We watched a bit of the Emmy’s last night and, while there were some unexpected winners, we were really happy for many of the first time winners that had been doing awesome work for years. This is a great time for fans of TV and there’s a lot of great shows out there. There are some shows that we think gamers ought to watch, either because they understand gaming culture or they reflect some of the experiences we have (or would like to have) in games. Here are five TV shows that we think gamers particularly oughta be watching.
One of these days I’m going to rant about how this was the worst summer for supervillains ever (though others have said it already). That’s probably what made Narcos such a welcome experience this fall. The show focuses on the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, memorably played by Wagner Moura (totally robbed by the Emmy awards this year). As a supervillain, he’s amazing. He has a creepy gaze, a lumbering gate, and a bizarre, laconic presence that hides his ferocious nature. In the show, based on actual events, he engages in Joker-level criminality and terrorism: killing innocent people, kidnapping hostages to intimidate the population (and make them so fearful they pressure the government to cut deals with him), actually besieging the government, and directly targeting the police who are tracking him down. Escobar makes villainous decisions that are based on emotions as often as calculations, making him as unpredictable and as he is capable. I would love to play a game in which a villain was played as memorably and as monstrously. He’s just terrifying. If you want to get a feel for what it might actually be like to live in Gotham City, you gotta check this show out.
We’ve talked about Outcast before; it’s a solid show that is largely overlooked. The show focuses on a small town experiencing a great deal of demonic possession. The protagonists on the show aren’t sure what the demons are, whether they are a genuinely malevolent presence, and how exactly they’re able to successfully exorcise them sometimes but not all the time. As a show, it works really well (Robert Kirkman is behind it, and he often does really good work!). It’s kind of surprising, come to think on it, that there haven’t been any exorcism games given how popular the idea is with TV and movies (Exorcist: The Series premiers this fall!). Each episode of this show makes me think about how cool a game that focused on exorcism could be. It could involve interrogations like L. A. Noire, demon hunting like Murdered: Soul Suspect, or a hunt and trap type experience like Hitman (imagine trying to find a possessed person among a large crowd). There’s a lot of potential in a concept around exorcism and shows like Outcast make me wonder what a talented game designer could do.
RICK AND MORTY
Everyone should watch Rick and Morty. The hilarious cartoon is probably the most interesting sci-fi show on these days (at least until Westworld gets here next month). The show centers around super-scientist Rick and his grandson Morty who have various adventures through time and space. There’s one great scene where the visit an arcade and Morty plays the virtual reality game “Roy: A Life Well Lived” which turns out to be a simulation of a pretty ordinary human’s life (also I never noticed Mr. Meeseeks in the background). Morty awakens as a child and lives 55 years of Roy’s life before dying in a workplace accident (Rick then plays and takes Roy “off the grid”). Another scene has the two escaping from another virtual world by overloading the game’s memory. The show makes other gamer references also. It’s a great show and if you’ve somehow missed it, you oughta catch up before Season 3 premiers later this year.
ORPHAN BLACK/MR. ROBOT
Orphan Black and Mr. Robot, the shows that produced the best actress and actor winners this year, are both solid shows about dystopian near future in which soulless corporations pursue underdog heroes. These shows recreate the feel that games like Deus Ex and Shadowrun attempt, in which technology runs wild, governments have become secondary to industry, and heroes face faceless enemies driven by greed and ambition. Orphan Black and Mr. Robot are good shows but I list them both here because, well, I’m not sure I totally recommend the most recent seasons. This season, Orphan Black had an uninteresting villain and let its heroes drift into bizarre behavior while Mr. Robot seems a little arrogant in its plot twists, some of which are fairly predictable. Orphan Black is wisely wrapping up its story while Mr. Robot is still good, but I’d highly recommend the earlier seasons of both shows.