Now we have reached mid-term, both procrastination and essay writing are at fever pitch. I think even the best of us have fallen victim to it, myself definitely included. It’s difficult in the stress of exam season not to want to escape for a little while and switch off. And sometimes that’s good for you, and if you treat it like a light at the end of an exam/essay tunnel, it can be a great motivator. So here are my top five short and welcome distractions, that won’t take up too much of your time.
1. Peep Show
Hailed by many to be that best British comedy of this century, I find myself in agreement. Focusing on two dysfunctional flatmates in their late to early thirties, ‘musician’ Jeremy Usborne (Robert Webb), and loan manager Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell), who spent much of their lives at odds with each other and trying to pretend that they are, in fact, normal human beings. Often flanked by the very Russell Brand-esque Super Hans (Matt Hill) and the infamous Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph), ridiculousness ensues, with gems such as “People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can’t trust people Jez.” And with it only being thirty minutes, and nine seasons, you can’t go wrong.All available on 4oD.
2. The Twilight Zone
Premiering in 1959 in the US, The Twilight Zone was a reaction to the growing paranoia and scientific thinking of the time. The anthology series is narrated by Rod Sterling, exploring strange human nature, often with the characters finding themselves in supernatural situations, and often the guilty punished. The series can veer from comedic to tragic, and is often steeped in irony and hubris. Most of the five seasons are available on YouTube and are good for when you need to think about something other than your essay title…. travel through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
3. Summer Heights High
Or anything else written and produced by Chris Lilley. In the mockumentary Lilley is a chameleon in the fictional ‘Summer Heights High’, playing Mr G, the ‘Director of Performing Arts’, Jonah a troublesome teenage boy, and Ja’mie, an exchange student from a private school. The series follows the lives of these characters in an Australian high school. The series explores a variety of different issues, from racism, sexism and homophobia to bullying, all the while in the midst of absurdist comedy. And as both Ja’mie and Jonah have been gifted their own spin off shows, ‘Ja’mie – Private School Girl’, and ‘Jonah from Tonga’ there’s a lot of Chris Lilley out there to enjoy.
4. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
This comedy follows the lives of Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), and Charlie (Charlie Day), friends and proprietors of an Irish bar in Philadelphia, as well as Dennis’s sister, Deandra ‘Sweet Dee’ ( Kaitlin Olson) and Dennis and Dee’s Dad, Frank (Danny DeVito). Originally being created on a budget of $85, written and starring Rob McElhenney, ‘The Gang’ often find themselves in a myriad of uncomfortable and preventable situations, and which because of their intense egocentrism and competitiveness, often gets a lot worse before it gets better.
For some reason, and often I’m not completely sure why, the show works. “Always Sunny” does border on the edge of bad taste sometimes but contains enough satire and wit to get away with it.
5. Adventure Time
Created by Pendleton Ward, the show follows the adventures of Finn the Human and his adoptive brother and best friend Jake the Dog, in which they go on to protect the land of Ooze from various enemies, in a variety of shapes and sizes (quite literally). This animation show has developed a strong cross-generational following, and seems to have a very committed fan base. Often totally bizarre, and leaving issues and plots quickly resolved, then un-resolved, this series rarely makes complete sense.
Though a cartoon, and looking like it was marketed to children, it can sometimes develop a dark edge. Featuring a variety of characters, from an Ice King who uses his beard to fly, to a Lumpy Space Princess who has the personality of a typical ‘valley-girl’, the vocal talents really bring this to life. And at an average of 12 minutes per episode, it’s the perfect post-essay reward.