I’ve given up on a great deal of media work in the US. It just doesn’t do it for me anymore. The representation of women is awful, discussions on culture, ethnicity and class are disappointing, and my crime shows are just not satisfactory.
So, I’ve turned to the English. They have an insane amount of content that not only centers women & POC as dynamic and powerful players but also examines class and subcultural topics.
For a punk rock intersectional feminist like myself, it’s good media food.
Also, they just hit it so much better with crime/detective things (or at least they have in the past) and I’m getting to discover a bunch of stuff that I didn’t know about before. So, although I am picky, if it’s British, I’ll usually give it a shot over any US TV program.
I can’t say that all of these are easy to find. Sometimes you have to work at it. But they are ALL worth it.
Here are my pix for this year.
1) HAPPY VALLEY (2014-
Available on Netflix.
While I LOVE Olivia Benson & Law & Order, Happy Valley is all that and then some. If the first 10 minutes don’t grab you, I don’t know what will.
2) SCOTT & BAILEY (2011-
Available on Amazon.
Another show by Sally Wainwright. Best cop team ever. Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp are insanely great actresses.
3) OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH (1996)
Mark Strong. Christopher Eccleston. Daniel Craig. Malcolm McDowell. Gina McKee.
After I watched this, I was stunned. I wished there was more than 6 eps. But…no. There’s a cadre of reasons that it won a bunch of BAFTAs. Tells the story of a bunch of friends in the north of England from the 1960s to the 1990s. Brutally good.
4) THIS IS ENGLAND (2010, 2011, 2015)
If you haven’t seen the movie This is England (Shane Meadows, 2006) you should. This show is a continuation of those characters and it’s ABSOLUTELY GREAT. If you have (or have had) any history in the punk rock or ska scene, it’s a must. But even if you haven’t, the writing is great, the characters are unusual and well-formed, and, like Our Friends in the North, it does an amazing job of covering long periods of time in people’s relationships.
5) PRIME SUSPECT (1991-2006)
Available on Hulu
Helen Mirren is the best DCI that I have come across. Sarah Lancashire, Lesley Sharp & Suranne Jones are amazing in their own ways, but Helen was first. This show is so great at discussing feminist issues in the workplace AND being a top notch crime show that it’s bonkers.