Hollie’s Favourite TV Shows 2017

Gosh, TV is great isn’t it?

Every year I compile a list of my favourite shows of the year. They could be new, they could be old, but what groups them all together is that I found them this year and I love them and I want to share them with you. If you want to see last year’s list, click right here.

Merli (2015 – )

Merli has been on my radar for some time but, since my entire being was consumed with SKAM at the time, I thought it best until the show was over and I could invest my time in a new foreign language show, this time, Catalan.

Merli is about a philosophy teacher who, in a similar vein as Dead Poets Society, has a class of students whom he inspires and teaches the ways of the world. Of course, Merli is not perfect and we follow his daily dramas along with his son, Bruno, a member of the class and his classmates at a college in Barcelona. While there are definitely serious topics in the show, it’s far better to watch for the harmless drama and romantic entanglements of the classmates, rather than looking for serious messages.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a trailer for Merli in English, so instead, here’s a wholesome photo of the cast together.

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SKAM (2015 – 2017)

Of course, would it be a Hollieblog post without mentioning my favourite show of all time? But alas, this year SKAM broadcasted it’s final season with Sana, a young Muslim student at Hartvig Nissen who struggles balancing her faith with a typical Norwegian teenage lifestyle. It’s got romance, friendship, drama, and important topics that you rarely see in television at the moment. But SKAM has revolutionized that, depicting characters of different faith, sexuality, and with mental illnesses. It is truly one of the best television shows out there, and I implore all of you to give it ago. (Plus, the Norwegian language is gorgeous!)

The Good Place (2017 – )

This was a show I had no intention of getting into. It looked too American; cheesy and full of weird dialogue and bright colours. But of course, this was a bit of a stereotype. I started watching when my parents started, and then carried on watching the whole of season one by myself. It’s hilarious, and very self aware. I love all of the characters (which doesn’t usually happen for me) and it perks me right up whenever I’m feeling down. Yes, the trailer is also super cringey but I promise, just give it a go!

Stranger Things (2016 – )

Guys, I did it. I caved. When it comes to shows, while I accept recommendations (and certainly give them out like they’re candy and I’m Willy Wonka), I’m not great at actually giving in and watching the shows I’m recommended. Especially when I’m constantly told they’re amazing. It’s why I haven’t watched Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad…I haven’t even watched The Great British Bake Off because people won’t shut up about it. But something was a little different about Stranger Things. It seemed the whole world was watching it, and I thought maybe I would like it. A rag tag group of kids trying to defeat the monster that’s invaded their town? Set in the 80s? It sounded perfect.

So I would constantly ask people; is it scary? Are there jump scares? I loathe jump scares, and more often than not they’ve given me panic attacks. But the only thing I could do was watch it myself. And thank goodness I did. Turns out, it is scary, but the jump scares were so obvious from a mile off that I could watch them without hiding behind the sofa. I have to admit, season one is better than season two, and I do have a bone to pick with The Duffer Brothers (the creators and writers), but overall, it’s an incredible show with some fantastic acting in it.

 

Please Like Me (2013-2016)

This is a terrible thing to say, but I almost forgot about Please Like Me. I can’t for the life of me remember if I watched it late 2016 or early 2017, and yet I didn’t put it in my 2016 favourite shows which I definitely would have otherwise. Did I watch it so early in 2017 that it feels like a year ago? Who knows. But it’s here now, and you should all give it a watch.

Set in Melbourne, Australia, Please Like Me explores serious and often sad themes through humour and a realistic plot. Josh is a twenty-something gay man, living with his best friend and figuring out what he wants to do with his life. His father is recently re-married, and his mother’s mental health is spiralling. While sometimes fairly dark and miserable, I found Please Like Me both realistic and hilarious at the same time. The awkwardness of some scenes reminded me of British shows like The Office, while still remaining a dramedy rather than a sitcom. The opening theme is also super infectious.

All of the trailers that I could find for this show have weird voice-overs and call suicide an ‘awkward moment’. But don’t punish the show for the trailers it clearly had no involvement in – the show is good. The trailers are bad.

Let me know what you’ve been watching, and let’s see if I actually watch it!

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Hollie’s Favourite Shows 2016

I’m not much of a television watcher. With a withering attention span and a lack of liking things at the moment, I find it very hard to concentrate on something that is 40 minutes long. But sometimes there are shows that just pull you in and sink their teeth in, and this year, despite being awful, is no exception:

 

THE GET DOWN (Netflix, 2016-)

So this one was a no brainer. Baz Luhrmann is my favourite director, so anything written/produced/directed by him, I’m gunna watch. I was a little apprehensive to watch The Get Down, just because I wasn’t sure how Luhrmann, a director who lives for the epic, would be able to boil that down into episodes. But boy, he done good.

