So as most of you know, as well as being a lover of outrageously huge, shredded to death/bordering on alien-like (fuck yeah!) muscle freaks, I also write my own stories and post them here on the blog. It probably goes without saying, but I absolutely love storytelling. Not just through books and written fiction, but through film and TV as well.
I often surprise people when I say that, as much as I love films, I actually much prefer TV. Even short series' allow for so much more character development than a two hour film. I love being able to get emotionally invested in a set of characters and seeing them grow and develop over a number of years. Equally I love plot lines which can stretch and expand through an entire series, or, depending on the format of the show, seeing your favourite characters embarking on something new every episode.
There's been some incredible series this year, so in a completely different change of pace, I thought I'd do something unusual and put together a non-muscle post and write about a few of my favourites.
Given this is completely off-topic and unrelated to huge, freaky muscle, I'm under no illusion that this post will engage any kind of response! But I've always liked the idea of writing a non-muscle related blog post which explores another interest of mine, so I thought fuck it, I'll give it a go and maybe I'll even introduce some fellow muscle and TV fans who follow the blog to a show they haven't seen.
So first up...
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE
So a TV series called "American Horror Story", which, as well as obviously being in the horror genre, was also completely fucking bonkers and occasionally even funny, was almost guaranteed to be to my taste.
For those who aren't that familiar with the series, every season has a different story, setting/"theme", and set of characters. A lot of the same actors return for the follow up seasons (some dip in and out over the years), but they play different characters. So before this year, we had seasons set in a murder house, an insane asylum, a witches coven, a 1950's freak show and a haunted hotel.
And props must be given to some of the outstanding performances too, particularly a wonderfully deranged Kathy Bates ("I just wanted to be on TV!"), and Adina Porter. The latter not an AHS regular but she basically stole the entire season with her incredible performance during the second half.
By far my favourite TV series of 2016 (despite being in it's sixth season), and one of those seasons I'll be revisiting again and again (it's PERFECT for binge watching).
Sometimes I just know I'll love a series before I've even watched it. I'd heard good things about "Stranger Things" but as always, avoided reading anything about it before hand (I like to watch things with as little info as possible - I very rarely watch trailers for that reason, even of my favourite returning shows). Pretty much from the opening scene of the first episode I knew I was watching something special. The brilliant music, the retro, 80's style opening credits and the whole look of the show is unique, helped by the fact that it's set in the 80's. It even pays homage to a lot of films from that era.
It's brilliantly nostalgic and unlike anything else out there at the moment. The storytelling is excellently paced too and keeps you guessing all the way through.
So as much as I loved the first two mentioned shows, if I had to recommend just one series from 2016 it would be "Black Mirror". Chances are you'll have at least heard of it (at least if you're a fellow Brit) and maybe seen a creepy trailer or two.
One of the things I love about "Black Mirror" is that every episode is a stand alone story. You can literally pick any episode and watch it without having seen any others. So what to expect from a "Black Mirror" episode? Firstly, something very well written. And secondly, something extremely clever. Most episodes are set sometime in the future, and although they're not connected, they all share a common theme; a satirical look at modern society, particularly the use of technology and social media. Most present a sort of "what if" scenario, some of them warning signs as to what might actually happen in the future.
So in the six very different new episodes from this year's third season (the first since the show moved from Channel 4 to Netflix), the American set and cinematic feeling "Nosedive" (creator Charlie Brooker purposely set the first episode in the States, with a big budget and American actors in response to those who feared the series would become too Americanised after being bought by Netflix), was set in a world where everyone uses a "Rate Me" app. So every encounter we have with someone provokes them to rate the other person out of 5. Those with higher average ratings get to move up in business and live in nicer/more exclusive properties.
And to show how diverse the series is, the episode which seems to have been the most loved from this year's season is perhaps the least "Black Mirror"-esque episode ever produced, which is not only perhaps my favourite ever "Black Mirror" episode across all three seasons, but the best hour of TV I watched this year.
It's really hard to talk about "San Junipero" without giving anything away for those who haven't seen it, but I'm going to try my best because if you do watch it, you really don't want to know too much about it!
Episode four of the new series, it's set in a mysterious fictional town called San Junipero in 1987 (a first for the show, which is usually set in the future) which seems geared towards young people doing nothing but going out, dancing and having one night stands and features a shy twentysomething woman going to the town's club for the first time. There she meets a woman who she instantly connects with. She wants something to happen between them, but she's weary and scared - and she only has until 12:00 before, well...something happens (we're not exactly sure what). The next week she goes back and the two embark on a bit of a romance. However, after their second encounter, she struggles to find her, and as she tries to track her down, the reality of what's going on slowly unfolds.
And I can't not mention this episode without praising the repeated use of three things; music, movie posters and music videos on a shop window TV! They even managed to squeeze a bit of Kylie in there.
It's fair to say this BBC comedy about a thirtysomething Londoner (adapted from a one woman play) was a bit of a slow burner. I remember watching the trailer for it and thinking it looked pretty funny, and slowly I started hearing more and more people praise it. So I took the plunge and watched it and I was completely taken in.
First of all, it's very, very funny. The whole opening montage of the first episode which starts with "you know when a guy sends you a text at 2 o'clock in the morning" and ends with "and then you spend the rest of the day wondering...do I have a massive arsehole?" is just brilliant.
But as much as it's a comedy - there's some incredibly emotional moments too. The shows' star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has this knack of making you laugh out loud one moment, and feeling sad the next. In fact, there's an underlying sadness running throughout the whole series, with regular flashbacks of her best friend and business partner from her cafe who was involved in a road accident and died. The final episode reveals a surprising twist which makes the whole back story all the more tragic.
A quick mention also has to go to the always amazing Olivia Coleman, who puts in a brilliant performance as Fleabag's evil bitch cunt of a stepmother.
It was always going to be tough following the brilliant and hugely successful first series of BBC drama "Happy Valley" but the producers managed to pull it off earlier this year with it's second outing.