Saturday, February 20, 2016

Noteable and Addictive Netflix Original TV Series

EVERY WRITER NEEDS THEIR OWN TV SERIES to get inspiration from and to relax to...or just to become hopelessly addicted. I'm still pretty new to Netflix, but I quickly learned that their original series are highly worth checking out. Here are my favorite binge-worthy Netflix Original TV series that I finished in less than a week (...and some of them in days...) Great for procrastinating on your novel!

My Top Netflix Original TV Series Picks

1. Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy, Sam Neil, Helen McCrory

One-line plot:
Think Boardwalk Empire set in Birmingham, England--except charismatic gang leader played by Cillian Murphy is pretty damn fine (sorry, Steve Buscemi).

Why it is binge-worthy:

From the opening notes of the historical drama's theme song, "Red Right Hand," performed by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds to the sweeping shots of the dreary, gaslit city where everyone gets away with everything, Peaky Blinders is engrossing and full of enough  backstabbing to make a Lannister clap in approval. Cillian Murphy plays the charming, enigmatic Thomas who is haunted nightly by the horrors he endured in the trenches fighting for the Crown during World War I. During the day, he runs the small Irish gang known as "the Peaky Blinders." However, Thomas upsets the balance of power when a crate of weapons falls in his lap, which he calculatingly uses to expand the gang's territory to the Races and to London itself. Meanwhile, you remember Alan from Jurassic Park? Well, actor Sam Neil resurfaces here, except there is nothing warm and fuzzy about him as the Crown's agent who ruthlessly hunts down anyone connected with the Peaky Blinders. On the brink of Irish Revolution, the IRA has plans for Thomas, as well. Character development, tension, and double-crossing are on fire in this highly compelling series, although from the amount of whiskey they consume, I'm most concerned for the Peaky Blinders' livers.

2. House of Cards

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michel Gill

One-line plot: To Donald Trump: Kevin Spacey already ran for president

Why it is binge-worthy:

Francis "Frank" J. Underwood played by Kevin Spacey has a deceptively warm and kindly Southern drawl that makes his increasingly treacherous run for the presidency even more shocking. The viewer doesn't want to believe just how cutthroat the House Majority Whip is. However, a few episodes in, and Frank's plots have already swallowed the lives of the unbalanced Representative Peter Russo and the inquisitive, budding journalist Zoe Barnes as he reveals the depths of depravity he will sink to in order to get his revenge on the man who cut him out of his chance at Secretary of State: none other than the President himself. Meanwhile, his equally ambitious wife, "humanist" activist Claire Underwood, upholds her calm exterior while ruthlessly pursuing her own agenda in the world of politics. It is horrifyingly riveting to watch the pair acsend to power, leaving behind the strewn bodies of pawns and opponents alike without any regard except for themselves. This show is a fantastic political thriller and raises the stakes each season.

3. Narcos

Starring: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal

One-line plot: The 80s stache: a valid place to hide your cocaine?

Why it is binge-worthy:

Set in the beautiful jungles of Columbia in the 1980s, Narcos is the dramatization of the life of cocaine drug dealer Pablo Escobar, who rose to rule the Medellín Cartel and even ran for president. The show gives equal screen time to the charming and merciless drug lord's rise to power, the Columbian government's dilemma of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the personal vendetta of one American Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who lost his partner to a shoot-out with one of Escobar's thugs in Miami. The tension is incredible, but you learn early on not to get attached to any of the Columbian officials who try to take a stand against Escobar. Miami agent Steve Murphy has an interesting relationship with his new secretive partner, Javier Peña, as they quickly spiral downwards to use any means necessary to gain ground against Escobar's cartel. Meanwhile, the dynamics of Escobar's family life and threats from rivals evoke the myth of Icarus and how high one man can fly before he will inevitably burn. No one is painted as altruistic or saintly; everyone has their personal motivations and gets down and dirty to get what they want, which only makes the show more addictive. Using real-life footage of Escobar's political campaigns was a nice touch. There's only one season so far, but it already inspired me to research this turbulent time in Columbia's history!

4. Marvel's Jessica Jones

Starring: Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville

One-line plot: Never has mind control been so scary.

Why it is binge-worthy:

You remember actress from The B In Apartment 23? Now picture Krysten Ritter as an action hero with super strength and "flying with style" type abilities. Yes. It is awesome. Jessica Jones' personality is a snarky "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which is tempered by her best friend, Trish Walker. The villain is ultra-terrifying: a remorseless sociopath named Kilgrave who takes control of people's minds and orders them to do whatever he wants. He develops an obsession with private eye Jessica Jones, and the show goes dark. Some movies and TV series have featured "mind-controlling" superpowers before, but Marvel's Jessica Jones does not shy away from showing how terrifying that would actually be. The mood is a malignant cityscape where you never feel safe. Although slow-moving in places, overall, Jessica Jones focuses on character development. However, when action sequences happen, it is hard to tear your eyes away.

5. Marvel's Daredevil

Starring: Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll

One-line plot: Fighting crime by night never gets old

Why it is binge-worthy:

Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock, who fights crime by day as a moralistic lawyer and hunts down those who evade the law by night using his enhanced senses. Matt is the son of a famous boxer. He idolizes his father, but then has an accident as a young boy that leaves him blind. However, there is more to his father's past than he knows, and Matt is taken under the wing of a secretive society where he is taught how to develop his senses and kick some major butt. The flashbacks are well-integrated into Matt's present day adult like in Hell's Kitchen, which is currently under siege by the compelling businessman Fisk. Vincent
D'Onofrio's portrayal of Fisk makes him an excellent first season villian: he has fists and knows how to use them, but he also had an intriguing romantic storyline with an art gallery owner who grows to support his bid for power. Matt also is surrounded by a gang of interesting characters who have begun to demonstrate a flair for supernatural abilities, which hints at new twists and original contributions to the superhero genre in the seasons to come.

What have been your favorite Netflix original series? Let me know below!

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