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The Get Down follows Ezekiel, a teenager from the Bronx during the 1970’s, where DJ’s were kings of their quarters and insurance companies were burning down buildings for profit. Ezekiel, along with his friends, join the rise of Hip Hop and try to find their place in a society that devalues their communities and would rather leave it to the flames.

First of all, The Get Down has fantastic rep. I think maybe there are one or two white people? And they’re side characters anyway. It is about the people and their music and their part of NYC that was known for it’s crime and it’s fires. Pretty much all of the cast aren’t well-known, and they do an amazing job of making themselves known.

And the music and the way it’s fucking filmed. In true Luhrmann fashion, The Get Down is musical, colourful, hilarious, sometimes outlandish, and beautifully filmed. It is a true gem that not enough people are watching.

BLACK MIRROR (Netflix, 2016)

I wrote a whole review on this season of Black Mirror, but I’ll talk about it here too.

I’ve always been a fan of Black Mirror ever since it began. I rarely watch British television nowadays, and despite this season not being on Channel 4 anymore, I still consider it British. Black Mirror is similar to The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected, whereby each episode is a different setting, cast, and plot. It is speculative, and is usually a modern setting painted with the technologies of tomorrow, usually a lot more sinister than we may think.

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I’m a wimp, and so everything scares me. I hate being scared, but Black Mirror is the type that stays with you so long as you question the morality of humanity. I cannot stress enough to not watch it on your own, especially since it makes for great discussion afterwards. I go into detail on each episode in the review, and you don’t have to watch them in any order. That includes the previous seasons as well.

 

YURI ON ICE (Crunchyroll, 2016-)

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be talking about anime. I rarely watch it, and only stumbled upon Yuri on Ice because of Twitter. I watched one episode and was HOOKED.

This groundbreaking sports anime is about Yuri Katsuki, a failed figure skater and his progression back to being the best skater in the world, with thanks to his newly appointed coach, skating superstar Victor Nikiforov.

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Not only is this anime so unlike others I’ve watched, it’s taken the idea of rampant queerbaiting that anime seems to enjoy, and blown it out of the water. There is a canon same sex relationship in this show, and while there are censors that forbid it to be outright, the writers and creators of this show have all stated they’ve tried to get as much passed the censors as possible to portray this happy gay couple.

It’s hilarious, beautiful, and the skating is very accurate. The plot is fantastic and detailed, and you will laugh at other anime that has to resort to queerbaiting to get views.

SKAM (NRK3, 2015 – )

And now, saving the best til’ last, is SKAM (Shame), a Norwegian drama that follows a bunch of high school students in Oslo. Each season follows a different teen as they tackle topics such as misogyny, bullying, homophobia, mental health, rape culture, and everything else that gets shat on teenagers.

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This show is one of the most realistic shows I’ve ever come across. And, while I’m not a teenager or Norwegian, I find the characters and the content very relatable. Julie Andem, the show’s creator, spent a year travelling around Norway and interviewed thousands of teenagers to help form the realistic portrayal of her characters. All the actors (at the time of filming) are teenagers, and continually help the writers if they think something their character would say is unrealistic or unlike teenagers.

Not only that, but the show is heavily interactive, and has a blog that continually updates in real time when something happens in the show. Whether it be a clip, an instagram, or a text conversation, you never know when it’s going to update. It means you get to follow the main characters life like reality television. It’s beautiful and horrific at the same time.

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SKAM has recently gotten popular internationally due to Tumblr, and the show has become the most watched show in Norway. Season three is just coming to an end, following the life of second year Isak Valtersen, who is coming to terms with his sexuality and falling in love with third year, Even Bech Næshiem. I think a lot of people have watched and will only watch season three, and I made a post a while ago as to possible problematic reasons as to why it’s Isak’s season specifically that has gotten so popular. I think the majority, however, are just celebrating realistic and beautiful LGBT representation. But honestly, watching seasons one and two are an experience in themselves, and focus on Eva (S1) and Noora (S2), two girls a part of a group that you don’t really see in season three, so it’s worth the watch.

This show, from the actors to the soundtrack to the editing to the interactivity is just phenomenal. Please, go watch it. (We’re hoping Netflix will buy it and slap on English subtitles).

What shows have you been loving this year? I know at least one of you will mention Gilmore Girls.

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TV REVIEWS: Black Mirror S3

So a while back when I was just starting out as a booklr, I had two tumblrs; a book themed blog and a television/film review blog. I used to review every single piece of media I watched and quite frankly, it was exhausting. I ditched the blog, and now I’m here, barely watching any shows/films because I’m so wrapped in books and have the attention span of a fish.

