What I’ve Been Watching – February 2017 Edition

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With being extra busy at my new job (oh la la) and trying to maintain something of a social life, I feel that I have forgotten how to write about film and TV. I’ve been watching a LOT of television recently, and I’ve already been to the cinema more times this year than I did for the entirety of 2016. I’ve been wowed, awestruck and enjoyed a lot of what I have seen but I have yet to actually write anything about it.

Well, that changes now. I need to get back into the swing of things around here and what better way to start than to catch you up on what I’ve been binging recently.

 

The People vs OJ Simpson

 

In order of binge-worthiness, The People vs OJ Simpson scored very much at the top of my list. I started it last weekend as something to watch that isn’t Gilmore Girls (I’ll come onto that later), and by Tuesday night I was finished with it. Holy mother of God.

What started out as a bit of trashy American docu-drama, ended up being one of the most riveting and compelling series I have watched in years. A rollercoaster ride of emotions, plot-twists and draw dropping moments, I could not stop watching it. I even took my laptop into the bathroom to watch it, as I couldn’t I physically could not pause it. What I’m trying to say is this: The People vs OJ Simpson is addictive stuff and if you are not ready to dedicate 10 hours of your life in one go, then maybe wait until you are.

Maybe most of my enjoyment came from the fact that I know absolutely nothing about OJ Simpson or the trial. I was four years old when it happened, and besides I am from the UK and I’m pretty sure it didn’t get half as much coverage over here. I knew nothing about the crime, the trial or the verdict – which meant that everything was new to me.

Realistically though, most people would know at least whether OJ was found guilty or not and so the real pull of the show doesn’t stem from the narrative events. It comes from the characters and the emotions surrounding the case. The People takes us through each individual’s motivations, feelings, desires and struggles throughout the case, specifically those of Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, Robert Kardashian and Chris Darden. Through the characters, I found myself utterly convinced that OJ was guilty one second, and then blatantly innocent the next. Instead of being a show about the case or the crime (a ‘whodunnit’) The People manages to present us with a clear dramatisation, and through a fantastic script and stellar performances, is completely compelling.

The People manages to have intelligent conversations about race, gender, police brutality and the Justice system without forcing it’s messages upon the viewer. We are not brow-beaten with figures or facts about racism or sexism – the characters speak for themselves on these topics. The choice to dramatise the trial certainly makes it more accessible to the wider public, who will hear these conversations perhaps for the first time.

Also Sarah Paulson was a-mazing, top marks..

Catastrophe

Are you fed of cliched love stories? Find yourself watching the same ‘boy meets girl’ crap over and over again? I have found the cure. Rob Delaney and Sharon Hogan’s Catastrophe. Boy meets girl in a bar in London, boy and girl have sex for a week straight (in a lot of bathrooms), girl finds out she is pregnant, boy flies back from America to propose and they have a child together. Mix that together with awkward couples dinners, Catholic parents and a cameo appearance by Carrie Fisher – and you have a winner.

Catastrophe is disgustingly honest about relationships, sex, love and getting old. One of the defining factors in Sharon (Sharon and Rob are also the names of their characters) keeping the baby is that she is just on the wrong side of 40 and feels that this may be her last opportunity.

The painful and hilarious honesty is what make Catastrophe so relatable. As expected, Sharon makes a speech to Rob along the lines of ‘you don’t have to do this, I can have this baby without you etc etc’, and when Rob tells her is sticking around, Sharon replies ‘thank-god… I definitely can’t do this on my own’. A refreshingly honest answer to a overused scenario. 

Catastrophe taps into the universal feeling of not being ready, or not being enough of an adult to handle life yet. Whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, a baby or anything else – we never feel as though we are qualified for it.

Whilst being absolutely filthy, Catastrophe is also incredibly tender and warm which is unusual territory for comedies to get right. Rob and Sharon’s shotgun romance is the perfect antidote for those who usually starting retching at the term rom-com… myself included. Even my partner, who point blank refuses to watch anything that has a vague whiff of romance about it, thinks Catastrophe is one of the best things we’ve watched. What I am trying to say is that Catastrophe repackages TV love as messy, complicated and a bit gross, because that’s what it is. Love is also clipping your pregnant wife’s toenails, or letting your husband rub his cock between your thighs because you can’t really be bothered to have sex.

It’s got an impeccable supporting cast with the likes of Ashley Jensen (Extras), Mark Bonnar and did I mention Carrie Fisher is in it? If that’s not enough to reel you in, then I don’t know what will.

Gilmore Girls

Confession time: I had never seen an episode of Gilmore Girls until the very end of last year. I know. Totally shameful. The one shining grace is that I have managed to watch almost five seasons in about 3 months, and I have realised that is the perfect binge-watching show.

Nothing ever really happens in Gilmore Girls. At least, nothing of any consequence. There are minor issues to solve, events that look like they will cause major problems for our two leading ladies, but nothing truly awful ever really happens. Like Stars Hollow, Gilmore Girls is slow-paced, happy to meander around and watch the world go by. In comparison to a lot of TV shows these days (Scandal I am looking at you*), Gilmore Girls feels incredibly relaxed, and I like that.

Gilmore Girls is cutesy, funny and bright. It’s a world away from making any kind of statement about anything remotely serious – though it does often try and get it completely wrong. Remember Paris not getting into Yale after (or rather, because of) losing her virginity… yeah. It dips in and out of discussing ideas about class, specifically the differences between Lorelai’s life, and the life her parents designed for her, but never cements itself on any concrete ideas. It’s also very, very white. Which is not an issue as such, but when it does try to talk about the struggles of single motherhood or the working class – it does so from a very white and middle class perspective.

Despite this, and despite the fact that both Rory and Lorelai often annoy me in equal capacities, I really bloody enjoy watching it. It works for me on a level where I don’t need to engage with it, I can just switch off and enjoy it knowing that everything is always going to work out in the end. Gilmore Girls is almost like a safety net in our new world of insecurity. We don’t know whether Trump’s going to start World War 3 by the end of next week, but we do know that Rory and Lorelai will always be over at the Gilmore’s for Friday night dinner at 7pm sharp – and that in itself is pretty comforting.

 

*disclaimer

I really, really liked Scandal, but honestly, by the end of the third season, I just could not keep up with it. If I didn’t pay attention for five second, I missed about half an hours worth of content! It makes for super stressful watching!

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