Recommended Quarantine Viewing: Banshee

by Barry Graham

It's a mystery to me that there's so little discussion of Banshee. It might be the greatest TV show nobody knows about.

I heard about it a few years ago when I lived in Portland, Oregon. My friends Bart Lessard and Johnny Shaw lived there too (we've all fled America since then because Trump). The three of us would have breakfast every Sunday morning. The venues varied, but what they all had in common was that they served stout.

Johnny Shaw has an uncanny ability to recommend films, TV shows or books his friends will like. This is partly because, unlike most people, he bases his recommendations on his understanding of the person he's talking to rather than on his own tastes, and partly because he's... Johnny Shaw, John Andrew Fucking Shaw to his friends.

He's never once been wrong in recommending something to me. Our tastes are very different, but there's some overlap, the best example of which is Banshee.

“Imagine if Witness had been written by an insane person,” he said. He then gave an epic description of it, finishing with: “That's just the first episode.”

I won't give any plot details here, because I think the best way to watch it is to go into it cold, but I will say if you're at all squeamish or prudish, it won't be your thing. In Banshee, no one gets a tooth knocked out when they can have each of their teeth removed one by one, shown in baroque detail. No one has a tastefully-shown makeout when they can get completely naked and have sex that's shown in detail more explicit than what used to be found in “soft porn.” It's funny, dark, and strangely moving. At one point, I laughed out loud, even though the scene I was watching wasn't funny; I was laughing not in amusement, but in sheer delight that something so brilliant, and so original, got made.

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