Black Mirror: The best anthologies on TV
Black Mirror returned for a fifth season last night for more terror, technophobe themes, and incredibly disturbed twists. While you’re bingewatching, plan ahead with the best anthology series to keep your thirst quenched. Slurp!
Airing on and off from 1955 to 1965, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was (and still is) one of the best written series ever made, at the time offering a weekly display of genius tales filled with suspense and mystery.
By avoiding the constraints of other anthology series, Hitchcock (Psycho) solidified the concept as something unpredictable and offered classic episodes based on numerous Roald Dahl stories such as “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “Man from the South”. The opening remains to be one of the most iconic of all time, too.
American Horror Story
Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk’s horror anthology goes for broke with every season, ramping up the sex, violence, and OMG scares every time and presenting a series-long storyline with its own beginning, middle, and end. Although it’s hard to pick a best, so far our fave has to be Asylum, telling the classic story of a journalist (Sarah Paulson) who ends up committed to the very institution she’s covering.
This show is so revered, it continues to be referenced in pop culture to this day. The many Twilight tales of suspense, sci fi, and the paranormal evoked themes of love, war, prejudice, and the tensions of contemporary society. Plus the twists were phenomenal – like the dude who wanted nothing but time (be careful what you wish for), or the guy who just couldn’t stand the “nice place”. Classics.
Based on short stories by Philip K. Dick – famous for his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (you know, the main inspiration behind Blade Runner) – some of the best are brought to life by the likes of Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Steve Buscemi (Ghost World), Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow), and a whole bunch of other Hollywood high flyers.
Awash with Hollywood talent (including Steven Spielberg in his first director role), Night Gallery featured stories of horror and the macabre, including ones involving the mistreatment of robotic maids and the perils of marrying into a family of witches. If you’re a horror fan who has not yet enjoyed the fanciful tales of Night Gallery, you should get on this now.
With each episode serving as a deliciously sinister story with an even more sinister twist, this show from the makers of The League of Gentlemen is nothing short of genius. Reece Shearsmith (High-Rise) & Steve Pemberton (Psychoville) prove their versatility in each episode, presenting a range of characters, from schizo teachers, to crossword-creating professors, to high-school stalkers.
If you’re looking for an innovative show to provoke the same feeling you get when you’re deep into an enthralling page turner, this is the one for you.
Described as Netflix’s most “Netflixy” show ever, Easy features a parade of flawed, self-interested sadsacks living in Chicago while trying to navigate through a modern tangle of love, sex, technology, and culture. Written & directed by Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies), it’s a unique watch, offering self-contained stories that always manage to reach some sort of meaningful resolution at the end.
One of the best things about anthology series is that they seem to cater to audiences of the horror persuasion. In Tales From The Crypt, half-hour stories incorporate many themes including horror, black magic, and sci-fi.
The show enjoyed unprecedented freedom in its storytelling, using the EC Comics umbrella from the 50s as its inspiration. But most importantly, Tales From The Crypt’s pulpy stories were the optimal material for Hollywood’s best to let their hair down and just have some freakin’ fun.