I watched so much Netflix this year that I couldn’t easily fit it all into twelve posts, so here are some mini-reviews of a few of the other things I watched.
An amusing comedy about a police precinct, I liked Brooklyn Nine-Nine for its diverse set of characters, relatable people, and ability not to take itself too seriously. If you’re looking for something light and fun to watch, you might enjoy it.
When it first started the premise annoyed me, because it’s yet another story about someone on the spectrum finding lurrrve. But I thought I’d give it a shot, and it was so good that I watched the entire season in one sitting. I think it’s sensitively done and walks the line between showing someone who’s very high-functioning but demonstrating that autism is still serious. It also shows how differently people react to having someone close to them diagnosed with autism. I am very much looking forward to the second season. Also, Jenna Boyd as Paige was excellent. I think she’s got something very special; definitely one to watch.
I started watching Outnumbered because I love Hugh Dennis and couldn’t get enough of him on Mock the Week. However I quickly became hooked by the hilarious dynamic of this TV family – and there are plenty of seasons to get stuck into! They say you should never work with children or animals, so I wonder what kind of hell the directors and producers were living in throughout the show’s creation – and yet it all hangs together so perfectly that I can’t help but think they were probably enjoying it.
I didn’t really like this show, but I was so ill when I started watching it that I didn’t have the energy to find something else and switch to that, and I ended up watching the whole thing. That’s a lot of seasons, but it grew on me gradually and by the time I had the energy to look for a different thing to watch, I’d committed myself to watching it all.
The storyline centres around Danny and his three children DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. The children’s mother has just died, and two of Danny’s friends move in to help out for a few months… and end up staying for years. It does have its moments, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Having said that, once I finished it I did watch…
…its follow-up show which was made several years later when the kids are all grown up. And how I wish I hadn’t.
It’s a caricaturey, culturally insensitive, generally crap version of its older self, which wasn’t so great in the first place. Mary-Kate & Ashley’s decision not to return as Michelle might be the smartest career choice they’ve made yet.
One Day At A Time
I have spent most of this year watching Netflix shows because I’ve been too ill to do anything else, but most of them I probably won’t go back to, with a few notable exceptions. One Day At A Time is one of those, because it’s absolutely brilliant. Sweet, funny, relatable, perfectly balanced between not being too serious and yet still dealing with important issues, I feel like it hasn’t had nearly the level of hype it deserves.
The Good Place
Eleanor wakes up one day to discover that she’s dead. Luckily she’s ended up in the Good Place, where people go when they’ve lived a good life and been kind to others. Unfortunately she doesn’t belong there, but she’s desperate not to be found out for fear of being sent to the Bad Place, which sounds like… well, hell.
The Good Place is hilarious light entertainment that will make you smile.
Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s bleak look at alternative worlds, is depressing and deeply scary because it’s easy to imagine so much of it coming true. I mean, now that Peeple exists and our Prime Minister’s fucked a pig, which other things from the series can we expect to cross the border into real life?
Star Trek: Discovery
I was nervous about watching Discovery because Star Trek is one of my favourite things in the world, and I wasn’t convinced it would do it justice. Now that I’ve seen all the episodes they’ve released so far, I’m still not in love with any of the characters, but it’s settling into a vaguely interesting story arc so I’m more hopeful than I was at first. To be fair, even my favourite Treks (Voyager + TNG) took a couple of seasons to properly get going, so maybe that’s what’s happening here too.
At the end of each episode Netflix automatically plays After Trek, in which Matt Mira hosts various cast members and talks about what’s just happened. It’s a nice touch and if you’re a die-hard Trekkie it gives you that extra dose to keep you going until next time. (Also if you’re a die-hard Trekkie, you should join us for #StarTrekHour on Tuesday evenings on Twitter.)
Mindhunter had been so strongly recommended by people whose tastes I normally share that I was sure I’d love it, but I didn’t. I think it’s for the same reason why I couldn’t watch Mad Men when I worked in advertising: watching Mindhunter is a bit too much like watching a day at work. I’m too close to the subject matter so I can identify all the holes in what they’re doing, and it’s just not quite compelling enough to enable me to look past that and just enjoy the show. If you’re not an expert in criminal psychology, however, you might find it enjoyable.
Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23
Back to light amusing entertainment, Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 is the kind of show that’s so very bingeable. The characters are obnoxious yet somehow you want to keep watching them; there’s not much of a storyline but that makes it easy not to lose the thread of the series. Plus it has Krysten Ritter in it, so it’s automatically good.
I actually enjoyed season two, which was released on Netflix this year, much more than I’d enjoyed the first season because I’d resigned myself to the fact that the show’s premise is ridiculous. There are monsters and upside-down places where nothing works like it does in the real world, and a girl who can throw stuff around with her mind. But once I’d decided to just go along with it, I enjoyed it: the acting is great, and it’s the relationships between the characters that make this show so watchable.
I was so unsure about this because it sounded like it was going to be a horrible show making fun of people who have mental health problems and spending its whole time talking about romance. However, it’s surprisingly good. Rebecca is a pain in the ass as a character, yet there’s something about her that makes you want her to be OK. The first couple of seasons are hilarious, and the songs scattered throughout the episodes really pull it all together and make this a very different kind of show in the best possible way. The latest season has gone all dark and gritty, which of course makes me like it even more, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Jessica Biel stars in this compelling show about a woman who murders a man seemingly out of the blue. There’s no doubt that she committed the crime – what’s puzzling is why she did it. As the story unfolds we get flashbacks to her background and gradually come to understand what might have happened, although the show keeps the viewer guessing right up to the final episode.
If you like a good crime story, especially one with a psychological twist, this will be right up your street.
“Oh, is that the show about a family of rednecks?” asked my client when I told him what I’d been watching, and I suppose it is. The Redburns are a well-respected family in their Florida community, running a beautiful inn and providing fishing and diving expeditions to holiday-makers. But lurking beneath the surface is the usual quagmire of terrible family secrets, and they’re reaching up to pull each member of the family under. Still, the past can’t kill you… or can it?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been hooked on witchy shows, starting with Good Witch, which I thought I hated but which grew on me. Cassie is the good witch of the title, and when she gains a new next-door neighbour it turns her life around in ways she couldn’t have imagined. The neighbour is a doctor who thinks all the things she believes in constitute a steaming pile of bullshit, yet he can’t quite shake her off because he sorta kinda likes her.
It’s a pleasant show that’s easy to binge watch because it requires very little thought. Even though Cassie does this knowing look that makes me want to punch her in the face every time she prescribes one of her bullshit remedies, I managed to look past that and enjoy the series.
Witches of East End
I couldn’t find a proper trailer for this one, so have this instead. The story focuses on a family of witches, only two of whom – the mother and the aunt – are aware of their powers. Joanna has brought up her daughters to be unaware of their powers, and yet like most secrets they eventually come to the fore. When that happens, the women all end up lost in a maze of magic; sometimes pleasantly so, sometimes not so much; and gradually the daughters must learn to harness their powers and use them for good.
I almost didn’t watch it because in the opening sequence it looks like a woman is turning into a monster, and I’m not a vampires-and-werewolves kinda gal. But I’m glad I stuck with it, because the characters really grow into themselves as the series moves on, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
This isn’t the first time I’ve watched Merlin, and I don’t think it’ll be the last, because it’s really really good. The series retells the story of Camelot, with a young Merlin the magician as the main character. The acting is superb, the storyline is gripping, and it has Richard Wilson in it, so what’s not to love?
Fucking hell I’ve watched a lot of shows this year. If I were feeling brave I’d add up all the hours I’ve spent doing that, but I think I’d rather not know…