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Streaming recommendations for the socially distant

I know that for many of us, social distancing means suddenly having a lot more time at home. Once finals are finished, many of us will have even more extra time. So, in lieu of this potential chunk of boredom, I present to you; All The Shows I Didn’t Get A Chance To Review Before But Recommend!

I’ve broken this list down by streaming service, and tried to include some extra tips and gems on each.

Netflix
This is the streaming company that began the shift away from traditional rental, and is now a huge success. Although Netflix does not offer a student rate, subscriptions begin at $8.99 a month for one device.

Netflix offers closed captioning on all titles, and recently made it possible for trailers on the main page to be turned off. Unlike Hulu and Prime there is no upselling, only the option to have more devices.

Locke and Key:

Premiering February of 2020, this fantasy horror series was developed from the comic book of the same name. The story follows the Locke family, who move to their father’s family home following his murder by a troubled student. There, the children discover a number of keys with magical powers, as well as a frightening enemy and revelations about their father’s past. The fantasy elements of this show flow extremely well with the struggling family dynamic, and I felt this has been the strongest first season Netflix has released since Stranger Things. Centering the story around the house and family allowed the writers to work with a number of genres; equal parts haunted house, spousal grief, teen drama, and eldritch horror. Season 1 is streaming now, and a second season is in talks.

Bojack Horseman: 

This animated cult favorite premiered the second part of the seventh and final season in January, 2020. If anyone had told me when I started watching season one in 2014 that a colorful cartoon show about a talking horse would teach me huge and sobering lessons about mental illness, toxic relationships, and substance abuse, I would have been very skeptical. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg said in an interview just before the final episodes dropped that the very bright, zany world in which Bojack (a washed up celebrity who way back in the nineties was on a very famous TV show) resides and absurdist humor allowed the writing to go to some very dark places. This has become one of my favorite shows of all time, and a go-to if I’m in need of something to watch. I thought the ending wrapped up the initial concept extremely well, and resolved nearly every character’s story arc, although it definitely divided fans. As with any animation, if you dislike how it’s drawn, it may not be for you. However, I definitely suggest giving it a try with the added note that it really doesn’t hit its stride until Season 2, so there’s also a chance you’ll want to revisit it.

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House:

Directed by Osgood Perkins, whose first film The Blackcoat’s Daughter is also available for streaming, this 2016 film follows a live-in nurse who suspects her employer’s house may be haunted. The film stars Ruth Wilson as Lily, a recently employed nurse for Iris, played by Paula Prentice, a retired author suffering from dementia. I felt both performances were very strong in what may have otherwise been too slow a story. Although it is a plodding story that relies on psychological horror and ominous motifs over jump scares, I enjoyed the highly atmospheric nature of the story, that weaves between past and present. The storytelling reminded me of a Shirley Jackson novel. 

Also on Netflix: Every nature documentary you could ever want to watch, including the Our Earth and Blue Planet series’ from BBC.

Hulu

Hulu was the third streaming platform to develop a firm footing, after Netflix and YouTube. Acquired by Disney in 2019, Hulu plans to remain a bridge between Disney+ and ESPN+. By partnering with major networks since the websites earliest days, it has long been the go to for streaming major network television. Hulu offers a student price of $7.99, but it’s ad supported so for some users it may be worth paying the standard $11.99.

High Fidelity:

This gender-swap re-imagining of both the book by Nick Hornsby and the 2000 film by the same name premiered in February 2020. I felt that the film has aged poorly and presented the protagonist in a positive light the book never intended, and I was curious if a reversal of roles would reduce the levels of toxic masculinity. The answer is; kinda. The bad news is, it turns out sulking self deprecation isn’t a good look on anyone, and storytelling like this often pigeonholes female characters into taking the same actions as their male counterparts. The good news is, the story diverges from the book early on and continues to do so, giving hope for future episodes. Even better news, Zoe Kravitz as Robyn (Rob) is lively, curmudgeonly, and adorable and her record store cohorts are much more diverse. Having the protagonist be a sexually fluid woman of color opens up the music dialogue in ways the book and movie couldn’t. This is less of a re-imagining and more of a cover of the original content.

What We Do in the Shadows: 

Originally airing on FX, this series is based on the 2014 film of the same name and with the same directors: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Shot in a mockumentary style, the story follows a household of vampires and one human “familiar,” who longs to be made a vampire as thanks for his service. The humor is absurd, playing with and “defanging” vampire stereotypes. Natasia Demetriou and Matt Berry play a couple who have been married for centuries with fantastic chemistry. Another roommate, an energy vampire, is a day walker and works in an office where he feeds by bumming everyone out. The entire ensemble cast works well together to pull off the combination of British, New Zealand, and American humor. Season 1 available streaming, season 2 slated for release 4/15/20.

Also on Hulu: Every TV show from the 90s and ‘00s you can imagine. Because of Hulu’s partnerships with other networks, sitcoms, animation, and drama is available from nearly all major networks.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime has a student cost of $59 a year, half the regular costs, which lasts four years or until graduation. The various benefits of Prime also include streaming video. Although when first introduced video benefits were only available on Amazon devices, it has since been expanded to most platforms.

Electric Dreams: 

Written in conjunction with BBC 4, this re-imagining of the works of Philip K. Dick premiered in 2018. I should preface this by saying; fans of Philip K. Dick take adaptations of the work very seriously with no room for error, and so I say right now that I enjoyed this rendition. I liked that instead of recreating the stories directly, ideas from throughout Dick’s work are woven into each tale. Each episode is a self contained story, although the depth and structure of each invites re-watches. My favorites included The Commuter, Crazy Diamond, and Human Is. Season 1 available streaming.

Great Greek Myths:

This single season of individual episodes was released in 2015 and is great for casual, low energy viewing or for learning more about the links between classical art and Greek Myth. Originally created by French journalist François Busnel, the English translation makes it clear that the myths were pulled from multiple sources using extensive scholarly research. Using a combination of classical art and very simple animation, the dynamic storytelling is a great look deeper into many myths we may only be acquainted with. The twenty-episode series is available for streaming, and the same production group released a similar retelling of The Iliad early this year.

Also on Prime: Beside the entirety of Amazon, Prime streaming currently has all the Star Trek TV shows and movies, as well as other TV dramas.

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