by Kathleen Cubley March 12, 2019 5 min read
I'll be honest, I love TV. I watch it while I knit, and I thoroughly, unapologetically enjoy it.
With the advent of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, the original programming from HBO and Showtime, and the fabulous British detective shows, the options for knit-worthy TV are endless.
I tend towards the hardcore mysteries, some bordering on scary (I'm talking about you, The Fall!), but I mix it up with a little Grace and Frankie, too.
Here's my top 10.
Shetland is set on the Scottish archipelago called, amazingly, Shetland. It's an absorbing detective show with wonderful performances, and a lot of incredible knitwear! There's a to-die-for Fair Isle vest in the first three minutes of the first episode, and plenty more gorgeous knits that follow.
The scenery is as stunning as the knitwear. You'll fall in love with Shetland, the show and the location. You might want to cast on a Fair Isle pattern, such as Kirsten, for this one.
David Tennant and Olivia Colman are simply perfect in Broadchurch. The first season is my favorite; the mystery is emotionally horrifying, and shockingly close to home for one of the detectives. It's A+ TV, and you won't be able to quit binging this one. Great for stockinette knitting where you won't have to pay too much attention to your project (try the Morgan infinity scarf).
This one isn't for the faint of heart. It's scary, but so good! Told from both sides—the detective (Gillian Anderson), and the bad guy (Jamie Dornan). Anderson is magnetic here, with a mysterious back story that emerges slowly, and Dornan is perfectly creepy as the family man/serial killer. The suspense is real in The Fall, so you might find yourself knitting faster than normal.
The Bletchley Circle is the story of four women who worked together during World War II at the code-breaking facility outside London, Bletchley Park. Each with a special type of genius, these women reunite after the war and use their unique talents to solves crimes. One of the women, Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin), has a knack for seeing patterns, and is the first to realize that there is a series of murders with the same characteristics. She's also a knitter, natch, and her handknits are part of her wardrobe throughout the series.
One of the things that struck me about The Bletchley Circle is the impact of the Official Secrets Act in Britain, wherein many people couldn't talk about what they did in the war—to anyone, including husbands, wives, children, etc. This meant that these brave, smart women who helped end the war and saved countless lives weren't recognized for their efforts, and couldn't use their experience publicly. I had no idea of the effects of this on women in particular. Fascinating, no?
This show is funny, toughing, and slightly weird (in a good way). Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are vastly different people who are thrown together in surprising circumstances. As their relationship deepens, you will fall in love with them and with all of the other quirky characters in this great show. Fonda and Tomlin are at the top of their game in Grace and Frankie, and they give us a roadmap on aging with style and substance. In an ode to Frankie, knit up something Boho like the Glacier Bay Poncho.
I'm listing these shows in no particular order, but Longmire might be my number one. Walt Longmire is the recently-widowed sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, fighting through his grief to do his job. He's highly principled and decent, and I love him. There's a lot going on in this part of Wyoming, including the happenings on a neighboring Native American reservation, and it's interesting watching Longmire navigate the jurisdiction issues that come up.
Longmire's relationship with his best friend Harry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) is one of the best parts of the show, as is Katee Sackoff's turn as the Philly transplant Deputy Sheriff Vic Moretti. This is GREAT knitting TV.
This is a newish show, with just one season on Netflix, and it's right up my alley. Mindhunter tells the story of the beginning of the FBI's criminal profiling unit. I love all of the details in this show, including the groovy late 70s outfits, cars, and tech. I wouldn't call Mindhunter scary at all, but it does deal with some of the worst serial killers in history. There aren't any crime scenes or gore, but the subject matter is, shall we say, icky.
Mindhunter is based on real people and real situations, which makes it all the more fascinating. Catch up with season 1 before season 2 comes out later this year.
Foyle's War is a lovely show, with fab performances by Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, and Honeysuckle Weeks, his driver cum amateur detective Samantha "Sam" Stewart. Set at the end and just after World War II in the coastal town of Hastings, Sussex, England, DCS Foyle solves mysteries amidst the chaos of war and its aftermath. In later seasons (there are 8!) Foyle works in London for MI5, delving into Cold War mysteries.
This is a fun, sweet show that never gets stale; it's the perfect accompaniment to a lazy Sunday of knitting something slightly retro, like the Bethany Cardigan.
When things get rough and I want to escape, I queue up The Great British Baking Show lose myself its pastry-filled glory. A show about baking might seem boring, but somehow the producers manage to create suspense—is the bread going to rise?!? Will the tart have a soggy bottom?!? Why don't British people get braces?!?
The "original" seasons with judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are the best, but I've enjoyed the newer seasons, too, as well as the American holiday series. I've knit through it all, and it was yummy!
Last but not least, Scandal. This show is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, with some pretty far-fetched plots and story-line twists. But the first few seasons are fun, and filled with delicious tension and romance. If for no other reason, you have to watch to admire Olivia's glorious winter-white wardrobe. Those coats!
Scandal is and knitworthy, for sure. There are a bunch of seasons, too, so settle in!
Bonus show: Battlestar Galactica. I am a huge sci-fi fan (not fantasy—I like spaceships and time travel!), and Battlestar Galactica is the best of the best. It's the story of humanity vs. technology, in the form of the Cylons, and in the BSG universe, those two things are fundamentally intertwined. The show is gritty, funny, tense, and romantic. All of the things I love in good sci-fi. Note: This is not the original Battlestar Galactica from the 80s; it's a reimagining that far surpasses the original. If you're at all into sci-fi and you haven't seen this, RUN to the couch and start now.
There's a hilarious skit on Portlandia that shows just how binge-worthy this show is. YouTube it!
Well, as they say in show biz, that's all, folks!
P.S. What's your favorite show to knitflix?
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