I’ve been at home for two months due to the COVID-19 quarantine and the struggle has been real. I’ve always been a homebody so *staying at home* hasn’t been difficult, it’s not having the option to go out if I want to and, of course, that everyone else has been at home too.
But what the quarantine has been good for, is that I’ve been catching up on series and movies that I previously didn’t have time for. And while I have a long list of favourite shows, I thought I would divide it by streaming service, so you can work with what you have access to.
First up, Showmax. Showmax is a monthly subscription streaming service that gives you access to tons of local and international films and series. The price is around R99 or free if you have a DStv Premium subscription. Showmax usually gets great premium content like HBO and Showtime Original Series and is excellent for binge-watching South African soaps and telenovelas.
If there was a show that shocked me this year it was this one. Before I binged it, I saw critics and fans lauding it and I thought it was just another *important* show but gosh I enjoyed it and got sucked into the world. I didn’t read the original graphic novels or watched the Zack Snyder film so I came into this completely blind. But the show does well to explain the original mythology (although I did find myself on Wikipedia trying to learn more).
Starring Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Jeremy Irons and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, the show is compelling, wild and visually stunning. I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot because discovering it for yourself is part of what makes it so good. But I would just say that just like the original graphic novels, it works perfectly in looping in real-world crises into the storyline. And the revisionist history aspect is easy to understand and I just want to know more about the world. But I’m also glad that it was only one season long, we’ve seen how many excellent shows have been ruined because of the need to include an extra season because the first one was doing well (*cough cough* I’m looking at you Big Little Lies).
His Dark Materials
This is another fantasy series that I went in blind. I hadn’t read the Phillip Pullman novels or watched the Chris Weitz film, but I had a vague idea what the premise was. However, unlike with Watchmen I constantly referred back to Wikipedia to understand the various characters and the plot. And as someone who is usually an annoying book reader, I can hear them saying ‘you would understand if you read the book’ but like that shouldn’t be the case. When you make a standalone television series, you are making it for an audience that largely would not have read the source material (I mean, look at Game of Thrones). However I didn’t find this to be a miss, it was a tad slow and difficult to understand BUT the acting was excellent, the special effects and the visual imagery were GOT-level. This is also a multi-season show, which means that a lot will be expanded upon (and probably improved next season).
Dafne Keen, James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson played TF out of their roles. McAvoy and Wilson also knit in the intricacies and complexes of their characters well. It’s a bumpy but beautiful introduction to where HBO is probably spending their Game of Thrones budget before the prequels go into production.
It’s time to bring some comedy into this list. Mrs Fletcher stars a firm fave, Kathryn Hahn as a divorced woman who jumpstarts her love life after her son leaves for college. The series which follows both Eve (Hahn) and her son, Brendan (Jackson White) as they explore this new terrain of their lives, is compelling, funny and surprisingly heartwarming.
From Bad Moms to Transparent, I knew that Hahn could play anything, but the way she embodied this role from Eve being slightly timid to her growing more and more comfortable in herself. It is subtle but believable. Brendan’s storyline had him going from being a traditional popular kid/bully in high school to struggling to find his way in college where he is one of many, and the lessons in empathy and kindness he has to get to grips with to grow. The premise seems simple but the execution is not, and it will have you so enthralled in both Eve and Brendan’s lives that you wouldn’t even believe what that you have binged all the episodes in one evening.
Let me know on socials @popcornandsugar what you’ve been enjoying on Showmax and I can add it to my To-Watch list (it’s already 400 show long, but who’s counting?)