When you binge-watch TV, give the classics a chance



We seem to be in a sort of golden age of television. There are so many quality series on TV and streaming services like Netflix that at times picking a show to watch can seem overwhelming.  I can’t even count the number of times my girlfriend and I have spent more time trying to pick a show than we spent actually watching.

Despite the wide variety of shows from “The Walking Dead” to “House of Cards,” there is a whole slew of series that aired years before the current students at UK were even preparing for their college careers.  With that in mind, here are two classic HBO series that UK students should go back and watch.


Before “Prison Break” or “Orange is the New Black,” there was “Oz.”  Originally airing in 1997, this was HBO’s first hour-long drama series and set the stage for many successful drama series currently on TV.  Set in the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility for the entirety of the series, each episode of “Oz” observes the daily life of the American prisoner and offers a no-holds-barred account of life behind bars.  This series isn’t for the faint of heart.  Brutal racism, prison rape, murder, masturbation and male nudity are all frequently depicted.  The series specifically focuses on an experimental unit within the prison known as “Emerald City,” where the prisoners are separated into certain social groups and gangs – the Italian mobsters, the black and Mexican street gangs, the Aryan Brotherhood, etc. The biggest thing to remember when watching “Oz” is to never get attached to any character, even the main ones.  Characters are constantly cycling in only to be killed off, so it’s best to not make any attachments during the show’s duration.

The Wire

If “Oz” set the stage for many current drama series on TV, “The Wire” set the standard for what a TV masterpiece should look like.  Debuting in 2002, the series was hailed by many critics as one of, if not the best, drama series to ever air on TV.  Set in the notoriously violent streets of inner city Baltimore, the series focuses on different institutions within the American city.  It shows how the police, drug dealers, politicians, journalists and blue collar workers all interact with each other and cope with the highs and lows of their various professions.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of “The Wire” is its realism.  The dialogue feels like real life conversation, and the series’ portrayal of urban life and the struggles of people who live there is spot on.  Forewarning, if you decide to watch “The Wire” (which you should) I would advise doing so on a weekend or free day, because if you watch one episode you will be so hooked you’ll want to watch an entire season in one day.

So the next time you decide to have a TV show binge-watching day, instead of watching zombies or Kevin Spacey as president, step back a few years and watch two shows that put the hour-long drama series on the map.

Cheyene Miller is the managing editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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