“…but what do you watch on TV?”

Atlanta vividly depicts the painful truths of the world, then pushes the story just a bit further so the audience begins to question where reality ends and nightmares begin. It finds the drama and intrique in even the most mundane scenarios and leaves a long lasting impression on the viewer.

Midnight Gospel turns humdrum discussions of philosophy and transcendental meditation into into wild acid trips that allow the audience to more vividly imagine ways of thinking beyond their own. The show is always unpredictable, yet leaves the viewer with things they continue to think about the next day.

Our Flag Means Death is one the most genuine and brave shows I’ve ever seen. The inclusivity among pirates juxtaposed against Stede’s resistance to toxic masculinity provided a completely new twist on the stale pirate genre. His romance with Blackbeard is one of the few relationships I’ve ever actually rooted for in a television show because it felt so sincere. The season finale left me remembering my own darker times and bouts with heartache.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele exist outside the realm of aspiration. They are divinely talented, intelligent, and their chemistry is so real it makes you feel like you are somehow the third member of their experience. Key & Peele masterfully blends art and humor, creating cinematic moments that would transcend genre were it not so unerringly funny.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is so much fun. Midge Maisel’s wisecracking and quick wit are the spice of life. Her interactions with the world around her are humorous and inspiring. However, the writing for all the characters makes the show endlessly rewatchable in order to catch all the jokes and nuance on the screen.

Random Acts of Flyness is a mosaic of greatness. To really understand all of Terrence Nash’s brilliance (which I don’t claim to), you have to at some point stop and look at all the editing that goes into each episode. That’s a very specific observation, I know. But only through that lens can you really step back from the fluid beauty he’s created to appreciate the amount of time, consideration, and inspiration go into every moment. It is television equivalent of Handel’s Messiah in that it is a rare example of pure artistic genius.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn’t just a show about the joys of laughing about bad movies. It’s a masterpiece of giving old material new life and the potential to revitalize anything from the right perspective. Beyond that, the robots curiosity about what it means to be human approaches moral, mortality, and culture from a more agnostic perspective that allows you think of things differently.

Reservation Dogs features stories many people try to look away from, about the proverty many people would look away from. By favoring no one character over another, the show creates a multi-facted experience that helps you to understand other people’s perspectives, learn to forgive, and accept the hardships we inherit as a culture. The stories explore death and dispair in a manner that is uplifting and celebrates the characters’ unbreakable spirits.

There’s a cold open from the first episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse that very heavily inspired the first eight chapters of Agony. The show’s dark imagination can be challenging or even ridiculous, but its ability to evoke helpless anticipation remind the viewer the fear is rooted not in what threatens us but our perceived ability to handle it. The story is rooted less in predatory chaos but psychological torment and resilience.

Broad City is relentlessly fun. The friendship between Abbi and Ilana pulls thge viewer in. The show is unapologetically genuine and easy to relate to. It’s fresh view of modern life complete with racial diversity and sexual openess set it apart from so many other light-hearted offerings and draw attention to how restricted and puritanical we remain as a society.

Los Espookys‘ combination of surrealism and light-hearted horror allow for the reader to open their mind to whatever happens next. The characters each value and celebrate what makes them unique, and their embrace of “monsters” as their humanization of their own idividuality adds a life-affirming quality to the show.

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Every season of Channel Zero delivered new horror and fear. That each season was self-contained created a deeper investment in the safety of the characer and adhered the viewer more to the drama of the story. As opposed to American Horror Story, which can be cartoonishly over-the-top (no judgement), Channel Zero remained realistic enough that the character’s jeopardy never remained in doubt and lingered with the viewer from episode to episode.

Learn more about Agony.

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