sweet heaven above you know what's great? british TV. Here's some of my recommendations.
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe/How TV Ruined your life
Scathing reviews of news media, TV, and movies from 2008~2012, by the now-famous Black Mirror writer. Brooker's dialogue on the couch-top show is reminiscent of an American comic graphically describing sex with an undomesticated animal. But unlike awful comedians, he pulls it off concisely, eloquently, and without the trashy Daniel Tosh aftertaste. Describing celebrities as "melted wax approximations" and parliament as a "congregation of shuffling cadavers" is true poetry. His incessant contempt for saccharine reality shows and sensationalist news is a refreshing counterbalance to an otherwise surreal TV menu.
And despite the sarcastic, caustic tone, the show manages to carry a healthy dose of humanity. The segments praising late British animators or composers sound exceptionally genuine. Brooker's reflections on their influence in his own childhood is an intimate rarity among the pools of disingenuous noise on TV. Either Brooker had a heavy, personal hand in the script, or the other writers really know how to frame everything as if it's a journal.
I've had these prehistoric shows playing in the background on and off for 3 years now. It's frankly a bit cathartic within this hellish daily news stream we've all been subjected to.
Adam Curtis Documentaries
The Supersizers go....
A Food critic and broadcaster join hands to eat period-correct food for a week. French Revolution, WWII rationing, Restoration England, etc. Great insights into etiquette and class connotations in something as banal as food. Giles looks like a fucking amphibian when he eats.
A fascinating documentary that grants a look into Britons from around the country. Interviews occur every 7 years, with themes of class, race, divorce, employment, introspection. Most recent installment is 56 Up, but another is to be expected next year. As an American I found it surpising how even as kids, the interviewees understood their social standing.
Living in the Past
A 1978 BBC documentary, it follows 15 people living in a remote Polish forest with no modern technology. 3 are children, and besides a finite amount of starting resources, the group is left to their own devices to learn and thrive off the land for 1 year. A 2008 follow-up catches their thoughts after going back to the modern world.
I do wish it went deeper in their daily schedules and resources status. Hearing one of the participants' say that modern footwear was their number 1 desire was a surprise.
more shows comin'
Sure, some if it is a tad trashy, but it's British media we're talking here. Still good for a watch, maybe not a marathon of the entire series however.
Supersize vs Superskinny
An obese and underweight couple trade meals for a week. Simple enough, and it's illuminating to see how other people regard food in their lives. Also interesting to see how those with bulimia often have very structured meals and routines. Includes some general health tips that can be helpful.