Five Thought-Provoking Shows Worth Watching

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By: Gwendolyn Y. McNutt, CSEP (@gmcnuttplans)

In today’s sea of reality TV, it’s refreshing to find a quality scripted series that not only warrants watching, but also evokes conversation, requires you to ponder current events, and allows you to evaluate what’s happening in the world. And it’s even better when those shows are available to you on your own terms. I love the ability to catch up on old shows that I may have missed, or binge watch current seasons. However, even more than binging, I love to watch television that holds my attention and tells a great story while examining life through rich and interesting characters. Currently, there are several scripted television shows that hit the mark with important subject matter and don’t shy away from difficult story lines. Here are five thought-provoking shows worth watching.

1. American Crime (ABC/Seasons 1 and 2 Streaming on Netflix)
Now in its third season, this anthology series never fails to tackle important issues such as prejudice, race relations, crime and punishment, and the judicial system as a whole. The ensemble cast, led by Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, and Regina King, are stellar as they explore a new set of thought-provoking experiences each season. American Crime gets the audience talking and resonates with them because the characters and story lines are raw, real, and ripped from the headlines. American Crime is definitely binge worthy television. Season three is currently airing on ABC.

2. Shots Fired (FOX)
In this new limited series drama, Sanaa Lathan portrays a member of the Justice Department investigating the fatal shooting of a Caucasian college student by an African-American police deputy. This drama shines a light on the police shootings, racial tensions, demonstrations, and the public outrage that is currently happening across the country. Although this series is just getting started, there is definitely room for these characters to grow and evolve in dramatic fashion. And there is also an important story here to tell. The show’s cast also includes Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, and Jill Hennessy. Shots Fired premiered on March 22, and is currently airing on Fox.

3. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX/Streaming on Netflix)
This limited series chronicles the trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995 for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. It also gives an in-depth look at the major players on both the prosecution and defense teams, along with a glimpse into the impact the trial had on each of their personal lives. The acting is superb in this 10-episode docu-drama, with standout and award-winning performances from Sterling K. Brown and Sarah Paulson. This show definitely deserves a binge-worthy look.

4. When We Rise (ABC/Streaming on Hulu)
When We Rise is a mini-series focused on the gay rights movement in the United States beginning in 1969. It chronicles some of the personal, professional, and political struggles of real men and women who created change for their families and communities. This series stirs up deep emotions as it gives a realistic historical account of LGBT activism. The eight-hour miniseries includes a star-studded cast and features, among others, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, and Guy Pearce.

5. Homeland (Showtime/Streaming on Hulu)
Now in its sixth season, each Homeland episode consistently provides a heart-pounding, nonstop hour of action for its viewers. Lead by Claire Danes’ character Carrie Mathison, the show explores terrorism on many levels, including home grown and abroad. Add to that Carrie’s volatile nature and instability, and you are never quite sure when this character will blow her top. Homeland also investigates public perceptions and misconceptions about particular groups of people and terrorism. Carrie’s unpredictability is balanced out by Mandy Patinkin’s character, Saul Berenson and Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn. Homeland pulls you in at the beginning of the show and doesn’t let go until the end.

Each of these shows draws the audience in with current events, honest and interesting characters, and the ability to get people talking to each other on social media and long after the show is over.


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