MANILA, PHILIPPINES– The stream-wars is on with the increasing watch time for binge-worthy shows on platforms like Netflix, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, Apple TV.
With endless choices and only a handful of hours a day, how do you get the best out of your time?
Six months into working from home, adobo magazine discovered what advertising agency creative leaders in the Philippines are watching. Ten of the country’s leading creatives share their picks.
Raoul Panes, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis One Philippines
- Broadchurch, The Fall, Mind Hunter
There’s something riveting about small-town serial crime dramas. Reminds you that danger out there is more than just a virus.
- Modern Love (Amazon Prime)
Romance in all its iterations. It’s what keeps the world go round, come what may. Makes you dream about pre-pandemic New York again. “Love” (on Netflix) is another good one to make you swoon and squirm.
- Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Bite-size stories, human emotions, real characters, good Japanese food –we all need a good dose of them these days. You’ll want to dust off your passport and hop on a plane to Tokyo as soon as COVID protocols allow.
- Challenger: Final Flight
I am of the generation that grew up fascinated by astronauts and space travel. This short series is a good reminder about the drama and vastness of space while cooped up at home.
- Russian Doll
Because there’s a sense of deja vu in our lives these days.
Brandie Tan, Executive Creative Director, Wunderman Thompson Philippines
- Big Bang Theory (Netflix)
I just recently finished watching all the seasons. Watched one episode every night and a bit more on weekends. It was good to reminisce on past episodes and catch up on some few I missed when it was still running on Programmed TV. Watch the characters are like hanging out my friends. The final season can get emotional for a fan who’s watch the characters grow over the years.
- All of the Star Trek series: Enterprise, Discovery, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, the Motion Pictures and Picard (Netflix)
Watching one a night in chronological order. Star Trek is about a future where all humans on Earth get along. Racism, Politics, Pandemics have been overcome. Every episodes leave you hopeful.
- Raised by Wolves (HBO GO)
I’m big Ridley Scott fan. This series’ aesthetics remind me of his Alien movies (which for me is a good thing). I’m only on episode four. Can’t wait to see more. Without any spoilers—the First episode starts with an escape pod crashing on what looks like an uninhabited planet. Inside the pod comes out two people that call each other “Mather” and “Father”.
Russell Molina, Executive Creative Director, Seven A.D.
- The Toy That Made Us (Netflix)
This docu-series about toy history and production will instantly take you on a nostalgia trip. More than just about toy manufacturing, the show pops open, dissects and exposes your favorite toy’s mechanism and how corporations use every trick in the book to keep the pegs turning. I spend a good deal of my time now trying to hunt down all my childhood playmates including the hard-to-find original Star Wars 12-back. This show is best partnered with AMAZON PRIME’s A TOY STORE NEAR YOU which brings you to different toy stores around the world and lets you discover how they are operating, coping and surviving during the pandemic. Play must go on!
- High Maintenance (HBO)
I’m late to party on this one. This comedy-drama anthology invites you to ride with THE GUY as he peddles his “product” to different clients in New York City. Each episode touches a nerve as it portrays people in their most vulnerable state. Watching this now through a pandemic lens will make you miss and appreciate everything that you love and hate about humanity and relationships. Best watched with Amazon Prime’s MODERN LOVE, also an anthology based on the weekly column published in The New York Times.
- Greatest Events of WW2 in Color (Netflix)
It’s weird to recommend a war documentary during the pandemic but amidst all the fake news on social media, it’s comforting to watch something that’s factual and real (and in HD color). This 10-episode series has never-before-seen library footages from Japan and Russia. It encouraged me to hit the history books once again. Not for binge-watching.
- The Comic Book Men (Amazon Prime)
If you miss hanging around with your geek friends and throwing comics trivia and insults around, then this is the show for you. It will make you miss the comic collection your mother threw away as well as your comics heroes like Adam West and Stan Lee. Each episode is like a beer get-together with your old high school buddies (yes, watch it with a beer in hand). Best paired with HBO’s HIGH SCORE, a docu-series about retro games.
Raymund Sison, Chief Creative Officer, Propel Manila
- Succession (HBO)
Succession was exactly the comic relief I needed in the lockdown. The acid wit and the brilliant writing and the incredible performances were pure pleasure. While I know it’s been classified as drama, there’s really something inherently and seriously funny about vile characters (well, more interestingly, family members) outplaying each other for wealth, power, and ambition. Comedy at its darkest.
Abi Aquino, Executive Creative Director, MullenLowe Treyna
- Succession (HBO)
IF YOU WANT: something soapy but intelligent
WHAT’S IT ABOUT: The story revolves around a strong-willed but aging patriarch who runs a media empire (supposedly inspired by Rupert Murdoch), surrounded by his four children, each one hungry to take over the reins.
WHY I LIKE IT: All the characters are deeply flawed, grossly selfish and horrifyingly unlikeable, but because they’re never painted with a heavy hand, they’re fascinating to watch. I rarely react out loud when I watch, but I’ve had quite a few “P***INA!” moments with this series. I’m still not sure whether to classify this as a drama or an ink-black comedy, but the razor-sharp writing, acting (and the score!) just makes this one of the best shows in recent years for me.
- Raised By Wolves (HBO)
IF YOU WANT: Something sci-fi without getting too hardcore on determinism and existentialism (I’m looking at you, Westworld and Devs)
WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Earth has been destroyed and 2 androids have been sent to the nearest inhabitable planet (Kepler 22b. It’s real!) to raise a new generation of humans (they brought along some carry-on embryos with them). Religious factions and a few hitherto unknown terrors of the new planet all come into play as they try to survive.
WHY I LIKE IT: I love the Alien franchise and this feels like it belongs in the same universe (Ridley Scott is one of the executive producers) as it flirts with some of the tropes and themes from that world. Danish actress Amanda Collin, who plays the android named Mother, is also UH- mazing.
- Norsemen (Netflix)
IF YOU WANT: A better kind of comedy
WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A comedy about Vikings. Much of the humor comes from clashing the barbaric ways of living with the pseudo-enlightened concerns of the modern world. (after punching a slave, the pensive chieftain says to his lieutenant, “That’s not really me, that fear- based leadership style stuff.”)
WHY I LIKE IT: A lot of reviews describe it as Monty Python meets Game of Thrones, and it’s somewhat like that, although I would say that the humour is a tad drier. Plus, we’re experiencing a drought in terms of great comedy, and Norsemen (along with What We Do In The Shadows and the sadly-just-ended The Good Place) is one of those rare series that’s funny and sweet, without being dumb. It deserves a wider audience!
Rey Tiempo, Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R Philippines
- Watchmen (HBO Go)
A worthy successor to the comic book series, even though the original author might not want anything to do with it. It builds layers upon layers on an already densely-packed piece of work, an impressive feat. This series has, I truly believe, one of the finest written and directed episodes of any TV content, ever. Top-notch casting and performance as well. Also, a good excuse to read or reread the original work and discover the joys of putting the pieces together.
- Mob Psycho 100 (Netflix)
Superb animation. And it teaches (among other things) getting strong and overcoming adversities because of one’s unshakeable morals. Lots to learn, especially during these challenging times.
Betsy Baking, Managing Partner, Over the Moon Communications
Short kwento, late July I had to consult an optha for tired, red, dry eyes. He said I might have to wear specs with anti-blue light protection, for extended screen use because of virtual work. And he added—and too much Kdrama with subtitle speed reading, haha! Kamsahamnida!
- Misaeng, My Mister, It’s Okay Not to be Okay
All stories about underdogs who are struggling to live each day. Nothing like the usual perfect KDrama-Gangnam characters. I specifically love how the human spirit, flawed and all, still managed to survive in the end
Kat Limchoc, Executive Creative Director, Blackpencil Manila
- Cobra Kai
For all Gen-Xers, I definitely recommend Cobra Kai! Watching the Karate Kid story continued in the present day with the original actors, I kept telling my hubby, “My ten year old self is so happy!” (Plus anything with White Snake in the soundtrack is badass!) So happy too that the second season of The Boys is out! Such a twisted “What if” premise where the classic superheroes decide to use their powers for such delicious evil!
