coming out as a lesbian and her partners. Denise’s mum struggles with the idea at the time but Denise knew from a young age and shared the information with Dev. Thanksgiving gives the opportunity for Denise to introduce her partners to her family and some go down better than others (nipplesandtoes23. Not nipples&toes23. Nipplesandtoes23). But this episode is riddled with poignant emotional moments that are full of love and humour and seeing Dev in this kind of family shows how tight he is with his friends, and how much love he has for them.

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By this point we somehow find ourselves at the last few episodes of the season and the only problem so far has been “how did we get to the end already”. It’s one of those whirlwind series that disappear before your very eyes. It maintains focus and it feels like the main story is simply a side plot for the simple reason that it is a side plot. Dev’s life is the main story, and the Best Food Friends storyline and the Francesca storyline slide in to be a massive part of his life. I don’t actually want to ruin any of this for anyone who’s still to catch the last few episodes. The rest of the series is one of those series where nothing major happens and nothing really exists as a spoiler but the last two episodes are what everything has been leading up to and none of it disappoints!

The series as a whole is full of warmth: it’s beautiful, poignant and smart. It’s witty and has a sense of normalcy about it. There’s no extravagance, no bells or whistles, just a lot of love in the life of everyone’s little bud, Dev. Give it a go if you like understated, if you like colourful, if you like character based humour or if you like dramady: in short, just give it a go.


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TV REVIEW: Mr Robot – Season 2

While not being flawless, Sam Esmail’s vigilante hacker thriller enjoys a messy yet intriguing second season that avoids being a sophomore slump.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

“Please tell me you are seeing this too,” said a trembling Rami Malek as he accepted his award for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for his role in Mr Robot. While being a nice little reference to a line his character Elliot Alderson made in Season 1, this opening line was no doubt the same thing everyone watching the Emmy’s that night asked themselves: not only is Malek the first non-white actor to win the award in 18 years but he was accepting the award for a show that is still very much in its infancy. If the critical acclaim and the ever enthusiastic fanbase weren’t enough to build up excitement for Sam Esmail’s techno, psychological thriller then an Emmy win was what would result in the show reaching its hype threshold.

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Let’s put Season 2’s flaws out there in the open: it’s not as good as its first. To be fair, it was going to be a challenge for Esmail to somehow top it after viewers became enthralled with Elliot (Malek) and his f.society colleagues’ quest and subsequent success to wipe all consumer debt. Season 1 managed to lay out some pretty solid social commentary, even if some monologues came across as an angry teen’s first Reddit post, along with some amazing character development especially in regards of Elliot who is one of the few TV characters who feels like an accurate portrayal of mental health. 

Season 2 in comparison feels fairly untidy in comparison. Some of this feels intentional in places, notably in the earlier half as most attention is focused on the damage psyche of our protagonist which resulted in eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd and eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.ae, two of the best episodes Mr Robot has ever delivered. The latter episode started off as a twisted sitcom version of prior events that left many, myself included, in awe at how, despite several anti-climatic twists, this show still manages to hit it out of the park when it has focus. Conveniently, the lowest points seem to arise whenever there’s a total lack of said focus and with this season not only being 12 episodes long but Esmail being in charge of directing duties, some plot points seemed to happen for no other reason than to make up running time (who can forget the frankly fruitless chess match between Elliot and alter Mr Robot) and far too much time was focused on Elliot’s struggle. Not that it wasn’t interesting, and Malek shows why he deserves that Emmy with a near flawless performance every time he appears on screen, but with nearly half the season spent detailing his inner turmoil, all building up to a prison twist that fan theories had predicted two episodes in, it was hard not to feel just a little bit sour with how things were going.

