The Badger will be bringing you all some jolly good film and television recommendations throughout the coming academic terms. To keep you going until the work commences, here are some of 2017’s freshest TV programmes worthy of an end-of-summer binge-watching bonanza.
Brighton: 50 Years of Gay (UK, BBC, 2017)
Becoming familiar with some of your university town’s local modern history will give you confidence in its status as a tolerant, supportive place to live. The release of this short documentary coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. It broadly discusses critical developments in recent LGBTQ+ history, with a particular focus on Brighton’s relationship with both the triumphs and blows in the liberation efforts of Britain’s LGBTQ+ community throughout the past half-century. With personal contributions from notable Brightonians, this documentary is a good springboard for further exploration of LGBTQ+ Sussex.
Dear White People (USA, Netflix, 2017. Starring: Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton)
‘Diverse’ is not generally the first word which comes to mind when describing the USA’s Ivy League schools. Developed from the 2014 film which shared its title, Dear White People explores the vast number of infuriating racial injustices and race issues affecting young people of colour in contemporary America, whilst retaining a sharp comic tone throughout its 10-episode run. The series features multiple narratives, and weaves compelling stories about uncomfortable tensions and racist undercurrents which permeate elite institutions, almost always having predominantly white demographics, today. The show offers good characterisation and satire founded on a grounded view of university life and politics. Though receiving mixed and controversial reviews since its premiere in April this year, the show has already been renewed for a second season.
GLOW (USA, Netflix, 2017. Starring: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron)
Irresistibly charming with its laid-back humour and colourful period setting, GLOW tells is a semi-fictionalised story based on the very real ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’ – a group of women from various occupational backgrounds who became professional wrestlers through performing in a (self-titled) television show developed in 1985. The series triumphs in its swift development of a number of wonderful multi-dimensional female characters, and its exploration of women’s empowerment during the 1980s, with emphasis on female body autonomy. Colourful leotards? Killer soundtrack? An abundance of irony, cringes and snark? Spectacular. This show will make you believe that in spite of all obstacles, teamwork can be fun. The series premiered on Netflix in June this year.
The Handmaid’s Tale (USA, Hulu, 2017. Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley)
Exaggerated hype is often thrust upon us in our highly interconnected society, and the familiar process of becoming enthused about something only to be disappointed by the less-than-spectacular result can be enough to deter anyone from engaging with popular creations inspired by the promotion they encounter across media. In the case of The Handmaid’s Tale, all the praise adds up. It makes sense. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, it is difficult to imagine that this dystopian nightmare could still give us something new to discuss. Yet the issues explored in The Handmaid’s Tale still apply to our reality, and by blowing them up in extreme ways the series provides painful reflections of contemporary Western society’s underlying malaise, and its failure to provide social equality for people of all genders. Intensely suspenseful and chilling throughout. Don’t merely watch this show, go forth and talk about it. The series premiered on Hulu in April this year, and a second season has been commissioned.