Savour the shows you’re bingeing on – the people behind them are losing their jobs

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    Savour the shows you’re bingeing on – the people behind them are losing their jobs

    Right now, the arts are in trouble and in need of assistance. Film releases have been delayed, cinemas closed. music and literature festivals cancelled, tours canned and filming for television series put on indefinite hiatus. When the storm passes and a version of normal life resumes, many of the institutions and individuals who cater to our cultural needs will be unable to recover. Imagine going to your local theatre, bookshop or music venue only to discover it has been permanently boarded up – because, without intervention, this is what we are facing.

    There will be those who view the arts as a luxury and an inevitable casualty at a time of ext​reme crisis. With lives at stake, there’s no disputing that the cancellations and closures are entirely necessary. But to dismiss the value of culture at such a time is to overlook that which brings colour to our existence and makes life worth living – not to mention its huge contribution to the economy.

    It’s significant that, under lockdown, we are collectively turning to the arts to pass the time. Newspapers and magazines are awash with lists of books to read, box sets to binge, radio programmes, podcasts and albums in which to immerse ourselves. But the people who created this work – from actors, directors and writers to editors, technicians, designers and producers – will now have little means of support.

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    Meanwhile, in a state of affairs that one might politely call financial distancing, the government has continued to drag its feet in providing help for the self-employed, who make up the majority of workers in the creative industries (so far sole traders have been advised to sign up for universal credit).

    A package for freelancers is due to be announced later today – earlier in the week, a government source revealed Rishi Sunak has been “kicking the tyres” on a number of options, a phrase that will hardly bring comfort and confidence to the scores of self-employed workers who live week to week and for whom financial wipe-out is a very real prospect.

    Of course, a lack of resources and financial backing is something to which arts workers have long been accustomed. Ten years of austerity has seen to that. Thus, in the face of government inaction, we have already seen some brilliant and resourceful initiatives from across the art world in a bid to look after its own. In the past week, I have seen online fundraisers for struggling venues, along with Facebook pages given over to helping artists with financial applications. Emergency funds for individuals are also springing up: the Society of Authors has set up a fund for those authors who face indefinite postponement of book tours, launch events and lectures; the Musicians’ Union has created a hardship fund that will pay out small grants to out-of-work musicians; and the BFI and the Film and TV Charity are raising money for those in the industry unable to earn. The Arts Council has just announced a support package which includes £20m for individuals, made up of grants of £2,500 per person.

    Meanwhile, performers and writers are finding new ways to reach audiences stuck under house arrest. Following the cancellation of major festivals including Glastonbury, Edinburgh International Festival, Brighton Festival and scores of smaller events, alternative online festivals dedicated to music, literature and live performance are being thrown together as we speak. Theatre companies are already streaming shows online, with new works being created for the virtual sphere. Online book groups and author readings are multiplying while, on social media, established authors are generously flagging up those whose debuts are publishing just as the world shuts down.

    Earlier this week, James Blunt played to an empty auditorium in Hamburg – insert your own joke here – having opted to live-stream the show to the public. Elsewhere, galleries and museums including the British Museum, New York’s Guggenheim and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum are offering virtual tours that you can take from the safety of your sofa. The energy and kindness with which arts people are trying to keep the creative wheels turning is properly heartwarming. As well as giving purpose to creative minds, such enterprises are food for the nation’s soul.

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    1/31 Ben and Kate

    One of the short-lived comedies that, in hindsight, had one of the most A-list creative teams imaginable, Ben & Kate is worth seeking out. Starring a pre-Fifty Shades Dakota Johnson, Oscar-winning screenwriter Nat Faxon and ludicrously funny British comic Lucy Punch and featuring Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) on its writing staff, Ben & Kate revolved around two adult siblings living under one roof. From a simple sitcom premise it evolved into a rich, human and wonderfully silly ensemble comedy. That it was cancelled after 16 episodes, despite the talent at work, must have left Fox Television kicking themselves. AW

