Vida, Tanya Saracho (Starz, 2018 – Present)
Now in its second season, Tanya Saracho’s Vida continues to mesmerize its audience with a visually warm, intimate and erotically charged style of storytelling told from a queer gaze. Focused on the lives and loves of a Boyle Heights based Latinx community divided between those fighting against, and those ignorant to, gentrification – or gentefication -, Vida is as timely as it is necessary, checking all the boxes the TV landscape has been so desperately lacking: racial, cultural and sexual diversity.
Each episode opens to a small teaser setting the tone. As the teaser reaches its crescendo, the series title, Vida appears as if freshly tagged onto the screen like graffiti. With an edge and a slightly cursive, feminine touch it informs the series’ ambiance perfectly. The graffiti style font – raw and demanding – is reminiscent not only of the neighbourhood vigilante’s form of protest, but the communities’ vulnerability to their cultural erasure.
Stranger Things, The Duffer Brothers (Netflix, 2016 – Present)
With Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, brought us much more than just the Upside Down. Set in a small Indiana town in the 1980s, it taps into a collective sense of nostalgia by ways of its music, fashion and stylistic choices. Not only that; its protagonists, a group of adventurous, loyal pre-teen friends and their teen siblings take us back to our favourite childhood movies: Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me, Richard Donner’s The Goonies, Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Joe Dante’s Gremlins and Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters.
The Stranger Things logo has probably become one of the most recognizable as far as current, popular TV series are concerned. Its bold, red letters feel familiar on so many levels – it evokes the eighties vibe, the mystery and neon kitsch of which the Duffer brothers are clearly celebrating in this show. Heavily inspired by Stephen King’s book covers and fonts and Alien’s title sequence, designed by Richard Greenberg, it draws us right back into the optics that shaped an era of art and media.
Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (BBC America, 2018 – Present)
Based on the novels by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s latest dive into the female psyche, this time by ways of psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and the detective chasing her, the titular Eve, portrayed by Sandra Oh. It is a spy series like one you’ve never seen before: female-driven in every aspect of the storyline. They are the goodies and the baddies, and the inbetweeners. Empowering, disturbing and, above all, humorous, Killing Eve is a refreshingly dark comedy featuring women in roles they were always meant to be in.
The series’ logo is sharp and dangerous. It informs its characters, warning its viewers not to get too close to either one of them – you’ll only end up getting stabbed. Or worse. The Killing Eve font is all about sharp angles, accentuated V shapes highlighting the femme fatal of the story and the evident rule of Venus. The trickle of blood running down the sharpest point of the V or N reflects the “unzipping” of its characters and the blood spilt along the way.
Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker (Netflix, 2011 – Present)
Charlie Brooker allows his mind to go places few of us like to visit, carrying out thoughts of a world ruled and destroyed by technology. He packs these horror stories into the brilliantly controversial TV series Black Mirror, which is about to enter its fifth season (its third on Netflix since its move from Channel 4). From its very first and incredibly daring episode, The National Anthem, to the interactive choose-your-own-adventure-style film Bandersnatch, Black Mirror continues to challenge our view on technology, where it is headed and how it affects our relationships.
Black Mirror’s title font may be simple, stylistically comparable to the one used in text messaging. It’s what’s happening to the words that’s important: they are cracking into shards. These shards are representative of our screens – screens that liken black mirrors when they are finally switched off. Staring at our reflections in these black mirrors, however, we realize that the damage done in the real world can’t simply be ignored by switching off our virtual worlds. The lines have already been blurred and the twisted smile smirking at you from within the shards of Black Mirror’s smashed screen logo, is mocking you for not having recognized it sooner.
author Roxanne Sancto
Roxanne Sancto is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, often with a feminist twist. She adopts a new pet every time she goes out on a walk. www.roxannesancto.com