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Once the latter half of the season began and the gears started turning however, Mr Robot started to reach the heights of its previous season. Tension is what this show excels in and Season 2 delivered this in bucket loads, most notably eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12 which was totally absent of Elliot yet ran better that most of what had came before. Darlene (Carly Chaikin) totally owned the episode as she became the new leader of hacktivist group f.society, attempting and arguably failing to fill in the shoes of her brother. As the episode progressed, it was hard not to have sweaty palms as her new approach to some make or break situations left you sitting on the edge of your seat. Hats off not only to Chaikin but Portia Doubleday, Grace Gummer and Stephanie Corneliussen for their roles as Angela Moss, Dominique DiPierro and Joanna Wellick  respectively. As a Guardian opinion piece summed up perfectly As a Guardian opinion piece summed up perfectly , the attention paid on this female ensemble was a breathe of fresh air in a show that already features a fuck ton of diversity. Grace Gummer’s DiPierro was a welcome change of perspective in her role as a FBI agent tracking down those who committed the world’s biggest hack, something the characters in this show love to mention whenever the opportunity arises.

With all the talk and speculation of Stage 2 between Mr Robot and Whiterose, mystery was at the core of the latter half of this season and as we finally had it revealed to us by the M.I.A turned dead turned not actually dead Tyrell Welleck (Martin Wallström), it was hard not to be a mixture of excited and scared as to what the next season holds for us. A large chunk of questions have been answered but as Eliot lays bleeding out on the floor and we witness the flickering presence of Mr Robot, the show ended on one hell of a cliffhanger. The show may not have shook free of its Fight Club influences, especially when you notice the glaring similarities between Stage 2 and Project Mayhem’s explosives, but it finally feels like Mr Robot is coming into its own.

There were subtle hints that Elliot was in prison [Credit: USA Network]

With enough loose ends being left for Season 3 to tie up, as well as that post credits scene with the bad ass character Leon played by Joey Bada$$, the wait till 2017 seems to be even more daunting than previously anticipated. It’s hard not to feel a little frustrated as we still have no idea what happened those 72 hours after the hack but having been made aware of what Tyrell has been planning, the power struggle between Mr Robot and Elliot reaching critical levels as well as the FBI being well aware of what they’re all up to, the excitement is unbearable.

Things were and still are messy but in the twisted world of Mr Robot, it shouldn’t be any other way.

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TV REVIEW: Daredevil – Season 2

Netflix and Marvel hit it out of the park with another sublime superhero-full season

*SPOILER FREE*

It seems fitting that a TV show focussed on “The Man Without Fear” was approached by many with nothing but pure dread. To many, Daredevil was a character whose potential was ruined by the Ben Affleck fronted 2003 film, tainting its reputation and making any future adaptation seem highly unlikely. However, Marvel’s collaboration with Netflix last year proved all doubters wrong, providing an astounding, solid first season featuring tremendous performances from the likes of Charlie Cox as the titular lawyer by day, hero by night Daredevil.

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Charlie Cox donning the famous red(?) suit as Daredevil
Not only did we have a strong lead but the supporting cast was one of the best many had seen in quite some time, leaving those who fell into the painfully addicting habit of binge-watching with one question: how can they top this? Whatever voodoo magic or praying Marvel did has paid off as Daredevil Season 2 is bigger, ballsier and, dare I say it, better.

It wouldn’t be a sufficient review without addressing the new characters, of which we have two: The Punisher and Elektra. The former, played by The Walking Dead’s Jon Berthnal, has been done many times before but it has never felt as well done as it has here. The clashing morals between him and Daredevil make for some very intense scenes in the earlier episodes where we get high octane action as well as an endearing and heart touching backstory that helps to flesh out the character.

daredevil-season-2-punisher-0Elektra also gets some redemption after her terrible portrayal in the aforementioned Daredevil flick, being played this time around by Elodie Yung who, to me anyway, is the quintessential actor for this role. While we have some very strong female heroes in the MCU, Elektra’s strength, independence and wit is very welcome and helps the character to stand out in what could have been an overcrowded mess of a show.

