We’ve all been there: you have your hot plate of food in front of you, or you are all wrapped up in your blanket… and then you spend AGES picking what to watch and by the time you take your first bite your food is unpalatably cold. Whether it be Netflix, Prime or any other entertainment source of your choice, the chances are, you spend entirely too long picking what to watch. Well panic no more and keep scrolling to read up on our recommendations for what to watch, whatever the mood or occasion.
The Underrated Gem: “Hollywood”
Remember back at the very beginning of lockdown when it felt like everyone you knew was watching Tiger King? Well this is what they should have been watching instead. This show would have been far more widely watched, but its release was overshadowed by the Tiger King madness.
Hollywood charts the story of struggling actors in mid Twentieth century Los Angeles. We follow the characters as they try (usually by any means necessary) to get their “big break.” The show has a vastly diverse cast, and this allows the viewer an insight into the struggles faced by outsiders, women, people of colour and members of the (then secret) LGBTQ+ community. The story is satisfying while still remaining believable, all while incorporating a mixture of drama, romance and mystery. Unlike other shows which tend to drag on past their prime, this limited release miniseries ends after just seven very entertaining episodes making it an easy watch for everyone.
Where To Watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 7/10 (I definitely wouldn’t watch with my grandmother, but maybe my mum would be okay)
The Cross-Cultural Narrative: “Kim’s convenience”
This lighthearted show is about the Korean-Canadian Kim family, drawing its name from the corner shop that the family owns and runs: Kim’s Convenience. The show has short, easy to follow episodes which are laugh out loud funny while still covering important topics. The Kim family consists of Appa (the dad), Ama (the mum), Janet (the daughter) and Jung (the estranged son) whose lives are populated by colourful and comic characters.
Not only does this show artfully cover the complex dynamics of living and interacting with your family as an adult but it also has a more subtle undercurrent of a story of living across cultures. The parent characters are Korean immigrants and even after the years they have spent in Canada there are still moments where they struggle to understand Western culture and practices (notably in regards to their children’s professions and dating life). Their children are shown to struggle with the perceived conflicts between upholding their Korean heritage and parental expectations, and balancing this with the life of a “normal” young Canadian. In today’s climate where topics such as immigration and cultural integration are still difficult to talk about and divisive, this show allows the conversation to progress in a manner which entertains and provokes thought. Overall, this is the type of show that I would watch with my family to unwind at the end of the day, have a good laugh and prompt poignant conversation.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity rating 1/10 (You could literally watch this with a five year old)
Why You Should Draw The Curtains: “You”
If your Instagram is currently set to public, trust me after watching this show it won’t be. I remember starting the first season of “You” a few years ago in my living room on the third floor of an apartment building with my curtains wide open. However when I reached the end of the first episode my curtains were promptly drawn closed and remained that way for the rest of the time I lived in there. This is because “You”, while fictional, will make you realise exactly how easy it is to be stalked in the modern age. Everything from our Instagram photos to our carelessness with curtains, provides opportunities for creepy, obsessive strangers to get to know us without our permission. This is exactly what happens in “You”, as Beck (the love interest) falls in love with her stalker, Joe. What ensues is an increasingly unbelievable series of events which consist of several murders, kidnappings and a glass cage in a basement. The second season of the show just ups the craziness as Joe moves to Los Angeles and continues his criminal activities with an entirely new set of not-so-innocent people. This is a great show to watch with friends as you can discuss theories and try to predict who dies next!
Where To Watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 6/10 (Sexual but nothing craaazy)
If “You” Didn’t Scare You, This Definitely Will: “The Social Dilemma”
If you watch only one thing we have recommended in this article, let this be the one. This documentary is an absolute must watch for everyone that exists in the Twenty-first century. We all use social media, most of us every day, but most of us are likely ignorant of the true cost of this usage. I certainly was. We view social media as a free product of which we are consumers. What this documentary will teach you is that nothing in the world is free. When the service is free, what is in fact the product is us: the user, and the consumers are actually corporations who thrive on collecting data about us. Everything from our location, the number of times we pick up our phones, how many people we message and who we have a crush on is valuable information in the hands of advertisers and data collectors. While it seems that there is nothing inherently wrong with this (who cares if some abstract corporate entity knows that I have a crush on my neighbour?), what is happening now is that social media is beginning to shape human behaviour. We are being manipulated without our knowledge and without our explicit consent.
This documentary was probably the one thing I’ve ever watched that has had a marked effect on my life. I no longer open apps through the notifications they send, but rather choose to unlock my phone and open the app and then check the notification. I have also set time limits on all my social media apps, and basically never click on the advertisements that pop up while I am scrolling. Instead, if I see an advertisement for something I am curious about, I manually search for the page or product. This may seem silly or pointless if you haven’t watched this documentary, but once you do these habit changes will seem necessary.
It may sound like this documentary is a piece of fear mongering anti-technological propaganda, but it is simply informing you of the realities of using social media as freely as the majority of us tend to. Whether you act upon what you see is up to you, but you should certainly be informed on it. I would recommend this show to anyone who uses any form of social media, but especially to teenagers who are growing up with social media as an integral part of their lives.
