Imagine the following: you have your hot plate of food in front of you and you’re nibbling around the sides scrolling through Netflix, waiting to eat as you watch… several minutes later you’re still scrolling and your food is now unpalatably cold. Whether it be Netflix, Prime, Youtube or any other entertainment source of your choice, the chances are, you spend entirely too long picking what to watch. Well panic no more and keep scrolling to read up on our recommendations for what to watch, whatever the mood or occasion.
A Sexy and Scandalous Period Drama: Versailles
Versailles tells the story of Louis XIV (the fourteenth) and his great dream to turn a humble hunting lodge into the most beautiful palace of them all, the palace of Versailles. The show ran for three seasons, each filled with scandal, political intrigue, international politics and romance. Of course this show cannot be taken as historical fact and should be viewed merely as a dramatic rendition of historical fact. The characters are well rounded and deeply flawed, meaning that the viewer becomes increasingly invested in their stories. The show is set against the backdrop of European monarchs vying for power over each other, growing unrest amongst the French nobility and commoners and the romantic and personal lives of the nobility who are made to live at Versailles by the King. The relationship between the King and his many mistresses is particularly entertaining, as is the complex relationship between the King and his brother, who seem to hate each other most of the time except when it matters most. Interestingly, relationships between members of the same gender are also treated in a very open minded and refreshingly “normalised” way, which is a noteworthy point for a period drama and brings with it an added layer of scandal and heartbreak. This is the perfect show to watch with a glass of wine on a rainy monsoon evening, and get lost in a world of ballgowns and perfect long luscious hair (which is actually seen on the men).
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 9/10 (Think Game of Thrones but in ball gowns)
Stranger Danger on a whole other level: The Serpent
This show was the television equivalent of a page turner. Based on the exploits of the infamous Charles Sobhraj (who as of 2021 is still imprisoned here in Nepal) and his journey of crime throughout the world, this series will have you hooked from the very beginning. We follow Sobhraj and his companions as they plot and murder their way through unsuspecting travellers in Thailand, Hong Kong, France, Pakistan and of course Nepal! The way that suspense and anticipation is built up so subtly by this show is very impressive and despite the fact that I only watched it because I knew Nepal was portrayed in it, the brilliant writing and story building is what got me so invested. We see the events unfold through the lens of Sobhraj himself but also through the point of view of Herman Knippenberg who was a Dutch diplomat living in Bangkok (the city where Sobhraj lived in the mid 70s) and are taken on a roller coaster cat and mouse chase. I sat on the edge of my seat and was close to screaming in frustration as I saw how many times Sobhraj came close to being caught and yet seemed to escape just in time. The coincidences along with the bizarre, and at times truly disturbing, events that take place seem almost too cinematic to be real, but rest assured that the show is based on real life events, albeit with some creative liberties taken. If you think that what you see on screen is crazy, just keep in mind that the creators of the show mentioned that they actually had to cut out a lot of the real life events that took place as they were deemed to be so incredibly insane that audiences likely wouldn’t believe them to be true! Of course seeing the Nepal of the 1970s was also an intriguing and entertaining factor, as we see our country in its heyday as the end point of the “Hippie Trail” that many young adventurers drove in the 1960s and 70s. It is a world of drug fuelled spiritualism and raw natural beauty that we Kathmandu residents of the twenty-first century know nothing of. In addition to the focus on Nepal, the 70s fashion is another reason in itself to watch this show. I know that most of the people in the show are criminals but they are certainly very well dressed and I would love to have all of Marie-Andrée’s (Charles’ female companion) clothes! I won’t give away much more about this story as it is one that is worth watching with as little knowledge of the events that took place as possible. However I did enjoy googling what happened to the real life people involved in the events as soon as I had finished watching it. Even though I knew the show most likely ended with Sobhraj being caught in Nepal after evading the law for many many years, I got completely hooked on this show and would say that it is a must watch. I would recommend finding a partner to watch this with as it is definitely a story you will want to discuss and dissect. Fair warning though, this show is quite disturbing and twisted, made all the more scary when you think that its all based on real events and the man responsible is right here in Kathmandu.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 4/10
Escape to another world: Shadow and Bone
Shadow and Bone is a Netflix show based on two different series of books by the same author. We are thrown into a fantasy world of Grishas (people with magical abilities) and men, and a complex geo-political situation between the two parts of the country of Ravka which are separated by a vast area of darkness called “the Fold” which houses all manner of demonic creatures. While the world of the Grishas is obviously fictitious, there are clear Eastern European and particularly Tsarist Russian influences on the show, as seen in the hierarchical order of citizens along with the names and fashion depicted. This show is a melting pot of political drama and fantasy as it touches upon revolution, oppression and class division but also on magic stags, prophecies and a search for the greatest power. The obvious political undercurrent is what drew me to this show and is why I enjoyed it so much. The story explores topics such as racism, xenophobia and segregation which are not only historical realities but also issues that we struggle with today. By portraying these real-life problems in a fantastical setting, we can see how explicitly harmful they are and how getting to know people for who they are is much more important than any preconceived notions we may have of them based on their ethnicity or background. The show teaches an important lesson about trust and loyalty from which I think we can all take away something positive.
