Show Review: Superstore (2015)

I love a lot of sitcoms: Friends, Schitt’s Creek, Raising Hope, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc, so I’m always on the lookout for more good ones. One that I discovered in lockdown is Superstore. AND IT’S SO GOOD. There’s something truly special about this show, honestly. The plot follows a group of employees at an American superstore and the struggles they face trying to make ends meet and keep good humour in the face of tremendous odds. The plot lines focus on issues like immigration, minimum wage, health care, maternity leave, cost of college, and even the pandemic in the final season (which needs to be added to Netflix because I WANT TO SEE IT). But even when the topics are serious, the show takes a really wholesome, kind, honest stance on everything.

Like, I’m not sure there’s a nicer, kinder, sweeter character on television than Jonah Simms. Behold:

(gifs not mine; source.)

All of the characters are honestly great, though. Amy is so wonderful and inspiring and I JUST LOVE HER. Jonah and Amy’s relationship is straight up GOALS. Their first kiss is absolutely epic, too. Dina and Garrett are also a hilarious couple and their scenes are everything. Glenn, the manager at the start, is freaking hilarious and charming and so, so kind. Cheyenne and Bo always make me giggle. Mateo is so snarky and hilarious, too. It’s a show of simply likeable characters and you want good things for all of them.

Has anyone else watched this show? If you haven’t, you must!

Show Review: The Resident (2018)

The Resident is the perfect show for romance lovers, although it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart! The drama and gritty depictions can be super intense!

The show follows a core series of doctors and nurses at the fictional Chastain Hospital. The show spends as much time on the behind-the-scenes drama as it does on the medical cases that follow each episode, but what I really like is how the cast isn’t so big that the stories are spread across a dozen people. There’s only a handful of central characters, however, the guest stars are frequently around for several episodes, so when a patient comes in, you get to see their storyline develop alongside the doctors and nurses, rather than just having new patients/cases every episode. Most medical shows I’ve watched only have the guest stars around for two episodes at most, so the fact that The Resident has the patients’ storylines get as much development as the doctors’ romances is a really great change in storytelling.

The show also spends a lot of time focusing on the ethical side of medicine and the cost of medical care in the US. Many of the plotlines revolve around this, actually, with the doctors in the show often butting heads with a system they feel isn’t fair to the patients.

There’s a few main characters, but so far (I’m two seasons in) there’s really only one super front and central couple, Nic and Conrad. I feel like they are the heart and soul of the show and I’ve been rooting for them since episode one. I don’t just mean they have engrossing storylines, I don’t just mean they have amazing build up and development, I mean: they are supportive of each other from minute one and I really appreciate that.

They start the show as exes who still have feelings for each other. Conrad is the kind of male lead we don’t get a lot of in television. He’s not a womaniser, he’s not a jerk to Nic, he’s not looking around for other love interests, there isn’t a love triangle. It’s actually so refreshing. He loves her and has personal issues that kept them from being more, but he works episode by episode to get her back. THIS IS THE KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WE NEED ON TELEVISION, DARN IT.

For those who like romance and medical dramas, this one is definitely worth checking out. I’m excited to see seasons three and four!

Show Review: Santa Clarita Diet (2017)

I’m so bummed that this show didn’t get a fourth season. It really deserves one. Few pairings have made me laugh as much as Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore. Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo are such a good complement duo, too. For a show about a zombie, this show is so darn cheerful and sunny.

For anyone who hasn’t encountered this glorious horror-comedy, it’s a half-hour show that follows a California family after the mother becomes a zombie. \o/

Zombies in this universe are different than in The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead. Zombies in this still have their awareness and personality, they’re just alive and rotting away if they don’t eat. (It gets really, really gross, fair warning.) I’d say the zombies in this are most like the zombies in iZombie. But the comedy is probably more Shaun of the Dead, if we’re comparing zombie works.

Joel, the dad, is probably my favourite character. He’s desperate to be a good husband to his undead wife and his comedy is so perfectly timed by Timothy Olyphant. He had me laughing at pretty much every scene. Sheila, the wife, is wonderful. Drew Barrymore is an absolute gem and I love her so much. She’s been one of my favourite actresses since Ever After (BEST CINDERLLA, DON’T @ ME.) Abby and Eric, the younger characters, who are trying to figure out zombies and high school at the same time, are fantastic characters.

