“Remain Indoors… and don’t think about the event.” No, this isn’t a quote from our Prime Minister, but instead, a line in “the event” quiz show sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look (available on Netflix as well, as it happens). It would appear we are now in a similar position – locked away in our homes with the question of what to do to stay entertained for the next few weeks.
Well, fear not readers. When the news broke that cinemas were closing their doors last week, after shedding a tear in the realisation that we would be without the comfort of the big screen for the foreseeable future, we here at Screen asked a few of our contributors to recommend some of their favourite items available on Netflix to help fill the time. Take a look below at their suggestions – there are 30 to dig your teeth into in total from a wide range of genres:
Self-isolating can be a tedious and challenging time for many people, so why not start off by binging on the light-hearted musical/comedy Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend. This phenomenal series covers mental illness issues through rip-roaring humour and some pretty great tunes along the way.
My next choice is a modern marvel of the TV world. Peaky Blinders is the enthralling story of an early 20th-century Birmingham criminal gang. Not only perfect for edge of your seat moments, the character development is so strong on this show that it leaves you only wanting more.
If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted rom com, why not take a journey into Hugh Grant’s marriage woes in the cult classic Four Weddings and a Funeral. A definitive addition to any list of greatest romantic movies, this movie delivers some pretty iconic one-liners and hilarious moments to enjoy.
If comedy has tired you out by now, why not binge the many glorious seasons of the gory and sensational horror anthology American Horror Story. There is certainly a season for everyone here, from a murder house, an insane asylum, a coven of witches and a freakshow carnival. I guarantee you will not be bored at any point in your excursions into this twisted world of horror and wonder.
Finally, if the former wears you out why not take a breather with Derry Girls, a hilarious half-hour comedy about a group of friends in Northern Ireland during the peak of the Troubles. You will certainly come out of this feeling more optimistic about the world outside your window.
Grace and Frankie: Grace and Frankie (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) get the shock of their lives when they find out that their husbands are leaving them – for each other. Heart-warming, touching and hilarious, it will make you want to grow old with your best friend (preferably in a beach house in San Diego), and so is perfect if you are self-isolating with your mates. It is also the longest running Netflix original series – for good reason. It shows older women in a refreshing way, and there is plenty to make your way through.
Glee: I want this known publicly: I was not a ‘Gleek’. In fact, I only watched it for the first time about a year ago when my flatmate had it on, and to be quite honest, it took me a long time to warm to it. But it is so addictive; I think because of the nostalgia of the music and the way in which, over six seasons, you do care about the characters even if you don’t like them. Yes, they tackle some issues in very problematic ways and yes, Mr Shue is incredibly creepy, but it’s binge-ability is second to none.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World: Like all of Edgar Wright’s films, Scott Pilgrim is jam-packed with tiny details, which make it great for re-watching. It’s also a group pleaser, with something for everyone. Action, romance, fantasy, music, and so much more. Another factor displaying just how great Scott Pilgrim is the cast; A-Lister after A-Lister, many of whom have considerably small roles. It’s fun cinema at its finest.
Monty Python (any): Some classic dry British comedy that if you haven’t seen, you really should. Funny, clever and easy watching, Monty Python sketches don’t feel dated, despite the majority being made in the 70s. Great to watch if you are with family (especially older family members!), and a nice reminder to “always look on the bright side of life”…
The Good Place: Creator Michael Schur’s track record was so incredible (The Office US, Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) that NBC told him to make whatever he wanted. The result is nothing short of perfection. In The Good Place, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) finds out she has died and is in the ‘Good Place’, but quickly realises that there has been a mistake. The show tackles difficult topics of morality and what it means to be a human, while still making the dumbest jokes imaginable, and I for one, adore it. Bonus – The Good Place: The Podcast, in which the cast and crew discuss each episode, has only made me love the show more.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive: As a sports fan I am sorely missing it given the total drought of it right now. Luckily Netflix has plenty of sporting content, the best being the Formula 1 documentary series Drive to Survive. The series looks back on the latest season of F1, with Netflix having exclusive behind the scenes access to the paddock. Don’t worry if you’re not too familiar with F1, I personally only dip in and out of it, but this series had me hooked. It serves as the perfect introduction to the sport, especially as it gets to skip over any boring parts of the season.
Friday Night Dinner: I thought I best recommend a comfort show on this list and decided to go for Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner. It has a new series out soon and is mainly set in a few rooms of a house, which I found funny given everyone’s current situation in real life. The show is about a Jewish family and the shenanigans that happen when they have their weekly Friday night dinners. It’s a very funny and light-hearted comedy, binge watching a few episodes certainly put me in a better mood.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: A childhood favourite of many, the series was added to Netflix last year, giving me a chance to watch the acclaimed show for the first time. Though it took me a few episodes to get into it, I was soon engrossed. The show has extremely lovable characters and the action is fantastic. I love the attention to detail given by the show’s creators, for instance each element bending technique is based on separate and distinct styles of martial arts.I can see why the show is beloved by adults and children alike and has plenty for everyone. Hopefully Netflix does this cult classic justice when it adapts it into live action.
