My Top 10 Series – Part I

There was no way I could do just one list for My Top 10, so am going to cheat a bit, and do two lists:-) These are series which are either ongoing, or finished in the recent past, across platforms. Each of the below has given me many hours of unadulterated entertainment and joy. For that, I am truly grateful. I have mentioned and reviewed only the seasons I have seen. So, here goes:-)

  1. Game of Thrones (Seasons 1-7 on Hotstar): What can be said of GoT that hasn’t been said already? Except that this series has created extreme fandom, with each season awaited with intense longing and impatience. The cast, the locations, and the story, are at an epic scale, and the special effects are out of this world. The question which will be answered at the end of the last season next year is – Who will finally sit on the Iron Throne? My bet is Jon Snow (er, Targaryen)…whom are you betting on?
  2. The Peaky Blinders (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): This series came as a bolt from the blue. It’s about a gang called Peaky Blinders running the bookie and other illegal business in 1919 Birmingham, England. Led by the ambitious Thomas Shelby (played brilliantly by Cillian Murphy), it’s a family run ‘business’. Murphy’s chilling eyes mesmerise, and even as his gang is violent, his own treatment of his women is extremely chivalrous. Each season deals with a fresh set of challenges the gang faces in its effort to become more powerful and influential. Season 5 is so eagerly awaited.
  3. Breaking Bad (5 Seasons on Netflix): This five-season series is one of those series, which if someone had narrated the story beforehand, I would have baulked. The very ordinariness of the characters is finally what attracts one the most. A rather dull, chemistry teacher, diagnosed with lung cancer, starts making and selling methamphetamine with the help of a student, and not only makes loads of money, but gets into much trouble in this life of crime. Bryan Cranston who has acted as Walter White, the chemistry teacher, is so very real. He’s the reason you must watch this.
  4. True Detective (Season 1 on HBO) – Mathew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson act as detectives investigating the murder of a prostitute and other connected crimes. The story line spans almost two decades, with a lot of flashbacks, but this winning combination of actors, particularly McConaughey’s absolute, absolute brilliance, is what makes this series stand out. McCanaughey brings so much conviction to the character, Harrelson being a truly worthy foil. When I heard Season Two didn’t have either of these actors, I just didn’t watch it. (My hubby says it’s foolish of me not to, so perhaps one day, I will). It has brilliant title score.
  5. Homeland (Seasons 1-7 on Hotstar): This is an American spy series, starring Claire Danes as CIA officer Carrie Mathison, who is bi-polar, and brilliant at her work. The series is shot amazingly realistically, and most of its plot is eerily close to reality. It also addresses American jingoism and insecurities. The next season is sadly, likely to be the last.
  6. Forbrydelsen (Seasons 1-2): What a  series this Danish whodunnit is! Brilliant actor Sofie Grabol plays detective Sarah Lund, with each episode in a season covering 24 hours of the crime investigation. It’s bleak, scary, and utterly suspenseful!
  7. Sacred Games (Season 1 on Netflix): This is the first original Indian (Hindi) thriller series on Netflix, with awesome performances by Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Saif Khan’s turn as police officer Sartaj Singh has to be his best performance to date. The series has violence and gore, sex and nudity, and somehow, it all seems to fit in. Season 1 ended as a cliffhanger, and the next season is eagerly awaited.
  8. Big Little Lies (Season 1 on Hotstar): Aha! This is my most favourite series of 2017. A complete gem of a series starring mega stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, it is set in the community of Monterey, California, where it’s the first day of a new school year for a bunch of first graders, whose mothers are divided into close-knit groups. One of the kids gets assaulted by another on day one, and from there on, the battle lines are clearly drawn between the moms. There is also adultery, domestic violence, commentary on parenting, jealousies, and tests of friendships. And finally, a murder, which is revealed in the first episode itself (though not who is murdered), but is resolved only in the last few minutes of the final episode, leaving you strung out, gasping, exhausted, and absolutely shocked! The best news is, Season 2 is being shot even as I write this, with Meryl Streep joining the cast:-)
  9. The Outlander (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): Much smaller in scale than Game of Thrones, but almost it’s equal in story and gore, Outlander is also an epic love story in a way that Game of Thrones can never be, given it’s sheer vastness. It’s based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series about time travel into 18th century Scotland by a married Army nurse, Claire Randall, at the end of the Second World War.  There she encounters the handsome Jamie Frasier with whom she falls irrevocably in love, and gets involved in the Jacobite uprisings. Am eagerly awaiting Season 5.
  10. This Is Us (One Season Only, on Hotstar): This American series is essentially about three siblings – Kevin, Kate and Randall, the last of whom is racially different from the rest of the family, and is adopted, and their lives with their parents, mostly told in flashback. They are adults now, and each is going through life, often facing demons from the past. What is it that tugs one’s heart about this series? It depicts the challenges of parenting, the choices we make as parents, and the ups and down parents undergo in their own relationships, in a very honest and forthright manner, which you can so, so, identify with. The bond between the parents and the siblings is heartwarming, and their deep angst is understandable too. You feel these are real lives being lived, and you become such an intrinsic part of this family. It’s a complete tearjerker, and if you don’t like an emotional overload, perhaps you ought to give this one a miss. Otherwise, Watch IT!

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