The Boxsets We’re Obsessed With This Month

By Phil Clarke, Editor of The Handbook website Phil Clarke and Charlotte Knight |
27th March 2018

You all enjoyed last month’s Boxsets article so much that we selflessly spent the last four weeks binge-watching even more TV so that we could report back. All in the name of ‘work’. So here are the series that had us thrilled, romanced and comedied this last month.

Our Editor Emily started us of by getting stuck in with with crime and Miranda…

Ozark

If you sometimes worry about the choices you make then fear not, you’re bound to be better than Marty and Wendy Byrde, they’re attempting to wash $8millon for a Mexican drug cartel whilst duping small businesses, lying to their children and causing locals to be killed. Feel better about your life now? Set in Ozark Missouri, the series partly directed by and starring Jason Bateman, grips you from the get go. There’s nothing dull about watching Marty plead for his life at gun point having witnessed his colleagues killed and disposed of in barrels. It’s not all thriller though (sometimes I do move away from watching crime, you know), it’s a bleak, real and, at times, funny portrayal of a family in the most absurd but desperate crisis.
Watch on Netflix

Miranda

Miranda, it’s the sort of programme you watch when it’s raining, you’ve just come home from a garden centre listening to Magic FM on the way, you’ve made yourself a cup of tea, opened a packet of Hobnobs and put on your slippers (inevitably fluffy). It’s pure comfort television, yes, it is a little ridiculous and erring on slapstick, but it’s heart- warming and relatable, who doesn’t secretly wish they could join in with Miranda and Stevie’s Okey Dokey No Room for Blokies Karaoke? I do that’s for sure. It’s also funny, try as you might, you’ll find yourself chortling and realising that you are turning into your mother and will probably be listening to Radio 2 soon.
Watch on Netflix

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Deputy Editor Phil got all cerebral with a new drama all about 9/11, then ruined it all by bingeing his way though a very silly pirates show…

The Looming Tower

This is still playing out on Amazon Prime, we’re five episodes in and I’m hooked. To be honest I’d been about to dump Amazon Prime, the price has recently gone up and I’ve finished The Grand Tour, so there was little to stick around for. I went online to cancel my membership and instead ended up having one last browse, and happened upon The Looming Tower. This super-topical drama focusses on the lead-up to 9/11, starting in 1998 and explained from the perspective of the CIA and FBI as the two organisations tussle for supremacy and intelligence in the run-up to the most decisive terror attack in world history.

The cast is stellar, with the lead part played by Jeff Daniels, from another personal favourite Newsroom (of which more another month) and others including Alec Baldwin backing him up. Money clearly wasn’t lavished on the sets and the scenes set in London and the UK are laughably budget and unconvincing, but all-in-all I would recommend anyone interested in current affairs, lovers of thrillers or just intellectually curious to check out The Looming Tower.
Watch on Amazon Prime

Black Sails

It’s difficult to understand how Black Sails got commissioned four seasons ago, with the possible exception of Vikings and, to an extent, Game of Thrones, there isn’t much of a market for olde worlde fantasy. But the fact it’s difficult to understand how anyone signed off on a Long John Silver swashbucker of a pirate yarn is immaterial, it happened and I’m so glad it did. The story of pirates, intrigue, back stabbing (both literal and metaphorical) and treasure is surprisingly addictive, to the point where I watched all four series in less than a month’s intensive bingeing.

Yes, it’s silly, yes, it’s historically problematic and yes, it plays projects all sorts of modern day ethics and philosophy onto the 17th century characters, but you won’t care because it’s simply great fun. X really does mark the spot.
Watch on Amazon Prime

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Account Manager Charlotte went full-on wholesome with the delightful Kimmy Schmidt, and then full-on old school with a binge on Buffy The Vampire Slayer…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the show that basically ruled mine and my friends’ school life. When I say I watched the boxset I mean the chunky VHS version that I had to sit and wait to rewind before watching again; this life-changing TV show first aired in 1997 and ran for 6 years. Buffy was “the chosen one”, a previous air-headed cheerleader turned vampire/demon fighting, saviour of the world. It had a strong female lead, forbidden love, badass vampires, sassy chat, and gallons of emotional turmoil that was almost too much for my teenage self to handle. It pulled at my heart strings in a way that just wasn’t manageable for a hormonal teenage girl but will still go down in history as one of the greatest TV shows ever.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

So Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is admittedly a bit nuts and I’m pretty sure the first whole episode I had a confused look of scorn on my face but I stuck with it and became obsessed. The tongue-in-cheek show tells the story of Kimmy Schmidt who was kept prisoner in a bunker after a doomsday cult leader convinced her and some of his other followers that the end of the world was coming. Spoiler alert; it turns out it was all a scam and they end up being rescued 15 years later but she never developed mentally from the 14-year-old that first went into the bunker. Once free, she heads to New York with an overly cheery and innocent mentality and meets the narcissistic and flamboyant Titus Andromedon (the actor’s real name is actually Tituss Burgess) who she moves in with and is my joint favourite character along with oblivious socialite Jacqueline Voorhees who becomes her demanding employer. It’s all a bit bonkers and silly but it’s good-meaning fun and the cutting comments of Titus and Jacqueline are so worth sticking around for when it all becomes too sugary sweet.
Watch on Netflix

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Our Editorial Assistant Fenella has been all over the FABULOUS new Queer Eye

Queer Eye

In 2003 Queer Eye for the Straight Guy hit our screens and 15 years later it is enjoying a revival, with a whole new Fab Five. The premise is that a team of five gay men bring all their, style, grooming, interior design, culture and foody talents to the table, to transform some seriously lovely but seriously tragic men. This is not just a makeover show however, it goes far deeper than that. The team are hilarious to watch and the camaraderie and positive vibes is contagious. They really care about the men they transform and for all of the participants, what they undergo affects much more than just what one sees on the surface. The show is fabulous, fun, and surprisingly poignant (there will be tears). A Must Watch.
Watch on Netflix

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