They say that we in the UK love talking about the weather. Although I remember it being a regular topic of conversation when living in the south of Spain (and it doesn’t get much more consistent weather-wise than there) and I’m assured by Stefan that Germans love talking about it too!
What I’m getting at here is that there’s a new smalltalk-staple to rival the meteorological one and that is ‘What’re you watching on Netflix at the moment?’. Netflix started its streaming service in 2007 believe it or not. Over the last two to three years that it’s embedded itself firmly in our collective psyche.
All this made me wonder what would make a good list of recommended series to watch on streaming media platforms. I consulted with friends and family and here are their recommendations:
The Office: For those who don’t already know, The Office is a fly- on-the-wall documentary style sit-com. It is a seminal series in the history of comedy and is one of the rare examples of a US version being as funny as its UK predecessor. David Brent and Michal Scott are two of the finest, most-flawed and downright amusing comedy creations of all time and they’re just the tip of the iceberg! The UK version is available on Netflix and the US one on Amazon Prime or NOWTV.
John Mulaney – The Comeback Kid/Kid Gorgeous At Radio City: It’s not often a comedian can have two shows with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, let alone one, but John Mulaney has! In these comedy specials, he talks about his childhood, college, getting older, marriage and meeting Bill Clinton. His style is very ‘American’, similar in approach to Jimmy Carr in that he’s smart, slick and never takes the easy option. You can catch both shows on Netflix.
Wanda Sykes – Not Normal: You will have seen Wanda Sykes in her other guise as a comedy actress – I can remember her standing out in Owen Almighty and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In this 60-minute special, she criticises the state of the world and addresses the political and cultural climate in a witty and hilarious way. Another 100% Rotten Tomato rating by the way – available on Netflix.
Bill Burr: Paper Tiger: Bill Burr is another comedian you will have seen in an acting role appearing in Breaking Bad and the two Daddy’s Home movies. His searingly honest analysis of life is a wonder to behold. In this 67-minute show recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London, he holds forth on the Cancel Culture, #MeToo, Elvis Presley and having to give up his pit bull terrier! Available on Netflix.
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel: This is one my live-streaming guru, Jo, has recommended as one of her all-time top two (keep reading for the other one!). It tells the story of ‘Midge’ Maisel, a housewife in 1950s New York, who lives a seemingly- straightforward existence until her part-time comedian husband leaves her for his day-job secretary. Midge goes along to the comedy club where her husband moonlights and delivers an impromptu sketch. In the process she possesses a gift for comedy which develops as the series goes on. Available on Amazon Prime.
The Capture: This is a popular opinion on my family WhatsApp group although I’ve never seen it! This six-part mystery thriller follows Shaun Emery, a British soldier convicted of committing murder in Afghanistan. His conviction is overturned, however, due to problems with crucial video evidence. Shaun returns to his life as a father, but a night out with friends takes a turn for the worse and he finds himself facing more incriminating video footage. Detective Rachel Carey is keen to get to the bottom of Shaun’s mysterious past. She soon discovers the truth can be simply a matter of perspective as she reveals an elaborate conspiracy. Available on BBC iPlayer.
Money Heist: This Spanish series has to be one of the most intense, gut-wrenching and intelligent thrillers that I’ve watched in ages. Centred around two sophisticated robberies, you are sucked into the midst of; the gang inter-relationships, their hostages, and the cut and thrust of the exchanges between the police surveillance team and the main character, the constantly-ingenious ‘Professor’. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. There is a genuine sense of wonder at how each development somehow outdoes the previous one. Available on Netflix.
Peaky Blinders: Jo’s other number- one pick. The story of a criminal gang operating in Birmingham. In the years following the First World War, you are party to an explosive mixture of; family feuds, brutal police investigations, unforgettable characters and a post-war 1920s atmosphere that is always totally convincing. The stellar cast includes Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Sam Neil, Tom Hardy, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillan and Adrian Brody. Available on Netflix.
I’m going to cop out and just list of the other recommendations. They’re too good to leave out, but space prevents me from critiquing them all!
- Mad Men (Amazon Prime; not included with membership fee)
- Prison Break (Netflix)
- Breaking Bad (Netflix)
- Killing Eve – series one and two especially (BBC iPlayer)
- Mindhunter (Netflix)
- Fargo – the three series not the film (Netflix)
The Big Flower Fight: Ten teams of florists, sculptors and garden designers compete to create extravagant floral installations for a chance to display at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This is the ‘Great British Bake- Off’, but with flowers! The larger-than-life presenter, Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht (that’s his name… honestly) is aided and abetted by Vic Reeves and comic actress Natasia Demetriou. Tune in to see who is Best In Bloom! Available on Netflix.
The Last Dance: A film crew was allowed to film the Chicago Bulls basketball team’s historic attempt at a sixth title in eight seasons. The result is a stunning portrait of Michael Jordan, maybe sport’s most iconic athlete, and a long-suffering supporting cast that battled and scraped their way to the finals through all kinds of adversity. The series takes its name from a phrase coined by then-coach Phil Jackson. Who knew that the season would be the final run for the core members of the 1990s Bulls dynasty. Available on Netflix.
Finally, thank you for reading ‘Our Guide to… All Things Streaming Media’. For more online related content, click here.