Federico Fanti, Executive Creative Director, BBDO Guerrero
Overall for me it’s so hard to find something better than Breaking Bad, which is in my personal opinion the best TV show of all time. However, let’s give it a try ☺!! Here are my top four:
- Sharp Objects (HBO)
Sharp Object is a dark and extremely compelling series directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) and starring multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams. The intricate narrative, the gritty editing, the acting and the soundtrack are perfectly blending together, which makes Sharp Objects one of the best TV show of the year.
- The Boys (amazon)
The Boys is likely the grittiest, bloodiest and wittiest anti-superhero show — in which the “supes” are the bad guys, arrogant and ruthless killers of innocent humans, and the Boys of the title are a bunch of losers who take them on
- Fleabag (amazon)
Fleabag is a hilarious and heartbreaking show about all the endless mistakes of a broken young woman who keeps breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience, sometimes while she’s in the middle of a conversation with somebody on her plane of reality.
- Evil Genius (Netflix)
Narrates the real story behind a 2003 incident in Erie, PA in which a pizza delivery man was used as part of a twisted and intricate bank robbery scheme. This documentary crime portrays death, desire, lies and obsession, with a scrappy melting pot of the lowest class in the American society. The narrative is so intricate that it’s almost hard to believe is a real story, rather than an engaging screenplay perfectly crafted for the morbid curiosity of the audience.It’s also worth to mention other shows you may have already known:
Mr Robot (Netflix)
Better Call Saul (Netflix)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Don’t Fuck with Cats (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)If you folks pick some of the shows in the above list, the lockdown will certainly be more bearable!
CJ De Silva, Creative Director, TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno
- Salt Fat Acid Heat (Netflix)
If there’s one thing we’ve all done this quarantine or at least tried to do, it’s cooking. For an art- based creative like me who happens to be a noob in the kitchen, Salt Fat Acid Heat made me understand food through more familiar terms — elements. Just like elements of design! The host, chef, and food writer Samin Nosrat, travels all around the world to explore local flavors and rich cultures. Forget recipes, forget procedures! This series will let you discover what truly makes food delicious.
- Cobra Kai (Netflix)
While most people’s idea of nostalgia is Star Wars, I’ve always gravitated towards The Karate Kid. And thirty years later, here comes Cobra Kai. It’s basically The Karate Kid, but from the point of view of the “villain”, Johnny Lawrence. Expect fun karate training vignettes, heartwarming sensei-student moments, teen romance, tons of nostalgic parallels and literal flashbacks. The show also waxes off the “good vs. bad” trope of its source material as it pokes fun at the outdated machismo and petty rivalry of its main characters.
- Euphoria (HBO)
At first, I decided to watch Euphoria because of its viral make-up looks and my general desire to keep up with the Zoomers. But suddenly, I found myself binging one episode after another. The characters are so fleshed out, you’ll finish the season feeling like you’ve known them since childhood. The show’s creators also made sure the cast had diversity with its offbeat and on- point casting. The art director in me went giddy with all the fresh directorial flourishes, hyper- stylised production design and gorgeous photography. Some scenes can be quite graphic, to the point of being visceral. Euphoria aims to shock, but thankfully, it does so with much substance.
- High Fidelity (HULU)
This Hulu series is a nuanced gender flip reboot of the popular Nick Hornby novel (and the 2000 John Cusack film). Same premise, but with relevant cultural updates. Rob still owns the record shop Championship Vinyl, but is now a biracial, bisexual woman, played with effortless cool by Zoë Kravitz. Rob still deals with her recent break-up by reflecting on her past romances, hunting down her Top 5 All Time heartbreaks. Music is still the core of this series, but this time around, it’s free from the white male mansplaining snobbery of its predecessors. I will stop now as I don’t want to spoil it, and maybe this is an oversell, but I like this better than the movie. In so few words, High Fidelity 2020 is like a delightful cover of a classic pop song.