Maybe we should make this a monthly thing. What do you think? Last month, I highlighted a few of my favorite puzzle games of all-time, like Puzzle Bobble. This time around, we’re taking a look at the TV shows I’ve been watching lately. With one notable exception, they’re all sitcoms. Go figure. They are all available on Netflix, though the current season of at least two of the shows isn’t there yet.
I was most definitely an arcade brat growing up in the ’80s, ’90s, and into the early 2000s. And while I certainly loved me a good side-scroller, fighting games were clearly my favorite. To that end, it almost feels like this anime series was written specifically for people like me. Based on a manga series of the same name, Hi-Score Girl follows Haruo Yaguchi as he buggers off to the arcades in Japan… but it’s really a teenage rom-com at heart.
He’s depicted as “an idiot with a good heart,” who happens to obsess over Samurai Shodown, Street Fighter II, and Darkstalkers. Haruo falls in love with Akira Ono, and eventually gets caught up in a love triangle with another girl. You get some of that sappy romantic stuff, as well as some really specific commentary on the games they’re playing. Like, check out the Guile clip above.
It’s been said so many times these last few years, but it needs to continue to be said. Representation matters. We’ve seen a growing interest in “Asian American” (and “Asian Canadian,” in this case) content recently, like Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat. “Asian” so often gets interpreted as “Chinese,” but there’s so much more than that.
With Kim’s Convenience, we see a somewhat conventional Korean-Canadian family running a humble corner store in Toronto. Yes, the accents may come off as exaggerated, but they’re arguably far more authentic that way. First-generation immigrants rarely lose their accents altogether, even after living in the country for decades. It would be weird if Appa and Umma didn’t have accents.
It’s a sitcom that’s (mostly) real and charming. Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed that there can be a crossover event with Corner Gas at some point, eh? OK, see you!
The Good Place
Who would have thought that a sitcom based on moral philosophy could be so quirky and funny? Who could have expected that deep dives into Kant and Plato and the trolley problem could coexist with physical comedy and an imbecile who idealizes Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles?
This is a show that keeps you on your toes, offers plenty of laughs, and teaches you lots of the complexity of ethical dilemmas too. The ensemble cast — including the incomparable Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, as well as the wonderfully anxious and neurotic William Jackson Harper — is spot on too.
As the only non-sitcom on this list (though Hi-Score Girl may be better classified as “slice of life” or “coming of age” anime), You is also far and away the most disturbing. Based on a novel of the same name, You is a psychological thriller that follows bookstore manager Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley) as he obsesses over NYU grad student Guinevere Beck (played by Elizabeth Lail).
What I really liked about this show is how it takes some of the more standard elements of the rom-com genre, but reveals them for what they really are. Joe is wildly obsessive, to the point where actively stalks Beck, violating any semblance of privacy whatsoever. He goes on to perform some rather heinous acts (no spoilers).
As Joe also serves as the narrator for the series, we really get immersed in his twisted psychology. Don’t you see? I’m doing this all for you. I would do anything for you.
Here’s a fun fact. I never watched Arrested Development during its original run on Fox between 2003 and 2006. I also didn’t get into it when Netflix picked it up for a fourth season in 2013, nor did I get into it when the fifth season showed up last spring. Then, for some reason or another, I decided to watch one episode late last year.
Well, I’ve got a very long way to go, as I haven’t even finished watching the first season yet. I catch an episode here or there when I’m in the mood for something decidedly lighter and almost irreverent. All the characters are just so weird. But when has Michael Cera ever played a character who wasn’t weird?
What are you watching these days? Any great recommendations?
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