Seriously, sometimes I struggle with ten minute Youtube videos.

I’ve always been a fan of Black Mirror, from the moment Rory Kinnear had to have sex with a pig on national television. Not only does it hit close to home (the show’s premise, not the pig sex), it is also hilarious and beautiful at the same time.

Here are mini reviews of each episode of Black Mirror, season 3.

Nosedive

Nosedive is set in a very pink and white world where your social status can get you into the express lane for everything. You’re popular, richer, and have a better standard of living, all thanks to your online rating. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Lacie, an average rating office worker with a need to climb the social ladder, who begins to use her rich and popular old childhood friend to get there.

I found this episode a nice ease into the horrors of Black Mirror. While it seemed relatable in many aspects (Lacie takes a picture of her coffee to get likes and ratings…don’t know where Charlie Brooker got that idea from *cough*), it overall felt like a setting you can easily distance yourself from and enjoy watching without feeling like an empty paranoid shell.

Playtest

Playtest is set in the present, where horror games are being developed into virtual reality experiences, using the horrors and fears in your own life to make it feel more real. While the games are only in beta, we see Cooper take advantage of an ‘odd jobs’ ad to test out the new game.

This episode was super trippy, where the question ‘is this actually happening?’ comes into play at every single turn. As someone who nopes at horror games and horror in general, I sympathized with Cooper in everything that he experiences, but I struggled to immerse myself into the episode because I was preparing for jump scares and loud noises.

Shut Up and Dance

I beg of you, right now, to not watch this one alone at night.

Shut Up and Dance would not be classed as science fiction, and it is one of the most realistic episodes to date, because it could happen now, to you.

Kenny, a shy and timid teenager, is filmed masturbating by a hacker on his laptop, and is blackmailed, along with others, to do whatever the hackers want. This episode is very similar to White Bear (from season two), where the twists are subtle and question your sympathy for the characters. White Bear, along with Shut Up and Dance, are both episodes that have made me feel shaken and frightened, especially for myself. Shut Up and Dance is about a seemingly innocent person who has to commit nasty acts (including robbing a bank and fighting to the death) for the enjoyment of others.

It’ll make you paranoid, squirm, and never want to leave the house.

San Junipero

This is, by far, one of the best Black Mirror episodes I’ve ever seen.

Yorkie, a shy and timid girl, walks into a club for the first time in 1987, where she meets Kelly, and outgoing and confident girl. Both continue to meet up with one another each week, where their nights end at midnight.

I can’t really explain the plot too much, because it’ll give it all away. But it’s so romantic, nostalgic, and not that scary at all. It didn’t make me question much, but made me ball my eyes out over the sheer beauty and emotion of this episode. I saw the themes as; finding love does not have a deadline and is death really the end? Go watch it. GO WATCH IT.

Men Against Fire

This episode has a very clear message about brainwashing and dehumanization and how it can be used for manipulation. Stripes, a soldier in the army, works with his regiment to scour a foreign country for ‘roaches’, a breed of monster who are terrorizing local villagers. They use tech implanted in their minds for aiming, maps, communication, and a general boost of abilities.

I liked this episode, but the message was not subtle. While I agreed with what it was criticizing, very little happened and there was a weird and unnecessary sex scene that had nothing to do with the plot. This was probably my least favourite episode.

Hated in the Nation

Another episode that is rooted in the concerns of today, however pairs it with technological advances that we could see in the future.

After a hated journalist is brutally murdered, a skeptical detective and a tech genius pair together to solve the mystery, and how social media witch hunts play a part. This episode feels very real and discusses the growing problem of mob mentality on social media. It’s something we see on Twitter all the time; how people are dragged and shamed and bullied for a comment they made or a picture they posted. Granted, these people shouldn’t be free of criticism, especially if they are spreading their own dish of hate, but what of the consequences? This is what Hated in the Nation questions; just how hateful can a person be that they would contribute to an online mob that sees their hate be executed in…well, execution, without the blood on their hands? It’s a scary and fantastic episode, shot like an actually clever police procedural.

Season 3 is currently on Netflix, and since it’s shift from Channel 4 to the show streaming giant, it has a larger budget which is clear in almost all of the episodes. It also expands from the terrors being isolated to just the U.K, and I feel that is partly because of the growing interest of an American audience, thus the inclusion of American narratives.

If you’ve only just got into Black Mirror, I’d check out seasons 1 and 2. Both terrifying, especially episodes Fifteen Million Merits and White Bear, but overall, a fantastic series that questions everything you hold dear today; your phone, your laptop, all your black mirrors.

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TTT // Fave Sites That Aren’t About Books

I didn’t realise that my online life has been completely consumed by books.

