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So we’re all stuck at home. Even if some of us are out and about, or we’re keeping ourselves busy with all sorts of important tasks, it can’t be denied: We’re home a lot more often… and we can use a distraction more than ever before.
And in the monotony of the 24-7 home-all-the-time fun, I’m sure I’m not alone in having knocked off a few extra TV shows here and there.
I wanted to share some of my favorites. My parameters are simple. All of these shows are available on Netflix (it’s what we’ve got… and Netflix in Israel is less robust than in other places…). I’ve completed all available episodes. Meaning, there may or may not be new seasons coming, but I’m all caught up with what is currently available. And they are, for lack of a better word, more “full” shows. I really enjoyed Unorthodox, for example, but it was only four episodes, without any intention of a second season. And I loved I Am Not OK with This… but seven 20 minute episodes is nothing.
So, without further ado, my top six favorite shows I’ve watched recently on Netflix (spoiler alert for all videos included):
6) The Punisher is Coming for Netflix
Do you enjoy senseless violence? Of course. Who doesn’t!?
The Punisher is extremely intense. And is certainly a slap in the face to the pretty boy model of heroes out there. Frank Castle pulls no punches, and will get beaten and broken in the process of accomplishing whatever mission he has set out to accomplish.
The perennial hero/vigilante debate centers around how far should we go to stop bad guys from being bad. Many have a no-killing code. The Punisher most certainly does not. He eradicates the evil from this world, and when he does so, that evil will never come back to hurt anyone else again.
And the brilliant portrayal of this enigmatic character is so well done, when he yells at others, you feel afraid as well. And when he explains his actions, you’re nodding right along with him.
This show is not recommended for anyone who winces at violence.
Here’s a great scene from the second season (spoilers!):
5) A Netflix-Worthy Sex Education
I was wary of watching a show like this. First of all, it’s rare that I watch any comedy shows these days. It’s even rarer that I enjoy them.
My gold standard for a quality comedy show is a collection of laugh-out-loud moments. There are many shows that can make me smile or even regard what I’ve seen as humorous. But it is a rarity that a show actually makes me burst out laughing.
This show gave me more than a few scenes like that.
Also, I feared the content. It’s not that I don’t like “big kid” content, it’s that sometimes shows cross a certain line and they seem more like they’re seeking shock value than intelligently getting their audiences to laugh. I felt that way when I watched Glee many years ago. The show started off fine. Refreshingly comical, actual. And somewhere in the second season, everything just went downhill.
I have no interest in watching some writer’s need to grab attention at all costs. So I moved on, and never looked back at that show.
But this was different. Sex Education was so much better.
The show manages to somehow make crude into tasteful and hysterical. Extremely consistently. And I loved every minute of it.
Enjoy one of my favorite scenes (not necessarily for the faint-hearted… and spoiler alert):
4) Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Conquering Netflix
What a fun and refreshing show!
I had no expectations for this one. The trailer made it look like nonsense. It just seemed like something I was going to hate.
But I was so wrong.
This show is wacky. It’s all over the place. It’s absolute craziness. And I loved it!
You leave the first season wondering if it’s possible for them to take the weird to the next level, and leave the second season fully satisfied that they did. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more bizarre show. But it was so tastefully and charmingly so, it was just easy to love.
Here’s a fun tiny little taste of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:
3) An Atypical Netflix Show
This show was nothing short of fantastic. The acting was unbelievable. It was loaded with laugh-out-loud funny moments. And throughout all of that, they also managed to be deep and thought-provoking.
Atypical could easy slip into a lot of directions, from cheesy to distasteful, as we follow the life of Sam Gardner, a high-functioning autistic teenager, through everything from navigating college to trying to figure out relationships. The masterful acting of Keir Gilchrist is charming and shockingly realistic.
The show plunges Sam into a number of complicated scenarios, and with each instance, we just fall in love with him more and more.
If you want to laugh or you want to be moved, this is a great show for you. By the way, fun fact: In later seasons, they hired a whole crew of autistic actors to accompany our protagonist. And they are fantastic!
Enjoy one of my favorite scenes:
2) Netflix’s Umbrella Academy… ‘Nuff Said
Many of us waited patiently (sort of) for over a year for the second season of this phenomenal show. And we were so happy that we did.
What happens when you combine an incredible cast of brilliant actors, superheroes, time travel, an unpredictable sequence of events, and just enough humor to keep you smiling from start to finish? That’s when you get the wonderfully quaint and refreshing Umbrella Academy.
Admittedly, I didn’t like the second season as much as the first. It didn’t keep me on my toes the way the first one did, they kind of dumb-downed a few of the characters, and the plot was way too similar to that of the first season… but nevertheless, it successfully entertained from start to finish. And the second season had the additional benefit of brilliantly portraying social injustices of the past with remarkable emotions, something so rare. You felt the hate. It was truly powerful!
Here’s a solid scene from season 2:
1) Travelers to Netflix
I have a problem with science fiction shows. A few, in fact.
Most of my problems come from elements that open the show up so wide, it starts to feel like they’re just making up crap as they expand the plot way past my ability to really follow what’s going on. My issues usually arise when one of two elements are added to the show: Time travel or multiple dimensions.
So if a show contains one or both of them, and I love it anyway, that’s when you know I’ve found a good show.Travelers did time travel more tastefully and intelligently than any other show I've seen so far. Click To Tweet
Travelers did time travel more tastefully and intelligently than any other show I’ve seen so far. I loved almost everything about the show, from the intelligent structure, to the personal conflicts, to the engaging and subtly brilliant acting.
Enjoy a clip from my favorite show on Netflix so far:
A couple of honorable mentions:
I thought I was going to hate The Order. In fact, I kind of did. The show went from mediocre, declined just a little, and just when I thought it was going to get awful, I was fully hooked and couldn’t wait to see the next episode or the second season. It was actually the thing that made me want to stop watching at first that made me keep watching until the end. How often does that happen?
And what happens when the obnoxious, witty guy from Lost marries the doctor from Prison Break? Apparently a solid science fiction show called Colony. The show was gripping and fascinating throughout, leaving me with only one gripe: It was canceled with a cliff hanger. Come on man! Have we not learned anything from Firefly? We’re going to need a movie. Let’s get on that!
Finally, Glitch was an amazing show… for two of three seasons. We absolutely loved this one. Glitch was a gripping Australian science-fiction drama. A lousy trailer made it look like a zombie show, but it absolutely was not. Watch the show if can skip the last season and never get a resolve, or if you don’t mind a disappointing final season or an even more disappointing ending. Otherwise, sadly, skip it.