    2/31 Casual

    If you’re on the hunt for a quick and easy watch with impressive credentials, might we suggest the Jason Reitman-directed Casual? The sitcom, following a newly-single mother living with her brother and daughter, might not be the most transgressive, but it retains the laughs and charm throughout the entirety of its four seasons. JS

    3/31 Champions

    A cruelly curtailed comedy from Mindy Kaling, Champions lifted the sprightly silliness of her work on The Office and her own series, The Mindy Project, while boosting the heart. Anders Holm, Andy Favreau and Josie Totah were the unlikely trio thrown together in an uneasy living situation, sparking inevitable comedy. It took a played-out premise and revitalised it, and truly should have lasted longer than it did. AW

    4/31 The Comeback

    It was a brave move for Lisa Kudrow to make this meta gem her first starring TV role after the end of Friends. The mockumentary follows a washed-up sitcom star, Valerie Cherish, as she desperately tries to regain relevance with a new TV show. It is excruciatingly awkward – so much so that it makes Ricky Gervais’ The Office feel like a comfortable watch – but it’s full of pathos and profundity, too. It was cancelled after just one season, but a growing cult status led to a second, equally brilliant, outing a decade later. ​AP

    5/31 Dark

    Dishing out Nordic noir-style grit with Lost-sized cliffhangers, Dark is a Rubik’s cube of mystery masterfully combining two genres – the case of a missing child and time travel. Netflix rolled the dice with this high-concept drama that will be concluded with a third and final season. JS

    Netflix

    6/31 Detroiters

    Tim Robinson’s bizarre sketch show I Think You Should Leave was a big hit for Netflix last year; his short-lived sitcom, in which and Veep’s Sam Richardson played two incompetent advertising salesman, deserved just as much praise. It’s a blast. LC

    7/31 Enlightened

    Before everyone else caught on, Laura Dern was almost exclusively beloved in the post-Jurassic Park, pre-Big Little Lies age for her work on HBO’s Enlightened. She gives one of television’s all-time great performances as a troubled businesswoman in the aftermath of a breakdown. Having emerged from a health retreat convinced she has been healed, she is determined to be morally good and ultimately save the world, but must contend with her own self-loathing and disappointments beforehand. From tragicomedy genius Mike White, Enlightened is rage-inducing and brilliant but ultimately incredibly hopeful. It combined all of the painful monotony and crushing blows of life in a succinct two-season run, and little has reached its melancholy wonder since. AW

    8/31 The Eric Andre Show

    Eric Andre is the undisputed champion of nihilistic comedy. The Eric Andre Show is the perfect platform for his brand of absurd chaos to flourish. Playing both victim and perpetrator of violent skits, bizarre monologues and disastrous interviews (with celebrities and suspect lookalikes), he created a show like no other. JC

    9/31 Flowers

    Who would’ve thought a sitcom about depression could be this fun? Well, fun might be a stretch, although this tragicomedy is often disturbingly funny. Opening with a failed suicide attempt, the show gets darker and more amusing as it goes on. Starring Julian Barratt and Olivia Colman, Flowers is a refreshingly original work. JC

    10/31 The Girlfriend Experience

    The first season of this Starz original series is daring TV, telling the story of an attorney in training (Riley Keough) who moonlights as a high-end sex worker. Asking tough questions about desire, sexuality and power, The Girlfriend Experience is smutty in the best, most unsettling ways. LC

    11/31 Green Wing

    OK, watching a series set in a hospital might not be what you’re desiring right now, but Green Wing could be the medicine you’re after. Beloved when it first aired in 2004, the zany sitcom has unfairly dropped off the radar in recent years. There’s nothing quite like it thanks to madcap creations played by Michelle Gomez, Mark Heap and Pippa Haywood. JS

    12/31 Halt and Catch Fire

    Despite not yet having the A-list status she deserves, Mackenzie Davis is one of the finest actors of her generation. Her role as a spiky coding genius in Halt and Catch Fire, alongside an equally stellar cast of oddballs, is proof of that. This wonderful drama is ostensibly about the 1980s computer revolution – though in actuality, it is about so much more than that. – ​AP

