by Pritha Mukherji
There are shows that make us laugh, and cry. But the shows we value the most are the ones that leave us at the edge of our seats. They not only leave behind a lasting impression but force us to think about we treat society and in turn how it treats us. Revealing some of the darkest secrets of politics and culture, these shows leave us in awe, and we can’t help but get woke to it. Here’s a list of Top 5 shows for you to get woke to:
#5 Criminal: United Kingdom
Bold, sleek and engaging, Criminal: United Kingdom is hands-down one of the most gripping shows on Netflix. Set within the walls of a police interrogation room, Criminal explores three narratives: - a doctor (played by Doctor Who star David Tennant) accused of sexually assaulting and murdering his step-daughter, an impulsive girl (played by Agent Carter star Hayley Atwell facing charges of poisoning her brother-in-law and a truck driver (played by Youssef Kerkour) transporting illegal immigrants within the country. With stellar performances by the cast including Lee Ingleby and Katherine Kelly, the riveting storylines break the illusionary “mirror” between “guilty and innocent”. With the breakdown of each of the accused, we see a different face of the society which moves us to the point that we are unable to decide whether to sympathize with them or loathe them.
#4 A User’s Guide to Cheating Death
There’s not a single person who would not want a long life -- but at what cost? To what extent can our newly found habits starve of death? Timothy Caulfield answers all these questions with this new documentary series. Available on Netflix, the show focuses on how life has transformed in the 21st Century with advanced technology, better medication, and how in a way we “cheat” death. An episode which intrigues me the most introduces the concept of “Body Hacking”, how we as humans have made technology a part of us and made ourselves “transhuman”. A brilliant commentary on the new-found habits we have adopted, the 45-minute episodes are crisp, informative, and force us to explore the smallest ways we use to keep death away and how unintentionally, it may bring the end closer to us.
#3 The Good Wife
Loosely inspired by the Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards scandals, The Good Wife, starring Julianna Marguiles, showcases the dark side of US politics and the everlasting existence of patriarchy. It follows the story of Alicia Florick, a woman who faces embarrassment as her husband gets arrested for sexual misconduct, and how she transitions from a supportive wife to a free-thinking woman. Throughout her story, we expose ourselves to the scandalous world of manipulation, corporate hierarchy and controversial legal battles. With each episode, we see Alicia’s rise and fall of the career ladder and how inadvertently she turns into her husband’s personality. From being showcased as the vulnerable, dutiful wife to being a stealthy predator as she steps into politics, Alicia’s journey compels us to reflect upon the current political scenario around us, and we are left shocked with the uncanny similarities as displayed in the series.
Jessica Pearson is back and how! As she moves on from being a highly reputed lawyer to making her mark in the dirty world of politics, she is quickly absorbed into a whirlwind of conspiracies, competitive employees, and above all, a perpetual conflict between what is morally correct and what is politically correct. Seeing Jessica in a vulnerable position like never before is both exciting and thrilling to see as hurdles through conflicts within her workspace and family. It may not be like its predecessor Suits, but the backdrop of Chicago politics, where backstabbing and power tactics are pretty standard, keeps you wanting to know the fate of Jessica. A dialogue which hit me the most was when the Mayor tells her “You know nothing, about politics”, she snaps back and says “Maybe, but I do know a lot about power”. It's sharp, gritty and dark, a show you would definitely not want to miss.
Before we move on to our number one pick, we’d like to give a special shoutout. This international show allows you to explore different societies and the troubles that they may face. It’s definitely something to get woke to.
Out of all the shows produced by Amazon Prime Video, the one which surprised me the most was Made In Heaven. Set in the diverse capital city of New Delhi, the show follows the journeys of two wedding planners Tara and Karan and how they struggle with societal norms to make their mark as individuals. While mostly focussing on the protagonists’ rise and fall, each episode focuses on subjects such as homosexuality, the dowry system, transitioning from a lower to a higher class of society etc. It is safe to say that the show is an eye-opener and hits us right in the core.
#1 House Of Cards
There is no denying the fact that when it comes to political dramas, the first name which comes up is House of Cards. With stellar performances by Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey, the story of Frank and Claire Underwood keeps us on the edge of the seat. With each episode, we can’t help but introspect into the current political scenario around us. In an atmosphere filled with manipulation, lust for power and where influence is all that matters, Kevin and Claire’s race to becoming the President of the United States eerily reminds us of the extent of destruction greed and passion for power can cause. The show created such an impact that even when Spacey’s character was written off the series post his sexual assault allegations, the series managed to garner rave reviews from critics and audiences, especially for Wright’s performance as the powerful yet vulnerable Claire as she ascends to become the 47th President of the United States. This series gave us characters which are undoubtedly hard to love, but even harder to hate.