I realize that I haven’t written about anything other than self-reflection in awhile, so I thought I’d catch you up on my greatest joy: binge-watching! Below is a list of my favorite titles that I watched this spring and summer, some more current than others. Hopefully you’ll find something to tide you over until BoJack Horseman returns on September 14th.
SANTA CLARITA DIET:
Want to do something bizarre? Be a vegan and watch a show about a cannibalistic zombie. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel Hammond (Timothy Olyphant) are married real estate agents in Santa Clarita, California. Their quiet suburban existence is turned upside down when Sheila becomes flesh-eating undead creature. I LOVED Santa Clarita Diet. The dialogue had me in tears of laughter. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant couldn’t be a better onscreen match, and I loved seeing Skyler Gisondo, who I remember as Young Shawn on the later seasons of Psych, as the neighbor.
Best line: “damn Gary and his narc-ing butthole!”
Not a “summer” show, but I did FINALLY get into it this summer. I know, I know, very late to the game. Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a team of NYPD detectives, headed by the comically stoic Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). The detectives include wise-cracking Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), by-the-book Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), goofy Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), mysterious Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), devoted Sergeant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), and sarcastic civilian administrator Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti).
I join the Internet in declaring Brooklyn Nine-Nine the world’s only unproblematic sitcom. The characters are fully-formed from the moment they arrive on the screen, the cast is diverse and stays away from stereotypes, and all the relationships shown are healthy. The writing is beyond compare and all the jokes land solidly.
Best line: too many to count.
THE GOOD PLACE, season 2:
Also, I know, not a “summer” show, but season 2 JUST arrived on Netflix so I’m counting it. Led by the adorable Kristen Bell (seriously, she looks like she sweats pink lemonade), Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to “The Good Place”, a heaven-like utopia, in reward for her good deeds on earth. One problem: she hasn’t done ANY good deeds and was sent there by mistake. One of the main themes continues to be ethics, and the way it’s woven into the show is increasingly clever.
Best line: “Holy forking SHIRTBALLS!”
Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, Castle Rock is an American psychological horror anthology web television series based on elements from the stories of Stephen King. Admittedly, 90% of why I watch it is for Bill Skarsgård, but still. Dark, complex, and macabre, Castle Rock features an all-star cast. Sissy Spacek is phenomenal, and I was delighted to see Noel Fisher (best known as Mickey Milkovich on Shameless) onscreen as well. It’s a bit confusing and hard to follow; it definitely has that “slow burn” feel, but it’s getting rave reviews.
Best line: “Do you think that’s why you came back? Because it reminded you?”
Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, a totalitarian society known as Gilead enslaves fertile women, called “Handmaids”, to bear children for rich families. Allow me to avoid spoilers and say: completely worth the hype. Dystopian futures aren’t usually my cup of tea, but this one hits a little too close to home.
Best line: “I keep going with this limping and mutilated story because I want you to hear it, as I will hear yours too, if I ever get the chance, if I meet you too or if you escape in the future or in heaven. By telling you anything at all, I’m believing in you. I’m believing you into being. By telling you this story, I’m willing you into existence. I tell, therefore you are.”
RIVERDALE, season 2:
The 2000s may have been the golden age of teen dramas, but Riverdale is definitely the heir to the throne. Riverdale can best be described as the lovechild of Pretty Little Liars and Twin Peaks, which is doubly appropriate, since it shares an aerial shot with PLL and features Twin Peaks alum Madchen Amick among the main cast. In the second season, civil unrest tears the town of Riverdale apart as the Southside Serpents face off against the Northside. Meanwhile, the shady, enigmatic Hiram Lodge carries out secret plans for the town, and a serial killer known as the Black Hood causes havoc. Season 2 was every bit as richly addictive as season 1. Riverdale is delicious, dramatic fun that grabs hold and doesn’t let go.
Best line: “I will be taking half of whatever blood money you get from this inbred cesspool of a family. Yeah, that’s right, I said INBRED.”
I AM A KILLER:
A haunting documentary consisting of a series of interviews with Death Row Inmates. Exposes the injustices of the prison and judiciary system. Definitely leaves you thinking.
EVIL GENIUS: THE TRUE STORY OF AMERICA’S MOST DIABOLICAL BANK HEIST:
Documentary based on the 2003 “Pizza Bomber” case. Known as “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI,” a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells was killed when an explosive collar detonated after he tried to rob a bank. The case slowly unravels to reveal elements such as a frozen body and murder-for-hire. At the very center of it lies the erratic, manipulative Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Is she a sadistic mastermind or just another pawn? I’ve never been more perplexed on a true crime case. The biggest clusterfuck to ever occur.
ANNE WITH AN E, season 2:
Once I let go of the books, Anne With An E season 2 was delightful. I’m not quite sure what Gilbert was doing on the boat, but I’ll always give props for a bold choice. Anne and Gilbert’s love story makes me want to weep under a soft pile of kittens.
Best line: “You have a life of such joy before you. Not without hardship. Not without bumps in the road. Be safe with those you trust. But when you do find people to trust, the bond will be that much greater.”
Technically, this show ended in 2015, but it was one of the most enjoyable titles I watched all summer. Based on the book of the same name, Hemlock Grove centers on the fictional town of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, ruled by the mysterious, aristocratic Godfrey family. When a bloodthirsty creature begins killing off residents, heir apparent Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård) teams up with nomadic teen werewolf Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) to solve the supernatural mystery. Hemlock Grove feeds off the teen wolf and/or vampire phenom of the late 2000s/early 2010s, but in a gritty and refreshing way. It’s weird, it’s offbeat, it’s a bit ridiculous, but oddly enjoyable. Also, Bill Skarsgård was pretty much born to play the Byronic hero.
Best line: “she’s a farm-fresh cunt.”
TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE:
A movie, not a show. Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) keeps love letters to her past and current crushes in a teal hatbox. When the letters are suddenly released, all hell breaks loose. I’ll save the spoilers, but To All The Boys I Loved Before is literally everything you could want in a teen rom-com.
Best line: “The more people you let into your life, the more that can just walk right out.”
SET IT UP:
Also a movie. Two overworked assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) orchestrate a plot to get their demanding bosses into a relationship. Set It Up is uniquely delightful in a way most romcoms lack, and avoids falling into the typical toxic cliches.
Best line: “You like because. You love despite.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Eighth Grade was the breakout film of the summer. The story follows the insecure Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) on her last week of eighth grade as she struggles to make friends. Frank, insightful, and unflinchingly honest, Eighth Grade is a genuine look into the life of the 2018 teenager. As someone who was absolutely NOT cool in eighth grade, every awkward instance hit home. Bo Burnham is a goddamn genius, and I hope we see more of newcomer Elsie Fisher. To quote one reviewer: “Eighth Grade is one of the year’s best films so far, and no doubt marks a triumph for Burnham as a first-time filmmaker, but it’s Fisher who brings the movie to life.”
Best line: “Being yourself is, like, not changing yourself to impress someone else.”
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