Hopefully everyone had a great early Halloween celebration. The light, happy holiday season is upon us, but everyone is probably still in a spooky mood. Well, I have some good news for you! Since y’all seemed to enjoy my last “5 Fresh TV Show Recommendations” list, I’m back with another. These picks touch on several genres and range from being cancelled to recently released. However, they all share one commonality: they are all surprisingly enjoyable. I hope you check them out.
1. The Haunting of Hill House
Drama| Horror| Supernatural| 1 Season| 42-71m
Created by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Mckenna Grace, Paxton Singleton, Julian Hilliard, Violet McGraw, Timothy Hutton
There’s no way you haven’t heard of this show. It’s all anyone has been talking about online and for good reason.The Haunting of Hill House is absolutely incredible. Not only is it visually stunning, but it is one of the most thought-provoking and beautifully choreographed ghost stories I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard a few people say this series feels like a mash-up of This is Us and The Shining and I think that is a brilliant analogy. I could not have described it any better myself.
Hill House tells the story of five siblings who grew up in a haunted mansion and how those experiences continue to haunt them as adults. After the mother’s brutal suicide, the Craines each learned to deal with the pain their own way, and slowly drifted apart. But after a death in the family, they all must come together and face the ghosts that have been looming over them all these years.
Like an apparition, this series seemed to come out of no where and was a perfect match for the Halloween season. With a cast of familiar and soon-to-be well known faces, this sophisticated ghost story about a dysfunctional family feels more relatable than something like this has any business being. This is high-brow horror, with a message.
Mike Flanagan jampacks this series with so many subtle layers that you’ll find yourself neck deep in YouTube videos analyzing every second. There are two episodes in particular that may be the best 2 hours of television I have seen this year. (PERIOD). One of those two episodes is choreographed to appear as one extremely long take and it is simply jaw dropping (When you watch the show you’ll appreciate that pun more).
You can watch this right now on Netflix.
2. American Horror Story: Apocalypse
Anthology| Drama| Horror| Supernatural| 1 Season| 35-56m
Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Starring: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern, Emma Roberts,Cheyenne Jackson, Kathy Bates
Since moving out of Murder House, American Horror Story has shifted in a multitude of ways. It has gone from prestige television to wacky fan fiction with installments that border on insulting to its audience in terms of effective storytelling. In its eighth consecutive season, the (still) beloved anthology series decided to destroy the world with its Apocalypse installment.
This season begins with the destruction of the world and the aftermath of nuclear fallout. We follow our lead characters around a bomb shelter as they wait in hopes of being rescued from the prison like sanctuary. The set up is interesting enough, but it gets stale pretty fast—-until they decide to bring in the witches from Season Three’s Coven so they can have a magical showdown with the anti-Christ.
I know it sounds wacky, but thats because it is. The series has always towed the line between wacky and high art, but when it hits its marks, thats when it really shines. All the credit goes to the cast. Even when the writing is bad, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Evan Peters make it sound like Shakespeare. They are always fun to watch even if the material doesn’t match their ability.
This season is far from great. In its effort to bring back fan favorites (Jessica Lange, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe), the story has some glaring logical fallacies and a plot that seems muddled with way too many characters and quippy writing. However, even with its faults, Apocalpyse is still leagues of ahead of the disaster of last year’s Cult, which was about the 2016 Presidential Election. That one was just painful.
You can watch this at 10pm, Wednesdays on FX.
3. Designated Survivor
Political Drama| Political Thriller| 2 Seasons| 42m
Created by: David Guggenheim
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Tanner Buchanan, Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Paulo Costanzo, Zoe McLellan, Ben Lawson
Designated Survivor had me hooked within the first four minutes and was actually recommended to me by my mother. She was practically begging me to watch it for weeks, and after putting it off for a while I finally got around to it. The saying “mother knows best” is totally true, because this show is amazing.
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkland, a United States Presidential Cabinet member who is thrust into the job of President after an explosion at the Capitol kills everyone of governmental importance. Since Kirkland was named “designated survivor” (a person set aside during governmental gatherings for the preservation of the U.S. government) he wasn’t present during the attack and is forced to hold a position he never wanted.
Although this series was recently cancelled by NBC, Netflix and Entertainment One picked up the series for a third season of 10 episodes. So we’ll be able to catch more of Sutherland sitting in the oval office sometime soon.
Packed full of legislative drama and action packed espionage, Designated Survivor serves as a fine palette cleanser to the bad taste House of Cards left in our mouths. This is a fun, well-crafted and carefully handled concept that explores the questions surrounding what would happen if almost everyone in our government died during an attack. Would the U.S. fall into chaos? Or would we rise to the occasion?
You can watch this right now on Netflix.
4. Great News
Sitcom| 2 Seasons| 22m
Created by: Tracey Wigfield
Starring: Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, Adam Campbell, Nicole Richie, Horatio Sanz, John Michael Higgins
This was a random find I made while scrolling through Netflix one day. Although I don’t watch many sitcoms, when I do I like to focus on the ones with interesting concepts. Great News is about a news producer and her mother who, in an attempt to start a new career and be closer to her daughter, gets a job as an intern.
While a story about an elder person rejoining the workforce isn’t actually a new idea (Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway tackled similar subject matter in The Intern (2015)), it is exceptional in its familiarity with its standout cast. Its quirky writing and a well defined characters makes this show a sweet and funny watch.
The series benefits from having two comedy veterans in Andrea Martin and John Michael Higgins and a helping hand from Tina Fey. Their performances elevate this series to great, new heights. I recognized Martin from the relatively unknown Hulu series, Difficult People(2015-2017), where she embodied the role of a self absorbed therapist with perfection. But almost everyone in this series is blown out of the water by scene stealer, Nicole Richie as a young news archor. I had no idea, this woman had the chops for comedy outside of The Simple Life (2003-2007). She has most of the shows best moments.
Although this show was recently cancelled by NBC, it is still an entertaining and quick watch that with give you nice cozy feeling. I recommend this series if you’re looking for something light to pass the time. It’s only two seasons were recently put on Netflix so you can actually watch it right now!
5. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Horror| Supernatural| 1 Season| 49-63m
Developed by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Richard Coyle, Miranda Otto
This last show on my list was a pleasant surprise. We’ve come along way from the laugh tracks and talking cats of Melissa Joann Hart’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In this charming 2018 adaptation, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cast a spell on me and my fellow audience members. I didn’t know how much I needed this series until my eyes were glued to the screen.
The story follows Sabrina Spellman (played by Kiernan Shipka who we recognize from Mad Men and Feud), a young half-witch who turns sixteen years old and, due to to tradition, must sign her soul away to The Dark Lord (Satan). On the night of the ceremony, Sabrina decides that she doesn’t want to sign away her freedom to The Dark Lord and spends the rest of the season trying to find a way to defeat him. This is the latest Netflix series aimed at a teen-to-young adult audiences and it acts as a spin off to the CW hit-series Riverdale; the two even share some minor characters.
This show is extremely satanic, and I assume that’s why Netflix picked it up instead of the CW. I can’t even imagine a company like the CW putting this on the air. Furthermore, this must be the year of the anti-Christ because between this show and AHS: Apocalypse, we are venturing into dark territory. Although I have to admit, even in its darkest moments this series never seems to go too far in its portrayal of what we traditionally know as “evil.”
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina plays as a very tongue-in-cheek piece of entertainment and it has already been a huge hit with audiences. Personally, I can’t wait to see how they fit this magical story into the relatively grounded world of Riverdale. That will be a very interesting crossover experience.
You can watch this right now on Netflix.