Are you local?
It's a simple question. If you answered yes, it's likely you've already taken a trip to Royston Vasey, the fictional town at the irregularly beating heart of The League of Gentlemen, one of the greatest TV series of all time. From 1999 to 2002, stage veterans Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, and Jeremy Dyson took their subversive sketch show to the BBC; viewers were introduced to the truly bizarre characters who inhabit this truly bizarre place and maybe, just maybe, fell in love with the whole freaky-deaky gang of tangentially connected strangers.
My first intro to the show was happening on a mid-season viewing in my college dorm and wow: It made me very, very uncomfortable. I can't say I enjoyed it—or even liked it at all, really—but it definitely stuck with me. I couldn't shake it. WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?? AND WHY CAN'T I FORGET IT? So one day I decided to do my own form of extreme exposure therapy. I settled down, Season One DVD on hand, and watched the whole damn thing in one sitting. The ultimate hate-binge.
My strategy was meant as a kind of exorcism, but in reality it became an indoctrination. I was hooked. Suddenly every sick and twisted detail was absolutely goddamn perfect (and be forewarned, they don't shy away from gross-out visuals; their collective love of horror films can be seen in countless genre references, specific storylines, as well as a general, all-around creepy vibe). Every line was genius and worth quoting ad nauseum to, well, anyone—fan or no. The three actors—Dyson acts as executive producer—were pitch perfect, playing pretty much all the roles (satisfying the long-standing men-in-dresses tradition in British comedy). I tried to get everybody I knew as righteously enthusiastic as I was, though introducing my brother to the cause might have been my only victory.
Now the League of Gentlemen is streaming on Netflix and hey, even after a decade it holds up. It's still fucking weird—really, really fucking weird—but also bloody brilliant. [Netflix]