It’s that time of year again. The sun is going down at 6pm, you’re so close to wearing a hundred layers and your flat is super unprepared for how cold it’s going to be inside. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Now is the perfect time to cosy up inside with your significant other, or, if you’re single like me, cuddle up with a big fat bottle of vodka and throw chocolates at your laptop screen like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. So, chuck on some fleecy $10 Kmart pyjamas, jump into bed, and binge-watch away all of your assignment and hand-in stress! Here’s ten things I recommend Netflix and chilling with, this chilly season.
Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant front this dark comedy as husband-and-wife realtor duo, Sheila and Joel Hammond, whose lives suddenly get thrown upside down when Sheila becomes an undead, flesh-eating, primal zombie. I will warn you now, the first episode features a mean and hearty CGI puke scene from Drew Barrymore and isn’t for weak stomachs. But is hilarious and amazing and shouldn’t deter you from watching! Season 1 can be a bit of a slog as it feels a bit directionless, but season 2 just dropped in March and has revealed little clues we might have dismissed in season 1 as being integral to the plot. Liv Hewson as Abby Hammond and Skyler Gisondo as their neighbour Eric team up with Abby’s parents to track the source of Sheila’s new undead status, attempt to find a cure, and figure out how to cover up Sheila’s trail of murder – girl’s gotta eat something! Come for Drew Barrymore and stay for the witty and hilarious one-liners, the intriguing plot, and the loveable Hammond family.
Irreplaceable You (2018)
This one’s for all of my rom-com loving saps! Irreplaceable You is a Netflix Original movie and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michiel Ruisman as Abbie and Sam, who have transitioned from childhood crushes to high school sweethearts to serious adult life partners. Finally, Abbie proposes to Sam (love a good gender role reversal) – only to find out that she is terminally ill with cancer. The movie follows Abbie’s hunt for her replacement as she creates a Tinder profile of Sam and meets potential women to be his next girlfriend/wife, as she’s worried about leaving Sam all on his own when she dies. It all comes to a head when Sam finds out and then a whole bunch of messy as shit happens. I won’t spoil it, but this movie is lowkey trash and only has 27 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, However, it’s a pretty sweet movie and in the end everything gets resolved, in all of its predictable, formulaic rom-com glory. Perfect for a winter night!
Black Mirror (2011)
I know this show is super popular and has possibly already done the rounds on everyone’s Netflix account, but it’s worth mentioning anyway because it’s also the perfect show for re-watching. If you’re not already familiar, Black Mirror is an anthology science fiction/dystopia-style television show that is centred mostly around technology. Listen, there’s not much I can say without giving anything away other than it’s a real fucked up show. Charlie Brooker, the creator, is one dark dude. Some episodes are super disturbing, so it’s definitely not for everyone. But it’s thought-provoking and wildly entertaining, and every episode is a new concept with a new cast and setting so you can totally pace yourself between episodes in case things get too heavy. Being an anthology also means that you can just straight up skip the more messed up episodes if you want and there’s no need to watch in any order. My only recommendation is this. The first episode of season 1 is bloody awful but sets the tone for the whole show, so I would personally start out with that one and then if you can’t hack it, don’t continue because it can and does get worse. You’re welcome.
Queer Eye (2018)
It wouldn’t be a Netflix recommendation without mentioning this bad boy. I know that probably everyone has already watched this, but if you haven’t you need to close this magazine right now and go watch it. Queer Eye marks Netflix’s recent foray into producing and distributing more reality television content and does not disappoint as a reboot of the original 2003 series. Bobby, Tan, Jonathan, Antoni, and Karamo make up the new Fab Five as we follow them around the Atlanta, Georgia area to improve the lives of unstylish, hopeless, (mostly) straight guys. Where the old series had an emphasis on snarkily shaming men for their shitty style, this new version focuses on dismantling the shackles of toxic masculinity, discusses homophobia and racial tension in a new Trump-era America, and shows men what it actually means to be a man in 2018. There are some touching moments where the Fab Five redefine stereotypes and expectations placed on men (episode 4 will destroy you). But there’s also some amazing home-makeover transformations that will make you wish Bobby could overhaul your scummy student flat. Jonathan plays the fan favourite with his flamboyant personality and unwavering positivity. Watch this with your flatmates or friends for a laugh, a cry, and a feel-good time.
I’m going to be real honest here and say upfront: I did not get this movie at all. But it features a badass gang of doin-it-for-themselves women and I couldn’t not support this film. Annihilation was a big psychological science fiction horror studio film meant for a normal cinema release until, in an interesting and bold move, Netflix swooped in and bought the distribution rights for everywhere outside of America. And it shows, because it’s this wild and huge film that probably should have been showed in cinemas. Nonetheless, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson lead the charge as a group of military scientists into a quarantined phenomenon called The Shimmer and take us on a weird, fucked up journey through biology, psychology, and physics. I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s one of those movies you just have to watch to get, but it will either blow your mind a little bit as you recognise the genius of it or will leave you wondering what the heck you just watched.
