Streaming on Hulu
Metadata: 2017 | TV-MA | 8 episodes, ~1h each
Genre: Science fiction-ish. Also kind of a psychological thriller - despite the Bollywood dancing.
Why did I watch it: I'm a sucker for all things Marvel, so this was the first thing I watched when Liz kindly shared her Hulu password with me. (It's an FX original, and there's a second season currently running, though I have not yet watched it!)
You might also like: Legion director Noah Hawley made a name for himself with the award-winning show Fargo, also streaming on Hulu. (I should confess I have never seen it, but I have it on good authority that it's very, very good!)
In this X-men spinoff series, Dan Stevens plays young mutant David Haller—who grew up believing he was a paranoid schizophrenic—to perfection. And who would have guessed it, after his splendid performances as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey and the Beast to Emma Watson's Belle? Legion's battered and besieged Haller is almost unrecognizable from Downton's posh and proper Crawley, but the new character is stunning. Stevens processes emotions on screen with such rawness and immediacy that you're drawn completely and almost instantly into this wild narrative.
The actor's ability to live in the moment on screen was largely because he never had any clue what would come next. Stevens told Terry Gross in a Fresh Air interview that Director Noah Hawley only gave him the script for one episode at a time and kept him in the dark about the plot. I think that's why this show, which is admittedly extremely confusing, works. I had almost no idea what was going on at any given time, and yet I wanted more. I think that's because I 1) liked Stevens' character and wanted to know what happened to him, and 2) felt like we were sort of in it together, because he obviously had no idea either. Another element that kept me glued to the screen—and this really surprised me—was the mind-boggling sound-mixing in Legion. I confess I don't usually think much about the sound effects in a TV show, but then I watched this one. I was floored. The sound effects are really that good, and they feel like a crucial aspect of the viewing experience when you watch.
The show is mind-bending at every turn. Its aesthetic is reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, yet there are small details—like an iPad—that curtail any easy assumptions you think you're safe making about the show. You'll be kept on your toes, making for some more-exciting-than-usual weekend TV binging. Also, it's a special kind of pleasure to watch Aubrey Plaza play a definitively bad character. Her evil panache in Legion is m.e.s.m.e.r.i.z.i.n.g, in part because you know she's having the time of her life playing Lenny Busker. And if you need one more reason to watch this show, know that there are totally delightful and completely unexpected dance numbers scattered throughout.