Series that Changed Me

While I may not be the best at doing actual stuff, I am pretty well-versed in the art of doing nothing. And as any professional nothing-doer will know, watching unhealthy hours of random shit online is a staple in the lazy lifestyle. Whilst I could point you to Gilmore Girls and Buffy for iconic feminist programmes, and then send you down Skins grimy alleys for some true coming-of-age, wholesome goodness, I’ve decided instead to gently nudge you towards some slightly more modern, and significantly more hilarious series than the aforementioned ‘classics’. Here are three series that I could actually feel helping me to develop in some way, instead of serving as the usual background noise.

Broad City

I couldn’t write any list of TV shows without giving this one the loudest of shout-outs. I think it may win number one prize for being my favourite show ever. Apart from it nestling beautifully into my (admittedly) sometimes childish sense of humour, it’s one of these wonderful programmes that makes you realise what television is really missing: its lack of authentic female characters. And if there’s one thing the two main characters, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson have, it is authenticity (they’re also the show’s creators-yes, they are those annoying, multi-talented types). They address real life the way, in my humble opinion, it should be addressed- with lashings of daft humour. Broad City is a collection of unbelievable and bizarre situations that the IRL best friends get themselves into in New York. I promise you, it’ll leave you wanting to be Ilana, have Abbi as a BFF and be with Lincoln. It’s an easy watch, but you can watch it with the slight sense of smug satisfaction that you’re doing something good for womankind. It covers racism, sexism, and in fact, just about all the -isms, through the two feminists’ eyes, with humanity and humour. It has an impressive list of cameo appearances: Seth Rogan, Amy Poehler, and Hillary Clinton (?!), to name but a few. Amy Poehler incidentally played a big part in discovering the Jacobson and Glazer’s web series that predated the show, and helped turn it into the Broad City it is today. Her influence is evident. In fact, I may dare go so far as to say that the Jacobson- Glazer friendship is a kookier, millennial version of the Poehler-Fey friendship we all know and love. Watch Broad City for feel-good belly laughs.

P.S. If you’ve ever seen me in blue lipstick, Ilana Glazer is the inspiration. #goals. 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’m still working my way through this one (not for lack of trying), but I’ve seen enough to know this show is an absolute winner. I never looked twice at this one on Netflix, it really didn’t seem like my jam because of its name (“That’s a sexist term!”) and cliché preview photo, but my friend Rosie suggested it to me and I gave it a chance. I don’t take much persuading to commit to a new series. The series is satirical and sarcastic, it’s dense with hilarious musical numbers and relatable characters. Most of all, the main character, Rebecca. I am in equal parts terrified and excited that I strongly feel she could be a future version of me, but let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a life where your problems are overcome through lavish musical numbers? Rebecca, played by Rachel Bloom (another multi-talented type, as one of the show’s creators), reminds me of a much less annoying and full-on Amy Schumer. I could explain the plot to you, but it’s much better summarised in the show’s title sequence (* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzY3EaJTuJk). Rachel is a hilariously hypocritical character, and the show uses the cliché rom-com structure to create an entirely unconventional viewing experience. It plays beautifully with what you would ordinarily expect to happen in a programme of its genre, and teasingly shimmies over the fourth wall. But if that isn’t persuasive enough, just watch for the hilarious musical numbers. Personal favourites include: the “Sexy Getting Ready Song”, “I’m So Good At Yoga”, and “Having A Few People Over”. It mocks itself, it mocks just about everything else, and it does so beautifully.

Bojack Horseman

When I’m done feeling empowered by programmes with strong female leads, I do, believe it or not, sometimes like to get really crazy and watch programmes with men in. Or, to be more specific, animated men with horses’ heads. While still a comedy, and still satirical, Bojack Horseman is much much darker than the other two series I’ve discussed. Where Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Broad City make me want to be the best female I can be, Bojack Horseman reminds me what it is to be human (ah, irony). It has an impressive cast, with Will Arnett voicing the title character, Aaron Paul his (not-so) trusty sidekick, Amy Sedaris as Bojack’s feline agent, and Alison Brie voicing Diane Nguyen. Bojack is a former TV star coping with life after fame. Just to be clear, by coping I mean drinking, f***ing and snorting himself into a numb state of self-loathing. It won’t take you long to develop a truly love-hate relationship with Bojack, you’ll want to scream at your laptop/ TV/ iPad at his poor decision making skills, and be quickly won over again seconds later by his sheer helplessness and scrambling for some glimpse of purpose and happiness. Its representation of depression is more accurate than many I’ve seen, when it wants to hit you, it hits you hard. Right in the feels. Perhaps the most relatable of the characters, however, is Diane Nguyen. She comes into the mix as the writer of Bojack’s memoir, and seems to me a representation of everything Bojack could be if he wasn’t so consumed by his depression. She is authentic, and therefore at times, hypocritical, all while still somehow maintaining your respect. For a fascinating interplay of deep, developed characters, and a heavy dollop of black humour on the side, watch Bojack Horseman.

NB. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve been told the whole human-with-the-head-of-an-animal thing is pretty weird. Though I don’t see it myself, I promise if you stick it out for a few episodes, you’ll learn to love this quirky addition to the humour. Maybe just fast-forward through the bestiality.

Broad City is available on Comedy Central, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Bojack Horseman are both available on Netflix.