Aneesa Gulamhusein – The Summer I Turned Pretty
Amazon Prime’s latest young-adult romance series had most fans of the book, and fans of rom-coms eagerly anticipating its arrival. It’s not just worth the watch for the top-tier soundtrack but the story line too. Forget the fact that Taylor Swift will be playing at every single crucial moment, the series also features hits from Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers and so many more! If the soundtrack doesn’t attract you, maybe the story will.
Based on the novel with the same title, The Summer I Turned Pretty explores Belly’s ‘hot girl summer’ in Cousins where she wonders if the crush she has had on Conrad since forever, will ever lead to something. Of course, like in any good rom-com, getting the guy is never easy. A love triangle, and eventually love square, ultimately develops. It is arguably the perfect cliché of a teenage experience, from the pining for your crush, to wanting to gain their attention while also wanting to fit in to a crowd who are nothing like you.
The show captures the tropes of friendship and love perfectly. It makes you feel different emotions throughout, and it’ll surely make you bawl. It’s what makes this show feel so wholesome and different. It’s what makes it so bingeable too.
Nicholas Lemieux – The Wire
Commonly regarded as one of the greatest shows of this century, HBO’s police drama The Wire has been a recent one on my radar considering its twentieth anniversary this year. Set within Baltimore, Maryland, the show chronicles the efforts of the city’s law enforcement to curb the rampant drug problem that has overwhelmed the streets. What set it apart from all those other crime shows at the time, however, was its serialised format, disregarding a new case every week in favour of building up season-long arcs. The Wire, therefore, is perfect for this age of bingeing and, in some ways, it could be argued it was too ahead of its time.
The show boasts a large ensemble cast of memorable characters, whether it be Dominic West’s maverick detective Jimmy McNulty or the late but great Michael K. Williams’ Omar Little, one of the coolest characters ever introduced to the realm of television. Morality be damned, you’ll grow attached to these characters by the end of the show. It’s also fun to occasionally pick out certain actors early on in their career before their rise to stardom, namely Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan.
Most fascinating is how the city of Baltimore itself develops its own identity over the course of the series. Each season focuses on a different aspect of the city, covering everything from the dock workers, to the media, to even the schoolchildren. The episodes devote a lot of time to fleshing out the multi-faceted characters in the crime world whilst simultaneously refusing to shy away from the darker elements of the police institution. By providing such a vast perspective, the audience is treated to a bitingly accurate social commentary on racism, drugs and police corruption that two decades on is still sadly more relevant than ever. If such a show plays to your fancy, dive into the wiretap and get a taste of the real West Baltimore!
Illustration: Samantha Fulton