    13/31 High Maintenance

    Adapted from a webseries by Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance is a vibrant anthology series focusing on the clients of an eccentric New Yorker weed dealer. The writing, acting, music and direction are all first-rate, and it’s also one of the most racially, sexually and culturally diverse shows on TV. LC

    14/31 Last Tango in Halifax

    All hail Sally Wainwright. Nobody makes TV with more warmth, wit and insight than the Yorkshire director, who’s also responsible for the fantastic Happy Valley. Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi play Celia and Alan, a couple reunited in their seventies after 60 years apart – but this is an ensemble piece through and through. As Celia’s formidable daughter Caroline, a headteacher coming to terms with the fact she’s a lesbian, Sarah Lancashire gives one of the finest performances of recent years. And Nicola Walker shines, too, as her shirty, sheep-farming stepsister Gillian. If you think Last Tango in Halifax is only for older viewers, you’re robbing yourself of a lot of joy.​ AP

    15/31 Looking

    A low-key triumph set within San Francisco’s gay community, Looking was likely felled by its lack of spectacle. This was a show with little soapiness or glamour, its dramatic stakes admirably ordinary. It felt wonderfully human, though, with Jonathan Groff revelatory in the leading role and strong support from the likes of Russell Tovey and Raul Castillo. AW

    16/31 Lovesick

    Lovesick has a lot going for it, namely the indelible plot, which sees Dylan (Johnny Fynn) forced to contact all of his previous sexual partners after being diagnosed with chlamydia (hence the series’ original title: Scrotal Recall). The way creator Tom Edge plays with linearity means what would ordinarily be just another sitcom becomes the source of the kind of analysis usually reserved for complex dramas. JS

    17/31 The OA

    The OA was very much a series that danced to its own tune – a high-concept series that blended the cerebral with the magical in a way that we can only assume made David Lynch smile. Be warned: Netflix swung the axe on this show far earlier than deserved. JS

    18/31 The Others

    A short-lived fantasy series from Glen Morgan and James Wong – X-Files alumni who would go on to create the Final Destination franchise – The Others is the greatest show you’ve never heard of. Revolving around a group of amateur psychics, it was shown in a late-night timeslot on Channel 5 two decades ago, and was enjoyably high concept from the off. Episodes involved Jack the Ripper, haunted wallpaper and ghosts on airplanes, each hour possessing that chilly, made-in-Canada and perpetually autumnal spookiness. AW

    19/31 Phoneshop

    This quirky comedy had a simple set-up, following four workers and their boss during the day-to-day of working in a phone shop. Our protagonist Christopher negotiates the boisterous behaviour of colleagues Ashley and Jerwayne, the awkwardness of co-worker Janine, and placates a particularly challenging boss. All while trying to sell some phones. JC

    20/31 Rectify

    One read of Rectify‘s premise will lure you in: Daniel Holden (Aden Young), imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of a young girl, spends 19 years on death row before fresh DNA evidence throws the verdict into question. His release and ensuing assimilation back into society, however, won’t be easy; many of the townsfolk are convinced he’s guilty. Ray McKinnon’s little-seen drama is one of television’s best kept secrets. JS

    21/31 Roots

    An updated version of the 1977 series, which proved a watershed moment in American television, the new Roots retains the shock and brutality of its predecessor. Telling the tale of Kunta Kinte, a tribesman from The Gambia who is sold as a slave in America, Roots tells the history of millions, framed in the story of a family tree. Unflinching, horrendously graphic, and a deeply affecting portrayal of human suffering, the updated Roots is an essential watch. JC

    22/31 The Shield

    This critically lionised cop drama remains largely unknown, most likely because all of its seven seasons ran on then-little-known cable channel FX. Taking inspiration of real-life Rampart scandal of the 1990s, The Shield follows a four-man Strike Team who take advantage of the war on drugs to get rich. AL

