Five Totally Awesome Shows You Should Watch, But Can’t


2. My Mad Fat Diary

my mad fat diaryThis U.K. series debuted with just six episodes in January.  It looks like a funny, raunchy, heart-stirring dramedy, something that bears resemblance to Misfits but with less irreverence and more grounding in reality.  It attacks the topics of mental health and body image with a lot of honesty, humor, and heart.  It’s also set in the 90s, which automatically makes me want to watch it.  Because the first season only just wrapped up, I have hopes that we’ll see it here soon.  However, until we have a set distribution deal and airing date, My Mad Fat Diary is yet another show we have to watch with our noses pressed up against the window.


1. Nodame Cantabile

nodame cantabileNodame Cantabile, the Japanese manga-turned-anime-turned-live-action-drama, claims the top spot because it’s the only series on the list that I’ve actually seen, and can thus recommend without any doubt.  Nodame tells the story of Chiaki Shinichi, a brilliant-but-uptight aspiring conductor, and Noda “Nodame” Megumi, a gifted young pianist.  Watch it for the soundtrack: no, seriously.  I would have never said I didn’t like classical music, but I couldn’t say I loved it, or identify more than one or two pieces, until I stumbled across this show.

Nodame Cantabile has a bright, colorful cast of characters and a sweeping, gorgeous soundtrack.  It’s a whole lot of fun, and the entire series, plus its specials and two feature-length, theatrically released films, seems to fly by in an instant.  While I rooted for the romance at times almost in spite of myself (I’m not convinced Chiaki treats Nodame well enough until the very end), the real love story of the series is between artists and their music.  It’s a story about passion, and music, and finding one’s true path.

Unfortunately, Nodame Cantabile, the live-action version, is nearly impossible to find in the States.  I was only able to see it because I used to work near a library that stocked a bunch of Korean and Japanese dramas.  For those who aren’t so lucky, limited region free DVD sets are available on Amazon.

If you’re intrigued by Nodame but understandably don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a series that you aren’t sure you’ll like, there are other options: the original Nodame Cantabile manga is easy to find for cheap (or free at a library).  The anime, which follows the manga much more closely than the live-action series, is available for free on Sony’s streaming site Crackle.  Try either of these out, and if you like what you see, I highly recommend the live action series.

The existence of this list and the many shows that could populate it only further serves to underline a point we’ve made a couple of times: the Internet is changing the way we watch television and movies.  If companies want us to watch their shows legally, they need to make them readily available.  It’s too easy to learn about new shows from others who do have access to them.  Most people would choose to stream something legally first, if that were an option.  Hopefully it will be soon for the shows on this list.

Know of somewhere we can watch any of these shows?  Want to point out any series we missed?  Let us know in the comments below!

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