TV 2021 -

Looking at my view history on Netflix it is not hard to see where a lot of my time went last year.

I might have watched even more than what I list here, but if it wasn't on Netflix I would have to remember it (or locate view history for other services). And I don't really remember what I watched one year ago. I also know that I've watched a lot of movies, but usually from other sources than Netflix as I never seem to find movies I want to watch there. And there would probably be too many for me to summarize anyways, so I'm focusing mainly on TV serials here.

The services

Netflix is the one service I'm consistently willing to pay for. They are actually quite decent on movies for kids, so in addition to my son watching it for various kids shows, it is also were we'll find family movies.

I also have Viaplay through my actual TV service which is were I'll usually watch new-ish movies. Since November I've had HBO Max as they sold it for a life time 50%-off kind of deal. As long as I keep watching a movie a month it'll be worth it to me.

In December my TV supplier lost a deal with Norwegian channel TV2. As we were in the middle of Lego Masters at the time I found myself forced to pay for their service, TV2 Play, for a month as well. When signing up for that I chose the "no commercials" package for a slightly higher price. The first thing I got to see when watching Lego Masters was a short splash of "this show is sponsored by". I did feel slightly betrayed by that and canceled immediately (we got to complete Lego Masters).


On Netflix

The office (US): A sitcom focused on everyday shenanigans at an office for a paper supplier with a dysfunctional boss. I came across an article about office archetypes. Having seen small clips and memes from the show before the article spurred me on to dive into it and I ended up watching 6 out of 9 seasons. It's fun to discover the origins of tons of internet humor and not hard to understand why this show is still being referenced. That said, after 6 seasons I didn't really feel any urge to continue watching. I do still want to see the UK version though, but that is not available on any streaming service as far as I can tell.

Love, Death, Robots: Volume 2: Short animation movies with fantasy and/or sci-fi settings. This volume was smaller than the first one, but the overall quality was better for me (the films might have been longer as well, not sure). I really like these bite size stories with unique styles. The animations are usually stunning and was something I sometimes dreamed of being able to create. I still do actually, but have mostly put my animation days behind me.

Ragnarok: A modern take on retelling the end-of-the-world story from Norse mythology. This was the second season. I've been watching the Norwegian version, but there is an English version. Not dubbed, but filmed at the same time. I want to excuse this as being good considering it is a Norwegian thing, but I did actually enjoy this. Partly because Norse mythology and the characters are fascinating. Partly because the actors make me root for and/or hate them. Partly because it looks cinematic with nice settings and visual effects. I also enjoy the trend of Netflix producing shows in different countries.

Lupin: The French gentleman thief of which I was not aware being a thing at all. They drag this character into the modern age by having the main guy being a huge fan of the books, mimicking the stories, and somehow pulling it off. I really liked this show. The action is fast paced. The (illegal) operations are smart and fun. You root for the bad guy, because there are even worse guys. I watched the French version as I believe the English one was dubbed.

Alice in Borderland: A Japanese show based on a manga loosely based on Alice in Wonderland (mostly character names and use of playing cards). A group of friends is somehow transported to an alternate reality Tokyo where they have to compete in games designed to kill them. It is a page turner of a show, but somewhat gruesome. I'm annoyed about an unfair setup in one of the games, poor use of physics in another, and how no one saw the (to me) obvious solution in the final game.

Final Space: Space prisoner Gary Goodspeed accidentally saves the universe. This was really fun at times, yet dull at others. I sort of imagine a different art style might have helped, because I kept thinking of Futurama. I only watched 1 season out of 2 at the time, and I believe there is a third season now.

Nailed It: Amateur bakers compete in replicating fancy baked goods in a short time with often hilarious results. They are set up to fail and aware of that so no seems to be offended. Most participants probably learn something and the one who fails the least takes home a cash prize. After having seen a handful of episodes it does become somewhat repetitive, but I find it totally worth it to watch a couple of episodes.

Sexy Beasts: People dress up in special effects makeup to get to know each other without the focus on how they look. Not sure why I started watching this, but it was really fun for like three episodes. And then I got tired of it. There is this one scene where the woman hints on it being cold outside, the guy takes of his jacket, drops it on the floor, and show of his muscles. That was hilarious.

Tattoo Redo: People get their tattoo mistakes covered by a huge, but nicer tattoo. On somewhat of a "reality show" streak Netflix continued recommending such shows for me, hence these entries. If you enjoy people watching, you'll like this. It is part hilarious and part amazing. A schtick of the show is that the participants doesn't get to chose their own tattoo, but whomever brought them there does. This sets up a bit of tension, but luckily that never becomes the main focus.

Baking Impossible: Teams composed of an engineer and a baker compete to create engineered baked goods. Stuff like robots, bridges, Rube Goldberg machines, and such, made from edible parts. These are then stress tested before being judged on design and taste. The combination of everything makes this really fun as far as "reality" shows go.

Squid Game: A Korean show that seems to have hit it big time last year. Poor people are invited to play children's games for a grand cash prize or be killed if they lose. Part of the online discussions I've read has been on how fair this was for the contestants. They were told they would be eliminated, but it was not clear that eliminated meant death. Anyways, another exciting watch, but also somewhat gruesome. As with Alice in Borderland this ends up putting contestants up against each other where it might have been better to cooperate. It's like the creators of the shows construct a straw man argument to then visually tear it down. Look how selfish people are. They might be right, of course. As opposed to Alice in Borderland, this seems plausible to actually pull off. Maybe not for as many years as they imply this has been happening, though.

On HBO Max

Made for Love: A woman gets a chip implant allowing her husband to monitor everything she sees, hears, and says. It's the ultimate in controlling-spouse-technology. It is also technology that probably very few people would actually want to exist. Luckily, it doesn't, as far as I know. In the show this is presented as technology allowing for 2 people to deeply connect and avoid miscommunication. Not sure it would actually work. The show feels like a Black Mirror episode being explored more deeply. As I did like Black Mirror, I also liked this, and now I want more Black Mirror. It is part funny, part absurd, and part creepy.

On TV2 Play

Lego Masters: Teams of 2 compete to create spectacular Lego creations. We happened to start watching this with Sam one Friday evening and it was compelling enough to keep watching. Lego's are quite versatile as a building material and the sculptures and scenes they create are truly stunning at times. You also end up getting to know and root for the various contestants, as is usually the case in these competitions.

Norges Nye Megahit: Norwegian celebrities create a new song each week, trying to make it a new hit. I hoped for more insight into how they created the songs, but they mostly focus on the competition part of it. And the competition part seems to be more of which one of these celebrities gathered most fans to watch them. They did create quite a few fun and catchy songs that also Sam could sing along to. I did not however, feel like the proudest parent when he started singing one of the "drinking" songs in public.

In conclusion

Doing this summary I'm quite surprised to see the amount of "reality" shows I've watched. I mean, they are mostly competitions of some sort, but still. I've usually tried to distance myself from that whole category of TV, with a few exceptions over the years. Like RuPaul's Drag Race, which is just crazy (after a couple of seasons you feel like you've seen it all though).


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