    23/31 Shrill

    This taboo-smashing comedy follows aspiring journalist Annie as she rallies against nasty bosses, non-committal boyfriends and fat-shaming trolls. You might come for the laughs, but some of the more emotional storylines will leave you in tears. AL

    24/31 The Sinner

    A pulsating, captivating detective series, now in its third iteration. The premise is simple enough: what makes seemingly ordinary people commit terrible crimes? The answer, however, is always complicated. A slow burner, twisting and turning as each season progresses, The Sinner consistently delivers engrossingly gripping finales. The performances of Bill Pullman, playing a troubled detective, and Jessica Biel, a woman charged with murder in the first series, are particular highlights. JC

    25/31 Skam

    This Norwegian teen drama series – think Skins, with fewer drugs and better acting – is phenomenally successful in some corners of the internet. It was set at exactly the same time, to the minute, as it aired, and fans could see each character’s social media accounts update as the plot developed. It wasn’t just a gimmick, though – even if you didn’t follow along with all the tertiary Tumblr drama, this show offered a smart and unflinching look at the messy lives of contemporary teens.​ AP

    26/31 Top of the Lake

    This Jane Campion drama is an eerie, dark crime story about missing women. It requires patience, but the moody thriller is worth the wait. Elisabeth Moss is mesmerising as an entirely dysfunctional, but ruthless detective and the finale is one of the most explosive in TV history. AL

    27/31 Treme

    The slow pace of this fiercely humanistic series about post-Katrina New Orleans has become something of a running joke among TV writers – inspiring gently disparaging jokes in 30 Rock and BoJack Horseman. They’re wrong: David Simon’s music-infused drama is a brilliant work of art and a worthy follow-up to The Wire. LC

    28/31 Undone

    Devastated that BoJack Horseman‘s finished? Hitch your wagon to Undone, the new series from its creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. Just like BoJack, Undone refuses to shy away from the tough questions, this time following a girl named Alma (voiced by Rosa Salazar) who gains the ability to manipulate time after a near-fatal car crash. JS

    29/31 Unforgotten

    Forget Broadchurch – this crime drama not only delivered a breathtaking first season, but capitalised on its success with not one, but two worthy follow-ups. It follows two detectives – played by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar – as they solve murder cases in London. It’s about time Walker got Olivia Colman-levels of recognition. JS

    30/31 The West

    For fans of immersive, deeply informative documentaries, Stephen Ives’ The West is a must-see. Ken Burns is executive producer, but the 1996 PBS documentary has enjoyed far less attention than any of his own directing work. Peter Coyote narrates an edifying history of the American West, featuring the tragic plight of the Native American people, the battles with conquistadors and then Mexicans, the effort to connect the two coasts, and stories from civil war. The West paints a vivid picture of a land steeped in natural beauty and violent upheaval. It’s the definitive story of the American West. JC

    31/31 What We Do in the Shadows

    The TV spin-off of Taika Waititi’s similarly underrated film of the same name uses the same set and mockumentary-style shooting. Jemaine Clement (a star of the film) adapts it for the small screen and writes (alongside Waititi) a deadpan script layered with genius pop culture references, regularly ridiculing tropes of the vampire-horror genre. Three typical vampires and a daywalker energy-vampire share a house in Staten Island. A documentary crew follows them in their doomed attempts to adapt to 21st-century American life. JC

    1/31 Ben and Kate

    One of the short-lived comedies that, in hindsight, had one of the most A-list creative teams imaginable, Ben & Kate is worth seeking out. Starring a pre-Fifty Shades Dakota Johnson, Oscar-winning screenwriter Nat Faxon and ludicrously funny British comic Lucy Punch and featuring Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) on its writing staff, Ben & Kate revolved around two adult siblings living under one roof. From a simple sitcom premise it evolved into a rich, human and wonderfully silly ensemble comedy. That it was cancelled after 16 episodes, despite the talent at work, must have left Fox Television kicking themselves. AW

