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  • Cheong Chee Foong

Time travel, war, death, and other comedies you should watch right now (Netflix Reviews)

‘What? Another Netflix review?! These people must be running out of ideas!’ I hear some of you scoff. To that, I say…

You’re absolutely right.

Jokes aside, I plan to introduce a more varied choice of genres in this list of mine. I’m 43.2% sure everyone will find at least 1 show they enjoy from this list. If not, feel free to leave a comment calling out my uncultured taste. Without further ado, starting from number 5…

5. Queen’s Gambit (Historical Drama)

Watching ‘chess, the show’ may not sound very exciting…but watching a prodigy defeat opponents twice her age might.

The show follows Beth Harmon, orphan turned chess sensation when she goes on to compete in the male-dominated chess scene.

Even if one sucks at chess like I do, watching the competitions is still thrilling. Besides, the heart of the show isn’t on chess itself, but watching Beth overcome the trials and tribulations not just in tournaments, but in her relationships and volatile mental state.

Admittedly, the middle episodes when Beth goes through a downwards spiral is hard to stomach, but that only makes her inevitable rise back to the top all the more satisfying. Moreover, those uncomfortable parts touch on serious issues that should be raised up like mental health and coming into your own person.

One interesting fact about Queen's Gambit is how the show arguably led to a "215 percent increase in sales of chess sets". So why not tune in to find out just how it inspired so many to pick up the deceptively black and white game?

Above all, the show has a grand total of only 7 episodes ‒ perfect for a binge watch, especially for time-starved university students.

4. Umbrella Academy (Fantasy, Action Adventure)

Tired of the wisecracks in the MCU and CW verse? Daredevil and DCEU too gritty for your taste? Don’t know, don’t care whatever those words mean? Then the umbrella academy just might be the show for you.

In other words, this isn’t your standard superhero fanfare. The show is more about the relationships between the 7…ish family members who struggle to get over their messed-up childhood, courtesy of their adopted father. Oh, there’s also the overarching plot that the world’s ending, but only one character cares about it for half the first season, so you shouldn’t worry too much either.

Speaking of, said character is enough of a reason for anyone to watch this. Aidan Gallagher does an immaculate job portraying Number Five (yup, the character’s name): his performance stands heads and shoulders above the rest of the cast, which is funny because he barely reaches their actual shoulders. The extremely fun-to-watch ability of teleporting is an added bonus.

Regardless of the cast, the fact that it was Netflix’s top show during a year of pandemics, elections, and general mayhem, has to count for something.

3. The Good Place (Philosophical Romantic Comedy )

The good place is a light-hearted misadventure about a group of eccentric residents who live in the same neighborhood; together, their ultimate goal is to become better people.

Did I mention they’re all in the afterlife?

More details would be encroaching into spoiler territory, and that is a large terrain, given the number of twists and turns this maze of a show has.

Engaging cliff-hangers aside, it’s main draw is how it uses humor to explore poignant questions about our very existence. This may hold even more true for us in Singapore ‒ given our rapid pace of life, the allure of just focusing on ourselves, chasing materialism, validation from others, is always strong.

Thus, it is humbling when the show encourages us to consider showing a little more empathy towards our fellow man, to take a step back and reflect on ourselves.

Are we really good people? Can we be better?

Such a difficult feat is accomplished under the guise of comedic writing and endearing characters, as each of the main cast have their own hilarious quirks and flaws which are slowly overcome. The relationship that gradually blossoms between two members of the cast also forms the sweet crux of the show and believe it or not, saves the universe.

But be warned, the tag ‘comedy’ might be a lie given its devastatingly bittersweet final episode.

If you’re still not convinced, the writer of the show is the same as a certain more mainstream show, so expect similar quips and a lovable cast.

2. Community (Whatever you want it to be)

Most shows fall into the trap of repetition. Duh, Sherlock’s going to be dragged into an investigation and subsequently discover the culprit; yes, there’ll be some drama tossed in, but it’s a no brainer that Si-jin gets with Mo-yeon. It’s virtually impossible to break the genre you are set in.

Except if you’re Community. In that case, you can do whatever you want.

You can have a mafia movie in one episode, parallel universes in another, an all-out paintball war as a season finale, even an entire episode of Claymation. There's parodies of movies, playful musicals, and hilarious montages around every corner. You can’t be bored watching Community.

The whole show is woven together by impeccably sharp writing. You can literally have 7 consecutive jokes under a minute: that’s the time it takes for the laugh track to end in most other sitcoms.

My personal favorite thing about Community though, is something that most other sitcoms lack: heart.

It transcends a sitcom by actually having small, but impactful emotional moments in between the laughs and wackiness. Community is at its best when mixing playful humor with genuineness, since its characters aren't cardboard clichés, but feel like actual people with tons of relatable flaws and baggage.

At its core, Community is about family. Although they may throw each other under the bus and be snappy at times, the main cast of 7 will always come together and help each other in a pinch.

1. ....?

Although this recommendation and claim may earn me questionable looks, I’m going to say it anyway.

Attack on Titan is the best show in existence.

But don’t take it from me, take it from over 40, 000 others: AOT takes not just fourth, not just third, but first place in the best television episodes of all time, beating out western behemoths like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Chernobyl.

Some might be scared off by its premise: not-Harry, smart Ron, and cooler Hermione were living a peaceful life in their little town when one day, mankind received a grim reminder.

They lived in fear of the man-devouring Titans.

Don't let his smiling face fool you ‒ Attack on Titan is not scary per se; rather, the thrills come from you clinging onto the edge of your seat, trembling in visceral anticipation as to what comes next. It’s a show that rewards you for paying attention because of its astounding foreshadowing, and mind-boggling twists ‒ twists you won't coming, yet makes complete sense in hindsight; twists, that begin not only on the first episode, but the very title itself.

Episode or show title? The answer is yes.

If one dismisses this as a show that merely utilizes shock factor and is only for action junkies, you would be gravely mistaken. At its core is a very character driven drama, where it makes you care about their large cast. It’s why you fear for their lives, and pray their insane gambits succeed.

This explains why AOT’s best scenes are simply conversations. Whether it’s over an argument on who to inject a ‘vaccine’ into, or a reunion between old ‘friends’, the tension and drama of seemingly normal interactions is testament to the immaculate writing of its engaging plot and complex cast. Characters you love become ones you hate, before turning into ones you sympathize with. You think you know the premise, until the show flips itself on its head. Again. And again.

Combine this with an unforgettable, Oscar-worthy soundtrack, jaw-dropping visuals, smoother than butter animation…and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.

A never seen before, absolutely fascinating plot, one which raises important questions about war, revenge, and racism; the story, its characters, even the world itself is never straightforward, making it impossible to predict; a show which has enthralled countless people worldwide…what more could you want from a show?


Disagree with anything on the list? Am I just a pretentious hack with trash taste? Let us know in the comments below, and all the best for the rest of the semester!

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