5 Fresh TV Show Recommendations

As we all know, there are about a million shows on the air (or internet) at any given time and its really hard to catch everything. Sometimes we waste about an hour just trying to find something to watch. However, I hope to ease your show searching pains with a little information on what I’m currently watching.

I love to have variety so I’m usually watching several shows at any given time that cover a range of different genres. Even though these shows tend to be great, I get a little annoyed by the fact that I can’t write a review for each one and still be able to handle my day to day responsibilities. Therefore, this list will act as both a recommendation/mini review of each show. I hope you enjoy!

1. Better Call Saul

Image courtesy of Time Magazine

Crime| Drama| Thriller| 4 Seasons| 41-60m

Created By: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Michael McKean, Giancarlo Esposito

Who knew a glacially paced series about a lawyer would be one of the most thrilling things on television? Then again, what else could we expect from Breaking Bad creator, Vince Gilligan? He and his writing partner, Peter Gould, threw together an entertainment rarity and landed a spot on the very short list of great television spin-offs.

Better Call Saul works as a prequel to the universally acclaimed, drug trafficking black comedy western, Breaking Bad. This masterpiece tells the story of con-man turned lawyer, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and his transformation into the delightfully devious “criminal” lawyer, Saul Goodman. Take in a series of inventively directed scenes as Jimmy becomes enthralled in a world of crime after becoming the lawyer of Mike Ehrmantraut, whose skill set as a former cop allows him to enter the highly secretive drug trafficking trade in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In addition to seeing the events that led to Jimmy becoming the fast talking schemer we met almost a decade ago, we get to experience the relationships that molded him. His dealings with his brother, Chuck ( Michael McKean), who has the weirdest “disease” I’ve ever heard of my life, and his love interest/best friend/ business partner/ partner-in-crime, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), keep this show going strong long before the help of drug infused storylines.

This series is just as good as its predecessor, and makes for a great easter egg hunt because its filled to the brim with Breaking Bad references. While I was more than positive Better Call Saul would the drown in the ocean of Breaking Bad‘s crystal blue shadow, I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong as the creative duo, Gilligan and Gould, really do deliver. Better Call Saul is 99.1% pure television greatness.

You can find the first three Seasons of Better Call Saul on Netflix or catch the latest season on AMC, Mondays at 9pm.

2. Insecure

Image courtesy of HBO

Comedy| Drama| 3 Seasons| 27-41m

Created by: Issa Rae, Larry Wilmore
Starring: Issa Rae, Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales, Y’lan Noel

Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji are back with all their insecurites in the highly anticipated third season of Insecure. In the eleven months since the second season wrapped, this series has gained an even bigger following. All my friends have started watching it and we often find ourselves having deep discussions regarding the thoroughly fleshed out characters. If you have not checked out this show yet, let me break it down for you.

Insecure follows the trials and tribulations of Issa Dee (Rae) and Molly Carter (Orji), two best friends living in Los Angeles, California who are struggling to find stability in their relationships and careers. The series discusses a wide range of topics that haven’t been talked about since Girlfriends and Sex and the City, but still manages to feel fresh. With a killer soundtrack and insanely sexy cast (literally everyone here is hotter than a plugged in iron) this series makes for a worthy binge.

I want to talk about this series more, but I feel like its best if you go into it cold. There are a lot of surprises that affect you on an emotional level and I want you to be able to experience that in all its well directed glory. We are  currently in the middle of season three, and its really flying by. I realized awhile back that eight episodes of this series just isn’t enough to satisfy me and after you get hooked on the series I’m sure you’ll agree.

You can catch Insecure on HBO, Sundays at 10:30 p.m.

3. The Good Place

the good place
Image courtesy of Vox

Comedy| Fantasy| 3 Seasons| 22m

Created By: Michael Schur
Starring: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson

Its a bold move to make a series about the afterlife. Not only is it a touchy subject because you have to worry about offending people, but it can also come off as cheesy if not done properly. However, Michael Schur (who many of us recognize as the creator of Parks and Recreation) managed to achieve a complex balancing act with The Good Place. In addition to being a well-imagined story, this series also provides great philosophical commentary on ethics and mortality.

This series tells the story of the recently deceased Eleanor Shellstrop (played by the ageless Kristen Bell), who awakens in a heavenly world known as “The Good Place.” She is told by Michael (Ted Danson), the angel/ operator of the The Good Place, that she has been accepted for her exceptional behavior on Earth. However, it is quickly revealed to the audience that they somehow mixed up her file with someone else’s because Eleanor was an awful person throughout her life and should actually be in “The Bad Place” (Hell). Now with the help of her assigned soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), who just so happens to be a professor of morality and ethics, Eleanor must learn to be good before she is found out and sent to where she belongs.

