YOU HAVEN'T SEEN GIRLS?! [HBO]
Cultural black holes, we’ve all got them. Whether it’s never having read a book by Charles Dickens or not having watched a single episode of Borgen, it’s the kind of thing that you’re a bit ashamed about. We asked some Grazia members of staff about theirs...
1) Sons Of Anarchy
My dad has been banging on about Sons of Anarchy for some time, now. Thus, I sat down to watch the first episode with high hopes. And hell, it didn’t disappoint - Anna Dewhurst, Picture Editor (News)
This show does not mess around. Forget making a drink. That was totally out of the question. Two explosions, a pregnant crack-whore ex wife injecting between her fingers, a man with one ball (the other one had been shot off, since you ask), a corrupt cop, a sick baby and several murdered rival gang members, all in one episode. SOA is not fit for multitasking.
On top of being hideously gripping, it was also a feast for the eyes. Hot tattooed men in leathers roaring across the sunny Californian landscape on cool Harleys… But when I say men, I really mean man. And that man is Jackson Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam, who is a very pleasant cross between Kurt Cobain and Heath Ledger. Turns out he's exactly what I need to get over the Jesse Pinkman withdrawals.
The only downside was that it did feel a bit 90s. And not in a good way. But if you can manage to focus on the top half of the screen and pretend those baggy jeans don't exist, then it's (he’s) totally do-able.”
2) Game Of Thrones
Being more of a Wire/Breaking Bad kind of box-setter, I’ve steered clear of Game Of Thrones, scared off by its Dungeons & Dragons vibe and the thought of horses with glued-on unicorn horns and fire-breathing CGI monsters – Stacey Thomson, Production Director.
What I got was actually a right-rollicking soap richly furnished with topless ladies in thongs, glassy-eyed evil teens and incestuous naughtiness. Bit like Brookside in its heyday with extra leather tabards and wolf-skin pelts. Before long Sean Bean rocks up sporting the sort of greasy, scragged-back hairdo I favoured when I was 13 and speaking in his lovely whispery Northern drawl. Then, suddenly, the chubby one from The Full Monty turns up as King and him off The Thick Of It has swapped his Tory minister’s suit for a flowing Grecian robe. Blimey, it’s a Brit invasion at HBO.
Between beheadings, massacres and lots of shagging (and that’s just episode one), the characters run through complex family backstories involving feuds, civil wars and royal lines displaced… Er, there’s the Lannisters of Casterly Rock (sounds like a posh northern B&B) featuring the incestuous Jaime (Prince Charming from Shrek 2, anyone?), the Starks (house of Mr Bean) and the Baratheons (rulers of the Iron Throne). My favourite by far are the displaced Targaryens… Poor Daenerys has been married off by her evil brother to a Dothraki warrior called Khal Drogo (or Big Carl, as I thought they kept calling him), who looks like a heavy metaller, with a long ponytail and woadish eye make-up. Come her wedding day, one of her gifts is a casket of live snakes! (Live snakes!!!). Favourite line so far… ‘Everything’s better with some wine in the belly.’ I quite agree. Three episodes in and oh dear, I think I’m hooked!”
When Girls first hit screens, the constant comparisons to Sex And The City put me off. – Jenny Croall, Chief Sub Editor.
As a confirmed SATC fan (of the series - no one could love those films), I wasn't ready to swap allegiances - and I didn't have Sky Atlantic, which helped. Three seasons in, though, and the buzz around Girls and creator Lena Dunham only continues to grow, and it has started to feel like an itch I just have to scratch. So, I was unfaithful - and surprised: at how 'other' to SATC it is. Where that show is all glamorous cocktail bars, dream careers and witty one-liners, Dunham's girls are 20-somethings struggling to find jobs, unsure of themselves, gawky, socially inept.
I was left simultaneously squirming and gripped by Dunham's quiet determination to forensically examine every weakness and insecurity in HD detail. The bad sex – so awkward and, well, unattractive – had me metaphorically watching through my fingers (although the newspaper my husband was reading ‘while you watch your programme’ was getting lower and lower, to afford a better view). I didn’t laugh out loud like I often did with SATC, but Girls shouldn’t even be compared to it – it’s written with light and shade, its characters are nuanced and complicated, like real people. And unfortunately (apart from the bank-rolling parents), I could identify a lot more with these girls than with those other New Yorkers.”
4) Sons Of Anarchy
“I've been meaning to watch Sons Of Anarchy for some time now, and seeing as I reckon I was a bad-ass biker babe in a past life, I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to do it. – Helen Gibson, News Picture Researcher.
Sitting down with a beer, the opening sequence was everything I thought it would be (Jax Riding solo down an open road). Then 50 minutes of guns, explosions, bikes, booze, and tattooed men. I was hooked. At least I would have been, had it not been so unbearably cheesy. Being raised on films like She's All That, I'm at ease with a little corniness. But SOA went hard, making the episode almost un-watchable.
However, if you can ignore the laughable one-liners, then you're in for a treat. One of them being some refreshingly complex female parts, particularly Gemma, (wife to King Biker Clay Morrow, my very guilty crush), the most vicious women I've seen on screen for a while. But there’s heart to these bad boys too, with characters’ multifaceted relationships often taking center stage.
Like any good pilot, foundations were set for a number of gripping plot lines, suggesting that this is one to stick with. And if the story lines fall by the waste side, I'm sure the boys, bikes and beards will keep me coming back.”