While The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley have all gone back into hibernation until the next season approaches at the end of the year and in 2016 respectively, those who enjoy their weekly binge of television may find themselves scratching their heads at what to watch. Yet, unsurprisingly, the growth in the television market and its popularity has given television shows and their distributors the ability to showcase new shows throughout the year instead of relegating them to just the Summer months (in Australia, Winter in the US). The movement is still fairly new, having only really started to become a thing in 2013 and 2014, but what we’re collectively seeing now is television series that aren’t afraid to jump into the waters and make a name for themselves when the big guns like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead aren’t chewing up Twitter feeds and Facebook mentions. This year is no different, with a handful of great new series popping up for audiences to latch on to. I’ve been following a lot of the series I’m about to mention for a while now, and now that 4/5 of them are currently available to watch in one way or another, I can finally start to recommend them. Here are five mid-Winter television shows you should definitely check out.
Ballers – HBO
If you follow Dwayne Johnson — aka The Rock — at all on his social media channels you’ll know what Ballers is. He’s been talking about it for over a year now, and the first four episodes of the HBO-produced show are available to watch now. Ballers follows a group of football players whom mostly have retired, their families, friends and handlers, and more-or-less what comes after the NFL ends for players. The series is centered around Spencer Strassmore, played by Dwayne Johnson, and his foray into the world after his career in the NFL was over. There’s more than just post-football talk within Ballers, with the show also showcasing the lifestyle of players and the real-world problems of inept money handling and how it can crush lives and careers. It’s a no-holds-barred look into the world of the NFL, post-football life and the agents behind it all, and it’s certainly a show I’d recommend to fans of the sport or The Rock in general.
Scream – MTV
Having only just watched the first episode of Scream so far, I have to admit; I was fairly impressed. I wasn’t really convinced about a slasher television series considering it hasn’t really been done before and horror itself is a huge mainstay in mainstream television series right now (The Walking Dead and American Horror Story being the two examples that come to mind instantly), but Scream — at least going off its first episode — is doing it right. The show isn’t entirely based upon the films either and takes a modernized approach to the Scream formula, with YouTube viral videos, texting and video messaging all being major plot devices in the show’s story. I wasn’t sure if MTV would be able to handle such an important and iconic horror series too well, but from what I’ve seen so far I’ve been fairly impressed. It certainly isn’t excellent by any stretch of the imagination, some of the acting is fairly terrible and the score can become frustrating at points (which is even worse as a score is vital in horror), but for what it is I’m impressed. I originally flagged this series to die fairly quickly, but I’m invested in the characters, as corny as they are, and the story is interesting enough to want me to come back and watch the next episode. Definitely check this one out if you’re a horror fan like myself, it’s certainly an interesting take on the formula.
Humans – AMC
I do love my science fiction, and Humans certainly scratches that itch. Humans is an English television series that focuses on a parallel present day where instead of the latest iPhone being the must-have gadget, a Synth: a highly-developed robotic servant incredibly similar to a human, is the go-to device for any busy family. And while Synth’s are changing the way we accept the world and help out around the home, it’s their ulterior motive that drives the story to more interesting heights. Humans is a sci-fi thriller of sorts that has an Ex-Machina vibe, which I attached to fairly quickly. It questions the robotic enhancements we’re pursuing in our world today and makes for very good viewing. For sci-fi fans, I’d definitely recommend you check this out.
Fear The Walking Dead – AMC
This being the show that hasn’t aired as of yet, but one I’m very interesting in watching. Fear The Walking Dead follows survivors just after the apocalypse has broken out and stars Rubén Blades, Mercedes Mason, Cliff Curtis and Alycia Debnam-Carey. It’s a six-part series that premieres in August and one that I’ll be watching with a figure of hope and a dash of intrigue. While horror is a focal point in television, I’m questioning whether this spin-off series of The Walking Dead will follow the path of Breaking Bad’s Better Call Saul or Friends’ Joey. Spin-off series are always risky, because while we’re encountering the same environment and universe, the characters, setting and their story will all play a different role. It would have also been a good idea to have this debut in June or July to help space out The Walking Dead’s massive universe and keep viewers happy throughout the year, but having this crammed in just before Season 6 of The Walking Dead begins is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I hope this is good, but we’ll have to wait and see. Fans of The Walking Dead should be on the look out for Fear The Walking Dead in August.
Mr Robot – USA
If you’re to watch any television show throughout the next couple of months, look no further than Mr Robot. Rami Malek, known for his role as Shamu in The Pacific as well as having a role in upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn, plays a computer programmer that suffers from social anxiety disorder and gets by via hacking the world around him. He knows secrets about all of the big wigs at the company he works for, his friends, his family – everything. We see his world as if we’re his thought process, and the show is full of monologue and the conformity of information surrounding Malek. It’s a brilliantly written show and judging from the first four episodes has the ability to rival the biggest of television shows. It’s an accurate depiction of society, the ever-changing landscape of the digital age and the world we currently live in. It’s rife with dark humor, questionable characters and precise twists. This is the show to watch this season, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not at least watching the pilot. It’s already been renewed for Season 2, so what are you waiting for?
So there’re my recommendations for television shows to check out this season. There’s a major omission from this list, that being True Detective, because sadly I’m not convinced by what I’ve seen thus far. However, the aforementioned series in this list should have something for everyone to latch on to, and further proves that the landscape for television and the “AAA” show can take place anywhere within the year now, not just October for The Walking Dead and April for Game of Thrones, which can only be a good thing.