I’ve been a fan of Kristen Bell’s since Veronica Mars, so I knew that she was going to deliver a strong performance full of quips and she does not disappoint here; she exceeds my expectations. But she is not the only standout of this delightful ensemble. With a slew of relatively unknown actors, The Good Place acts as a fine career launch for D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto and William Jackson Harper who play the friends Eleanor makes when she arrives at the strange plane. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of them in the upcoming years.

Taking place in the same universe as Parks and Recreation, the series also acts as a fun Easter egg hunt for fans. With clever writing and a great premise, The Good Place makes for a fun watch that asks deep questions. Currently in its third season, this series doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, however I do wonder how long they can keep cranking out quality episodes for a series that needs a definitive ending.

You can catch up on The Good Place by watching the first two seasons on Netflix or catching the latest season on NBC, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m

4. American Vandal

Image courtesy of Wired

Comedy| Drama| 2 Seasons| 26-42m

Created By: Dan Perrault, Tony Yacenda
Starring: Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck

If you think poop and phallic images are funny then this might just be the show for you. Actually, even if you don’t think those things are funny, this still may be the show for you because it is so much more than that. This is a brilliantly well-written, “true” crime series that is perfect for the digital age.

American Vandal was one of my favorite viewing experiences of this year. In fact, I practically forced my roommates to watch the series as well, just so that I would have an excuse to re-watch it. This mockumentary-style, true crime anthology follows Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund’s (Griffin Gluck) investigations into the aftermaths of  students wrongfully accused of participating in horrible high school pranks.

The first season is about Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), who is accused of spray painting a whopping 27 cars with penises. Did he do it? Everyone seems positive that he did, and  for eight episodes the audience is taken on a hilarious journey through a story that is presented with the upmost seriousness. It is truly mesmerizing how committed the writers were to making this go beyond one long dick joke (no pun intended).

The second season revolves around a series of crimes perpertrated by someone known only as “The Turd Burgular,” who is terrorizing the students and faculty of  an affluent community. This season definitely tops the first in ridculousness, as it opens with dozens of private school students violently pooping themselves after drinking lemonade spiked with laxatives.  When a student (Travis Tope) is falsely accused of perpetrating the crimes, our leads must follow the stench of campus corruption to uncover the truth.

American Vandal is a once in a lifetime show and I really hope that it gets the attention it deserves. Not only is it critically acclaimed, but it feels exceptionally relevant, and I firmly believe that it is one of the best Netflix Originals I’ve ever seen. I can’t stress how much I love it.

5. The Shop

Image courtesy of HBO

Talk Show| 1 Season| 26-30m

Created By: LeBron James, Maverick Carter
Starring: LeBron James, Maverick Carter

Every black person knows that the barbershop is a holy land. Its where you go for a haircut, gossip, sports news, local news, clothing, technology, the list goes on and on. The barbershop has become a hub for candid conversations about pop culture, life and all its mysteries. There have been movies and television series made that cover this very subject; however, The Shop is the first to ever turn that concept into a talk show.

LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter have made a brilliant business move. They have partnered with HBO and created a celebrity studded talk show hosted by King James himself, but dressed up as something casual. The premiere episode featured Candace Parker, Draymond Green, Maverick Carter, Jarrod Carmichael, Snoop Dogg and John Stewart. Wow! Talk about a line up. The crew discussed a range of different topics which all revolved around their careers and family lives. Although it doesn’t feel 100% genuine, because there are cameras everywhere, it still feels like must watch television.

The show is being critically acclaimed because its just so interesting. LeBron James is a larger than life celebrity and here he is having this down to Earth conversation with a room full of intelligent, insanely rich and talented black folks. This series just oozes #blackexcellence and these stars doing something as simple as chilling in a barbershop means so much to people who look like me.

Although this series is getting a lot of praise, it also has its haters. But even though I’m slightly on the fence on whether I love it or not, I can’t deny the charm of LeBron having discussions with other celebrities while getting his haircut. There has only been one epsiode of The Shop and I’m not sure when the next one is supposed to be released. Regardless, I just can’t wait to see who they get for the next episode; I’m positive it’s going to be headline grabbing. You can catch the first episode for free on HBO’s website right now.

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