Evelyn Heis, Film & TV Editor
It was the Summer of 2019 when my friends and I sat indoors in the sweltering heat, in a very idle Call Me By Your Name (2017) fashion, having already watched half of Netflix, in dire need of something new. Flicking through film after film, it was then that my friend suggested a new HBO show he’d heard people in the US rave about. Minutes later, when we put it on the TV and curled up together to watch it, our lives were immediately changed in the best way possible.
To this day, I don’t think I have ever watched a show that is quite as unique as Euphoria (2019). Its first season alone is an intricately-made work of art that gets better every time you revisit it (and for me, that’s a lot of times). When Euphoria first premiered, it was, no doubt, a cultural reset. No other show had ever graced us with such vibrant colour palettes, innovative cinematography, and unique aesthetics. And no other show had done justice to the portrayal of gritty and realistic issues within a teenage drama series either- Skins (2008-2014) does not even come close.
Interweaving multiple narratives amidst a high school backdrop, Euphoria deals with pretty severe topics and complex characters who you both love, hate, and deeply understand at the same time. Within these portrayals of teenage lives with familiar issues, drug abuse, and questions around sexuality, relationships and friendships, there lies the beautiful mode of storytelling, which director Sam Levinson and producer Zendaya do so flawlessly.
The use of grain, colour, and intimate cinematography makes Euphoria both an aesthetic masterpiece of a show and one that surpasses cringe teen dramas like Riverdale (2016-) by presenting something raw. If the trending glitter, rhinestone and multicolour ‘euphoria makeup’ won’t convince you to watch the show, then maybe the impeccable acting by two-time Emmy winner Zendaya will.
Jake Tickle, Deputy Film & TV Editor
Rupaul's Drag Race UK (2019-)
This month I've been obsessed with RuPaul's Drag Race UK (2019-), and I've been tuning in every week to watch it. This year there's such a strong and diverse cast; it's been such a great season! They have now crowned a winner, but I still urge you to give it a watch even if you're new to drag race.
Drag Race is such a fantastic introduction to drag culture and although it is a far more streamlined, mainstream and edited representation of the drag world, it is nonetheless a great watch for everyone - whether you're queer or not. Some of my favourites this season were Danny Beard, and Sminty Drop- my fellow northern queens.
Not feeling up to watching the full season but still wanting to get into drag race? Take a look at the snatch game season 1 of Drag Race UK, where Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump sit on the same panel, or even Divas Live in Drag Race All Stars Season 3, where Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews and Mariah Carey perform their own renditions of some of RuPaul's classic songs.
My point is - no matter who you are, drag race is an accessible and fun way to see into the drag world. Who knows? Maybe one day, you'll be glueing down your eyebrows, donning a wig and taking to the stage!
Amelia Jacob, Digital Film & TV Editor
Deutschland 83 (2015-2020)
Deutschland 83 is my TV pick for November, a German-language thriller originally broadcast on Channel 4 in 2015. It is a fascinating study of iron curtain espionage, in which Jonas Nay plays Martin Rauch, a border patrol guard in East Germany who is swiftly manipulated by his enigmatic aunt Leonora to become a Stasi spy in the West.
Poor Martin doesn’t really have a choice – he would rather stay at home with his girlfriend Annett (Sonja Gerhardt) – but soon travels across the border, where he is given the code name “Kolibri” (Hummingbird) and is opened up to the possibility of Western ideologies and vices that sorely test his allegiances.
Shot in cool blues and reds, mid-shots of Martin against the overwhelming abundance of food in Western supermarkets are just as gripping as the tense scenes of confrontation between him and the agents across the wall.
The show is a creation of husband and wife duo Anna and Joerg Winger, with the former also known for co-creating Netflix’s Unorthodox (2020). They succeeded in the mammoth task of making German geo-political history sexy – but don’t take my word for it, please witness it for yourself.
Kalila Smith, Film & TV Investigations Editor
The Serpent (2021)
Everyone, regardless of gender or age, should be head-over-heels infatuated with Tahir Rahim; whether it be because of his acting capabilities, his French allure or outrightly his striking Algerian look. The Serpent (2021) is what kick-started my fixation on the actor, but the series in itself is utterly captivating.
As a historian, I adore the ’70s as an aesthetic and The Serpent nails its depiction of the decade. The limited series is based on the true story of Charles Sobhraj (Tahir Rahim), a gem dealer but also one of Asia’s most notorious murderers. Jenna Coleman plays alongside Rahim as Marie-Andrée Clerc, Sobhraj’s girlfriend, and enticingly presents herself as a calculated, seductive French woman, yet behind closed doors, she feels her guilt deeply as a trapped woman who is in too deep with Sobhraj to start back-tracking.
With the ongoing buzz around American criminals and the questionable way they are presented by the Film and TV industry, this is a series that does not sensationalise nor place sole focus on the murders. It poses great insight into public prejudices towards ‘hippie’ culture and the legal difficulties of prosecuting inter-state crime and sheds light on a non-Western narrative.
If you are looking for a haunting watch featuring musical classics from the ‘70s, including the Rolling Stones, then click onto Netflix and watch The Serpent.
Claire Meakins, Film & TV Critic and Subeditor
Better Call Saul (2015-2022)
Better Call Saul (2015-2022) is a prequel to the hugely successful Breaking Bad (2008-2013), focusing on the life of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) before he became entangled with Walter White (Bryan Cranston). As someone who, and I’m aware this is a controversial opinion, has never understood why Breaking Bad is so highly revered, I didn’t go into Better Call Saul with high expectations.
The series begins as you’d expect, a spinoff show with a healthy dose of humour and some clever references to Breaking Bad, but it soon develops into a rich psychological drama in its own right. Creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould imbue Saul with an astonishing level of complexity without completely changing his character. Odenkirk’s exceptional performance helps here; he combines comedy and pathos effortlessly, never shying away from his character’s moral ambiguities.
What cements the series as one of my favourites though, is the character of Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Originally just written as a side character/love interest, Seehorn’s acting talent persuaded the writers to develop Kim into a character who is just as, if not more, compelling than Saul himself. Perhaps it’s simply because I find her worryingly relatable, but she is definitely one of the most lifelike characters I’ve ever encountered in film or television.
The character of Kim Wexler alone would be enough to make Better Call Saul remarkable but combined with a wider cast of extremely talented actors; intelligent, exciting cinematography; and meticulously crafted, emotionally impactful plotlines, the series is near-perfect.
What is your favourite TV series of all time?