Rather than pay for a full year of Netflix, I decided to buck the trend and only pay for one month instead – it’s cheaper, and realistically, I’m not going to watch a full year of content. Hence the name ‘Netflix November’. I won’t detail everything I watched, just the highlights.
Note: I did not watch The Queen’s Gambit yet. But I did watch Dash and Lily, and its exclusion from this ‘would recommend’ list is all the review you need.
Dead to Me – 2 seasons, ongoing
With excellent performances from Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate, this was a surprisingly entertaining, very binge-able series. Most of it is standard Netflix dramedy, but with a macabre twist – almost like a modern Hitchcock story set in middle class America, similar to A Simple Favor. It’s about grief, crime, murder, betrayal, love, family, real estate, the Greek mafia, ADT security systems – the usual elements, with a healthy amount of plot twists thrown in. Some of the twists work, like James Marsden playing
Paul Rudd his own twin brother in season 2. Others feel excessive or unwarranted, particularly the finale to season 2 (which was laughably coincidental, bordering on infuriating). But overall, it’s an engaging, worthwhile series, and I’m mildly looking forward to season 3 despite the poor cliffhanger.
House of Cards – 6 seasons, may or may not include Kevin Spacey
I finally got around to watching past season 1 (third time’s the charm). And even then, I was advised to only watch through season 4 – based on the recaps I’ve read, that was probably the best choice. In any case… seasons 1 through 4 are excellent. The writing is top-notch, the characters are complex, their decisions actually have consequences in later episodes (what a novel concept for a TV show), and there are plenty of bombshells scattered throughout. Admittedly, it’s hard to stomach some of the slimier elements, like Frank’s relationship with Zoe. But it’s much more digestible than Game of Thrones, and it’s oddly comforting in its depiction of corruption – better to look behind the curtain than pretend nothing is wrong.
Maniac – 1 self-contained season
I hate when people say ‘You’ve never seen anything like this’, so I’m hesitant to say that Maniac falls into that category, but it’s much closer than anything I’ve seen in a while. Which is ironic, because the individual parts of the show are familiar: sci-fi dystopia, elven fantasy, crime-family drama, Dr. Strangelove, screwball comedy… but the overall assembly is fantastically original. It borders on world-building overload at times, especially in the first few episodes. But it’s a visionary, psychadelic delight that feels like an actual passion project, not a corporate ‘let’s try and make money selling nostalgic Popz figures’ cash-grab.
Schitt’s Creek – 6 seasons and 19 Emmy nominations
Ah yes, Schitt’s Creek, the Arrested Development meets Park and Recreation darling of the entertainment industry. Is the hype worth it? Mostly. I’m guessing that part of the show’s success is because of Catherine O’Hara’s Moira, a character who works as an actress and who knows the TV business. That said, the show definitely deserves the praise it’s been getting. Hollywood self-congratulating aside, the writing is consistently funny, the characters are endearing without being one-dimensional, and the finale is poignant and hilarious. And as an added bonus, it makes for good Youtube fodder – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown people the ‘It’s a Writeoff’ clip, and it still gets me every time.