You’ve probably already noticed Netflix is killing it these days. Comedy specials, mini-series, original children’s programming. There’s a reason the company is worth 41.1 billion. There’s such a variety of selection that the amount of content can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to narrow your options down in the vast sea of programming choices.
In case you need a reset after a long week, here is a quick rundown of five things you should be watching over the weekend if you haven’t already. This list has something for everyone; a challenging and inspiring documentary, an imaginative story to get lost in, a British historical period piece and a highly captivating sci-fi series. You’ll experience no wasted nights with these.
In the wake of post-Christmas excess, Minimalism is a sharp breath of fresh air. It challenges and inspires viewers to live differently. This documentary aims to show that the American idea of more is better is not true and that we can truly be more free and happier with less. Many of the people in Minimalism had achieved “success” by our cultural standards, but were left feeling disillusioned, anxious and depleted so they decided to live radically different than most Americans.
This is a close look at the reality of our current consumerist culture. For many people, this subject is touchy and often emotionally loaded, but many viewers can ultimately find freedom and even have their lives changed by seeing the people in the show wrestle with what is truly important.
The Crown won big at the Golden Globes winning Best Drama Series and Best Performance by an actress beating out stiff competition in both categories (Game of Thrones, Westworld). The awards were completely well-deserved. There are so many things this series gets right.
Somehow The Crown not only makes history interesting, but it works its way into your heart as you’re watching it. Several episodes focus on Winston Churchill and those are some of the most compelling given the character he is and what a life he lived. I have a new appreciation for the calculated emotion and words that often come from the Royal Family after watching this believing it is often a measure of strength and wisdom, not just cold detachment as others may perceive.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
One of the more anticipated new series is one that follows the popular book series. This series is full of creative elements starring a recognizable cast that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Will Arnett and Joan Cusack. The storytelling is imaginative and reminiscent of Tim Burton with a comical but darker edge to it.
The opening credits sing a catchy, albeit dark tune encouraging you as the viewer to look away. The series follows the lives of the three newly orphaned siblings and all the unfortunate events that come their way at the hands of the adults in their lives who are making decisions, over which they have no control. This is a fresh look at a beloved classic and Netflix spares no detail in bringing the books to life.
A young blind woman named Prairie returns home after having been missing for seven years, and she can see again—but she doesn’t want to talk to the FBI or even her parents, instead she assembles a group of ragtag people from the local high school and begins sharing her story and teaching them what she has learned. You can watch the eerie trailer here.
This show is like Stranger Things exclusively for adults, a little more extreme and mind-bending. It is a fun journey though, full of interesting twists, turns and crazy storytelling. The narrative is so compelling, it makes you wish it was longer than eight episodes and definitely leaves you wanting to know more.
Jim Gaffigan: Cinco
In his fifth comedy special, comedian Jim Gaffigan runs through a litany of culturally relevant observations and jokes. There have been several comedians who have done Netflix specials lately (Aziz Ansari, Tig Nataro), and he brings his hilarious edge and voice to the table. He talks about the chaotic nature of having a large family (he has five kids), his appearance and his relationship with his wife. His comedy routines have only gotten funnier over time, focusing on what works and his best material, you get the sense that Gaffigan has mastered his craft. This special is just over an hour and can definitely turn around a bad mood or rough day.
If you are still waiting on Stranger Things, now is the time. This series is a gem and nothing short of a gift from Netflix. You have probably seen the adorable and talented cast making their rounds promoting the show and there’s a reason you’ll have a soft spot in your heart for this adventurous crew by the time the show is over. These young actors carried a lot of the weight and direction of the movie and did it incredibly.
The series is set in the 1980s and focuses in on a group of kids trying to find a friend who goes missing while returning home one night. The family of the young boy who goes missing, Will Byers, tries to find him and works with the town’s sheriff and his group of friends. The story is really entertaining, fun and a little creepy—a perfect sci-fi blend.