Kim’s Convenience: This hidden gem was added to Netflix last year and continues to fly under the radar. The comedy follows the Kim family, who are Korean-Canadian’s who run a convenience store. Starring Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang and Simu Liu (who is soon to play Marvel’s Shang-Chi), the series is hilarious and heartfelt. It perfectly balances comedy with drama.
The English Game: This drama is about the birth of modern football in the 1880’s and looks intriguing. It was released on Netflix last Friday, and it seems that Netflix has paid lots of attention to detail to make the series as authentic as possible. Hopefully the series can help fill the football void in everyone’s life right now.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This TV show is probably one of my favourites of all time. Hilarious and heart-warming with an excellent cast, overall just “noice”, as Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) would say. Binge-watch quickly, season six comes out next week!
I Feel Pretty: Amy Schumer, comedian par excellence, delivers an amazing feel-good-film that is not only amusing and definitely worth a watch, but also holds an important message: be proud of who you are. The film holds up a mirror to our society that is obsessed with this image of beauty portrayed in glossy magazines – watch this image be ripped to the ground in I Feel Pretty.
A Simple Favour: This film has a Gone Girl feel to it: a mysterious blonde suburban mother vanishes from one day to the other. Everyone suspects the husband – but they are not ready for the twists and turns that are yet to come. A Simple Favour adds comedic lines to it and appeals to those with dark humour. Definitely a must-watch for mystery-thriller fans!
Safe: If you liked The Stranger, you will love Safe! Tom Delaney (Michael C. Hall) lives in a gated community in Britain, when suddenly his daughter and her boyfriend go missing. A twisted story that keeps you guessing and will make you watch it in a day or two.
Always Be My Maybe: One of my favourite Netflix Romcoms is Always Be My Maybe. The cast – including Ali Wong and Randall Park – delivers a convincing performance as childhood best friends. Their families think they should end up together and when they meet again after several years, they are starting to think that everyone was right about them. This funny film is a good-time-guarantee!
I’m going to stray a little from the precedent and recommend basically any and all Richard Curtis films you can find; you simply can’t fail with these. I want you to stuff your mouth with popcorn (or whatever snack is left in the supermarket) and watch anything on Netflix that has his name to it. If you’ve never heard of Richard Curtis, let me start you off with the mother of all Richard Curtis films, and available on Netflix right now, About Time. The timeless classic about a time-travelling lover will fill you up with joy, and get you standing in a closet clenching your fists, trying to get back to the good times of 2015 before Brexit and coronavirus was even a thing. Don’t worry, it’s more Bridget Jones than Doctor Who (another two Curtis productions which I’d recommend), and nothing like The Time Traveler’s Wife. If you think of time travel as a horrible overused nerdy sci-fi concept, then this film is for you, because it’s not that; there’s no science, no TARDIS, just Bill Nighy dancing and Margot Robbie’s ever-alluring presence.
After that, if you still need a piece of enjoyment to take your mind off the real world, then find any of his other films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, as well as the likes of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary, which frequently rotate on and off Netflix. Yet, if you were to pick any other of his films, I’d go for the Boat that Rocked or as known on Netflix, Pirate Radio. Like the previous two films, this regularly appears on the streaming service. It’s the film that caused a legal hootenanny in America, as it made rebelling against the government look super fun. With an absolutely gorgeous stella cast, which once again includes Bill Nighy, it follows a mad group of radio DJs breaking the law with an illegal radio station on a boat.
Queer Eye: The epitome of wholesome American reality TV. The Fab Five, each with a different specialism, makeover people’s whole lives. This show will be perfect for lifting your spirits and showing what good humans can do for each other. It might even inspire you to ‘queer eye’ your own life with your newly found free time.
Spinning Out: Spinning Out is an American drama series which features Kaya Scodelario doing lots of beautiful ice skating. It follows her life as an ice skater after suffering a serious injury. It is definitely binge-worthy and had me considering applying for Dancing on Ice by the end, despite surely not being able to make it round a rink without letting go of the side.
On My Block: This teen comedy drama follows a group of friends as they navigate high school and rough inner-city Los Angeles. Their friendship gets tested by dealing with gangs, love, death and teenage life. It is a series that has struck a good balance of emotional investment and comedy.
Terraced House: Romance, fights and amazing food! Terraced House is a Japanese reality show where six singletons live in a house together and date one and other. Binge-worthy wholesome trash TV, perfect for watching while we are all stuck inside.
Hot Rod: A hilarious film featuring Andy Samberg playing an amateur stuntman who starts a fundraising mission for his stepdad’s surgery by attempting lots of stunts with his friends. This film is one of my favourites and will definitely give you some good laughs in these scary times. No matter how bored you get in quarantine I recommend not attempting to repeat any of the stunts.
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