Orange is the New Black
This is the story of Piper Chapman, a WASPY American who is sentenced to 15 months in prison for a decade old crime of laundering drug money for her ex lesbian lover. Terrified, she must adapt to prison life - along with the wide variety of tough and unpredicatble inmates – whilst also maintaining a relationship with her recent fiancée Larry. Taylor Schilling is brilliant as Piper but the rest of the cast are also experts at balancing the humour (there’s a lot of it) and drama of life in a women-only prison. Season three starts in June. Prepare to speed watch.
The concept of the show sounds ridiculous – a high school chemistry teacher starts cooking methamphetamine to raise cash after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer – but Breaking Bad is perhaps one of the greatest TV series ever made. After his 50th birthday, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) "breaks bad," joining up with former student and drug dealer Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to cook and distribute methamphetamine to provide for his family after he's gone. The business quickly takes off and Walt goes from being a bumbling chemistry teacher into an overly confident, malevolent drug lord – yet you still can’t help rooting for him. Warning: you will go into mourning when the show is over.
Grace and Frankie
Do people stay in the wrong marriage just because they’ve been there so long? This is one of the questions in Grace and Frankie, a show that centers on two seventy-something lifelong rivals whose one-upmanship takes a back seat when they find out their husbands have fallen in love - with each other. It doesn’t hurt that the show stars Hollywood veterans Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston whose characters unusually address the bigger issues at play in later life: specifically, getting old and what that means for everybody in marriages that may not have always been based on truth.
A mockumentry about a somewhat simple chap who works at an old people’s home - it shouldn’t work, should it? But the story of Derek – played by Ricky Gervais – manages to be both touching, bittersweet and funny. Gervais, who also wrote the show, said it was inspired by his relatives, many of whom are care workers. “"Half my family are care workers,” he has said in the past. “ My sister works with kids with learning difficulties. My sister-in-law works in a care home for people with Alzheimer's. And four or five of my nieces work in old people's homes.” Dougie, the oft-exasperated caretaker, played by Carl Pilkington, is especially comical.
House of Cards
Adapted from a British political thriller, and produced by David Fincher, the series stars Kevin Spacey as a mercenary Democratic House Majority Whip and Robin Wright as his steely wife. Frank Underwood (Spacey) is a political wheeler-dealer who is denied the job of Secretary of State, and then conspires, with his wife, to get as far up the political ladder as possible. Robin Wright is regal as Claire, Underwood’s charity-running wife but it’s the investigative blogger Zoe Barnes (a tomboyish Kate Mara) - who has an affair with the slippery Underwood in return for scoops - whose the most compelling. With season four about to go into production, it’s been said it will likely be released in Autumn 2016 - around the same time as the United States presidential election.