Big Little Lies
We know Nicole Kidman is an Oscar-winning actress. However, the depth of her talent truly shines in this television series as she peels off layer after layer of her character’s persona. One only needs to recall the scene in which Kidman’s character talks to a psychiatrist for proof ... who would’ve thought a scene of just women talking could be so suspenseful? Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard are other big names featured in this seven-episode murder-mystery drama.
The Handmaid’s Tale
A gripping series from start to finish, thanks to the bleak subject, superb performances and its detailed look/style. Elisabeth Moss portrays the central figure in this tale set in a dystopian future where the few remaining fertile women are forced to be concubines to the so-called upper class men as a solution to the dwindling younger population.
The Good Fight
Ideally, a spin-off isn’t supposed to be better than its original series. The Good Fight, a spin-off from The Good Wife, beats that odd and then some. It showcases intelligence in abundance, from the three female lawyers (played by Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo and Rose Leslie), to the dialogue and all those oh-so-watchable drama in court and out of it.
Noah Hawley (who’s adapted Fargo to the small-screen) presents a fascinating and yet bizarre series revolving around the character David Haller. David is a mutant (of X-Men universe) with amazing powers, but he thinks he’s just schizophrenic. While most series would focus on the powers a mutant possesses as its wow factor, here it’s Hawley’s presentation of out-there ideas – with the aid of a great cast (Dan Stevens, Jean Smart) and whip-smart writing – that really blow your mind.
It's hard not to be bowled over by Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. The actor is so committed to bringing the Marvel character to life that he gets the audience to be on his side even though he is ultimately the poster boy for gun violence. Oh, the origin story is good too. And any scene featuring a shirtless Bernthal is much appreciated.
The year is littered with TV shows with depressing issues. And while I shy away from such topics – preferring mystery, comedy and thrillers – I find myself gravitating to TV shows with bleak storylines such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies.
On the surface, Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events looks like a happy show. You have three kids as lead, a comedian (the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris) as a villain, kooky sets and colourful palette.
But this, too, is bleak (the title itself tells you so) with stories about losing one’s parents (at a young age), child abuse (remember the shocking slap scene?) and going from foster home to foster home. – Gordon Kho