Midterms have brought an air of frenzy to the Boston College campus. Your brain may be fried, but if you are finding yourself in need of a break from studying or deserve a little reward for getting through midterms alive, there is no better way to relax than curling up to some tv with a cup of tea—English Breakfast preferably. Forget about midterms and embrace your inner Anglophile as you cozy up in front of the screen and watch one (or more) of these fantastic British shows. We can thank our friends across the pond for this one!
Drama: Peaky Blinders (2013-present)
A historical crime drama set in post-World War I Birmingham, England, Peaky Blinders centers around the notorious Shelby family and their cunningly ambitious leader, Tommy Shelby. Based on the real life Peaky Blinders gang, so-named for the razor blades they sewed into their caps as weapons, the show is smart, violent and dark. Although the storyline moves slowly at first, the series soon picks up pace and the epic finales to each season in particular make every minute worth the wait. Riddled with raw characters, engaging cinematography, a modern soundtrack and a richly layered plot, Peaky Blinders is an absolute must watch.
Comedy: Only Fools and Horses (1981-1996)
Only Fools and Horses is quintessential British television. In attempts to get rich quick, swindling black market trader Derek “Del Boy” Trotter and his younger brother Rodney embark on various schemes. Their unregistered company, Trotters Independent Trading Co., most of the time comedically backfires on them for our amusement. Del Boy and Rodney share such a great comedic rapport that their quirky interactions more than enough reason for you to watch. Or, if you simply want to perfect your South London accent and pick up some classic British slang, Only Fools and Horses is the show for you.
Thriller: Black Mirror (2011-present)
A psychological thriller anthology series with a different cast, setting, and reality for every episode, Black Mirror examines the potentially unanticipated repercussions of advancing technology in modern society. With a tone reminiscent of the famed Twilight Zone and its dark, at times satirical mood, Black Mirror might give you nightmares. But it will tug at your heartstrings and cause you to question the implications of technology on humanity and morality in a futuristic, dystopian environment all in under an hour. Plus, since every episode is distinctive, you can watch in any order without missing out on plot points. Season two episode “White Bear” is a great place to start.
Fantasy: Merlin (2008-2012)
A twist on the legendary tale of the aged wizard, Merlin takes a Smallville-esque stance by presenting Merlin as a young warlock who arrives in Camelot only to discover that the king had outlawed magic twenty years prior, forcing him to develop his powers in secret. It is fun and refreshing to be sent back in time and immersed in the medieval land of King Arthur and Guinevere in this contemporary spin on Arthurian legend. With a balance of adventure, magic, humor, drama, intrigue and a bit of romance, there is something for everyone in this cult TV show.
Mystery: The Worricker Trilogy (2011-2014)
Page Eight, Turks & Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield are the three films that comprise this spy series which surrounds long-standing MI5 agent, Johnny Worricker. Less thrill-seeking than James Bond, the quick-witted Worricker takes a hands-off approach as he navigates the choppy seas between politics and espionage. Not to mention that Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Winona Ryder and Christopher Walken are only a few of the big names who comprise the outstanding cast of this worthwhile trilogy.
Travel: An Idiot Abroad (2010-2012)
In this untraditional travel show, actors and comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their mate Karl Pilkington across the world, forcing him into hilarious activities and uncomfortable situations (including “land diving” on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific) along the way. The highlight of this show is that it is from the perspective of Karl, who has no interest in travelling the globe, and thus grumbles and moans every step of the way. Rather than cause the show to have a pessimistic and annoying tone, Karl instead becomes a mockable figure who we can laugh at and enjoy, which might be exactly what we need during a hectic week of midterms.