This Christmas, we'd like to thank the streaming angels for delivering us binge-watching options during that most difficult of times in a TV fan's life: Winter hiatus.
There's not much playing on the regular channels besides old Christmas movies and some holiday-themed game shows that we could care less about, so let's use this time to catch up on some truly great television that you don't have to watch on your TV set. Netflix has so many movies and series to keep us busy, but here are a few standouts that should give you an excuse to miss that family get-together you've been dreading.
The Witcher 1 season, 8 episodes Even if you haven't read the books or fiddled with the video games, you've probably heard about The Witcher. Or, at least, you've heard Henry Cavill's in it and he's sporting some tight leather pants. Both are true, but the show itself, which mixes medieval fantasy with a monster-of-the-week procedural vibe is nerdporn at its finest. Cavill is gruff and grunty as Ger of Rivia, a mutated monster hunter with a chip on his shoulder, and there are also power-hungry sorceresses, princesses with unimaginable destinies, a smooth-talking bard, and lots of fantastic fight sequences. What's not to love?
Sex Education 1 season, 8 episodes Another quick binge, this Gen Z comedy about a teen who starts his own underground sex therapy ring at school is getting a second season in January, so now's the time to catch up. It's funny, relatable, very British, and does a surprisingly excellent job of handling nuanced conversations about sex. All kinds of sex. Plus, Gillian Anderson's in it and she knows how to rock a jumpsuit.
You 1 season, 10 episodes Is Penn Badgley creepy AF in this stalker-romance about a bookstore nerd and the cool-girl poet he eventually falls for? Sure, but half the fun in watching this increasingly bizarre, uncomfortable thriller is in figuring out why people still have the hots for Joe Badgley, a guy who masturbates outside strangers' windows, breaks into apartments, kills ex-boyfriends, and steals first edition books. That last crime might be the most unforgivable. Season two lands on Thursday. Prepare yourself.
Schitt's Creek 5 seasons, 66 episodes Yes, Schitt's Creek really is that good and if you're tired of critics, friends, random strangers on the street telling you to just watch it already, then ... just watch it already. We recommend starting at the beginning but if you don't have time for a five-season binge on your busy Monday night, just watch the first episode and then the Christmas special.
The Irishman We realize that a select few readers desire more prestige binge-watching recommendations and we want you to know, we respect that. Which is why this three-hour gangster drama from Martin Scorsese is on here. It's long, it's violent, it's philosophically dense, and it sports a heavy-hitting cast that includes Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Plus, it's a sure bet to take home some Oscars next year.
6 Underground We're not sure why we need to sell this Michael Bay-directed, Ryan Reynolds-lead action flick to you, especially when the TV pickins are so slim, but fine, here's the pitch: a 20-minute opening car chase sequence.
Marriage Story Look, stories about messy divorces aren't typical holiday material but there's something riveting about watching Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson scream at each other for two hours. They don't just scream if you're hoping for a bit of variety in your portrayals of toxic relationships. They also cry, punch walls, brood, and tie each others' shoes.
The Knight Before Christmas We're not about to spurn the Netflix gods by not including at least one Vanessa Hudgens Christmas flick on this list. In this film, Vanessa Hudgens plays a science teacher who accidentally runs over a 16th-century knight with her Prius and must help him return to his own time. You know what you're getting with this one.
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...