A lot of my job as a creative researcher is dedicated to indiscriminately (emphasis on the indiscriminately) watching as many films, documentaries and television series as possible. It is both a blessing and curse. But sometimes I stumble across some really exceptional and I thought I’d share some of my favourite TV shows at the moment. I was thinking of making these TV, movie and documentary suggestions a regular feature. So let me know if you’d like me to keep it up.
Transparent is an Amazon Original Series that really floored me with its phenomenal script and performances. Jeffrey Tambor, who some of you may know as the Dad from Arrested Development, plays a transgender person who finally ‘comes out’ to his family and friends after decades of living in the closet. The series is sensitive, nuanced, and hell of a funny. I’m so glad it’s been renewed for another season.
Olive Kitteridge is a 4-part miniseries adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by Elizabeth Strout. Frances McDormand plays the title character: “a misanthropic, strict, but well-meaning, retired schoolteacher who lives in the fictional seaside town of Crosby, Maine”. The miniseries spans 25 years, elegantly dealing with the themes of depression, ageing, bereavement, jealousy, and friction between family and friends. It is really great.
Mozart in the Jungle is another original series created for Amazon Studios. The show is an adaptation by Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman of the book Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music that chronicles the experiences of professional oboist Blair Tindall living and performing in the New York.
I was dubious at first, the idea of a quirky comedy centred around an orchestra doesn’t strike as the obvious choice, but it sparked my interest because of the people involved. The ensemble cast – that includes Jemima Kirke’s little sister Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows, and Gael Garcia Benal – work so well together to tell the story of a young woman navigating her way through the classical music scene. The actors subtly balance humour, with heartfelt emotional moments, as well as a bit of strangeness and magical realism thrown in for good measure. I hope they renew this one.