As you’ve probably gathered from others’ posts, we here at Broad Street Hockey have decided to compile things that we love to watch, read, and listen to while we’re without sports and practicing our social distancing. Today is no different!
I’ve decided to a cheat a bit and mostly use shows that I’ve finished and am not actively watching, because lately I’ve just been spending time scrolling through social media with a show like The Office on in the background for noise. That counts as an endorsement too, by the way.
Big Brother (CBS/Global)
The staple of my Summers, Big Brother can be an insanely addictive television show, especially with access to (almost) 24/7 live feeds. The usual format of late sees sixteen strangers enter a house and fight for control under constant surveillance. Each week they compete in various competitions as they battle their way to finale night where two players remain standing. A jury comprised of previously evicted houseguests then vote on who they feel should be the sole winner of Big Brother — the recipient of the $500,000 prize.
At its heart, Big Brother is a social experiment. The best players don’t rely on winning competitions to make it to the end, but rather socially and strategically position themselves in a way that protects them from becoming the house’s biggest target. The players who do that, while manipulating others to make game moves that benefit themselves, tend to be the most entertaining players to watch.
Since its March, there’s no current season of Big Brother airing in the US. However in Canada, their eighth season is currently underway ... but it’s not exactly going smoothly. Four players have been “evicted” but only one by way of their peers voting — one player quit the game, two others were expelled by the show’s production team, and another has wanted to quit for weeks. Don’t start with this season if you’re a new viewer.
Instead, try one of my top five seasons to binge watch:
- Big Brother 10
- Big Brother Canada 5
- Big Brother 8
- Big Brother 6
- Big Brother 14
The fan base has a huge online presence, and there are dedicated websites, and twitter accounts, that keep you updated on the day-to-day happenings within the house when there is a current season underway.
Mr. Robot (USA)
OK, this is a big pivot. Mr. Robot presents itself as a show centered around an anti-social hacker looking to save the world, but there’s a lot more happening from the very beginning that isn’t clear to the viewer. Through reveals occurring within all four seasons, you’ll get to piece together why certain moments from before just didn’t feel “right” at times. I don’t really want to talk about the plot, because so many of the important devices are shock-value moments that really make the show, but what I can talk about is the cinematography.
I’m not a film buff, but the way that this show was shot led to some extraordinary visuals. In a majority of the scenes, you’ll find characters in the bottom half of the frame, and usually off-center. It gives the show a distinctive vibe, and adds a level of tension even to the most innocent-seeming moments.
The show’s fourth and final season finished airing back in December, and it finished just as strong — if not stronger — than it all began. The seventh episode of the season stands out as one of the best hours of television. Truly. It’s shot like a stageplay, and leads to the biggest reveal of the entire series.
Rami Malek shines as the show’s lead, but the entire cast delivers powerful moments throughout.
And now for something a little bit lighter, a show about a hitman.
Barry is a dark comedy about an ex-marine turned hitman who hates what he does. It follows main character Barry Berkman, portrayed by Bill Hader, as he struggles to leave his past behind him. This show really makes you root, and feel sympathy for, a murderer. Full stop. Most shows have a protagonist who is mostly good, with minor flaws. Barry is clearly not that.
One of my favorite things is that the comedic moments don’t feel forced. It’s less jokey, and more funny due to the situations that characters find themselves stuck in. Like Mr. Robot, the supporting cast is absolutely fantastic, and while the show would still have a good lead without them, neither would be the same. Anthony Carrigan’s character, NoHo Hank, is another likable “bad guy” if you will, and has some of the funniest one-liners in Barry.
So, dark humor is not everybody’s cup of tea, but this show certainly showed me that it is mine. A lot has already happened in just sixteen episodes, but nothing feels rushed. And with so few episodes to this point, it’s a quick watch! If you take any of my suggestions here and actually watch one, let this be the one. It won’t disappoint.
The Challenge (MTV)
I’m a newer fan of The Challenge, but it’s quickly become another obsession of mine. The 35th season begins on April 1st, and without sports there’s no time like the present to give it a try.
The Challenge is an ever continuing power struggle as contestants compete in some grueling competitions to further themselves in the game. Unlike Big Brother, The Challenge isn’t a bunch of strangers, but people who have played the game already, or broke into the TV world elsewhere. With a number of returning players each season, feuds can build up and are maintained over many seasons.
There’s also a different format each season, making it a bit tougher to go into further detail about. Usually there are around 30 contestants in a season, and they’ll either play the game as individuals, pairs, or teams.
Generally, contestants are eliminated by either finishing last in a “daily” challenge, or by being forced to compete in an elimination match. Players can be voted into an elimination by others, or may have to participate due to a poor performance in the daily challenge.
I haven’t watched enough to have a true top five like I do with Big Brother, but I quite enjoyed Vendettas (Season 31) and War Of The Worlds (Season 33). Both Free Agents (Season 25) and Rivals (Season 21) are on my list of seasons to watch, and based on others’ opinions may be a good place for a new viewer to start.
Quick list of honorable mentions:
- The 100 (CW/Netflix)
- The Bachelor/Bachelorette (ABC)
- You (Netflix)
- My collection of Carter Hart gifs (File Explorer)
- The Circle (Netflix)
- 100 Humans (Netflix)