You know the feeling. You’re approaching your eighth solid hour in Central Library, trying to do something that comes remotely close to revision, but can feel your concentration dwindling away with each passing moment. It’s time for a break, but what to do? The lining of your stomach can’t handle another cup of library coffee, your Facebook feed is full of people you don’t really like talking about how much work they’re doing, and you’ve already swiped through everyone in a five-mile radius on Tinder.
What about a quick episode of a TV show? You open up Netflix, and cast your eye around for the latest release. Maybe some comedy? Or what about that independent British drama that’s been getting a lot of good reviews in the press? Oh, and your friend recommended checking out that sitcom about millenials living in New York City, he said it’s different from all the other ones that have come before… Before you know it, two hours have passed by, and you end up just watching another episode of The Big Bang Theory, as you slowly fill with self-loathing.
Never fear. Felix TV is here to help. Here are a few of our favourite shows to get you through the revision period, guaranteed to provide a welcome break from fluid mechanics, and earn you some dirty looks for hogging up a precious seat in the computer lab.
Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and boasting a stellar cast – Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, and Alison Brie, among others – as well as cameos from everyone from Daniel Radcliffe to Paul McCartney, Bojack Horseman is a darkly satirical take on the Hollywood industry, which also addresses heavy-hitting issues related to mental health, failure, and isolation. Bojack, a washed-up star of a 1990s sitcom, spends his days drinking heavily, and pushing away everybody who cares for him as his self-hatred deepens.
Those he alienates include his agent Princess Carolyn – a magnificent Amy Sedaris in a career-best performance – who puts on a bright attitude to cover up what’s lacking in her personal life; and Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie), a ghostwriter with ideals and intellect, trapped in a world of showbiz and a mismatched marriage.
While the premise might sound disillusioning, the script keeps things engaging, shot through with a morbid wit and a penchant for wordplay. Clocking in at 25 minutes each, the episodes deal with sensitive subject matter in a clear and emancipatory manner. Besides, after watching a couple of episodes, your life might not seem quite so bad.
Available on Netflix
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Based on a manga series, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is one of a number of foreign series purchased by Netflix as part of its all-consuming expansion. While Netflix originals like The Crown or House of Cards may be known for their dramatic plots and snappy dialogue, what makes Midnight Diner so appealing is simply how little actually happens each episode.
The show, as the name would suggest, revolves around a diner in Shinjuku, which is exclusively open during the night, fuelling the inhabitants of this 24-hour city. Operated by a single man – known as ‘The Master’ – the diner will make whatever the clientele request, provided the ingredients are available. Each episode features a single dish, which serves as an introduction to the problems or challenges facing individual patrons – whether that’s pickled plums reminding a man of his deceased mother, or rice omelettes exposing the cultural tensions between Japan and Korea.
There are no denouements, or dramatic overarching story arcs. Instead, each episode unfurls at its own slow pace, offering a nuanced and multi-layered insight into the diner’s patrons. It’s a truly humanist piece of television, one that simply asks you to allow yourself to be carried along with it.
Available on Netflix
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Currently in its tenth season, RuPaul’s Drag Race has gone from a tiny competition with a shoestring budget, to a global empire, and one of the most exciting reality television shows currently being broadcast.
For the unititiated, the show pits a group of drag queens against each other through a series of challenges, designed to test their ‘Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent’. Each week the contestants need to act, dance, and sew their assess off, watched over by legendary drag queen RuPaul, before the two bottom contestants go head to head in a lip sync battle. The queen who is left at the end of the competition is crowned ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar’.
Out of this premise, the show has generated over 100 episodes of twists and turns, and become a cultural touchstone for a new generation of TV, cropping up everywhere from SNL to the derivative Lip Sync Battle.
What the show does so well – and what makes it excellent revision-break material – is to offer complete escapism from everyday life. It takes the viewer to a world of artifice and heightened reality, while always retaining a punchy wit that pokes fun at the entire notion of reality television. With episodes clocking in at 45-60 minutes each, this provides a bit more of a substantial break, but leaves you inspired by all the talent on display on the screen.
Available on Netflix
Another Vine Compilation
Ok, go on. We won’t judge.
Available on YouTube