One Day at a Time (2017)
One Day at a Time is a sitcom-style comedy series that follows a Cuban-American family in California and deals with so many real topics that it’s hard to believe each episode is only 30 minutes long. Here’s the breakdown. Penelope Alvarez is a single mum and a former military nurse who struggles with PTSD and depression as she readjusts to being a nurse outside of a war zone. It follows her struggle to balance her job, mental health, and family but in a funny, uplifting, and mostly light-hearted way. Their outlandish landlord, Schneider, makes appearances in the apartment every day and her mother Lydia plays the role of hilarious immigrant grandma who is always up to hijinks and who helps shepherd Penelope’s two kids, Elena and Alex. Elena is a strong feminist lesbian (whose coming out arc is handled with impressive care) and Alex is the sweet and loving little brother. The canned laughter can get a bit grating, but if you get past that then it’s the perfect show to watch when you need a positive pick-me-up. The theme song alone will have you smiling in seconds.
Easy is a hidden gem amongst Netflix’s Original Series line-up. Written, directed, and produced by Joe Swanberg (who is known in indie circles for spearheading the “mumblecore” movement, which will all make sense after episode 1) it’s an anthology series à la Black Mirror, where each episode follows a different storyline, cast, and setting. Unlike Black Mirror, though, Easy is way less fucked up. The stories are generally centred around love and relationships in Chicago, starring actors like Dave Franco, Orlando Bloom, Marc Maron, Emily Ratajkowski, and so many more. There’s an episode here for everyone and because the storylines are mostly separate from each other, it’s the perfect show to watch here and there when you can, although I promise you’ll want to binge this one! My personal faves are Vegan Cinderella, Lady Cha-Cha, and Art and Life.
Sense8 is a science fiction mindfuck of a show. Full disclosure: Netflix has not decided to renew it for a third season, so embark at your own peril knowing it will never get to progress into the next season. Instead, there will be a two-hour special coming sometime in 2018 to wrap up the series, after dedicated fans protested Netflix’s cancellation. Created by the Wachowski siblings (known for The Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski, Sense8 follows eight different people all over the world that one day wake up to find they are telepathically linked to each other. They are called sensates (get it??? sensate, sense8, there’s eight of them… kinda lame, I know) and are being hunted by the evil Biological Preservation Organisation, which is the main plot of the show as they figure out who they are and why, and how to protect themselves from BPO. Sense8 has amazing representation and deals with politics, gender, sexuality, and race in ways that never feel forced or over the top. I would highly recommend if you want to fall in love with eight characters and then have your heart broken because they’ll never get the justice of a 5 season arc like they deserve. It’s worth it.
Amanda Knox (2016)
This one is for all of the Making A Murderer fans out there – Amanda Knox is one juicy real life crime documentary! It follows the story of Amanda Knox, an American woman who was convicted twice and then acquitted for the murder of her roommate while on exchange in Italy in 2007. The documentary takes Amanda’s side primarily, as she is the main interview subject and positions her as a sympathetic character in the whole case, especially as she has now been acquitted. The documentary explores the murder and scene of the crime, how the media played a huge part in influencing public opinion (including how slut-shamey and gross they were about Amanda in the newspapers at the time), the mishandling of evidence by the police, and how Amanda’s behaviour right after the murder was super bizarre and pointed to guilty. This is a great one for a hungover Sunday afternoon with your flatmates – you’ll probably be fighting over whether she’s guilty or innocent by the end of it.
Grace and Frankie (2015)
Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin absolutely shine in this series about two retired women that get left by their husbands… for each other. The basic breakdown of the show is this. Grace is married to Robert and Frankie is married to Sol. Grace and Frankie are polar opposites and can’t stand each other; Grace is a prim and proper former businesswoman and Frankie is a free-spirited, kooky artist. Robert and Sol are legal partners and, in the first episode, reveal that they’ve been having an affair together for the last twenty years. Grace and Frankie coincidentally move into the beach house the two families share (which they now know was Robert and Sol’s private getaway) and thus ensues chaos, hurt, betrayal, anger, and a whole lot of comedy! Now four seasons in, Grace and Frankie have overcome their differences, have developed a strong friendship, and have even started up a business selling sex toys to older women – wild! It’s a perfect feel-good show for when you need a bit of perspective on how long life actually is and how things that feel like the end of the world now probably won’t mean shit when you’re seventy.