What to watch after True Detective & Breaking Bad #SundayGuardian #TVRecos

The World Cup of TV: What to watch during the Football World Cup, if you do not watch football

– Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor The Sunday Guardian

Not everyone watches football. If that’s a truth about you that your friends are struggling to process, and have turned you into a social outcast, here’s how you can get some mojo and shove it into their faces. Spend the nights your friends are up watching football, watching these highly addictive television recommendations from all over the world below, of outstanding, under-the-radar TV series, and you can get some massive street cred: you’d have watched the cult shows before they become cult in India!

The Returned (France) – Even as HBO and the rest of American cable TV take giant strides in storytelling, there’s been some remarkable dramas being churned out of Europe year-on-year. A recent example is one of the creepiest and most terrific shows you’d have ever seen. The Returned turns the zombie phenomenon on its head: the story is about a town whose dead start turning up again, but alive, with no recollections of how and when they died. Strange things happen within the show, but the strangest is how you cannot stop watching it once you start.

Forbrydelsen (Denmark) – Dear fans of 24, Homeland, Dexter, and generic crime thrillers on TV, if you haven’t seen Denmark’s Forbrydelsen (that was remade in the US as The Killing), you have no idea what a crime thriller can possibly be. Because each 20-episode season of this Danish show has redefined the boundaries of what constitutes the genre itself. The show about a detective, Sarah Lund (real name, I swear), who has to juggle the maze of police bureaucracy, media attention and manipulative politicians, as she tries to go about solving an emotionally devastating case, is the perfect example of how much life can offer, if only we embrace subtitles.

Luther (UK) – Memorize this name: Idris Elba. Because the 6’3 British actor, who you may only know from Thor as the gatekeeper of Asgard, is soon going to reach (Benedict) Cumberbatch-level heights because of another Brit detective show that’s just as addictive as Sherlock, but with a garnish of noir. If Sherlock is Iron Man, Luther is The Dark Knight: both are equally awesome, but the latter is shot a lot more at night (because of all the darkness).

Black Mirror (UK) – Created by Charlie Brooker, who’s married to British TV presenter Konnie Huq (google her… you’re welcome), Black Mirror is a genius anthology series with hour-long films about the dark future that lies ahead of us if we continue to live our lives obsessed with technology, voyeurism and our own selves. The series is so insanely well-written that if I were the President of the world, I’d pass a law to make it compulsory viewing to everyone who takes selfies or has watched a reality show.

Dates (UK) – Created by Bryan Elsley, who is best known for creating the controversial British teen show Skins, Dates is possibly one of the best arguments for the importance of dialogue in the visual medium. A 9-episode series, where each episode is about the first date between two people who met on a dating website; the series builds humour, suspense, thrill, romance and drama entirely from brilliantly-scripted conversations.  The cast includes some interesting faces like Oona Chaplin (Talisa from Game of Thrones) and Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock), making it a must-watch.

Masters of Sex (USA) – Disclaimer: Not porn. In fact, Masters of Sex does not even have as much gratuitous sex as a Game of Thrones or Spartacus (you are going to check this one out now, aren’t you?) Masters of Sex is a show about how sex, as we know it, came to be; it is the story of how two sexologists – Dr. William Masters (Martin Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (the stunning Lizzy Caplan) – brought about the dawn of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, through their experiments on sex. So yes, the show is about sex – but the genius of the show is that sex is always about everything but sex, isn’t it?

The Americans (USA) – A spy series on USA’s FX channel about two undercover Soviet KGB officers where you root and sympathise with the Soviet spies and hope the CIA is never able to catch them is akin to a show on Colors about ISI spies where you root… THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN, OBVIOUSLY.  The absurd levels of maturity of American television creators and audiences aside, the reason to watch the show is a fantastic plot: The undercover agents in the show pose as a married couple who now have teenage children, and have to spy for the Soviet Union but also protect their very American family. Bonus reason? Rahul Khanna makes his American TV debut.


Note: 
An edited version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian on July 5, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/young-restless/on-the-binge-what-to-watch-over-the-next-few-weeks-if-football-isnt-your-game

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