Honestly, for a show about zombies, this one is wholesome and lovely. The family aspect is so wonderful and they’re all easy to root for. The humour and jokes are top notch, and I especially love it for not being mean comedy. I like comedy that underscores being kind and supporting each other. Like Bob’s Burgers! Another excellent show, I might add.

Anyways, watch this one. Despite the fact that it was cancelled, it’s well worth a go and the three seasons we got are great!

Show Review: A Discovery of Witches (season two, 2021), Deadwind (2018), Little Fires Everywhere (2020)

It’s been a week of new awesome shows and I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of them.

A Discovery of Witches season two is here at last! I absolutely adored season one and have been waiting impatiently for season two ever since finishing it. (My review of the show; my review of the book.) Season two sees Diana and Matthew time-travelling to 1590 where they find themselves involved with Christopher Marlow, Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh and more! I’m absolutely in love with the costumes – and of course Diana and Matthew have more chemistry than I could have possibly imagined. Watch it!

Deadwind aka Karppi is a Finnish crime drama. I love Nordic noir and this one is another brilliant addition. (Although few compare to Zone Blanche and Øyevitne). This one follows recently widowed detective Sofia Karppi and her new partner Sakari Nurmi after they find a body on a planned building site. The investigation isn’t as gripping for me as Øyevitne and Zone Blanche, but what I love about this one is the focus on the characters and their lives and development. Karppi and Nurmi have such a great progression from hating each other to tolerating each other to becoming friends, and I can’t wait to see how season one wraps up!

Little Fires Everywhere is another one I’ve just started. I haven’t read the book it’s based on, but I will watch pretty much anything with Reese Witherspoon and/or Joshua Jackson! My favs! Unfortunately, I’m really struggling to like the characters in this one. At least the main characters. Their kids are all great, but the adults are just so frustrating! I feel like that’s the point, but it’s definitely a struggle not screaming at my television when they get annoying. That said, the plot is enthralling, so I’m watching on.

What’s everyone else watching?

Show Review: Truth Seekers (2020)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are two of the most popular choices for comedians in my house. I have seen Paul so many times at this point that I can quote it backwards and forwards. (And yes, you should watch it!) So imagine my partner’s and my delight when Truth Seekers was announced. And it’s every bit as awesome as I’d hoped!

The eight episode first season follows Gus, an internet repair man and amateur ghost hunter, and Elton John, the newest hire at the company, as the pair wind up falling headfirst into the paranormal on their first call. Simon Pegg plays their boss Dave; there’s also Helen, Elton’s sister who suffers from agoraphobia, and Astrid, the girl with all the ghosts. Richard, Gus’ father, is played by Malcolm McDowell, and I loooooove his character. Oh my gosh, he’s a scene stealer and I’m so here for his character!

What I love about this show is that it’s simple, sweet and good fun. It’s classic Frost & Pegg, and I watched half of it before conceding that a break might be warranted so that I didn’t watch the entire series in one sitting. If you like ghosts, comedies and some wholesome spookiness, definitely check this one out!

Show Review: The Innocent Man | Nice Guy | 세상 어디에도 없는 착한 남자 (2012)

Oh my gosh, The Innocent Man has me hooooooooked. If you like intense dramatic romances, this one is fantastic. I’m only about six episodes in, but I can’t stop! (It’s on Netflix as Nice Guy, if you’re looking!)

[I keep writing reviews for these shows before I’ve finished them but I just have a lot of EMOTIONS and OPINIONS so bear with me (and also there are some spoilers for the first six episodes herein, so if you don’t like spoilers, avoid until you’ve seen the show!).]

The main characters are Kang Ma-ru, Seo Eun-gi, Han Jae-hee, Kang Choco and Park Jae-gil. At the start, Kang Ma-ru’s madly in love with Han Jae-hee. They grew up together without money and have been together for years. There’s nothing Kang Ma-ru wouldn’t do for her. One night, after proving himself in medical school, he comes home to find his sister unconscious on the floor. Choco suffers from a long term illness and is constantly fainting and needing medical care. He’s in the process of bringing her to hospital when Jae-hee calls him, frantic. Torn between his sister and his girlfriend, he promises his sister that he’ll be right back, she only has to count to 500, and he runs to Jae-hee.

