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December 31, 2018

7 Unforgettable TV Moments From 2018

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

The high points of these shows were so much more impactful than anything we saw on the big screen this year

Bandersnatch, Black Mirror introduces interactive storytelling to television

High point: Black Mirror has been one of the darkest yet most gripping shows to have hit the small screen since TV series became all the rage. Making you question everything you know about technology and its ability to control free will, every subsequent episode has left fans gobsmacked; some of them have even resolved to spend lesser hours on their phones. When Black Mirror dropped its Bandersnatch film in the wee hours of the morning on December 28, it introduced a format of storytelling that has never been explored for television before. As you’re watching the show, it provides options below the screen that allow you to dictate the direction the film takes. It starts out relatively harmless, asking you to pick between Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast or listening to Thompson Twins or the Eurythmics on the bus before progressing to life-altering decisions like making the protagonist jump off the ledge and killing his own father. At one point, things get too real for comfort as Stefan, the titular character, screams at his computer asking the viewers if they have been influencing his decisions. As you pick the ‘I am watching you on Netflix’ option, you have a sinister feeling that you might be living the same fate as the protagonist’s as you consider otherworldly beings from far-flung planets watching you go about your day.

Narcos: Mexico, The weed king meets the coke lord

High point: We made our peace with the fact that Wagner Moura wasn’t going to come back to Narcos as Pablo Escobar after his death in season 2. Still, season 3, which focussed on the rise of the brothers from the Cali Cartel as the coke kingpins, had us hooked to our screens because of the charismatic acting chops of Pedro Pascal, who played Agent Pena. Season 4 of Narcos moved from Colombia to Mexico and presented the origins of the infamous Guadalajara Cartel, which was instrumental in creating the demand for large quantities of weed in the ’80s. Diego Luna and Michael Pena who play Felix Gallardo and agent Kiki Camarena respectively settled into the gaps left by Escobar and agent Pena and we accepted them as our leads in all good faith. Episode 5, however, showed Gallardo being kidnapped by Escobar’s Man Friday Blackie and instructed to wait under a gazebo for a meeting with the boss. No prizes for guessing who showed up in the next scene, but we still gave a little victory yelp when we saw Wagner Moura in his trademark polo shirt strike a deal with Gallardo to get his cocaine across the Mexican border. Escobar also threw in a joke about feeding Gallardo to the hippopotamus in his little pond should he consider turning down the deal.

Sacred Games, Cuckoo is a trans person

High point: Sacred Games completely challenged the archaic laws that Indian TV series were governed by — that they had to be safe for family viewing and promote good values. The revolutionary TV show was perhaps the first to present the choicest expletives and full-frontal nudity to an audience that wasn’t accustomed to expect such boldness out of a series featuring mainstream Bollywood actors. But it was perhaps the coming out of Cuckoo, played by Kubra Sait, as a trans person that was the highlight of the show. Besides displaying a prosthetic penis in a very tasteful way, no mean feat for an Indian series that hasn’t attempted this kind of daredevilry before, Cuckoo was also shown to be intelligent and confident. This was a big leap for Indian TV, which earlier employed trans people like Bobby Darling for the sole purpose of providing comic relief. Fans of the series continue to speculate that Gaitonde, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, was already aware of Cuckoo’s trans identity but loved her in spite of it which goes to show that Indian TV shows might just be headed in the direction we’ve been waiting for.

Sharp Objects, Amma’s dollhouse reveals a shocking secret

High point: Those who have read Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name might have looked at the dollhouse with more attention than their TV-viewer counterparts because they were well aware of the secrets that ever-present contraption held. Sharp Objects has been one of the breakout series this year, only made better by its eerie soundtrack and dream-like scene transitions. The mini-series takes its time delving into Camille’s broken relationship with her mum, Adora and how she eventually joins her sister Amma in consuming a poisonous concoction administered by their mother in order to out her as having Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Just when you think that the two siblings have successfully ridden off into the sunset with Camille having adopted Amma and brought her back to Chicago, a horrific revelation grips her as she sweetly decides to replace a bedspread in her sister’s dollhouse modelled after their own mansion in Wind Gap, Missouri. Amma has been using the teeth of the girls she murdered — which was pinned on Adora — to replicate the ivory flooring in her mother’s room. In a grisly post-credit sequence in the final episode, we learn exactly how she cornered and killed her peers, allowing her mother to take the fall for it.

This Is Us, Jack Pearson’s cause of death was a fire triggered by a faulty cooker

High point: The internet had only just found its favourite baby daddy thanks to This Is Us, so when Milo Ventimiglia was cruelly killed off in season 1, the collective globe was understandably furious. After all, it’s not often that you find a man who is equal parts loving, emotional, resilient and flawed. And it would’ve been understandable if Pearson had gone out in an explosive car crash or fallen off a cliff — something monumental that would’ve justified the death of such an impactful character. The fact that his death was the result of a cardiac arrest triggered by a fire that was caused by the faulty wiring in a Crock-pot just added insult to injury. What NBC didn’t anticipate was the ramifications this plot would have on the unsuspecting slow cooker brand. People were suddenly terrified of the kitchen appliance, others were enraged and hurled them out of their windows and the Instant Pot emerged as a valiant substitute. As for the fans, guess we’ll only have the flashbacks to look forward to for our dose of Jack Pearson, going forward.

The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes survived the bridge explosion

High point: Fans of The Walking Dead had barely registered the shock of losing Rick Grimes to the explosion created by the character to save the lives of everyone he loved before he was whisked away to safety in a Deux ex Machina helicopter. Viewers of the long-running TV show felt like they had been baited into being invested in the show since AMC immediately announced that the character was going to be appearing in a spin-off TV film. Is this fair to fans who actually care about the fate of TV characters and spend numerous hours proposing theories? Moreover, is it okay to let viewers mourn the death of a popular character before callously announcing that he was going to be part of the franchise, but in a different format? Coupled with the death of Carl Grimes, who’d been with the show from the beginning, perhaps one of the only characters who represented hope for the future, The Walking Dead has really messed with our heart rate this year.

Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker is the first female Time Lord

High point: It wasn’t surprising for a new doctor to take over the reins from the 12th doctor, played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi — after all Time Lord is prone to regenerating every few years so numerous actors have played the character over its 55-year, multi-season run. What was truly disruptive this time around was the decision of getting a female actor to play the character. As a show that has existed for more than half a century, this has been a long time coming. And since the Doctor is essentially an alien, why does it have to fit into any pre-ordained gender boxes? Nevertheless, television witnessed one of its finest moments when the new Doctor’s hood slowly dropped and Jodie Whittaker was revealed as the Time Lord in July last year. There was an audible pause in the world of sci-fi and the fandom went into a frenzy. It’s time women took on some of the load in a world where only white guys are shown saving the world. Your cue, Captain Marvel.

Also read: 10 TV Series That Will Be Vying For Your Mind-Space In 2019

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