    2/31 Casual

    If you’re on the hunt for a quick and easy watch with impressive credentials, might we suggest the Jason Reitman-directed Casual? The sitcom, following a newly-single mother living with her brother and daughter, might not be the most transgressive, but it retains the laughs and charm throughout the entirety of its four seasons. JS

    3/31 Champions

    A cruelly curtailed comedy from Mindy Kaling, Champions lifted the sprightly silliness of her work on The Office and her own series, The Mindy Project, while boosting the heart. Anders Holm, Andy Favreau and Josie Totah were the unlikely trio thrown together in an uneasy living situation, sparking inevitable comedy. It took a played-out premise and revitalised it, and truly should have lasted longer than it did. AW

    4/31 The Comeback

    It was a brave move for Lisa Kudrow to make this meta gem her first starring TV role after the end of Friends. The mockumentary follows a washed-up sitcom star, Valerie Cherish, as she desperately tries to regain relevance with a new TV show. It is excruciatingly awkward – so much so that it makes Ricky Gervais’ The Office feel like a comfortable watch – but it’s full of pathos and profundity, too. It was cancelled after just one season, but a growing cult status led to a second, equally brilliant, outing a decade later. ​AP

    5/31 Dark

    Dishing out Nordic noir-style grit with Lost-sized cliffhangers, Dark is a Rubik’s cube of mystery masterfully combining two genres – the case of a missing child and time travel. Netflix rolled the dice with this high-concept drama that will be concluded with a third and final season. JS

    Netflix

    6/31 Detroiters

    Tim Robinson’s bizarre sketch show I Think You Should Leave was a big hit for Netflix last year; his short-lived sitcom, in which and Veep’s Sam Richardson played two incompetent advertising salesman, deserved just as much praise. It’s a blast. LC

    7/31 Enlightened

    Before everyone else caught on, Laura Dern was almost exclusively beloved in the post-Jurassic Park, pre-Big Little Lies age for her work on HBO’s Enlightened. She gives one of television’s all-time great performances as a troubled businesswoman in the aftermath of a breakdown. Having emerged from a health retreat convinced she has been healed, she is determined to be morally good and ultimately save the world, but must contend with her own self-loathing and disappointments beforehand. From tragicomedy genius Mike White, Enlightened is rage-inducing and brilliant but ultimately incredibly hopeful. It combined all of the painful monotony and crushing blows of life in a succinct two-season run, and little has reached its melancholy wonder since. AW

    8/31 The Eric Andre Show

    Eric Andre is the undisputed champion of nihilistic comedy. The Eric Andre Show is the perfect platform for his brand of absurd chaos to flourish. Playing both victim and perpetrator of violent skits, bizarre monologues and disastrous interviews (with celebrities and suspect lookalikes), he created a show like no other. JC

    9/31 Flowers

    Who would’ve thought a sitcom about depression could be this fun? Well, fun might be a stretch, although this tragicomedy is often disturbingly funny. Opening with a failed suicide attempt, the show gets darker and more amusing as it goes on. Starring Julian Barratt and Olivia Colman, Flowers is a refreshingly original work. JC

    10/31 The Girlfriend Experience

    The first season of this Starz original series is daring TV, telling the story of an attorney in training (Riley Keough) who moonlights as a high-end sex worker. Asking tough questions about desire, sexuality and power, The Girlfriend Experience is smutty in the best, most unsettling ways. LC

    11/31 Green Wing

    OK, watching a series set in a hospital might not be what you’re desiring right now, but Green Wing could be the medicine you’re after. Beloved when it first aired in 2004, the zany sitcom has unfairly dropped off the radar in recent years. There’s nothing quite like it thanks to madcap creations played by Michelle Gomez, Mark Heap and Pippa Haywood. JS

