Our TV marathon spree seems to have reached an abrupt halt. With the end (or rather impending end) of popular series’ such as Arrow, The Flash, Nashville, The 100, Empire etc. there appears to be nothing left for us to watch besides free-to-air channels. We’ve made our pick of 2 hotly-anticipated TV premieres to catch-up on, just before you start lamenting the end of the TV season and switching to a palpably inferior substitute.
Wayward Pines (Season 2)
Welcome to Wayward Pines, where paradise is home.
There are only 3 cryptic rules to living in Wayward Pines. Do not try to leave. Do not discuss the past. Always answer the phone if it rings. And with that, you get a free house, you get to live life peacefully, and you even get to do whatever the hell you want, only under the scrutiny of watchful eyes, that is.
M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial attempts can be compared to jumping off a cliff and praying that his parachute works. His habitual attempt of ending his works with a twist (mainly due to Alfred Hitchcock’s influences) is an extremely big gamble: one which mostly fails to make a lasting impression, and ends up pissing his audience off. Though from a personal standpoint, I do admire his artistic vision in trying to bring about a dramatic shift in perspective through twists, despite how poorly-executed they seem to be.
In the case for Wayward Pines, I felt that it was an impeccably well-directed show. It had the right amount of mystery, build-up, and tension. It climaxed appropriately in the middle of its arc, without leaving the viewers desperately pining for answers after 6 seasons, (Yes, Marlene King, I am referring to “Pretty Little Liars”) and it resolved the conflict appropriately in its ending. However, what ruined the show for most people was the controversial twist which M. Night Shyamalan tried to induce.
With regards to the twist, I felt that it was an interesting perspective, though a little contrived in my opinion. However, the public absolutely abhorred it, perhaps due to the incomprehensible flow in logic, or rather their penchant for rainbows and unicorns in every single show they watch. Still, I felt that the show would have been as equally as impressive, with or without the twist, and in this case, by adopting such a controversial approach, the risk warranted certainly does not justify the returns which it brings about.
Still, despite this rather fatal flaw in the series, I still felt that the show performed reasonably well during its debut on FOX. The cryptic nature of the show, bizarre plot lines and absolutely stellar performance from the cast members (Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, Hope Davis etc.) made the show to be surprisingly believable, and developed a cult-like following during its run on the network.
N.B. This show had originally been intended as a mini-series and was not scheduled for a second season run. However, the first season had been so wildly popular that they decided to do a second season arc of this show. Be warned that it might not be as impressive as the first, particularly since the mystery of the town and shock value had been fully expanded in the first season.
Still, it will be interesting to watch the repercussions of the town’s actions after the end of the first season, as well as give us some proper resolution on that strange twist which they introduced, that abruptly and awkwardly marked the end of its first season.
UnREAL (Season 2)
Have you ever gawked at how horribly the Kardashians behave on screen; or wondered if the dream couple which you have always shipped on “The Bachelor” are the #relationshipgoals which you have aspired towards? Or rather, if you still naively believe that what you see on screen is what actually happens, trust me, you will be in for the shock of your life. Tune into Lifetime’s UnREAL as they seek to show you the dark and twisted underside of reality TV shows.
Lifetime’s UnREAL has proven itself to be a fresh-faced hit amidst the countless of shows that plaster our networks today. Taking a satirical jab at reality shows, namely “The Bachelor”, UnREAL helps us to decant an age-old mystery and explores what actually happens behind our much-loved reality TV shows. Instead of the glossy exterior which we have always pictured, that of a hopelessly romantic guy meeting a dream girl and living happily ever after, UnREAL delivers to us the harsh and brutal truth: everything in the show is a manipulation, right from the get-go.
By looking at the show from the behind-the-scenes footage, the show follows the life of Rachel Goldberg (played by the brilliant Shiri Appleby) and how she is manipulated by her boss, Quinn King (played by Constance Zimmer) to obtain dramatic footage at all costs to boost the shows’ ratings. Unlike other shows where the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) are clearly distinguished from one another, our main character, Rachel, is a nuanced mix of both. Her interesting deviation and struggle between being morally upright and deceptively cunning makes her to be an extremely fascinating character to watch.
Somehow or rather, the beauty of this show is in the absolute insanity which it brings onto screen. With such a fresh take on an existing concept which has plagued our minds for a long time, it dismantles the fairy-tale vision that we have, dispelling the notion that reality TV shows are an actual depiction of reality. Ironically, it shows us the on-screen manipulation, the process and lengths to which producers go to in order to boost ratings, and shatters the façade that life can be as dramatic or picturesque as shown.
N.B. If you are a fan of reality TV shows, this is DEFINITELY the show that you have to watch. If you are on the fence about this show, perhaps validation from the Critics’ Choice Awards (where Constance Zimmer won for her role as Best Supporting Actress) might give you the push you need to give this show the rightful watch that it deserves. Oh, and did I forget to mention that UnREAL has been highly raved about by all self-proclaimed/professional TV critics out there.