It’s that time of year when I start to notice it’s actually light when I set off to work and the first bulbs are poking their noses out of the soil. I’ve gotten through a lot of TV during these dark winter months and felt the urge to share a few of my recent favourites. It’s only once I’d written about the shows below that I realised the main star of each of these dramas had a significant involvement in getting it made, be it through financing/writing/producing the series. So each is very much a labour of love and I think it shows!
Z:The Beginning of Everything
I knew the second I heard about this that I would love it. It stars Christina Ricci who I’ve been a huge fan of ever since I first laid eyes on her Wednesday Addams when I was a little girl. She is playing (wonderfully) the scandalous, glamorous, unconventional Zelda Fitzgerald; original flapper and wife/muse of F Scott Fitzgerald who wrote The Great Gatsby and others.
This is a drama that for once allows the woman to remain front and centre as it covers the early years of their courtship and marriage. Although of course Scott’s literary success is central to events, but here we get to take a look at just how important (crucial?) Zelda was to his writing, rather than seeing her dismissed with the usual tropes of crazy woman bringing down a talented man.
Also, it is SO MUCH FUN! It’s the roaring 20s in New York, there’s jazz, there’s dancing, there’s crazy parties, there’s fabulous frocks. If you like the film Gatsby, this is better. Unusually, each episode is only 30 minutes long so I whipped through all ten of them in about 3 days.
It’s not yet confirmed whether there’ll be a season 2. I will be seriously upset if there is not, Amazon Prime!
I’ve never been a big Tom Hardy fan. I’ve certainly never swooned over him and that won’t be changing but I have been won over to Tom Hardy fandom by this magnificently dark and edgy period drama set in the early 19th century Regency period. As I right this I’m eagerly awaiting the final episode on in a few hours, but you can catch up on BBC iPlayer for a while if you haven’t seen it yet.
Downton Abbey or Cranford this ain’t – incest, cannibalism, torture and brutal killings all play a part (the clue’s in the name folks) and it has a twisty plot with genuine surprises – at first you have no idea where it’s going and then the pieces start to come together. It’s filled with brilliant characters brought to life by a great cast, acting out the kind of stories you can imagine Byron and the Shelley’s trading in their villa in Geneva. It’s beautiful to look at if you like your style gothic which I most certainly do. Zilpha comes across like a serious version of Drusilla from Buffy the vampire slayer and I want her entire wardrobe.
I’ve read that Hardy stands to lose £2m from his investment on this, which seems like a real shame but apparently series 2 is already confirmed so I guess it’s doing alright. I don’t think Saturday night is the best spot for this kind of thing, that’s where the BBC also stuck Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which this reminds me of a fair bit – is Modern Regency Gothic an official genre? It should be because it’s one of my favourites!
I’ve left this to last because I keep telling people to watch it and then when I try and tell them something about it there’s hardly anything I can say because I don’t want to risk spoiling ‘the magic’. The same is true here, so all I will say is it is beautiful and unusual and daring and moving and imaginative and you should at least watch the first episode because I’ve genuinely never seen anything like it and I think it’s one of the few times when I’ve been watching something and my jaw has dropped literally and not just metaphorically. Wow that’s quite a sentence.
‘The OA’ is actually the main character, played by Brit Marling who also co-created and co-produced. She is very magnetic and this has made me want to watch more of her work. I think this is a definitely a bit of a marmite show, especially the ending which will either leave you desperate for more or considering throwing a heavy object at the screen. Obviously, I am in the former camp and luckily season 2 was recently confirmed. Available on Netflix.
Have you been watching anything good lately? Always keen to hear recommendations for new shows so drop me a comment!