One of the most highly-lauded shows of this year was the HBO comedy-drama series I May Destroy You, which debuted its first season in the middle of 2020. Written by and starring Michaela Coel (of Chewing Gum fame), the show recounts Coel’s real-life encounter with sexual assault and its traumatic aftermath.
Hailed as extremely relevant and emboldening, the show sets a new precedent for feminism in pop culture. It doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of several issues faced by the characters while taking sarcastic digs at patriarchy and casual racism. If you too were incredibly moved, as well as entertained, by I May Destroy You, here are a few other shows that should be on your watchlist.
10 Chewing Gum
The British comedy that shot Michaela Coel to stardom features Coel as the show’s writer, lead actress, and even composer. She stars as Tracy, a Beyonce-worshipping naïve girl who grows up in a strict Catholic family.
Chewing Gum is filled with over-the-top humor and doesn’t shy away from its vulgarity, but not to the point of seeming stupid or cheap. It’s a well-written, satirical story of a woman engaging in misadventures with her friends as she explores her sexuality and her own personality.
9 Tuca And Bertie
Even though this animated sitcom was scrapped by Netflix after one season, Tuca and Bertie continues to have a dedicated fanbase. Mirroring I May Destroy You’s best friends Arabella and Terry, the birds Tuca and Bertie (Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong) deal with each other’s flaws and insecurities in a surprisingly emotional set of 10 episodes. The two birds’ stories even cover the sexual harassment, sexism, and commitment issues they face.
Because of its simultaneous surreal and real portrayal of severing human issues, it would be no surprise to know that the show was created by Lisa Hanawalt, the production designer, and producer of Bojack Horseman.
For decades, Muslims, like many other ethnicities, have never really had their share of accurate portrayals in film and TV. Ramy, through its bold socio-political statements, along with observational humor, tends to tackle the stereotypes and hate speech associated with Muslims.
Comedian and screenwriter Ramy Youssef plays Ramy, a simple man who tries to balance living his life as a modern American man, as well as a traditional Muslim. Some of the stand-out episodes are the ones that focus on Ramy’s relatives, like his uncle, mother, and sister. Racism aside, the show often deals with themes of sexuality and spirituality in a light-hearted yet eye-opening way. Further, Ramy features some really great guest stars, like Mia Khalifa and Mahershala Ali.
7 Sex Education
A teenage drama that was highly needed, Sex Education revolves around teenager Otis, the shy, awkward son of a jumpy sex therapist. Joined with his best friend and his secret love interest, he starts running a sex therapy service himself, helping out the hormonally charged, immature peers in his high school.
Sex Education wonderfully retains some classic coming-of-age clichés while adding a sense of originality and genuineness in interpreting its explicit yet relatable themes. With a focus on several issues that people are too shy to talk about in the open, the series uses its feel-good atmosphere to defy all the prude-ness there is.
Inspired by the true story of a woman growing in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community, Unorthodox is a German-American miniseries that stands for empowerment and freedom, and how some like the show’s shy protagonist Etsy need to fight for it.
There are no dramatic monologues or complicated plot lines in this show, which is mostly in the Yiddish language. Apart from its feminist themes, Unorthodox warns viewers on how extreme interpretations of traditions or religions can bring harm to some of its practitioners.
Even though I May Destroy You is to be a cult show in its own right, it drew a few comparisons with Fleabag. The British comedy-drama created, written by, and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge includes two seasons that revolve around her relations with family, friends, and her own inner demons.
Through feel-good humor and meta-elements like breaking the fourth wall, the titular character exposes certain dark truths of her life, too. With just two seasons of six short episodes each, the highly-acclaimed series makes for a good binge-watch.
4 The Morning Show
One of Apple TV’s earliest offerings, The Morning Show boasts stars like Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell, and Jennifer Anniston in its cast. The somewhat polarizing show can be interpreted differently by different viewers.
It deals with the daily lives and struggles of correspondents in a morning news show and how the show gets impacted after a sexual misconduct allegation against one of its executives.
3 Feel Good
Starring as a semi-real version of herself, Mae Martin’s Feel Good explores the comedian’s struggles with maintaining relationships and her drug addiction issues. Similar in tone to shows like Fleabag, Feel Good seems a bit derivative in its comedic/dramatic approach, but Martin’s straightforward acting and a subplot around the stand-up comedy scene make the show worth a watch.
The lead’s bond with her partner George makes for interesting turns in the story and exposes the homophobia that’s still inherent in a few. George discovers her own bisexuality while dating Mae, but hides her from everyone she knows. As Mae struggles to fight her addiction, George struggles with closeting her relationship.
Two detectives (played by Merritt Wever and Toni Collette in some of their career-best performances) investigate cases of serial sexual assault, facing judgment and hardships in their quest for the truth. Alternatively, the miniseries shifts its focus on the victims themselves and the way they cope with what they had to go through.
Unbelievable doesn’t pretend to be a preachy sermon of a show. It just depicts the unfiltered, unbelievable truth, exposing a world where, unfortunately, many a woman needs to go through a lot of trials and tribulations.
A classic British drama-comedy that launched the careers of actors like Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel, this series comprises of six seasons, with every two seasons representing a new batch of bratty, confused suburban teenagers.
Some of the jokes and dialogues might have aged over the time, but it’s a very honest portrayal of teenagers from different backgrounds dealing with their issues around love, sex, sexuality, drugs, parents, and careers. Those who are interested in raw and realistic teenage dramas like Euphoria should definitely check out Skins.
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