    12/31 Halt and Catch Fire

    Despite not yet having the A-list status she deserves, Mackenzie Davis is one of the finest actors of her generation. Her role as a spiky coding genius in Halt and Catch Fire, alongside an equally stellar cast of oddballs, is proof of that. This wonderful drama is ostensibly about the 1980s computer revolution – though in actuality, it is about so much more than that. – ​AP

    13/31 High Maintenance

    Adapted from a webseries by Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance is a vibrant anthology series focusing on the clients of an eccentric New Yorker weed dealer. The writing, acting, music and direction are all first-rate, and it’s also one of the most racially, sexually and culturally diverse shows on TV. LC

    14/31 Last Tango in Halifax

    All hail Sally Wainwright. Nobody makes TV with more warmth, wit and insight than the Yorkshire director, who’s also responsible for the fantastic Happy Valley. Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi play Celia and Alan, a couple reunited in their seventies after 60 years apart – but this is an ensemble piece through and through. As Celia’s formidable daughter Caroline, a headteacher coming to terms with the fact she’s a lesbian, Sarah Lancashire gives one of the finest performances of recent years. And Nicola Walker shines, too, as her shirty, sheep-farming stepsister Gillian. If you think Last Tango in Halifax is only for older viewers, you’re robbing yourself of a lot of joy.​ AP

    15/31 Looking

    A low-key triumph set within San Francisco’s gay community, Looking was likely felled by its lack of spectacle. This was a show with little soapiness or glamour, its dramatic stakes admirably ordinary. It felt wonderfully human, though, with Jonathan Groff revelatory in the leading role and strong support from the likes of Russell Tovey and Raul Castillo. AW

    16/31 Lovesick

    Lovesick has a lot going for it, namely the indelible plot, which sees Dylan (Johnny Fynn) forced to contact all of his previous sexual partners after being diagnosed with chlamydia (hence the series’ original title: Scrotal Recall). The way creator Tom Edge plays with linearity means what would ordinarily be just another sitcom becomes the source of the kind of analysis usually reserved for complex dramas. JS

    17/31 The OA

    The OA was very much a series that danced to its own tune – a high-concept series that blended the cerebral with the magical in a way that we can only assume made David Lynch smile. Be warned: Netflix swung the axe on this show far earlier than deserved. JS

    18/31 The Others

    A short-lived fantasy series from Glen Morgan and James Wong – X-Files alumni who would go on to create the Final Destination franchise – The Others is the greatest show you’ve never heard of. Revolving around a group of amateur psychics, it was shown in a late-night timeslot on Channel 5 two decades ago, and was enjoyably high concept from the off. Episodes involved Jack the Ripper, haunted wallpaper and ghosts on airplanes, each hour possessing that chilly, made-in-Canada and perpetually autumnal spookiness. AW

    19/31 Phoneshop

    This quirky comedy had a simple set-up, following four workers and their boss during the day-to-day of working in a phone shop. Our protagonist Christopher negotiates the boisterous behaviour of colleagues Ashley and Jerwayne, the awkwardness of co-worker Janine, and placates a particularly challenging boss. All while trying to sell some phones. JC

    20/31 Rectify

    One read of Rectify‘s premise will lure you in: Daniel Holden (Aden Young), imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of a young girl, spends 19 years on death row before fresh DNA evidence throws the verdict into question. His release and ensuing assimilation back into society, however, won’t be easy; many of the townsfolk are convinced he’s guilty. Ray McKinnon’s little-seen drama is one of television’s best kept secrets. JS

    21/31 Roots

    An updated version of the 1977 series, which proved a watershed moment in American television, the new Roots retains the shock and brutality of its predecessor. Telling the tale of Kunta Kinte, a tribesman from The Gambia who is sold as a slave in America, Roots tells the history of millions, framed in the story of a family tree. Unflinching, horrendously graphic, and a deeply affecting portrayal of human suffering, the updated Roots is an essential watch. JC

    22/31 The Shield

    This critically lionised cop drama remains largely unknown, most likely because all of its seven seasons ran on then-little-known cable channel FX. Taking inspiration of real-life Rampart scandal of the 1990s, The Shield follows a four-man Strike Team who take advantage of the war on drugs to get rich. AL

