29th Mar 2021
We're coming up to yet another long weekend in lockdown, so Netflix is an obvious choice. Here are our picks of series (and one film) to binge.
There are echoes of Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning 2000 film Erin Brockovich in his newest film just for Netflix, that of an unlikely and underestimated woman (in this case, the great Meryl Streep) who attempts to take on and bring down an insurance fraud scheme. Based on Jake Bernstein’s book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite, The Laundromat stars Meryl Streep as a widow who investigates a massive insurance-fraud scheme that’s benefiting a network of super-rich people around the world. With a supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Sharon Stone, you just know you’re in for a treat.
The Behavioural Science Unit is now established and we know Charles Manson (played by Damon Herriman, who also portrays Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Son of Sam, and the BKT Strangler (Dennis Rader), and Edmund Kemper, aka the Co-Ed Killer (played by standout Cameron Britton) will feature second time around. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) also returns to help the duo continue their groundbreaking analysis. There’s also plenty of new cast members featured including Joe Tuttle, Albert Jones, Stacey Roca, Michael Cerveris, Lauren Glazier and Sierra McClain. The focus is mainly on the Atlanta child murders of 1979-1981 in Georgia, and as the series has been put on hiatus for the foreseeable future, it’s worth enjoying season 2 in all its glory.
Inspired by the short-lived but beloved show from the 80s, GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) tells the fictional story of Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an out-of-work, struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles who finds one last chance for stardom when she’s thrust into the glitter and spandex world of women’s wrestling. In addition to working with 12 Hollywood misfits, Ruth also has to compete with Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), a former soap actress who left the business to have a baby, only to be sucked back into work when her picture-perfect life starts to crumble. At the wheel is Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), the washed-up, B-movie director who now must lead this group of women to wrestling superstardom. It has a brilliant ensemble cast, offers sharp commentary on gender and racial stereotypes, and remains underrated.
Set in 1983 in a small Indiana town, Stranger Things crosses a multitude of genres to combine horror, science-fiction, and coming-of-age drama, with moments of laughter thrown in. It all starts quite simply when a young boy named Will disappears on his way home. At the same time, a mysterious girl known as Eleven arrives in town. These two incidents appear to be linked but the adults don’t have much luck solving the mystery, so it’s up to the children (who are desperate to find their friend) to do some investigating. And so begins the supernatural horror, twists and turns and moments of surprise we won’t spoil for you. It’s a show that has it all; much like a variation of Twin Peaks, it is atmospheric and engaging and even better the second time around.
I Am Not Okay With This
I Am Not Okay With This is an irreverent origin story that follows a teenage girl who’s navigating the trials and tribulations of high school, all while dealing with the complexities of her family, her budding sexuality, and mysterious superpowers just beginning to awaken deep within her. From creator/director of The End of the F***ing World Jonathan Entwistle and the producers of Stranger Things (so you know this is all kinds of great) comes a new series based on the Charles Forsman graphic novel.
Grace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play Grace and Frankie, women in their 70s whose husbands, Robert and Sol, have left them to marry each other. Grace and Frankie start out as rivals, but both undergo personal reinvention, eventually becoming roommates, best friends and business partners. But it isn’t just that they are selling vibrators for older women by season three, it’s the fact that the entire series normalises conversations that are usually shunned when it comes to women 70 and over. They both unashamedly talk freely about their ambitions, their sex lives, masturbation and their bodies with a matter-of-factness never seen on screen — until now. It’s hilarious when it needs to be, smart and wonderfully acted.
Master of None
Master of None follows the romantic exploits of Dev (played by Aziz Ansari), an easy-going commercial actor living in New York City. When he’s not arguing with his agent, cooking up a storm or going on dates, Dev can usually be found hanging out in bars and restaurants with his friends Brian, Denise and Arnold. First, Dev has a relationship with Rachel, a band wrangler then Francesca, a drop-dead gorgeous Italian woman he meets while trying to perfect his pasta-making skills. On the surface, it’s a post-modern romantic comedy but underneath it delves into serious subjects like race, sexuality, religion, and how exhausting app-centric dating is, and it’s all laid out in everyday situations. All restaurant fiends and New York obsessives will love it, but everyone should find something to identify with, in this Emmy-awarded gem.
Better Call Saul
Created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, Better Call Saul is a spin-off and a prequel of Gilligan’s previous series, Breaking Bad. And hear me out, it’s better than it’s predecessor. Often seen as a “slow burn” compared to its progenitor, the series’ character study on ex-con artist Jimmy McGill who turns into a small-time attorney before his alter-ego Saul Goodman sinks his teeth and – coloured ties – in is immersive and exhilarating. No attention to detail has been spared as we see what came before the larger than life persona we only got to glimpse in Breaking Bad. This series also requires patience (which feels fitting, given the state of the world), but that patience reaps rewards in funny, tense and utterly heartbreaking moments. We know the end before this begins, but you never want it to get there. Binge it before the sixth and final season airs this year.
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