27 Feb-5 Mar 2015 #747

Oscar snubs and good TV

Oscars’ disappointments and TVshows that should not go unwatched
Sophia Pande

Once again the Oscars have come and gone, disappointing many in the wake of the seemingly arbitrary decisions that the Academy voters tend to make in say, awarding Alejandro Gonzalez (pic, above in green coat) Innaritu’s Birdman the Best Picture award over Richard Linklater (pic) for Boyhood – a heroic 12-year cinematic journey that deserves recognition for its bravery.

While I was disappointed with the selection of films this year, especially in the Best Picture category (there was a great deal of uproar over Selma not being selected and a dearth of women and diversity in the nominations), I would like to draw attention to the increasing number of television shows that have started to captivate audiences with their excellent writing, inclusive casting, and range in subject matter.

Let me start with the most frivolous of the lot: Gotham, which just started this season and is a throwback to the days when Bruce Wayne was a little boy dealing with the aftermath of witnessing the brutal shooting of his parents. This series succeeds primarily because of its stellar ensemble cast and the inclusion of clever origin stories regarding most of the villains we now know from the Batman comics and films, including Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Penguin.

Flash too, which just began, has saved itself from banality by its range of characters, including strong female leads (well, almost leads), and no real sappy love story to bog it down with. The characters in Flash sometimes, and to their advantage, overlap with those of Arrow, another comic book based show that is now in its third season and was terrible in the beginning but has started to move towards becoming watchable – having finally decided to concentrate on character development.

This year there were also a few strong stand alone mini-series’, one of them being The Affair – a 10-part show that chronicles, in a ‘He says/She says’ manner, the torrid affair between a married man and a waitress, and set in the lush Hamptons. The series is a study of psychological complexity, family ties, and human motivations which while sometimes a bit slow paced, is, nevertheless, very compelling. It has just been announced that the show will return for a second season – also in 10 parts.

There are a number of other ongoing shows that I can only mention in passing but which should not go unwatched. Namely The Newsroom which now in its third season has finally settled into Aaron Sorkin’s insanely fast paced dialogue. Finally, The Good Wife in its sixth season continues to delight, becoming more and more complex both in character psychology as well as in the legal and ethical questions it raises.

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