Clones, Consultants, and Cannibals, Oh My! – 3 Shows You Should Catch Up On This Summer

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We’ve reached the summer hiatus for a lot of stuff and there’s just not much on TV at the moment.  Sure, we can go on walks or go camping or something, but come on, let’s be real here.  You’re probably going to end up marathoning a show instead (it’s ok, me too, that’s why you’re reading this).  In an effort to help you on this bold endeavor, I’ve compiled a list of the three new shows this year that I think are a good way to fill the void.  Not all shows are for everyone, but I hope to at least give you an idea if these shows are for you and encourage you to at least give them a try.

Elementary

elementaryThis is the biggest commitment of the bunch. It’s 24 episodes long, meaning it’ll take you a couple weeks (er, few days? a day?) to get through it, but it’s well worth your time. It takes Sherlock Holmes and puts it in a modern day New York City. Sherlock is recovering from addiction and Joan Watson is hired to be his sober companion on his path of recovery. The two end up thriving together and forming a beautiful friendship that I hope lasts for many many seasons.  It takes some time to get going, but by about the third episode you should understand the feel and rhythm of the show.   Their friendship really begins to blossom by around episode 10, so if you aren’t filled with adoration in the beginning, give it some time.  It gets there and it’s worth it.

The show is also very progressive in it’s representation of marginalized groups, which is a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the fan base. We have the most obvious example, Joan Watson, who is not only flipped genders, but Chinese-American as well. People were concerned about this at first for some reason, but Lucy Liu is phenomenal and anyone who is letting prejudice or some misguided loyalty to the source material get in the way are sorely missing out.  Seriously, it’s okay to change things.  Change can be good.

But Joan isn’t the only character tweaked from canon. Mrs. Hudson is now Ms. Hudson, a trans woman, and I’ve honestly never seen the subject matter of a trans character handled so well before. Nobody used the wrong pronoun or focused on it. She was just… Ms. Hudson. That was that.  I’ve personally never seen a show take that stance before.  It’s rare that a trans character is played by a trans actor and even more rare when the entire purpose of the character isn’t their identity as a trans person.  Bravo, Elementary.  You’ve done good.

Orphan Black

This one is relatively short. It’s only 10 episodes long and very fast paced so you’ll probably burn through them all in one or two sittings. I’ve honestly never been hooked by a show as quickly as I have by this. By the end of the first episode you should know whether or not it’s the show for you. For most people it is definitely the show for them.  So what the hell is it about?  Okay, so it’s about clones, but it’s so much more than that. The clones are all played by one person, Tatiana Maslany, but they are so diverse they are easy to distinguish even when they pretending to be one another. Tatiana cannot be applauded enough for her acting chops in this.  She plays them so differently that you forget that she’s all one person and instead focus on the plot, which is actually very good.  It’s a game of conspiracies and spies and illegal cloning and theirs gunfire and oh god it is exciting.

orphan-black2Due to the fact that the clones are women, we also have a unique chance to have an almost entirely female centered show. When it comes to things like the Bechdel Test, this show passes with flying colors. There are male characters, heterosexual relationships, and romance, but the center of the show is a group of women trying to find out the mystery to their own biology. This show is also fantastic when it comes to queer representation. We have Felix, the protagonists foster brother, and Cosima, one of the clones, both preferring homosexual relationships.  And, like Elementary, no one really makes a big deal about it.  This could just be a time of changing attitudes, but these two shows definitely need to be recognized for their inclusion and gender dynamics.

Hannibal

If you can get past the whole cannibalism thing, you should definitely give this show a shot. It’s slated for 13 episodes this season, but only 9 have aired at the time of this writing. I’m including it here without having finished the season because I am just that confident that you should watch it. There are really only two things holding me back from saying this show is for everyone. For some just the mere mention of cannibalism can make them violently ill. For some, violence and gore is enough to send them over the edge. If neither of those things bother you then go track down the first episode and get to watching it.

hannibalpic2This takes place before the book Red Dragon and expands on the facts that we know about from the existing canon. The show takes some liberties, though. Like Elementary, they’ve flipped some genders from the original canon. Doctor Alan Bloom is now Doctor Alana Bloom, a potential love interest for protagonist Will Graham. Fred Lourdes is now Freddie Lourdes, a trashy crime blogger and vegetarian who will literally be the ‘girl laughing alone with salad’ at the end of it all. The show has also given Will and Hannibal’s friendship a chance to blossom in strange and interesting ways. In the book Will caught him very shortly after meeting him. In the show they are making it simmer. They are getting to know one another and trust one another and care about one another (love one another? Oh, sorry, shipper goggles are in the way, but no seriously there is some love there). Hannibal is definitely a cannibalistic serial killer, but he seems to have a strange fascination with Will. This is going to make the inevitable downfall even more painful.

Another reason to give this show a chance is who’s behind it. It’s adapted by Bryan Fuller, the strange and interesting mind behind Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies. This man has a resume filled with shows about death, but this is really the first one that’s decidedly not whimsical. Even with the grittier feel, I can still see his influence shining through. Every time there’s a cannibal pun or Hannibal does something evil, but amusing I see Bryan’s signature all over it. The man is good at turning a dark situation humorous. In this way, Hannibal is the absolute perfect fit for him.  Bring on the cannibal jokes!

So there you go. That’s 47 hours of television spanned across 3 shows. That’s a lot of show, I know. But summer is really long and Teen Wolf only happens once a week so check them out.

Author: Angel

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.