Thankfully that isn’t the case though as the flow of Season 2, for the most part anyway, is superb, only occasionally getting a bit clunky due to the transition from Punisher to Elektra. The story this time around feels much more grand and allows for characters like Foggy Nelson and Karen Page to flourish. That’s why I’ve always preferred Daredevil to Jessica Jones as the former has a support cast that is as complex, detailed and talented as its titular star whereas the latter seemed to chug along whenever the focus wasn’t on Jones herself.

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The great thing about Season 2 of Daredevil is that, given past MCU efforts, it could have easily done the same setup as Season 1 and whilst I would have been satisfied with that, I’m glad that the showrunners decided against it. Not having a big baddie like with Kingpin until the last few episodes meant that we got drawn in even more to what was happening with each character, making the big reveal hold more significance due to the potential collateral. Not only that but everything I loved about the first season was improved with the action being as brutal and raw as ever, truly deserving that 18 rating.

Unlike last time we met with Matt Murdock and co., plans for the future look a lot clearer with The Defenders soon going to become a reality rather than a dream. With two great shows under Marvel’s belt and another two left to go, it’s clear that now more than ever the MCU shines brightest on the small screen: make sure you don’t get left behind.

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So what did you think of Daredevil? Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments down below and make sure to follow me on all of my social media down below so you know when I post another review or post!

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TV REVIEW: House Of Cards – Season 1

Breaking Bad meets politics meets Shakespeare in Netflix’s greatest, grittiest show.

“There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong. Or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act. To do the unpleasant thing. The necessary thing” says protagonist Frank Underwood before proceeding to break an injured dog’s neck. “There, no more pain.” And with that, House of Cards begins as it aims and succeeds to be for the entirety of its first season: a delightfully dark masterpiece.

Politics is an absolute minefield of a topic and creating a show that revolves around it can be a hard sell to many, least of all those from outside the US who may be oblivious to how it all works with words like senate and delegates being foreign to them. Thankfully, for the most part anyway, this is all window dressing for a dark and narcissistic tale where the aforementioned  Underwood  is our hero.

Or so it seems. Underwood manifests unprecedented charisma while also possessing the traits of some of literature’s most twisted beings, more specifically Shakespearean ones as he sets outs to get revenge on none other than the President with an intricate and well thought out plan which is reminiscent that of Iago.

A complex and chilling character, Underwood, played superbly by Kevin Spacey, will immediately remind anyone smart enough to watch Breaking Bad of that show’s anti-hero Walter White. Whereas we started off with Walter White as a nice natured, family man and slowly witnessed his transformation, House Of Cards lets us know from the get go that Underwood is a man out for himself, unwilling to stop for anyone and anything that prevents him from getting what he wants.

This makes the show, just like its characters, a conflicted one. The viewer will go from praising Underwood for his drive and dedication to being repulsed by his actions and his lack of empathy, usually all within the space of a few minutes. Being a Netflix show, House of Cards benefits from this as it’s immensely difficult to predict what Underwood may do next, meaning that watching”one more episode” will undoubtedly lead to you devouring the season within a day.

A show is only as strong as its characters though and thankfully House Of Cards provides more than just one interesting one. Just like Frank himself, his wife Claire is someone that yearns for power, a true Lady Macbeth figure who isn’t totally reliant on her husband for storylines. The chemistry between Claire, played by Robin Wright, and Spacey’s Underwood is magnificent and a true joy to behold, showing both respect and resentment towards one another in an almost serial killer-esque fashion.

Not only that but we’re introduced to even more characters at battle with themselves. There’s perky new journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) who walks the line between, as IGN expertly put it, becoming a shark, or simply learning to navigate the waters infested with them. U.S congressman Peter Russo also has his own battles though unlike Mara’s character, his demons lie at the bottom of a bottle, something he must deal with on his road to redemption. All of this means that there are hardly any filler scenes as each moment in an episode is as essential as the next.
As the show came out three years ago, there’s very little new insight I can give when reviewing House Of Cards but I couldn’t tear myself away from the screen whenever it was on. Full of tragedy, multiplex ties, fourth wall breaks and great cinematography (what else do you expect when David Fincher produces the show), House of Cards stands amongst some of my favourite shows with its sublime execution.