    23/31 Shrill

    This taboo-smashing comedy follows aspiring journalist Annie as she rallies against nasty bosses, non-committal boyfriends and fat-shaming trolls. You might come for the laughs, but some of the more emotional storylines will leave you in tears. AL

    24/31 The Sinner

    A pulsating, captivating detective series, now in its third iteration. The premise is simple enough: what makes seemingly ordinary people commit terrible crimes? The answer, however, is always complicated. A slow burner, twisting and turning as each season progresses, The Sinner consistently delivers engrossingly gripping finales. The performances of Bill Pullman, playing a troubled detective, and Jessica Biel, a woman charged with murder in the first series, are particular highlights. JC

    25/31 Skam

    This Norwegian teen drama series – think Skins, with fewer drugs and better acting – is phenomenally successful in some corners of the internet. It was set at exactly the same time, to the minute, as it aired, and fans could see each character’s social media accounts update as the plot developed. It wasn’t just a gimmick, though – even if you didn’t follow along with all the tertiary Tumblr drama, this show offered a smart and unflinching look at the messy lives of contemporary teens.​ AP

    26/31 Top of the Lake

    This Jane Campion drama is an eerie, dark crime story about missing women. It requires patience, but the moody thriller is worth the wait. Elisabeth Moss is mesmerising as an entirely dysfunctional, but ruthless detective and the finale is one of the most explosive in TV history. AL

    27/31 Treme

    The slow pace of this fiercely humanistic series about post-Katrina New Orleans has become something of a running joke among TV writers – inspiring gently disparaging jokes in 30 Rock and BoJack Horseman. They’re wrong: David Simon’s music-infused drama is a brilliant work of art and a worthy follow-up to The Wire. LC

    28/31 Undone

    Devastated that BoJack Horseman‘s finished? Hitch your wagon to Undone, the new series from its creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. Just like BoJack, Undone refuses to shy away from the tough questions, this time following a girl named Alma (voiced by Rosa Salazar) who gains the ability to manipulate time after a near-fatal car crash. JS

    29/31 Unforgotten

    Forget Broadchurch – this crime drama not only delivered a breathtaking first season, but capitalised on its success with not one, but two worthy follow-ups. It follows two detectives – played by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar – as they solve murder cases in London. It’s about time Walker got Olivia Colman-levels of recognition. JS

    30/31 The West

    For fans of immersive, deeply informative documentaries, Stephen Ives’ The West is a must-see. Ken Burns is executive producer, but the 1996 PBS documentary has enjoyed far less attention than any of his own directing work. Peter Coyote narrates an edifying history of the American West, featuring the tragic plight of the Native American people, the battles with conquistadors and then Mexicans, the effort to connect the two coasts, and stories from civil war. The West paints a vivid picture of a land steeped in natural beauty and violent upheaval. It’s the definitive story of the American West. JC

    31/31 What We Do in the Shadows

    The TV spin-off of Taika Waititi’s similarly underrated film of the same name uses the same set and mockumentary-style shooting. Jemaine Clement (a star of the film) adapts it for the small screen and writes (alongside Waititi) a deadpan script layered with genius pop culture references, regularly ridiculing tropes of the vampire-horror genre. Three typical vampires and a daywalker energy-vampire share a house in Staten Island. A documentary crew follows them in their doomed attempts to adapt to 21st-century American life. JC

    Nonetheless, those putting together online projects know they are merely applying sticking plasters to a life-threatening wound. In the past week, we have been asked to support our local business by buying food from local shops and ordering takeaways from restaurants that have closed their doors. We should be doing the same for our arts community – as the government prevaricates, it’s up to us to give what we can to emergency funds, donate to struggling venues, download an album or podcast or order a book (preferably not on Amazon). In these anxiety-inducing times, art isn’t just a distraction – it’s a lifeline and it must be protected.

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