Written by Jack Whitehurst ‘20
There are hundreds of TV shows on Netflix, HBO and Showtime, but only a small handful of these shows are genuinely worth watching. I sent a survey to the Durham Academy students, faculty and staff not just to understand what our favorite shows are, but also to understand what genres people like. With the 146 responses in mind, I write this piece now to help us all answer the all-consuming question: “What should I watch?”
The survey listed about 50 different shows and asked students to choose their favorite. From “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Breaking Bad,” around 30 percent of the survey responses were dramas. Some people wrote about “Breaking Bad” (about 3 percent) one faculty member calling it “very entertaining and addicting.” Many more people wrote about “Grey’s Anatomy” (about 9 percent), with one student writing, “I like the drama, the storyline, the plot, and the character development.” Although it was not highly represented in the survey (suggested 0 times for top Netflix show, but suggested seven times on Showtime), the few people who wrote about “Dexter” highly praised its quality. One student remarked, “‘Dexter’ is my favorite show of all time. Incredible writing paired with the acting of Michael C. Hall can't be beat.” The show is about a Miami native who is a blood-splatter expert by day and a serial killer by night. Michael C. Hall does an incredible job in playing a sociopath, and the writers skillfully use voiceover to convey his thoughts to the viewers. With eight streamable seasons on Netflix, “Dexter” is a great show to binge-watch this Thanksgiving.
The second highest rated TV show on Netflix according to DA (at over 10 percent approval) was “Stranger Things,” with one member of the DA community commenting, “This show has always been very different from other shows I have seen before,” and another saying, “I love the combination of science fiction, fantasy, a little bit of horror.” “Stranger Things” is a series that combines the techniques of classic horror with the wardrobe and set design of modern terror. However, the TV show that inspired this innovative style is “American Horror Story” (AHS). “AHS” was incredibly popular about five years ago but has since decreased in its popularity. Every season of “AHS” is different, but the main idea is that it follows a group of people who must deal with the supernatural through many scary twists and turns. One DA student said, “‘AHS’ keeps me interested and on my toes.” “AHS” currently has eight seasons (seven of them streamable on Netflix), so it is another fantastic show to binge-watch over the holidays.
Above any genre, DA loves sitcoms most of all. From “The Office” to “Friends” to “Parks and Recreation,” about 40 percent of students’ favorite shows were sitcoms. “The Office” was the most popular show on Netflix (about 17 percent approval). One student wrote, “The storyline is the perfect combination of funny and sweet, and the characters are so easy to empathize with.” Another commented, “It’s a show I can watch on repeat and never get sick of.” The same can be said about NBC’s “The Good Place.” This sitcom is about a woman who dies and goes to the Good Place (similar to heaven), but she is not actually supposed to be there. Michael Schur — the creator of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn 99” and a longtime writer for “The Office” — is also the creator of “The Good Place.” A fellow DA student put it best: “It's just really funny and… different [from] other comedies.” Another said, “[I chose] ‘The Office’ because of how different and interesting it is,” and ‘The Good Place’ goes one step further combining ethics lessons while making bathroom humor. This mix of highbrow and lowbrow comedy is what makes shows like “The Office” and “The Good Place” so great. If you are a fan of “The Office,” “The Good Place” is not a show you want to miss.
For some other fascinating statistics, out of the 146 people who answered, 91 percent use Netflix, 19 percent use HBO, 6 percent use Showtime, and 9 percent do not use any of these platforms. The most popular show that I did not list as an option was “Gossip Girl”, so two percent of entries listed it as their favorite on Netflix. The most popular show on HBO was a tie between “Game of Thrones” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” both encompassing eight percent of the responses. Thank you to all the survey participants for some great recommendations, and happy binge-watching!