At a hotel, he finds Jae-hee sitting beside a dead body. They panic about what’s going to happen and in a spur of the moment decision, Ma-ru takes the fall. He’s kicked out of medical school and goes to prison, Choco’s health worsens, and Jae-hee ends up marrying a rich older man.

Five years later, Ma-ru’s jaded and furious. He’s on a flight when he encounters Seo Eun-gi, an heiress and step-daughter to Jae-hee. When Eun-gi faints onboard the plane, he uses his medical knowledge to save her life. In the process, he encounters Jae-hee once more.

Later, Jae-hee comes to his house and offers him compensation for taking the fall. Disgusted, Ma-ru returns the money but he gets caught in the crossfire between Jae-hee and Eun-gi, and is accused of blackmailing the family for money. So, that’s twice now that Jae-hee’s got him into trouble with the law.

I don’t know what to think about Jae-hee, honestly. She’s a really interesting and well developed character. Like, I cannot stand her in most of her scenes, but I do feel deep empathy for what her character experiences before the start of the show. She’s truly broken and terrified of going back to where she came from, so even though she’s manipulative and awful at times, she’s an interesting character and I hope she finds peace by the end. Also, her chemistry with Ma-ru is unreal and their scenes can be really heartbreaking.

Both of the women have great side relationships outside of Ma-ru and the love triangle, too. Eun-gi is close with Park Joon-ha, who’s been her friend all her life and fights for her within the company she runs, and always has her back. Jae-hee is close to Ahn Min-young, her husband’s secretary who’s secretly in love with her and helps her fight back against Eun-gi, who’s hated Jae-hee since her father kicked out her mother to make room for Jae-hee. There’s also Choco’s relationship with Park Jae-gil, Ma-ru’s best friend, who lives with them and supports Ma-ru through thick and thin. It’s a really splendid cast overall!

I really adore Ma-ru the most, though. He’s an amazing character. He’s such a good brother to Choco and he loves fiercely even though he’s been deeply hurt by Jae-hee’s actions. I love how his relationship with Eun-gi develops even as he’s battling Jae-hee and their tangled history. There’s so much intrigue and tension and looks. Seriously, this is a show that thrives on glares and side-long glances and I am here for it.

I can’t wait to see how it ends! Has anyone else seen it? If not, you totally should!

Show Review: Marriage Contract / 결혼계약 (2016)

Oof. This one’s tough and beautiful.

Marriage Contract deals with two very tough situations: a son dealing with his mother’s illness and his desperation to find her a new liver; and a young mother, hiding from loan sharks after her deceased husband left her a massive amount of debt, who finds out that she has a brain tumour. The pair cross paths when Kang Hye-soo, the young mother, begins working at Han Ji-hoon’s restaurant. She overhears his plans to marry someone and pay for a liver, she offers herself and requests that he gives her enough money so that her daughter Eun-Seong will want for nothing. Not knowing the reasons why, Ji-hoon pays off the loan sharks, marries Hye-soo, and the pair begin to sort out plans for her giving her liver to his mother.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become, but that only makes things more difficult as Hye-soo doesn’t want to share what’s happening to her with anyone or ask for help. Her scenes are absolutely shattering. Ji-hoon’s mother’s storyline is also devastating; his father’s the absolute worst, though.

One of the best parts of this show, other than Hye-soo and Ji-hoon’s relationship, is their relationship with Eun-Seong. She doesn’t warm up to Ji-hoon at first, and is deeply protective of her mother, but soon the pair begin to bond and it’s clear they come to see each other as family. I loved how fatherly he was and how much he cared about both Hye-soo and Eun-Seong.

I’m not gonna lie, this show will make you cry. Constantly. Hye-soo’s pain is so real and all I wanted to do was reach into the screen and hug her. Ji-hoon is such a good son and caretaker and partner. He really grows over the course of the show and I loved his character progression. His dedication to his mother and now-wife are amazing. LOVE IT.

This show is truly wonderful and touches on some really rough topics. I definitely recommend giving it a chance!

Non-English Language Show Recs

I’m a big fan of international television. Which is to say, I watch a lot of shows in a lot of different languages. As a teenager this meant watching videos in clips on YouTube, but with streaming being what it is, finding programmes from other countries is easier than ever. And that makes me so happy! Thank you, Netflix. King of Streaming. So, I’m randomly compiling a list for anyone looking for non-English language shows.

**This is by no means a full list, just what I’ve written up reviews for. **

  1. Le Bazar de la Charité [2019] french, romance, costume drama | ‎★‎★‎★‎★‎★ | that romance
  2. Zone Blanche [2017] french, noir, crime, fantasy | ‎★‎★‎★‎★½ | so spooky, so good
  3. Øyevitne [2014] norwegian, crime, lgbt+ | ★★★★★ | couldn’t relax, couldn’t look away
  4. Suspicious Partner [2017] korean, courtroom drama, romance | ★★★★½ | adorbs, fab, whoa
  5. When the Camellia Blooms [2019] korean, crime, mystery, romance | ★★★★ | awww romance and aaahhhh evil villain
  6. Crash Landing on You [2019] korean, drama, romance | ★★★★★ | THEIR LOVE LASTS FOREVAAAA
  7. Made in Heaven [2019] hindi, drama, romance | ★★★★ | right in the feels
  8. The K2 [2016] korean, action, romance | ★★★★★ | I will never get over this couple. NEVER.
  9. Because This Is My First Life [2017] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | d’aww, you guys
  10. When Heroes Fly [2018] hebrew, spanish | thriller, action | ★★★★ | non stop action like whoa
  11. Kurt Seyit ve Şura [2014] turkish, romance, costume drama | ★★★★★ | IT’S SO LUSH, EVERYTHING IS LUSH
  12. Élite [2018] spanish, drama, romance | ★★★★½ | everything about this is cray
  13. Don’t Dare to Dream [2016] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★★ | the storyline, the ending
  14. Beautiful Gong Shim [2016] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | I want to draw hearts around them
  15. Il était une seconde fois [2018] french, science fiction, romance | ★★★★ | confusing in a great way

Writing up this post has also made me realise how many other shows I should write up reviews for! Seriously, there are so many amazing shows out there and I have so many in my queue, but alas, time.

Show Review: 질투의 화신 / Don’t Dare to Dream / Jealousy Incarnate (2016)

Okay, so 질투의 화신 aka Don’t Dare to Dream aka Jealousy Incarnate is so not what I expected. The summary just did not give away many details. A love triangle? Cool? What else? So I didn’t go into it with much context and I’m glad I was willing to give it a try! A much better summary would be: A weather forecaster, Na-ri, works at a news network and is struggling to make it big in the business. She’s thrown for a loop when the reporter she had a crush on three years ago, Hwa-shin, returns to South Korea from Thailand. At the same time, his best (and possibly only) friend, Jung-won, begins to crush on Na-ri. So, yes, love triangle.

However, the biggest focus of the series coming in are the struggles of the characters individually: Na-ri lives with her brother in a house with a few other tenants. The young girl, Ppal-gang, is the niece of Hwa-shin, who left for Thailand after destroying his brother’s/her father’s reputation. Her mother also works at the news station, but doesn’t take care of her. When Ppal-gang’s father ends up in hospital after a drunken accident, she blames Hwa-shin and her mother entirely. Na-ri’s younger brother and another boy in the house make it their goal to look after her. Then there’s Hwa-shin himself, who, thanks to Na-ri’s accidental discovery while giving him first aid, learns he has breast cancer. It’s something I’ve not seen much, if any, representation for in English or Korean shows (or any other that I can think of?).

Hwa-shin spends a good bit of time in denial and has a negative reaction to what he considers a mark on his masculinity. It’s really heartbreaking to see. It takes a lot of women – Na-ri, the doctors and nurses at the hospital – to convince him to get treatment. In fact, the show spends a lot of time focusing on Hwa-shin’s journey after receiving his diagnosis. I’m really glad the show highlighted a topic as important as this and it’s not used merely as a dramatic and discarded plot point, it’s a big focus. You see Hwa-shin’s struggles and eventful acceptance of his cancer that leads him to getting the help he needs. He also doesn’t go through it alone. Na-ri’s mother and grandmother both had cancer, so she gets screenings every six months. It brings them into each other’s orbit and they slowly grow close.