The story itself is also deeply engaging, and there are numerous plot lines that intertwine and set up future events (which will hopefully be explored in further seasons of the show). Like with many shows based on expansive and complicated fantasy worlds, this one can be a bit of a challenge to follow in the earlier episodes as there are so many storylines and characters, but don’t worry within a few episodes you’ll know exactly who’s who. This is a great show to watch as a family if you have older children, or to enjoy on your own when you want to escape to a fantasy world of magic and monsters.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 3/10
History and Tragedy: The last Czars
If the Tsarist Russian inspirations in Shadow and Bone sound fascinating to you, I would definitely give “The Last Czars” a watch. This is a limited series of 6 parts which explores the life and eventual downfall of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their children. The episodes comprise partly of testimonials from historians and Russia experts and of dramatised scenes featuring the Romanov royal family and other notable individuals such as Rasputin. The show depicts and critically analyses the lead up to the Russian Revolution and the factors which contributed to the overthrow of the autocratic regime while also painting a personal and humanising picture of the Tsar and his family. While I studied the Russian Revolution and overthrow of the Romanov Dynasty both at school and at University, I looked at the events from a purely analytical and academic point of view. This show made me realise that each event in history involved real people with real emotions and lives and that sometimes history is shaped by these personal human elements much more than vast political movements. Whatever your political views are, after watching this you will feel a sense of heartbreak for the people involved in every great social or political upheaval. This is an educational series that blends storytelling and analysis to produce a very entertaining watch. This is the perfect show for those who love history documentaries and want to learn more, but also want to be pulled into a cinematic story at the same time.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 5/10
Mind Boggling Suspense: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
This is one of those shows that you probably won’t understand for the first few episodes, and then suddenly it starts to click, and then you’re hooked! The main characters are Todd, a seemingly boring young man who works in a hotel and his surprise encounter with his new “friend” and colleague Dirk Gently. Dirk who is a “holistic” detective claims that “everything is connected” and that he is guided by the universe to new cases for him to solve. Along with the eccentric and confusing Dirk, there are also many other characters on the show who claim to be guided by the universe, and count on the powers that be to take them where they need to be, when they need to be there and with whom they need to be there with. These characters include the Rowdy 3, who are actually four characters who destroy everything in their path and Bart, a “holistic” assassin who is guided by the universe to her targets. All of these whimsical characters populate a world that is highly entertaining and at times very difficult to understand. We follow these characters as their lived intertwine as they all become involved in the process of solving a murder case. There are so many moments while watching this show that you feel a literal lightbulb must have turned on over your head as you figure out yet another plot point which further connects all the elements of the show. Remember: everything is connected. The second season just takes the craziness to another level and will ensure that you can never watch just one episode of this show.
This is a good show to watch as a family or with friends as you will want to discuss your theories and help each other untangle the messy web of information the viewer is given as you attempt to figure out what exactly is going on.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 2/10
A Heartwarming Story of Acceptance: Luca
Luca is the latest animated film made by Disney and Pixar. It is set in a beautiful town on the Italian Riviera during what seems to be the mid twentieth century. While the setting and food alone are enough to make this film worth watching, it is the truly inspiring and uplifting story that makes this film one that I think everyone should watch. Seriously, if you take only one recommendation from this article let this be the one.
Luca is a fish-like creature who lives in the sea near a human town. He is forbidden by his parents to visit the human town as the people there are notorious for hunting sea-monsters like Luca. The fish-people appear to be human when they are on dry land, but water reveals their true identities. Of course Luca and his companion Alberto eventually go to live in the human town as “normal” boys. They must do everything they can to stop the people from finding out their true nature as this will lead to them being hunted like animals.
The reason that I speak so highly of this film is that it shows us the importance of accepting those who are different from us. No one in the world should have to hide who they really are due to fear of being hunted and ostracised and this film will hopefully teach children and adults to be more open minded and accepting. Many people have stated that the notion of fish-people who must pretend to be humans is a metaphor for homosexuality, with many pointing to the close and loving relationship portrayed between Luca and Alberto. I could certainly see the validity of this claim as I watched the film, and this interpretation of the story just made the viewing experience that much more heartwarming. You will finish this film with a smile on your face and will feel happy that we live in a world where every day more people are standing up and living their lives exactly as they please. Maybe this will encourage you to do more of the same.
Luca is most definitely one of my favourite animated films of all time and I would recommend it to everyone regardless of your age. This is the type of film that is not only bound to keep children enthralled, but also offers valuable lessons to people of all ages.
Where to watch: Disney+
Nudity Rating: 0/10 (This is a very child friendly film)
For those who miss the thrill of travel: Travel Youtubers
If you have been an avid Aviskara reader, then you may have realised that travel is one of the things we are most passionate about. The excitement of meticulously overpacking my bags, driving to the airport in a sleepy daze and getting on a flight was an experience I very much took for granted in the years before the pandemic. Now those butterfly inducing feelings seem like a distant memory and who knows how long it will be before travelling for leisure will be a safe option again. In the meantime I have been consuming travel content on Youtube at an alarming rate. Travel Youtubers have a knack for making it feel like you are right there next to them experiencing all the incredible offerings of destinations around the world while also providing prospective travellers with well researched information. The channels I would recommend most are “Kara and Nate”, “The Endless Adventure” and “Flying the Nest” (all linked below). These are all channels run by couples who travel full time. All of these channels will give you some serious FOMO but will also educate you on how to travel efficiently and how to find those lesser known attractions and modes of transportation. Each of these channels also features a wide variety of accommodation types, from unique treehouses and tiny homes to budget hostels and luxury resorts. The three channels I have mentioned each have hundreds of videos on virtually every country in the world, and are sure to satiate your thirst for travel and also help you plan your next trip. While many travel Youtubers have now turned to converting vans and RVs and focusing more on road trips (due to the pandemic travel restrictions), you can dive into their videos from earlier years and there are certainly more than enough to keep you entertained for weeks.
Where to watch: YouTube
Nudity Rating: 0/10
For more TV and film recommendations read: