Beyond Beans and Pythons: A Guide to Modern British Television

Growing up, our exposure to British pop culture was limited to either Mr. Bean or Monty Python, both of which were almost 20 years our elder when we first saw them. I don’t count the Spice Girls. Here are gems from our cousins in Great Britain, all of which can be accessed via Netflix.

  1. The IT Crowd- “The IT Crowd” is the British’s response to “The Big Bang Theory.” I don’t care for “Big Bang Theory,” as I find it too alienating with its jargon-reliant humor. Which is how I came up with this theory: “Big Bang” is for nerds; “The IT Crowd” is for geeks. For those of you who don’t know the difference, geeks are basically people who like weird and eccentric things. Not so much computer-savvy. Thus, most of us are geeks. The “IT Crowd” is about two IT guys who springboard off where SNL’s condescending IT guy left off in the ‘90s. They use wit and enthusiasm, or lack thereof, to battle a bustling office that is always in need of their assistance to which they usually reply, “Have you tried turning the computer on and off again?”
  2. Sherlock- While the British “Sherlock” is quite the binary of Guy Ritchie’s testosterone fueled Robert Downey Jr. fest, it capitalizes on things we have come to expect British gent charm, a robotic form of methodical deduction, an unwavering duty to queen and country, and style. The show is a reboot to the story of Sherlock Holmes, set in modern day London. Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, (Khan in “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and Watson is played by an equally talented Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit.”) Countless “CSI”-esque dramas have diluted the genre of crime-mystery. If you are looking for a fresh method of deduction, give “Sherlock” a go.
  3. Black Books- Dylan Moran plays the curmudgeonly bookstore owner who loathes when people visit his store. Moran puts on a sarcasm clinic that only ends when he stops to drink. It’s his cheeky-wit and creativity in finding ways to not do things that make “Black Books” truly entertaining to watch.
  4. Dr. Who- While this show is actually older than “Monty Python” and “Mr. Bean,” it has outlasted every science fiction show to date, including sci-fi powerhouse, “Star Trek.” The show has almost as many Dr. Whos as James Bonds and far too many bug-eyed villains to name. The main attraction of this series is time travel, which might be why the series has even outlasted the Castro administration. With endless directions for the plot to travel, the show is just as successful as it was in the 1960s, winning several awards and accolades within its craft.
  5. Derek- From the creator of the British Office, “Derek” takes place in a home for the mentally and physically disabled. The show approaches the topic with a rare form of sentimental yet unabashed irreverence. This show is certainly an answer to the speculation that it’s inappropriate to make jokes of the handicapped. The show stars Ricky Gervais as an autistic man who, through his years of being a resident has become a sort of common law caretaker to the home. He gives every resident dignity through his unfiltered interactions, however irreverent and tear jerking. Some of the notable regulars include: a head-butting nurse, a homeless sex addict, and a condescending groundskeeper.

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