Binge-Watch Worthy TV

At BLF we’re lucky enough to have a team full of experts who love more than just books! Our Programme & Production Executive, Greg Walker, is also the Founder and Director of Pilot Light TV Festival in Manchester. Here are some of Greg’s top-tips for binge-worthy TV shows to help get you through this time at home.

“In these mad times we’re currently going through, plenty of people are using the abundance of time at home to either stick to their creature comforts or try out some new things.

Personally, I’m savouring the opportunity to catch up on my ever-mounting TV watchlist!

In the modern streaming era, the choices for your latest binge-watch can be a little daunting; do you go for one of the ‘must see’ biggies (like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Wire and on and on and on…) or do you take a chance on a gem that might have passed you by? Here is a list of my personal top 10 under-seen TV gems to binge during lockdown and where you can stream them.”

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This Country

Just recently concluding its third and final series, This Country has placed itself in the pantheon of great British comedies such as The Office, Fawlty Towers, Father Ted and I’m Alan Partridge. Shot in a mockumentary format, the show follows cousins Kerry & Kurtan Mucklowe and their hilariously mundane but absolutely relatable lives within a small village in the Cotswolds.

Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTHXP79AW-E

Where: BBC iPlayer

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Halt and Catch Fire

This show is up there with another on this list as ‘the best show no-one watched this decade’. The pitch is ‘Mad Men meets the computer boom of the 80s’. It doesn’t sound too sexy, but it’s a superb story of creativity, persistence, feminism and what it means to be an underdog. The writing and its stellar cast (Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishe) will have you cheering and weeping in equal measure throughout their experiences in the early days of computers, videogames and search engines.

Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQLbi4VXYcA

Where: Amazon Prime Video

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Band of Brothers

If you loved Saving Private Ryan, then this show is for you. There are now a whole generation of TV fans who have yet to experience what many regard as the best mini-series of all time. From Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg, based on the book of the same name, this drama series follows Easy Company, a parachute infantry regiment, from their training right through to the end of World War II, intercut with interviews from Easy Company’s real-life counterparts. A story of brotherhood and the harrowing realities of war, this is a must watch for anyone.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyDkHvi9yeI

Where: NowTV

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Better Things

Pamela Adlon has been working as an actress in Hollywood since the early 80s and is best known for her work on King of The Hill, Recess and Californication. Better Things is the multiple award-winning dramedy which adapts Adlon’s experiences as a divorced mother in LA, raising her three daughters. It is a heart-warming, hilarious and raw exploration of motherhood, feminism within the home and life as an older actress.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2K_0GMXbY

Where: BBC iPlayer

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Community

Community was always the little show that could. It survived multiple potential (and actual) cancellations from its network but was kept alive due to an extremely passionate core fanbase for six seasons.  The show pulls together an unlikely group of community college students into a study group, where they discover more and more about life and each other, usually through the prism of a genius pop cultural lens. If you want laughs, heart and a perfect combination of outstanding writing and performances; Community is the show for you.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4W4L9TLJa8

Where: Netflix

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People Just Do Nothing

Of any British comedy since, I feel People Just Do Nothing is absolutely the spiritual successor to The Office. Just swap a paper company for UK Garage music and London’s pirate radio scene, swap David Brent for MC Grindah, and keep the side-splitting amount of awkward, genius comedic moments throughout. Get caught up in time for their feature film debut released later in the year.

Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI4SseFpqYA

Where: BBC iPlayer

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

When its first season aired, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s creator/star Rachel Bloom won a Golden Globe for her performance, despite the show’s fairly modest viewing figures. And rightly so. This musical dramedy follows Rebecca, who uproots her life as a successful lawyer in New York to pursue her childhood boyfriend in his hometown. Through four seasons and 101 musical numbers, Rebecca’s journey is a wholesome delve into themes of mental health, queerness, feminism, female sexuality and so much more.

Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa_QtMf6alU

Where: Netflix

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The Americans

This is another ‘best show no-one watched this decade’. This drama revolves around the complex marriage of two KGB deep cover spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. during the Reagan administration. Their children don’t know, and their FBI agent neighbour definitely doesn’t know. Part Breaking Bad, part Homeland; The Americans is up there with the best US TV dramas of all time.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4D96fPl_hI

Where: Amazon Prime Video

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Easy

Written, directed, produced and edited by mumblecore cinema legend Joe Swanberg; this dramedy anthology follows the lives of people in the city of Chicago. The different stories look at the many facets to modern love where polygamy, family life, dating apps, sex positivity, feminism and much more are on the table. Like any of Swanberg’s previous work, it is very funny, human, touching and relatable; and it also has an indie-friendly cast to boot, with Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Marc Maron, Kate Micucci and David Franco to name but a few.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzRjfA_9Akw

Where: Netflix

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The Expanse

Based on the book series of the same name by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse is the best modern big budget sci-fi series out there. The series is a perfect blend of political thriller, space opera and hard sci-fi, set in a time where most of the planets in our solar system are colonised by humanity and massively separated by class, yet must band together when an unknown outside threat arises. If you’ve ever thought “I love Game of Thrones, but I prefer sci-fi to fantasy”, this is the show for you.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQuTAPWJxNo

Where: Amazon Prime Video

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