Now that I have free time on my hands for the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to binge SO many TV series. Since lockdown began, Netflix and other streaming services have been a way of battling the boredom whilst being stuck inside. It has been a much-needed break after the chaos of trying to submit my final assignments throughout May. I’ve always been someone who grew up being obsessed with TV. For birthday presents I always wanted a TV series boxset whether it was BBC’s Robin Hood or The Inbetweeners. I grew up loving TV series such as My Mad Fat Diary, Misfits and Gavin and Stacey. Since coming to university, I had an education on films. Prior to my first year I’d never seen iconic films such as Good Will Hunting, Forest Gump or Dead Poets Society which are all now some of my favourite films. Yet, during lockdown I’ve had the opportunity to get stuck into numerous TV series which I’ve been resisting watching for months as I completed my third year. These are just a few of the series which I’ve been watching, and I’d love to hear any recommendations of shows which you have been loving during lockdown.
- Normal People
Just like the rest of the world, I became completely and utterly hooked on the BBC’s adaption of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People. I’m such a romantic. All I knew about the series when I started watching was that it was about young love. Little did I know that it had so much more to offer than that.
The narrative follows the relationship between Marianne Sheridan, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, and Connell Waldron, played by Paul Mescal as they transition into adulthood from their final days in secondary school to their undergraduate years at Trinity College. I was incredibly surprised that the series addressed such controversial issues. Something that was deeply harrowing was the depiction of Marianne’s relationships with men, outside of Connell, whilst attending university. I found it hard to watch at times, especially those chilling moments between Marianne and the young Swedish photographer Lukas, played by Kwaku Fortune, in which Marianne explores her desire for pain. As difficult as it was to watch, it’s necessary. TV has to address taboo topics. It starts a conversation. It impacts society. It opened my eyes to sexual debasement as well as numerous other topics which often do not receive the screen time that they require.
There is something incredibly authentic and stripped back about the series that gives it such a strong appeal. I was surprised to hear that both my parents had individually watched the series and even my Gran had considered watching it. I think that one of the reasons that the series has been so successful across different generations is down to its truthful representation of young love. Life and love are not in reality as easy as romantic comedies suggest. The series acknowledges the highs and lows of love and does not just omit the ‘bad’ parts. Whilst so many people are desiring a sense of escapism from the chaotic world we are living in, I truly believe that international audiences are searching for a sense of truth in the content we are watching.
2. Queer Eye
I am over the moon that Netflix recently aired the fifth season of Queer Eye. I fell in love with this show during lockdown. I’d always heard of it from other people, but I had never really understood what the show was about. Now after completing all five seasons I can provide an insight into one of the best shows I have ever seen. Queer Eye is an American Netflix original series which follows the Fab Five, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Johnathon Van Ness. These five fabulous men are experts in different fields including food, fashion, culture, design and grooming. Each episode they spend a week with a deserving stranger who is in need of a full life makeover.
The Fab Five are a ray of sunshine in a dark time. They proudly represent the LGBTQ+ community which does not receive the exposure and representation that it deserves in the screen industry. The way these men change lives is inspiring. I personally love the way they speak. Not only to one another but to everyone they come into contact with on the show. They champion self-worth and body confidence. They give back to people who need support. This show instantly boosts my mood. I love seeing the smiles and joy on the nominees faces when they see their full makeover. The show reminds me that there are always good people in the world and there is so much good to be done. At a time like this, we need inspiring individuals like the Fab Five on our TV screens to remind us all to help those in our community who need us the most.
3. RuPaul’s Drag Race
I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race at the start of my third year. RuPaul’s Drag Race is an American reality competition which documents RuPaul as he searches for America’s next drag superstar. Similarly to Queer Eye, the show champions representation on a worldwide platform. Prior to watching the show, I knew little of the drag scene. However, the show has acted as a form of education as I have watched series upon series of drag queens slaying RuPaul’s runway.
I love that the show tackles sensitive topics. Queens on the show have addressed their experiences with prejudice. Hence, the show allows us the chance to listen to the drag community. RuPaul has created a show which promotes acceptance. No one should ever have to feel that they are unworthy or inferior. Each episode concludes with Ru’s message, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”. That is a message which we all need to hear at some point in our lives.
Not only does the show provide exposure for the drag community, but it is also uplifting and at times hilarious. The queens on this show including Alyssa Edwards, Bianco del Rio and Heidi n’ Closet have made me laugh during some of the toughest times of lockdown. We all need some light comic relief to keep us sane as we remain inside away from friends and family. There are also twelve seasons to choose from, so this one will keep you busy for quite a while.
4. Glow Up
BBC Three’s Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star is a competition series which follows a group of aspiring makeup artists as they attempt to win a life-changing opportunity to work within the beauty industry. I’ve never been someone who loves doing their makeup. I started wearing makeup in my early teens due to flares ups in my skin. Therefore, I never associated makeup with creativity and fun as I had always used it as a way of covering my breakouts. I have always admired individuals who can master a perfect smoky eye or ombre lip, although I never wanted to experiment with make up for fear it would worsen my skin. However, watching this show has given me a desire to want to experiment and learn about makeup as it should not be a hinderance but something for you to enjoy. The artists on the show push boundaries every episode and prove that you can make art using beauty products. The show has made me want to change my relationship with makeup as I plan to master some new beauty techniques this summer.
5. Tiger King
Netflix’s docuseries Tiger King will always remind me of lockdown. I remember a period of time when it was all anyone was talking about. A long time before the hype began, I saw a trailer for the show, and I knew I had to watch it. The odd and chaotic world of Joe Exotic appeared to be an unmissable story. I recognised Joe Exotic instantly from Louis Theroux’s documentary America’s Most Dangerous Pets. I remember being hooked back then on Joe Exotic’s odd personality and mannerisms as a middle-aged man with a desire to own hundreds of wild animals. This docuseries would never have been a success if Joe Exotic was not the leading man. His unusual mullet, hatred for Carole Baskin and weird country cover songs are now known to millions across the globe. At times the docuseries is morally questionable in its representation of Joe, but I think the series offered audiences escapism from our world into an even more shocking one.
One of the silver linings of lockdown is that it has allowed me to become engrossed in the world of TV again. It has provided me with an opportunity to stop and take some time for myself. I am one of those people who find it difficult to fully relax. I can never sit still or take proper breaks so being forced to stay inside has improved my ability to take some ‘me’ time whilst being wrapped up in a big duvet in front of my laptop.