The year’s most binge-worthy shows provide students escapism during social distancing

This year’s pandemic has given the term “binge watch” an entirely new meaning as screen times shot up to an astonishingly high level due to social distancing becoming the new norm. Although networks and streaming companies halted the release of some programs due to COVID-19, there were still binge-worthy shows released during this whirlwind of a year.

A long-awaited holiday break is fast approaching, allowing Cal Poly Pomona students plenty of time to sit back, relax and indulge in some of the top shows released on both Amazon Prime and Netflix in 2020.

“Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer”

Most students are familiar with “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” as well as the 2019 film, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” but these renditions of Ted Bundy’s stories are told from a male perspective and somehow manage to romanticize the vile life of Bundy.

Watching Bundy’s long-term girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall, and many other survivors, come forward on “Falling for a Killer” to tell the story from a woman’s perspective was momentous as the tragic truths of the trauma came to life while uncovering the world’s worst serial killer.

The series’ score, orchestrated by Ariel Marx, is as chilling as the information conveyed from the women’s point of view with each moment feeling bone-chilling, daunting and melancholy.

Although the show consists of heavy subject matters, it is an intelligent series that is not only impactful but also educational, teaching men and women around the world that it is OK to speak out if they or someone they may know is in harm’s way.

“In our society, women live in constant fear of scenarios such as these because other women have been repeatedly failed by the system,” said fourth-year gender ethnic and multicultural studies student Nicole Spinos. “Ted Bundy preyed on impressionable and naive women and was able to convince the world that he was a great person. I would recommend this documentary because, in a sense, it is bringing justice to the young girls’ lives that have been taken.”

“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”

A mental hospital caregiver and his autistic brother meet a children’s book author who specializes in a dark reimagining of classical Korean fairy tales. While working through the chaos of their own lives, each of them helps the people around them come to terms with their places in life.

Being a South Korean drama, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” accomplishes what many American dramas fail to achieve by combining fated romance, a murder plot and comedy in a tasteful 16-episode package.

The series’ score, by various artists, plays whimsical music over the storytelling elements of the show. Its use of dramatic music is noticeable but not overbearing or repetitive. The show’s use of overlapping noise and slightly chaotic music to convey when the autistic brother is being overwhelmed or feels worrisome is a nice touch.

This show is especially binge-worthy during the current times revolving around the pandemic as everyone is trying their best to come to terms with their place in life, whether that may be good or bad.

“The Queen’s Gambit”

This show, released late October, is based on Walter Tevis’ novel “The Queen’s Gambit” and was executed with elegance.

In all her brilliance, Anya Taylor-Joy effortlessly plays out the complicated life of orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, who deals with longstanding drug and alcohol dependencies. Amid her personal troubles, Harmon seeks to become the world’s most intelligent chess player.

From the mid-century costume design to the commotion to the competitions to the dimly lit rooms to the shades of deep green and black, the show accurately depicts the tumultuousness and temperament of the 1960s.

The show’s score, by Carlos Rafael Rivera, blends beautifully with the happenings of each scene, setting the tone and giving elevated emotion to both the show’s disheartening and triumphant moments. Harmon’s mood seems to be exposed by the series’ score as she does not like to vocalize her feelings as much as she should.

“This show is inspiring for those who have struggled with life’s hardships, whatever they may be,” said third-year nutrition dietetics student Rachel Murphy. “It shows women that they can be successful and powerful no matter what society they’re being undermined in.”

“Tiger King”

After stumbling upon his erratic life story, filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin created an American true-crime documentary about the nutty Floridian tiger enthusiast, Joe Exotic. “Tiger King” was equally as disturbing as it was binge-worthy, having more madness and mayhem packed into it than the mind of The Mad Hatter.

The drama-infused show’s cast was colorful, to put it kindly, consisting of drug kingpins, suspected killers and exotic animal addicts. Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic expose one another ceaselessly, keeping viewers on their toes. Some would say this is all an act, but to the world’s demise, these people actually exist, and they really do wish to murder each other over tigers.

The show’s encapsulation of dramatics, crime, insanity and manipulation captivates viewers. This show is the ultimate way to escape reality and live in an entirely different realm.

Escaping into another time-period, galaxy, age or kingdom can be good for the soul, especially during times that are ridden by a cruel pandemic. Consider living in someone else’s shoes, even if it’s just for a couple of episodes.

“I do think that television has become more important during the pandemic,” said Linda Bisesti, professor and head of acting and voice in the Theatre and New Dance Department. “Entertainment escape is the magic we all need.”

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