People all over the globe are learning to cope with a new reality, and learning new skills that allow them to do so. With limited access to the outside world during the current pandemic, cooking skills are expanding and improving, artistic endeavors are being realized, and reading lists are finally being tackled.
At the same time, there are many who are looking for more than a good book, and they’ve resorted to society’s favorite outlet: streaming services.
With plenty of services to choose from, and plenty of offerings available from each, there should be something for everyone, and a show or movie that fits your mood. If you’re in the market for a few suggestions, here are mine:
While you could join the millions who have binged the exploits of “Tiger King” Joe Exotic (and you most certainly should), recapture the glory that is “Breaking Bad,” catch up on new episodes of “Ozark” or “You,” or review the first three seasons of “Stranger Things”, I have a few choices that might not be that obvious.
For a Southern Gothic tale of lovable losers and struggling friends, check out “Hap & Leonard,” a Sundance show adapted from novels by Joe R. Lansdale. Great characters and surprises, and performances are top-notch. If you’re looking for a more traditional television formula, you can also watch the amazing and unheralded AMC series “Hell on Wheels,” starring Tennessee native Anson Mount.
Looking for a good movie that might not have caught your eye initially? Check out John Michael McDonagh’s “War on Everyone” (corrupt cops, blackmailing criminals, trips to Iceland, and lots of debauchery and laughs) or the Australian Indigenous crime thriller “Goldstone” (a sequel to the amazing Mystery Road).
My favorite found gem on Netflix, though? “Fallet,” a Swedish/British comedy-drama that works far better than it should. A detective story with plenty of darkness and violence, it also shines with more comedy and laughs than any crime procedural should ever be allowed. Well-written, well-acted, and beautifully shot, “Fallet” is worth the time to binge.
“Hunters,” “Jack Ryan,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” are all well worth the time it takes to watch - first-rate shows and world-class casts - but, my favorites are the shows that stand out for their ability to be different. I love what they’ve done with “The Boys,” based on the warped comic series from Garth Ennis (who also brought us the extremely warped “Preacher” series), and would suggest the show to anyone who likes their comics more adult and abrasive. I would also suggest “Undone,” an animated series that creates its own universe, and seamlessly moves between reality and the surreal. Also - season five of “Luther” just popped up on Prime and Hulu, and you certainly don’t want to miss it.
For movies, Prime has a huge vault to choose from, but not as many new choices from their own production banner. I would suggest “Honey Boy” as an original choice (Shia Labeouf lays his life out for all to see), and for a nostalgic trip to classic sci-fi, I’d tell you to watch J.J. Abram’s ode to all things Spielbergian, “Super 8.”
You can’t go wrong with Disney Plus, especially if you have kids. There’s the entire Marvel catalog, the whole of the Star Wars universe, all of the Disney films and shows and, of course, the “Mandalorian.” While I’m completely on board with the Star Wars episodical, I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed that Disney hasn’t released any of its other planned shows sooner. It doesn’t seem as though they consider new product to be a priority.
Hulu has great originals to offer, especially since their collaboration with FX. “High Fidelity” is very well done, “Devs” is a fresh delight, and “Letterkenny” is an all-time favorite comedy at the Bentley household. I’ve also come to enjoy “Stumptown” as it unfolds, an ABC original that has found a home at Hulu.
There are some movies available on Hulu you might want to check out as well. If you’re a fan of horror, the “Into the Dark” series has a few good offerings, most notably “The Body,” and if you’re looking for laughs, I’d say check out “Mystery Team” and “Big Time Adolescence.”
HBO has the best shows on television, and has for years. It’s a given. So, get lost in the newer choices like “Watchmen,” “Westworld,” “Game of Thrones”, and “The Outsider,” and know that you’re not going to find anything better on television today.
But - when you’re done there, make sure you stream the Holy Trinity. At one point, the three best show on TV at the time - and maybe ever - were all running on Home Box Office, and you can stream them at will. “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and “Deadwood” are all impeccable examples of what television can be, and they are all worth a revisit.
Apple television has several great new shows to stream, and I’ve dipped into it a bit here and there, but none of the shows have grabbed me yet. “SEE” is gorgeous and interesting, but I meandered away before finishing it. Same with “The Morning Show.” I did binge “Mythic Quest,” which was a quick and easy rainy weekend watch session, and I am looking forward to spending time with the reboot of “Amazing Stories” and the “Beastie Boys Story.”
If you like horror films, I might suggest picking up SHUDDER as a streaming service. The films it offers are generally found elsewhere, but they package them well and also offer a small group of Shudder exclusives (like “Mandy,” which is a wonderful Panos Cosmatos film). For a free streaming service suggestion, you can’t go wrong with TUBI. Plenty of bad B-movies and forgotten series, and a long list of titles that will help you waste a few hours.