Where To Watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 1/10
The One That You’ve Probably Already Watched: “Bridgerton”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have probably watched, or at the very least heard of, this show. Bridgerton came out on Christmas Day 2020 and has gone on to become Netflix’s most watched show. Not only has the show led to an increase in sales of regency era tea sets and corsets, the book series that the show is based on has also hit bestseller lists years after being published. Refreshingly, the show is also notable for its “colourblind” casting, whereby instead of the usual period drama all White cast, the characters we see on screen come from all types of racial backgrounds. Now, if like me you have succumbed to the hype and watched this show already, you do not need me to tell you about it’s binge worthiness; if you haven’t watched it yet then grab some popcorn and settle in for the steamiest, most overly dramatic viewing experience of your life. The love story in this show, while predictable, is sure to make even the most sceptical of you into romantics. It is the perfect show to enjoy on your own or with your significant other, and before you know it the voice in your head will sound like Julie Andrews (who narrates the show). Along with the romantic overtones, Bridgerton also delivers on the humorous side of things. My personal favourite character Eloise brings a level of quick witted humour and amusing innocence to the show which just adds to the easy viewing experience that is Bridgerton.
Update: A second season of Bridgerton has been announced, with a British-Indian actress playing a leading role!
Where to watch: Netflix
Nudity rating: 8/10 (That library scene though -_-)
You’ve Probably Watched This Too, But Just in Case: “Sex Education”
I know, I know: EVERYONE has watched this already, but just in case you haven’t, then this is the sign you have been waiting for that you should start it ASAP. “Sex Education” is exactly the kind of show I would recommend to teenagers, parents and everyone in between. The story of Otis (the son of two sex therapists) and his peers covers issues that all young people have dealt with for years. The show explores different types of sexuality (namely homosexuality, pansexuality, asexuality and bisexuality), different types of romantic relationships and friendships in an open, honest, amusing and sensitive way. Along with the expected exploration of sex and relationships, the relationships between parents and their children is also explored extensively. All of these aspects are dealt with comically and in an entertaining fashion, though the show does also delve into more serious issues. Sexual assault and the many forms it can take, bullying and self harm are all touched upon in a tactful manner which allows the audience to be educated on these heavy topics without feeling traumatised or distrubed. Along with these all important areas, the show maintains a steady stream of sarcastic, witty and self-deprecating humour. This is honestly one of the few shows out there that I have nothing bad to say about. Everything from the casting, writing, and setting to the fashion and aesthetics are infallible and I am counting down the days until season 3 is released!
Where To Watch: Netflix
Nudity Rating: 9/10 (I mean the show is literally called Sex Education”)
The Feel Good Modern Love Story: “Keeping Up With the Kandasamys” and “Kandasamys: The Wedding”
So I cannot in good faith claim that I have watched the first of these films. I have however watched the second one, “Kandasamys: The Wedding” which works quite well as a standalone film as well. I know this seems like a very obscure film to watch as it is a South African film about an Indian family, but I stumbled upon this while browsing Amazon Prime and it was such a feel good film that I just have to recommend it here. The story follows a South African – Indian couple who are about to get married. The groom’s mother is your stereotypical overbearing mother who allows her son and her future daughter in law no breathing space at all and even tags along on their dates, much to the bride’s displeasure. We see the couple and their families (who are neighbours) in the run up to the wedding day and all the chaos that this brings. The film is incredibly funny and well written and brilliantly showcases the vibrant and thriving Indian community in South Africa. While watching this film I laughed hysterically and (I am ashamed to admit it) cried during the emotional ending. This is a perfect date night film, or one to watch alone when you need an emotional pick-me-up.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Nudity rating: 0/10
Entertainment and a Social Commentary: “Made in Heaven”
“Made in Heaven” is a Hindi language show about two friends who are wedding planners for the wealthy and elite in India. Each episode covers the wedding of a different couple, with the stories of the wedding planners themselves covered across all episodes. With each story the show further uncovers the dark underbelly of what are seemingly perfect, opulent weddings for “modern” Indian couples. Not only is this show beautifully shot and an aesthetic dream (the main character’s outfits alone could carry the show), the narrative does not shy away from the important topics that need to be discussed in relation to marriage and South Asian society today. Family power dynamics, dowries, India’s LGBTQ+ laws, infidelity and social mobility are just some of the powerful topics covered. This show really made me think about how South Asian societies, particularly amongst the so-called “educated elite”, claim to have changed their old fashioned classist, casteist and sexist views. On the surface this seems to be the case, but the harder we look the more we see the vestiges of the systems of division that we claim to have left behind. While weddings become more grand and young couples strive to break away from regressive thinking, it is important to ensure that the changes brought about are not just superficial. While you could just watch this show for the pure entertainment it provides, I would prompt you to use it as a means to start difficult conversations surrounding traditions that you do not agree with and to ensure that when you disagree with something you speak up about it in all situations, and not just the ones where it is easy to do so.
Update: A second season of “Made in Heaven” has been announced!
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Nudity rating: 5/10
Honourable mentions must go to:
Ginny and Georgia, Netflix (Think “Gilmore Girls” but with teeth)
Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj, Netflix (Funny, socially critical and educational)
Good Girls, Netflix (Chaotic and crazy)
The Good Place, Netflix (Kristen Bell in the afterlife…need I say more)
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