My brand of nerd largely exists in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, something you can thank the Harry Potter series and my father for. While it occasionally fans out to other genres and types, it is pretty much guaranteed that I will like anything sci-fi, especially if there is time travel, space travel, or magic. Because of this, I watch at lot of sci-fi/fantasy shows and have read hundreds of books in the genre. So, I’ve decided to list my top 5 sci-fi/fantasy shows that I have watched in the last year. The ranking isn’t exactly accurate, but it’ll give you a rough idea of the shows I love. If you haven’t watched them yet, I strongly recommend them.
5. Sense8, Netflix
This show came out fairly recently on Netflix (which means you can binge the whole 1st season). I decided to try it out mostly because of Freema Agyeman, who plays my favorite Doctor Who companion Martha Jones. She isn’t even a main character, but she is the reason I even noticed the show in the first place.
Sense8 is about 8 people across the world who suddenly find themselves connected through their brains. They can see each other, see what is happening to each other, and even help out each other when they need it. All the while, there is this corporation after them trying to destroy them.
One of the most shocking things about Sense8 is how diverse it is. Whereas you might expect the main characters to be a bunch of white people with a token person of color, here we get an array of different people with different experiences. It was strange to me how much the diversity surprised me; usually I’m good with just a few characters who aren’t straight white cis men. My only issue with this—and it took me a while to figure out why I was bothered—was the depiction of most of the black people in the show (aside from Capheus who is the main character from Kenya). Black men in particular in this show are pretty much shown to be thugs, whether they are black American gang members in Chicago or Kenyan gangs in Nairobi. There is also a very small number of black women in the show, namely Amanita (played by Freema Agyeman) and Capheus’s boss’s daughter. Other than that, black women barely exist.
For a show that seems to be actively working to showing diverse experiences, it falls short in that aspect. However, I did like this show a lot overall and hope that it will be renewed by Netflix.
4. Orphan Black, BBC
This is a show that I started watching while at a friend’s house. She had the first 2 seasons on DVD so we binge-watched them over Spring Break. It’s a show about a woman named Sarah Manning, who finds out that she is a clone. All the way through season 3 (which just went off a few weeks ago), Sarah and her “sestras” fight to have body autonomy from the organization who created them. It gets complicated sometimes, but it is a really interesting show that uses science at the forefront.
The best thing about this show is Tatiana Maslany, who plays Sarah and about a billion other clones throughout the show. In each episode, she plays at least 4 characters (Sarah, Cosima, Allison, and Helena) but sometimes does more. The most astonishing part about it is that you start to forget that these characters are not separate people and that they are actually played by one person. If you saw Maslany, you would think she was the most like Sarah (minus the British accent), but you might forget that she is also a huge array of characters, some of which only pop up for an episode or two.
The only thing about this show is that sometimes the writing is weak or leaves holes, but they are usually able to cover it up through great acting (mostly on Maslany’s part though the others aren’t bad). I would definitely recommend this show, though just be warned that it is way gorier than you would expect from a science show about clones.
3. Firefly, Fox (Netflix)
This show is much older than the other shows on this list. Firefly was a television show in 2002 on Fox, until it got cancelled after one season. Soon after it gained a cult following, allowing it to come back and finish the story in the movie Serenity. It’s a space-western that follows Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of his ship Serenity. It has some really interesting commentary on oppressive government, capitalism, and feminism in a really dope setting.
The worst thing about this show is that it was cut so short. When watching Serenity, it’s a bit frustrating knowing that a lot of the development had to be sped up and put into 2 hours rather than another 13 hour season, or more seasons after that. Because of the constraints, some characters are flatter than others, but to be honest, if there had been more seasons, I don’t think that would have been a problem.
I definitely recommend watching this; you can find the whole season on Netflix.
2. Game of Thrones, HBO
So Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows out right now. If you’ve been following along with the blog from the beginning, you’ll notice that most of my posts have some reference to Westeros or another and it’s because of how amazing I think this story is. As per usual, I love the books much more than the show, but I do think the show is well done despite some of its problematic parts.
I started watching the show after finishing the 3rd book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series A Storm of Swords. It was while season 3 was on, so I thought I would get that far in the book series and be able to watch the show without really being spoiled. Admittedly, some of my love for the books bleeds into my love of the show but I’m okay with that. My favorite thing about the show is that it is about really human people—there are no clear cut good and evil people (aside from Joffrey), and it’s really a show about family, religion, politics, and honor. The characters mess up a lot and do ridiculous things that have huge implications BUT none of that really matters because of the ice zombies that everyone is somehow ignoring, but are growing stronger everyday. I’ve always thought this was a good analogy to global warming in the real world, except for the fact that they are literally dead ice people.
If you like fantasy and magic, then you should definitely watch this show. There is a lot of violence against women, however, and while it serves a purpose sometimes, other times it feels gratuitous, so be forewarned.
1. Doctor Who, BBC
I got into Doctor Who pretty late in the game, but it was Robyn who turned me on to the show. It was during winter break about 2 years ago and I binged the first 7 seasons during that time. Doctor Who follows an alien (called a Time Lord) who travels throughout time and space and keeping the universe safe from evil aliens. It’s a really fun concept, and the show has been around for over 50 years now, so that should tell you how good it is.
I’m pretty much here for anything with time travel, and the Doctor is such a silly but brilliant character that there are very few episodes I don’t like. What’s great about this show is that it is child-friendly. While some of the issues it deals with can be serious, it is just light enough that kids will enjoy it and adults will too. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing, as time travel is, but it works for the most part.
One of the cool things about Doctor Who, which contributes to the longevity of the show, is that the Doctor goes through a process of regeneration. This means that whenever the Doctor is about to die, his cells regenerate themselves, making him almost completely a new person. This means that the actor who plays the Doctor can change often. As of right now, we are on the Twelfth Doctor (or Thirteenth if you want to count the War Doctor). My favorite, however, is the Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant.
**Honorable mentions: Dollhouse, Sleepy Hollow, Marvel (Agents fo SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil)