Cord Cutters with Discerning Tastes | 2023 Top 5 With Uncommon Nasa

Back again is Uncommon Nasa: Ghettoblaster has let me talk about some great TV for a few years now, this year I wanted to really focus on what I thought was brilliant and worth your time.  So we are a Top 5 for 2023.  Only the heaviest of hitters.  We’re still keeping this to streaming platforms only, even though the lines between streaming, cable, and network TV continue to blur.  This was the year of the drama, as I’ve gotten down to 5 compelling dramas below.  Get these added to your personal cues!

5. The Other Black Girl | Season 1 (HULU)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show and even during the first few episodes, I wasn’t sure where it was going.  Which was a great thing.  This is a hard show to stay one step ahead of, its twists and turns bring on different points the show is trying to make.  It pulls in elements of time travel, hauntings, corruption, and sci-fi and balances them all with normality.  Yes, normality is the true boogeyman during this show, because you’re always left questioning what is really happening in a world that starts out so, for lack of a better term, basic.  It ends up being an incredible critique of corporate white society, the positions it places African Americans in, and the reactions and adjustments some African Americans make within that world.  Definitely an addictive binge-watch that moves fast.

4. Pokerface | Season 1 (Peacock)

It’s a shame this landed on Peacock, likely the least popular service on this list with a show that placed in my Top 5.  I’ll be turning my Peacock sub back on when Season 2 of this fun show returns.  Natasha Lyonne was on top of my last few of these lists whenever a Russian Doll season showed up and being that RD is one of my favorite shows of all time, Pokerface couldn’t be that far behind right?  While it’s not what Russian Doll is, it’s enough of the personality-driven character work that made RD what it was in an entirely different genre.  Replacing the sci-fi is an old-school detective genre.  This isn’t another in a long line of cop shows either, her main character helps solve crimes because of her ESP-like powers of detection but is a private citizen. After the first two episodes set up the plot, the show becomes essentially an anthology show centered around Natasha’s main character, Charlie.  This allows for some amazing features from a rotating all-star cast – some memorable performances come from Ron Perlman, Stephanie Hsu, Tim Meadows, Chloe Sevigny, and many more, with Benjamin Bratt taking the lead as an ongoing antagonist.  Of all of these 5 shows, this is the lightest, but still has a lot of heart and reaches some incredible emotional highs considering the format.

3. Swarm | Season 1 (Amazon Prime)

This show is completely fucked up, if you aren’t ready for a disturbing take on fandom, violence, isolation, and obsession this won’t be for you.  But I’m guessing if you’ve read this far, it probably is.  Dominique Fishback is a powerhouse in this show where she had to show the range of an actress that usually takes about 5 feature-length films to flesh out.  This had to be one of the most daunting and challenging lead roles anyone has ever taken, much less this year.  Considering this was a show co-produced by Donald Glover, it being loaded with critiques of celebrity and fandom aimed at a variety of celebrities – mostly Beyonce – it holds a special weight being that he himself is a celebrity held in a cult-like reverence by some.  It’s a shocking show that takes you on a roller coaster ride from E1 to the Finale.

2. Reservation Dogs | Season 3 (FX on HULU)

I’ve mentioned Reservation Dogs on previous lists, it’s been great since the first season and finished its series run this year on a high note.  It’s a show that never compromised the identity of First Nation peoples, but also maintained an inclusiveness to anyone that might be interested in these characters and the lives of those around them.  I learned more about Native Americans’ lives through this show than anything else in the media and feel thankful for that.  This season continued the recognition of the spirit world in new and profound ways, keeping a growing mysticism throughout the 3 seasons.  RD took its time this year, bringing closure to almost everyone in the cast, including the extended cast – sometimes via dedicated episodes to single characters.  This is the kind of show that will need a reunion season in 10 or 25 years, if they do it, I’ll be watching.

1. The Bear | Season 2 (FX on HULU)

This show tops many mainstream lists, as well as mine this year.  But it’s one of those undeniable shows and for good reason that it’s so universally recognized.  I’ll take it from two angles, first, the production, directing, editing, acting, and writing of this show is next-level in every way.  If you like dialog first drama, as I do, this is the best show delivering that right now.  The writing and acting is crisp, the editing of what’s been filmed is innovative and groundbreaking and the entire production is operating at a higher level than almost anything on television today.  The show takes chances in the way it assembles episode by episode.  During S2E1 I found some of the background sounds, intensity of the acting, and rapid-fire edits jarring, almost negatively – but after seeing the full season and how differently each episode was put together, it made so much more sense as to the freneticness they were trying to portray and why it was fairly isolated to that one episode.  But let’s say you’re not the kind of viewer that wants to get into the weeds of a production and you are questioning how interested you’d be in a show about starting a restaurant or pulling long hours in a kitchen.  While this show is very authentic to that life, it’s really about passion.  It’s about being passionate about your dreams, your hopes, your needs, and the people around you.  I’ve been lucky in that I’ve experienced this at several workplaces and careers in my life, but I think if you haven’t had that experience you could still identify with this story as a place you might want to be someday.  This is not just a show that gets to the core of kitchen work, it gets to the core of giving a fuck about something and not letting time pass you by.  It’s a show about proving you actually are meant for something more, whether it’s Carmine himself, his sous chef, his “cousin”, his pastry chef or any line cook – every character develops and is on a mission.  That’s what you are missing if you haven’t watched this show.  The Bear landed at number one because S2, E7 Forks is one of the best half-hours of television I can remember, I was ready to run through a wall after watching this.  S2, E6 Fishes gets a lot of praise, and rightfully so – it’s incredible, but the follow-up and pace change of the next episode elevated them both as a one-two punch fit for television history.

About Uncommon Nasa:

Uncommon Nasa is a producer/emcee who began his career working for Definitive Jux Records (EL-P, Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, etc.) as the head mixing engineer, later transitioning to label owner. The past few years he’s either produced, been a part of, or released a number of albums by Guillotine Crowns, Last Sons, Short Fuze, White Horse, and numerous LPs of his own. Most recently, Nasa has produced the latest album by Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson. His production style is unique, reflecting the gritty sounds of New York streets with bold melodies, unlike any we may have heard in the past.