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Media & Entertainment

Review(s): Netflix’s Dark & Big Mouth

Written by Claudia Arena

Ah, finally the holidays. After such an intense first semester of grad school, I am finally back to enjoying the privilege and pleasure of boredom. Long gone are my deadlines, I can sit back and think about having nothing to do! How wonderful. If you’re lucky to be in this exact situation, I might have something that might just help with your feelings of relaxation and provide you just enough entertainment to never have to leave the couch again.

While the holidays might be a time for feasting and family, they are also the perfect time to retreat under the covers and marathon your favorite shows. You know me by now, I am quite obsessed with my Netflix account and I religiously update my TVTime app to know just how much time of my life I’ve wasted on tv (almost 3 months, hurray!). As you may know already, in the past year Netflix has stepped up its game when it comes to original productions. Ranging from animated shows to drama to superheroes, the original Netflix catalogue has a little bit of everything for everyone.

In the past month of worrying about deadlines and enjoying a lack of real social life, I distracted myself from the misery of impeding exams with two Netflix originals that might just resonate with you. Here are some reflections on their best and worst moments (I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, promise) – who knows, they might just keep you entertained in the time between one family dinner and the next.

Ranging from animated shows to drama to superheroes, the original Netflix catalogue has a little bit of everything for everyone

Dark: The past is the future is the present, is… oh God, I lost track.
Boy, was I obsessed with Dark. The first season of what has been called the German Stranger Things debuted just about a month ago. The recipe is somewhat similar – kids, sinister events, people getting lost in the woods, the 80s. The cliffhanger of the very first episode will reveal the show to be way more than that. It is quite difficult to explain without spoiling anything, but this intricate story of a cursed town spans across generations, and spins on itself. It is a tale of predestination versus free will, one where twist after twist you are bound to become as shocked, confused and horrified as the protagonist Jonas, understanding his own fate.

PROs:
– The soundtrack, absolutely haunting. It is by Apparat (does this show get more German hipster than this?), and you can listen to it here
– Time. I can’t say more. But if you loved movies the likes of Memento or Inception, this show is for you.
– The narrative build up and the hints scattered across every scene were fantastic, and made me feel quite proud of myself when I figured a major plot point way before my boyfriend.
– The philosophy. This show wants you to think hard about the moral and philosophical implications of its take on time. Do we have free will? Or are we just pawns in a greater game of chess we cannot quite grasp?

CONS:
– The Lost effect.
Just like Lost (I never got over that ending, UGH), by the finale, the plot has buried itself so deeply in its own mythology and narration of predetermination that it is hard to see how things could change. A new season has already been announced, but can the show really go anywhere from where it has ended? I wonder.
– Too many characters. And they look quite similar. I promise you, it’s gonna take a while before you will remember who Helge, Tronte or Jonas are.
– Based on that, certain plot lines seemed self-serving and not really adding anything to the finale.

Score: 7.5

An underwhelming ending for a show whose pilot had me yelling and frantically clicking onto the next episode. Still pretty damn captivating, and how refreshing to be watching a non-US production!

Big Mouth: Possibly an all time favorite of 2017
I LOVE THIS SHOW. This weirdly animated series features a stellar voice cast, with people the likes of Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele (yes, the director of Get Out!), Maya Rudolph, etc. Not gonna lie, the look and premise of Big Mouth put me off at first, and I started watching by accident, but this hilarious take on puberty is absolutely refreshing. Never before had I watched such an accurate, painfully hilarious yet raw and resonating portrayal of some of the most confusing and bizarre years of my life. Big Mouth makes fun of the hormones, of discovering your body and not understanding what the hell is going on when you’re not a girl not yet a woman – but it does so in an understanding way. More like hey, this is normal, we’ve all been there and less of “Ugh, teenagers! Such monsters!”. Yes, puberty is scary, but it’s normal. And you will figure things out.

PRO’s:
– Do I really need to say more? Honestly. As a woman, it was refreshing to see an honest portrayal of what boys AND girls also go through in puberty. Yes, we are raging messes who suddenly hate their parents, yes we have sexual desires too. It’s all refreshingly normal, you will be fine.

CONS:
– NONE. I love this show!!!

Score: 9.5
I’m a tough one to impress, I know.

Cover: jgryntysz / Final editing: Ramona Nouse

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About the author

Claudia Arena

Sicily born and bred, Claudia is a seasoned expat in the Netherlands. After three years and a bunch of life crises in Maastricht, she’s now in Amsterdam causing trouble and studying Corporate Communication. Strongly opinionated about (almost) everything, she’s really (I mean, really) passionate about TV shows, good copywriting, feminism and pasta. Not necessarily in that order.