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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Recapping summer TV favorites

If you’re anything like me, summertime is for catching up on TV shows. This season brought the latest installments of fan-favorite shows like “Stranger Things,” “Never Have I Ever” and “Only Murders in the Building,” but also fresh and exciting programs. I will be recapping four of my favorite new shows from the past few months in this article. Happy watching! 

“The Bear” 

Hulu cooked up a smart, heartfelt new show with “The Bear,” which follows Chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) as he tries to revitalize a struggling sandwich shop in Chicago following his brother’s death. Carmy’s fine dining background clashes with the staff’s traditional values, especially gruff, old-school Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). The arrival of talented but inexperienced Chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) further complicates the dynamic, and chaos ensues. 

“The Bear” packs eight short episodes full of high-intensity situations and whip-smart humor, with dozens of montages of the chefs preparing their famous beefsteak sandwiches. “The Bear” is not a quiet show, and it asks a lot of its viewers. The tense, high-pressure restaurant environment is brought to life on-screen as characters scream, swear and talk over each other. Things are set on fire, knives slip off counters, food is burned. The exploration of friendships, family, food and grief feels authentic even if it’s rough around the edges. And no spoilers here, but the twist ending sets “The Bear” up for an interesting second season. 


Have you ever wished you could leave work behind when you leave the office? Well, in the world of Apple TV’s hit show “Severance,” a futuristic company (with nefarious undertones) have undergone a surgical procedure where their work and home memories are permanently severed. The show follows Mark (Adam Scott), who is struggling with the loss of his wife and simultaneously becoming more aware of conflict in and outside of work. The arrival of a new coworker, Helly (Britt Lower), raises more questions about the origins and use of the mysterious severance procedure. 

Kudos to “Severance” for bringing such a unique and insane concept to life, but do not expect to get all the answers by the end of the season. Mark and Helly perform a job that is undisclosed to the audience, and due to the nature of the severance procedure, they can never see their complete reality. The show raises interesting questions about work-life balance, the bleak nature of corporate work and the grieving process. Although the show is dystopian, it does not seem too far removed from reality. “Severance” is not fast-paced, and small moments and bits of information build to a dramatic, stressful conclusion. I was biting my nails by the finale episode and am eagerly anticipating season two. 

“The Dropout” 

“The Dropout” proves that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. This limited mini-series follows the dramatic rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) and her defunct company Theranos, which raised billions of dollars under the false promise of developing new blood testing technology. Throughout eight episodes on Hulu, viewers watch Holmes grow up and drop out of Stanford University before starting Theranos with her on-again, off-again partner, Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews). The lies, fraud and coverup keep snowballing, building into a disaster you can’t look away from. 

“The Dropout” is a thrilling story of deception, but it is also a look into a twisted partnership and the price of ambition. Seyfried, who recently won an Emmy for her excellent portrayal of the role, nails Holmes’ awkward mannerisms and deep voice. Although you may be familiar with the scandal, this mini-series gives insight into how it developed and spiraled out of control. It also introduces compelling storylines with Holmes’ family members, journalists and Theranos employees. It’s a treat to watch this maddening, jaw-dropping tale unfold in a well-crafted performance. 

“Conversations with Friends” 

Sally Rooney’s debut novel hits the big screen with this Hulu adaptation. “Conversations with Friends” follows smart, introspective Frances (Alison Oliver, in her debut television role), a college student in Dublin, Ireland and her friend and ex-girlfriend, Bobbi (Sasha Lane). Frances and Bobbi meet bubbly writer Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and her shy actor husband, Nick (Joe Alwyn), leading to a blossoming of platonic and romantic connections within the group. 

Much like the eponymous novel, “Conversations with Friends” bumbles along in a “no plot, just vibes” kind of way. It’s a slice-of-life television show with beautiful shots of Ireland and Croatia, the two locales where the characters travel on vacation. It also includes tender moments surrounding Frances’ development as a young woman. Throughout twelve episodes, she deals with health problems, sex and intimacy, self-harm, family struggles, her writing and her friendships. “Conversations with Friends” masterfully builds chemistry and tension between the main characters as they fall in love and keep secrets from each other. The dynamics between the four main characters are blurry and messy, but I think Oliver anchors the show well. Despite mixed reviews, I enjoyed the show and would recommend it to fans of Rooney’s work especially. Plus, the soundtrack features a fabulous new song from Phoebe Bridgers.

Charlie Keohane

Charlie Keohane ’24 (she/her) is an Editor at Large. She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and a Senior Writer.   

She is an environmental writing major and a psychology minor from Northern California. Outside of academics, Charlie is a Senior Admissions Fellow at the Middlebury Admissions Office. She also is involved with the women’s track team and hosts Witching Hour, a radio show on 91.1 WRMC. In Spring 2023, she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching Greta Gerwig movies, polar plunging, sending snail mail, and FaceTiming her rescue dog, Poppy.