It’s that time of the semester where we’ve all but given up on this thing called “school.” We’ve receded to our beds and shut our shades tight to stop the creeping springtime sunlight from creating a nasty glare on our laptop screens. Keeping up with trendy shows like 13 Reasons Why and Big Little Lies is essentially social currency for those times you do brave situations involving conversation with other humans. ‘Cause if you can’t swoon over Lip Gallagher or speculate about Stranger Things with someone these days, you just might struggle to find any common ground.
Really looking to impress? Get schooled in the tunes behind the trendy TV shows we can’t stop watching or talking about. Here’s the rundown on today’s hottest binges based on their soundtracks, whether they’re doubling as our pregame mixes or simply making us emotional wrecks.
13 Reasons Why
Perhaps you remember reading the book version of this 13-episode mini-drama in 7th grade, or maybe books weren’t your thing even back then. Regardless, everyone is watching this show. If for some reason you’re not, here’s a quick rundown. Shy high school student Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) is in mourning after his crush Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) kills herself. The senseless tragedy becomes even more of a nightmare when a box of cassette tapes arrives on his doorsteps detailing the events and people that contributed to her suicide. With a great mix of indie hits like Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met,”, pop covers including Selena Gomez’s “Only You”, and vintage classics The Cure and Joy Division, the dark drama becomes that much more hauntingly heartbreaking. Disclaimer: these tunes will make you want to pop on your headphones and sulk around in your favorite hoodie.
Big Little Lies
Another novel-turned-TV show, Big Little Lies features a kickass cast and a compelling storyline. From the way Celeste (Nicole Kidman) battles an abusive relationship with husband Perry (Aleksander Skaarsgard) to Madeline Mackenzie’s (Reese Witherspoon) perfectly imperfect life, it’s impossible to turn your eyes and ears away from the murderous plotline. Madeline’s daughter serves as one of the main sonic vessels of the show, displaying a sophisticated musical taste despite being a first grader. When Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) runs and experiences flashbacks to her sexual assault, the song Bloody Motherfucking Asshole plays a violent backdrop, and perfectly captures her vulnerabilities. Ed, Madeline’s husband (Adam Scott), dances to classic soul as it blares through his house and reveals his often-overshadowed care-free personality. The soundtrack for Big Little Lies is all about investing us in the characters, making it especially crucial to the show’s success.
You’re lying if you say you still don’t get a teeny bit anxious when you hear the opening credits of Stranger Things. Upgrade your pregame playlist with this remix of the song or check out this mashup. This one is good too. The show behind the SoundCloud tracks follows the sudden disappearance of a young boy and the chaotic series of events it launches in a small town. The creepy, nostalgic vibes of the opening is the handiwork of Austin musicians Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, half of the all-synth band S U R V I V E, and composers of the original soundtrack. Their chills-worthy work for the Netflix series even earned the band a slot at Coachella this year, in case you’re down to hear some of the songs live. If we’re excited for anything in TV right now, it’s for the next season (and score) of this show.
Those familiar with the dysfunctional family drama Shameless appreciate its far-from-average storyline. Following the Chicago family of Gallaghers—led by the drunken single-father-of-six, Frank (William H. Macy)—the characters face poverty, drugs and sexuality in edgy ways, doing literally whatever it takes to stay together. In seeking out songs that are just as messy, rebellious and different as the characters, the Showtime series is giving tons of under-the-radar bands airtime. The soundtrack plays more like a killer indie mixtape, if anything. The Gallaghers are more likely to have a walkman than tickets to a big stadium show, right? Anyone looking to discover new music may want to fire up Shazam and Spotify simultaneously when getting comfy for whatever season they’re going to start (and probably finish) this weekend.
Of course there are plenty of other trending shows to watch out there, but these ones and their dope soundtracks are all but guaranteed to get you through a social interaction. You’re just going to have to get a little antisocial to watch them first…not like that’s a serious challenge for any of us. Happy streaming.