Disclosure: As part of Netflix’s Stream Team, I get inside access to Netflix’s programming and share my thoughts on their programming with my readers often. But as always, my thoughts are my own.
Netflix just gets better and better. I’ve been a member since its humble start and am continuously impressed with its original and bold slate of programming, both original and acquired.
It keeps my entire family occupied at various times of the day and night. My teenage daughter is obsessed with its offerings, many of which I used to watch at one point in time, such as Grey’s Anatomy, and most recently Riverdale and Vampire Diaries and Scandal. My son watches airplane, World War 2, and spy shows like Border Security and he’s obsessed with Stranger Things. My husband binges everything English such as The Crown and Black Mirror.
And me? I escape to far, far away places in the compelling, earth-shattering shows that Netflix produces. Here were a few of my favorites this year, shows that I am thankful for, quite honestly, and my reasons why, as well as a few of ones that missed the mark for me:
Fauda was a like a gift that dropped into my lap. I still can’t quite believe how good this show is. I think it’s because I have very strong ties to the State of Israel. I’ve lived there before and I have family living there. However, I know there are disparities between Israelis and Palestinians that I could never understand, and Fauda shows the complex reality of living in Israel in a way that I’ve never seen before. It shows the reality from both sides, from the point of view from Israelis, but I suspect it’s more left wing and balanced that anything you’ll ever see. You don’t blame one side by the season’s end and if you do, you’ll start to see the point of view of the other one. This is necessary viewing as we enter a new phase of uncertainty in the Middle East caused by our current Presidential administration.
As I reach my 50th year (in a few years yet but hey, it’s coming), I really find myself seeking out shows like Grace and Frankie which puts aging women at the forefront. It’s a show about friendship. It’s a show about women. It’s about aging. It’s a show about life changes that hit you when you least expect them. It’s about motherhood and what it’s like later in life when the kids venture out on their own. It’s about love – when it breaks and how one picks up the pieces. It deals with some very tough issues in a very realistic way. I binge watch every season in two days and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one. As for Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, there are no words for their brilliance and extraordinary performances. Watch this one.
Being atypical isn’t easy. I have a child with similar issues to the lead character in Atypical; I related to the mom in ways I can’t describe (but no, I have not cheated on my husband). As a mom with few outlets and connections to a world that is very personal and quite complicated, as well as incredibly lonely, I was eager to see how TV would portray a boy on the spectrum. The show revolves around Sam (played by Keir Gilchrist), an autistic high-school senior, and his experiences and interactions in a main stream school and in the world. His family has developed strategies to help him cope. It’s all just very familiar, and I felt a sense of relief as one scene unfolded after the other.
Another show I always binge in two days is Orange is the New Black, and after five seasons, I can still say that the writing, directing and casting are just incredible. This show tells many frank stories of female existence. It’s honest, real, and so very compelling. Season 5 ended with an explosion, and a lot of chaos, mirroring our current political climate in America. Ten characters were left alone together, during a unified moment of defiance, where they had been seeking shelter. Negotiations, had failed and a swat team was coming in. After a season long riot, in which the inmates took over daily life and turned the guards into prisoners, one wonders what will happen in season six. I can’t wait.
Other shows to watch include Master of None,The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Glow, which I can’t recommend highly enough. I have to comment on it:
GLOW, created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and executive produced by Orange Is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan, is a show about women’s wrestling and a true story based on a group of women in a male-dominated sport in the 1980’s. My dad used to be a wrestling nut, and I was exposed to the sport often as a young girl. I vaguely remember women in the ring, so for me, this show was not only a piece of nostalgia from my own childhood, but also very much a modern dose of women’s empowerment. It’s a show about women, by women, and definitely for women. It’s also the ensemble that makes this show unique. The cast of eccentric characters is over the top, campy fun.
Lastly, I watch a lot of movies and documentaries on Netflix, and I have one to watch:
With One of Us, filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady made an incredibly insightful documentary about ultra-Orthodox Jews through the eyes of three young adults who are struggling to leave it behind. It’s intimate and totally eye-opening, and I’m so glad it’s being shown world-wide to so many who are not familiar with this world.
I can’t wait to see what Netflix brings into the world in 2018, most particularly season two of Fauda. Here’s to more pop culture programming in the new year.