Until now.

Almost ALL the sites I use are for a bookish reason, and the delights the Hell outta me. But while leading an online book life, there is a tiny amount of room for everything else. My life is nothing but online, which some might say isn’t great. But living in a life time where we’re dependent on the internet to tell us everything, how can I say that my life is not online?

Pinterestpinterest

Pinterest is probably my most visited website that is no way affiliated with books. I use Pinterest because I’m all about that visual. I use it for writing, for dreaming, for aspiring. I use it to purely indulge in places I want to see, clothes I want to own, and hair I want to have. It’s choc full of ideas and life hacks and pictures of beautiful people. I have multiple boards on season aesthetics as well as how I want my life to be (particularly living in Paris).

fpqabe341bwut16xkmujNetflix

Would it be a crime to not have Netflix on this list? Probably. Netflix has literally saved my life from a life of internet piracy. While the site doesn’t have all of my fave shows (and annoyingly varies from region to region), I’ve still found loads of great films and shows that I didn’t even know existed because they were foreign or indie. Some great shows/movies on Netflix at the moment are Jongens, Shadowhunters, GBF, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Clueless.

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I am such a sucker for languages. In school, I was at the top of my class in French and Welsh (not to brag), but when I moved schools, I was put in the naughty kid class to catch up on what I missed from being at a Welsh school and well…my education suffered. Now I’m an adult, I really miss learning languages and I wish I’d done GCSE’s in them. Enter Duolingo. While I don’t get a qualification at the end, I get to have some interactive learning fun with points and rewards, and can even put it on my CV!

 

spotify_logo_vertical_blackSpotify

I think it might be a bit weird if I don’t mention Spotify. Spotify is life. Music is life. I can’t remember what I did before Spotify; I think I had multiple Youtube tabs open and just listened to music videos? Or, I only listened to the music on my Ipod, which I do now, but only in situations where there’s no internet (which ain’t often). Spotify has my writing playlists, my pre-drinking playlists, my shower singing playlists. My favourite albums, artists, and bands. And while some songs I love aren’t on there, it’s safe to say that Spotify is the driving force to my online browsing.

 

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So I definitely use Youtube for books. I’m not gonna lie about that, but it’s only around 30% of my watching time. The rest? Actual nonsense. Stuff that, I don’t need to watch, but I want to watch. Like vlogs, vlogs of people on holiday in Disneyland. I LIVE for these vlogs. Videos of people playing games that I don’t even play myself anymore (curse you danandphilgames). Videos that make fun of films, make fun of online typos, make fun of thirsty comments. Honestly, without Youtube, I’d probably have so much more free time. It’s nothing to do with books, and I love it.

img_logo_bluebg_2xTumblr

Are you sure you want to put this Hollie? Are you sure that Tumblr is nothing to do with books? Well, touche, Tumblr for me is mainly about books; I have a booklr, and all my blog posts posted on here are posted on there as well. HOWEVER, I also have a blog that is purely for reblogging and liking things. I like to call it the ‘trash blog’, because that’s exactly what it is. It serves no purpose other than making me laugh. I reblog memes, funny text posts, cute gifs of celebrities I’m crushing on, and fandom things. So, a lot of Marvel. If anything, it’s a place to fully waste time on if I’m tired from working on important things. So yes, I’m putting Tumblr.

Ticketmaster

tmlogo_greyThis year has been the year of booking concerts. I’m officially broke and artists are richer all because of me. At one point this month I was buying tickets for two different acts at the same time. Ticketmaster is one of the reasons why I have no money and I don’t regret it at all. People I’m seeing; Stone Roses, Selena Gomez, Panic! At The Disco, The 1975, Fall Out Boy (plus more at Reading Festival).

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Does this count? So I check my emails everyday making Outlook one of my most frequented sites. Everyone has emails…I feel it would be silly for me not to put this. Anyway, I mainly use it for job hunting and receiving review copies of books from publishers. I very rarely receive emails from friends or people just wanting to chat. Who does anymore?

facebook_vector_logo_hd_02Facebook

Let’s face(book) it, Facebook has become old news. As mentioned in a Parents React video by The Fine Brothers, Facebook has become the social media site for the older generation. It’s easy to use, kinda boring, and full of minion memes. I hate it, however, I live for group chats. I am constantly in multiple, hence the reasoning for FB being on this list. If group chats didn’t exist, I would have got rid of my account ages ago.

Soundrownsoundrown

This site is a godsend. I use it for everything, especially helping me get to sleep. Want to feel like you’re at the beach? Sat around a campfire? On a balcony in the rain? Soundrown has everything, all on a very accessible site with clean features made to look minimal and effortless.

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & Bookish.

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