Any show that can do that is worth more than just a mention.

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TV REVIEW: True Detective – Season 1 

In news that’ll shock no one, life is complicated and as much as we all want it to be simple and stress free, events arise that put us through emotional turmoil and change us in both positive and negative ways. AMC’s Breaking Bad captured this to an extent though not many of us can say we’ve been diagnosed with cancer which led us to become a meth kingpin. That’s where True Detective comes in.

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True Detective is a HBO crime drama series, something that the network is pretty much the king of after success with The Wire and The Sopranos which are arguably two of the best shows ever made. The show’s engineered as an anthology meaning that each season has its own separate story which has helped shows like American Horror Story to tell a complete story and bring new concepts to keep it fresh. Season 1 of True Detective follows Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) , a pair of Louisiana homicide detectives who are investigating the murder of a young prostitute that spans over a 17 year period which leads to the show flipping between 1995 and 2012.

It’s been reiterated by a lot that have watched this show but it has to be said that the show focuses on more than just the crime at hand, dealing with the personal lives of both detectives that takes up a large chunk of time while the murder gradually becomes of more importance as the show goes on which gives it a good momentum. At no point did I feel bored or like I was losing interest, it was a continuous of urge of finding out what was going to happen next in the case or how the characters were going to handle their situation.

First things first, it would be impossible and near enough a crime to not mention the wonderful performances by McConaughey and Harrelson. At first glance Rust Cohle is a perfectionist, analysing every detail of a crime in a ledger that leads to him being called the taxman by his fellow detectives. However as the show progresses, you realise the layers of complexity to this character. McConaughey was originally chosen to play the role of Martin Hart but thankfully he managed to put up a great argument which lead to him playing Cohle and thank god that happened. Cohle is a lone man, an introvert of sort who has a troubled past that is slowly revealed to the viewers which I won’t spoil for obvious reasons but once you find out, you’ll not be surprised why he acts the way he does.

His realistic attitude results in a strained friendship with Harrelson’s character, a family man who just wants his family to be happy and, while not completely happy with his life, is content with the repetitiveness of it. This chemistry between the two characters never dies down and is vaguely reminiscent of the one seen between Breaking Bad’s Walter White and Jesse Pinkman and both shows greatest moments come from the scenes where both characters are on screen, usually at one anothers throats.

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The difficulties we face in life, like I said in the intro, define and change who we are and it’s something that bares some truth in True Detective. Themes of adultery, murder and death are just a few that are touched upon and unlike other shows that might just point out “this is bad”, the themes play out over the 8 episodes of the show and always feel omnipresent, never in your face but there nonetheless. These themes work well because of the cast of characters presented to us like the aforementioned Rust and Martin but there’s other characters that regardless of how much screen time they have still make an impact on you. Whether or not you’ve experienced anything that is touched upon, the show handles them in such a way that you understand both sides and can come to your own conclusion.

It may come as a relief to some that True Detective not all talking about feelings or searching for clues. It’s not an action heavy show but whenever anything like that happened, you savoured every second such as the ending to episode 4. Without spoiling anything, Rust has to return a favour to a biker gang to find out more info concerning their case. What we get is a 10+ minute track shot, putting Rust and everyone involved in total danger, even if you have no clue what the hell is going you’ll feel the non stop suspense from the start to the very end. Every action scene is handled and directed perfectly, feeling more like a film than a TV show.

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And that’s what I took away from True Detective. It’s the first TV show I’ve watched that felt like a film, that looked like one and had the same impact to me. There wasn’t a cliffhanger or any loose ends, instead it was a complete story full of some of the best performances on television along with the top notch writing expected from a HBO drama. With Season Two currently airing, there’s no doubt that this show has the potential to be one of the greatest ever made.

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