America might frown upon binge drinking, but it is in love with
binge watching. The modern television audience has discovered that the best way to watch any show is in excess.* Why watch episodes week to week for each episode, needing annoying “previously on” recaps to remind us what happened, when we can curl up on a couch in a blanket with our favorite snack and watch back-to-back episodes till our nose starts bleeding. We can immerse ourselves into the world of the show so deeply that reality completely falls away and we convince ourselves that selling crystal meth out of a Winnebago couldn’t be that hard, right?
*Netflix and to a lesser extent, Amazon, cashed in on this trend last year and there will be plenty of competitors to follow suit, binge watching is not going away any time soon.
But what shows are worth spending so much of our time and which are a total waste of time? Good question, Millennial Man is here to help with a weekly binge watching suggestion. First show on the docket, Top of the Lake.
It’s a hectic time, we finally have to admit the holidays are over and make up all that work we’ve been ignoring for the past couple weeks. Many of us are fighting hard to make sure our New Years’ resolutions at least make it out of January. And the 2014 TV schedule is picking up, not to mention the Super Bowl next week.
Since we all have so much on our plates, a short and sweet binge watch is in order. Top of the Lake is just what the doctor ordered. A seven episode mystery series set in Lake Top, New Zealand, the show pulls you in from the start. It opens with a 12-year old girl, who has no idea how she got pregnant, walking into a freezing lake, in what may or may not be a suicide attempt. If that doesn’t wreck you emotionally, then you’re either a sociopath or Jim Caldwell.*
*Sorry Lions fans, couldn’t help myself, need to practice for the fall.
The plot is driven by the mystery of who got the girl, Tui Mitchum, pregnant, but the real draw of the show are the characters and performances. The lead detective on the case, Robin Griffin, is played by Elizabeth Moss. Anyone who watches Mad Men knows what a terrific actress Moss is, but this performance is much different and more compelling. She brings a dogged persistence, always bordering on stubbornness, that keeps the audience highly engaged throughout even the slower moments.*
*Another compelling aspect of her performance, is your inner monologue as you debate whether or not Moss is hot. It changes constantly throughout the series, for now I settled on unidentifiable sexiness, but I may have to leave it up to Gus and Marcus Antonio San Keota.
On the other side of the law is Tui’s father Matt Mitchum, played by Peter Mullan, the drug king pin of the town, who is able to buy a lot of protection do the money he puts in people’s pockets. Mullan’s portrayal is mesmerizing and the show wisely never tries to drum up too much sympathy for the character, nor make his villainy cartoonish. This results in a very real and human character, which makes him all the more interesting.
The best part of the series is the respect it demonstrates towards the audience. I’m sure, like me, most of you have never been to Lake Top, New Zealand, but instead of holding our hand and taking us on a travel tour, Top of the Lake throws us head first into its world and trusts we’ll be able to gain our bearings. The result is a richer setting that becomes its own character that plays a big part of the narrative. Plus the footage is fucking gorgeous.
The show also trusts us to follow along with the mystery without pointing out each clue with neon lights. It makes for a more enjoyable ending as only a viewer who was truly paying attention can see all the final revelations coming.
Millennial Man approved, check out Top of the Lake on Netflix and prepare for a short, but very satisfying binge that should only take a couple days.
This Post Written By Tom Demetrio, Co-Founder of Millennial Man