Na-ri is also dealing with work complications, as no one takes her seriously and the sexist regulations from one of the directors is making it a wretched place to be. Hwa-shin, despite his irritation with her appearances in his life, starts to fight her corner at work, like highlighting how she’s a ratings success to the other anchors. Jung-won, a rich businessman who supplies the network with clothes, also begins to take an interest in Na-ri’s success.

The friendship between Hwa-shin and Jung-won is bromance material to the max, guys. Check out this set on Tumblr, I MEAN THE CUTENESS! And then there’s this one. I STAN A SHOW WHERE THE GUYS ARE TRUE AND UNAPOLOGETIC BESTIES.

I’m only five episodes in, but I’m really liking 질투의 화신! It covers important topics with care and comedy, and the characters are super likeable. Definitely recommend!

Show Reviews: Abyss (2019) & Beautiful Gong Shim (2016)

It’s been a little bit since I’ve watched a K-drama, so of course I started two in one week. Abyss (어비스) and Beautiful Gong Shim (미녀 공심이). I haven’t finished either yet, and I’m only about five episodes into each, but so far I’m loving both of them.

Abyss follows two best friends: a man who doesn’t find himself attractive and is often ridiculed, and a woman who believes herself stunning and gets quite a lot of compliments. Both die on the same day. Cha Min decides to kill himself after his fiancée dumps him over text and insults his appearance. However he changes his mind at the last second and calls his best friend, Go Se-yeon. She doesn’t take him seriously at first and halfway through the call, Cha Min is knocked off the building, only to be revived by two other worldly beings. He’s reborn as his ‘soul’s true form’: younger, taller, more confident. The beings gift him with an Abyss, a glowing orb that brought him back to life, and tell him to read the instructions. He heads towards his best friend’s flat, ready to tell her what happened, only she doesn’t come to the door and he goes to his apartment. At the same time, Go Se-yeon, is being murdered.

The next day, Cha Min learns what happened to Go Se-yeon and goes to mourn her, horrified that he could have stopped what was happening if he’d only gone inside the building. The Abyss lights up and Go Se-yeon is brought back to life in her soul’s true form: a little older and what she considers less attractive. (I will at this point note that some of the comments about beauty standards did bother me and I don’t like the body shaming a few of the characters do.)

Cha Min explains to Go Se-yeon what happened to them and proves he’s who he says is. They pair up to solve her murder and find his fiancée, who went missing just after dumping him via text. The investigation is quite interesting so far and I’m really enjoying Cha Min and Go Se-yeon’s dynamic, so I’m excited to see how it ends!

Beautiful Gong Shim, on the other hand, is a contemporary romance with a mystery twist. Gong Shim is the youngest, overlooked daughter of a family who relies financially upon her older, more successful sister Gong Mi. Gong Mi is quite shallow and puts Gong Shim down constantly, as if lowering her sister’s self-esteem is her evil art form. Honestly, she’s the worst.

Ahn Dan-tae is a pro-bono human rights lawyer and all around cheerful bloke. He encounters Gong Shim when she almost drops a potted plant on his head while trying to take a selfie on her roof. Despite this encounter, he ends up wrangling his way into renting her flat and moves in quickly. There are a lot of misunderstandings (largely on Gong Shim’s behalf), but when Gong Shim is beaten up by a rich woman at the petrol station she works out, she ends up going to Ahn Dan-tae for help.

Unfortunately, the woman who assaulted Gong Shim is the wife of the head lawyer at her sister’s law firm, and when Gong Mi learns of this, she bullies Gong Shim into dropping the law suit. Ahn Dan-tae isn’t remotely convinced and continues to help Gong Shim. He also makes fast friends with Seok Joon-soo, a rich businessman who ends up getting Gong Shim a job. Seok Joon-soo, for his part, is still reeling from the disappearance of his cousin years before, with his grandmother trying desperately to locate her missing grandson and his parents wanting to forget it happened (you get the impression they don’t care about their missing nephew).

The four lives get entwined over the episodes as Gong Mi falls for Seok Joon-soo, who likes Gong Shim, who’s liked by Ahn Dan-tae, who can’t seem to admit it to himself. CUE THE DRAMAAAA.

I definitely recommend both!