By Alexis Moore
Below are a list of my favorite Glow Up narratives – that is, the stories which take us through the becoming that makes us who we are (think coming of age, but at any time). Here are five of my favorites:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Genre: Supernatural She-Hero
No. of Eps: 144 (but I do recommend some crossover eps of Angel – S1Ep8 is a must for Buffy/Angel shippers)
Buffy is a coming of age story for the ages. Our lead, Buffy Summers, is a hero that is so intricately woven and so deeply human that I can’t help but see my life in hers. This is not because I’m a stake-wielding protector of the world, but because she amidst the unbelievable, she is real. She honestly struggles, bearing the weight of her gift, and depression and the contradiction of humanity. Ditto for the characters surrounding her. Prepare to laugh and cry and binge like you’ve never binged before.
Watch if You like: Strong female characters, wit, not leaving your house for days at a time, feeling conflicted, watching your faves suffer ;), amazing character development, pioneering television.
El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time In Between)
Genre: Historical Spy Drama
No. of Eps: 17
El Tiempo is the coming of age story the world needs, and not just because of it’s riveting drama. It’s not because of the espionage, or the passionate love triangles, or the way the show keeps you interested in even the little things. It’s that we get to watch Sira Quiroga – played stunningly by Adriana Ugarte – become. Become strong, become wise, become a force of nature. It is watching her be naïve, and broken, and lost in that deadly flurry of lust and wanderlust, and then standing, rooting, cheering as she builds her life from the ground up. She must; she is all she has. And it’s honestly compelling.
Watch if you like: Badass ladies, espionage, holding your breath in suspense, catching your breath in wonder, killer fashion, watching wronged-women rise above.
Jane The Virgin
No of eps: 44*
Jane Gloriana Villanueva is the shit. That’s just a fact. The premise may elicit eye rolls – a Virgin who is artificially inseminated with her boss’s sperm and thrust into a love triangle? – but because it balances itself with great writing, performances and truthful moments, it ends up being ridiculously fun. Not to mention a necessary addition to the Mainstream cannon of Latinx stories (breaking from the deeply false that this culture is monolithic. A win for representation everywhere, but that’s a lot to break down in a parenthetical!).
Watch if you like: Gloriously fleshed out female relationships, GINA RODRIGUEZ, saying “me” to things that are actually not you, joy, smart visual illustrations of emotion, joy.
Freaks and Geeks
No. of Eps: 18
Genre: Realist Teen Throwback
Lindsay Weir is trying to break free, and the whispers are only growing louder. Her rebel heart thump-thump-thumps till the A-student/good girl/perfect daughter is overtaken by it. This is the story of a girl unraveling, and the freaks and geeks who breathe life into hers. Besides being a ridiculously great piece of TV, it is a deep character study of what it is to be young and creating yourself. And it feels so real, guys. I first saw this show in my early years of high school, when the obligatory hard times of adolescence pushed me to seek solace in TV. I’m on my second viewing, and in a totally different skin, but this is one of those shows that seems to exist beyond time. Watch.
Watch if you like: Full+nuanced characters, killer performances, watching other people in awkward situations, ~feeling things~, grunge, A+ cinematography, teen angst.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend
Genre: Musical Comedy
No. Of Eps: 18*
This show is a feminist musical fantasy. In it, a serendipitous meeting causes adult woman Rebecca Bunch to quit her job and follow ex Josh Chan across the country. She’s running from the dull life she leads, but also the truth – that she’s in love with a man she hasn’t known since a months-long tryst at fifteen. On the surface, this may seem crazy, and well it is. Bunch is an interesting mix of depression, discontentment, and deep-buried issues, all hidden beneath a chipper exterior. She imagines scenes from her life as musical numbers (actually brilliant). She is weird, and deeply flawed. This is the show’s comedic genius, and also why we love her. Be prepared to belly-laugh, and bump the songs on Spotify long after it’s done.
Watch If You Like: Satire, secondhand embarrassment, Non-overwhelming musicals (like, two songs an episode, guys), interesting characters, cringe-inducing love triangles, well-done gay love-stories, hilarity, feminist critique.
*For now; Jane comes back October 17th and Crazy-Ex October 21st.
Photo credit to FBCOVERSTREET