From Normal People to Mrs. America, here are the new releases and old favorites on our approved list
Words by THE C MAGAZINE TEAM
While Covid-19 wreaks havoc on the global economy, there have been some incidental winners during this terrible pandemic. Netflix smashed its targets in the first three months of 2020 as the stay-at-home orders and lockdowns began in earnest, adding 16 million subscribers worldwide. Some of its biggest hitters this past month include Ozark’s third season; Tiger King, the documentary that launched a thousand memes; and true-life drama Unorthodox. Hulu has a global hit on its hands as well with Normal People, the adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel that has already led to talk of a second season.
No doubt, like us, you’ve been capitalizing on the extra hours available to plow through your watch lists and the latest releases. But with endless streaming options, it can still be challenging to zero in on what is and isn’t worth watching. To make the search for your next streaming obsession easier, the C Magazine team highlights here the shows that we so thoroughly enjoyed it would be cruel not to share.
CALL MY AGENT
For anyone working in Hollywood, Call My Agent on Netflix is required viewing, The Ryan Murphy-esque romp follows the lives of three agents running a boutique firm in Paris that somehow boasts an impossibly impressive list of every real-life French actor you’ve ever heard of. I’ve seen Monica Bellucci on the hunt for a new lover, Isabelle Hupert moonlighting on two productions at once and Juliette Binoche fluffing her big speech at Cannes. The best thing is, the stars are in on the joke, playing insufferable pastiches of themselves. Cameos aside, the real heart of the show lies in its three central characters — Mathias, Andrea and Gabriel — who inexplicably hold it (and the agency) together while their personal lives grow more dysfunctional with every episode. — Andrew Barker, Chief Content Officer
I’m obsessed with Jodie Comer’s character Villanelle. Who knew a ruthless psychopath assassin could be so endearing, quirky, romantic and beautifully dressed? Plus, her plush apartments from London to Barcelona to Paris and Amsterdam virtually satiate my travel cravings. — Gina Tolleson, Senior Editor
I have loved watching Mrs. America on Hulu for many reasons — great acting, I love the era for production and costume — but mainly for the history lesson on the rise of the women’s movement. I had never heard of Phyllis Schlafly and was unaware that she mobilized such an opposition against the ratifying of the ERA. And that the ratification is still ongoing! — Alison Edmond, Executive Creative & Fashion Director
I am loving the new series Belgravia (Epix) from Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes. It has all the fanciful costumes, amazing sets and old-fashioned drama one would expect from this period master. — Jennifer Smith, Founder, Editorial Director & CEO
I’m also watching Unorthodox on Netflix, which follows the life of Esty, a 19-year-old Hasidic Jew brought up by her alcoholic father and grandmother in Williamsburg. After experiencing an arranged marriage and a yearlong struggle to conceive — much to the dismay of her in-laws — she escapes New York for Berlin with the help of her piano teacher (a skill she has been learning on the sly since it is forbidden for women in her community). Needless to say, she doesn’t remain incognito for long, and her jilted husband follows her to Germany to bring her home. In addition to exposing the inequality and the absolute power of the patriarchy which persists in this ultrareligious community in one of the most liberal cities in the world, what makes the story so acutely gut-wrenching to me is that this is based on writer Deborah Feldman’s own story, adapted from her 2012 memoir of the same name. — Andrew Barker, Chief Content Officer
I’m finally making time to enjoy season three of Netflix’s The Crown, a show which has featured the talents of two of my favorite female actors (Olivia Colman and Claire Foy are both geniuses). Not only is the show a feast for the eyes — the sets! the costumes! — but the subject matter is so far removed from my own world that watching an episode or two makes it very, very easy to unplug and escape for a few hours. — Marie Look, Digital Content Editor
Outer Banks on Netflix offers the escapism we all, myself included, so desperately need during quarantine — literally and figuratively. This treasure hunt meets teen drama is filled with rags-to-riches tropes. With only 10 episodes, it was a quick watch that offered views of summer sunshine, vacation-worthy landscapes and a great-looking cast — who all truly seem like such great friends I almost forgot I haven’t seen my own in months. — Charlotte Bryant, Art Production Manager
My fiance and I recently committed to an epic rewatch together of all nine seasons of the medical comedy Scrubs (Hulu), which both of us enjoyed during its original run between 2001 and 2010. There’s something comforting about revisiting an old favorite; plus, we’ve been listening to the new podcast called Fake Doctors, Real Friends by the show’s stars, Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who are doing their own rewatch and then sharing behind-the-scenes commentary from week to week, episode by episode. — Marie Look, Digital Content Editor
Prior to shelter-in-place rules, I had only flirted with the idea of watching Billions (Showtime). Now, two months in, I am a full-blown fan, having watched all 48 episodes of the show’s four seasons that aired between 2016 and 2019. (To my boss, who is reading this: Yes, I’ve somehow managed to also complete some work at the same time.) The show centers around hedge fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod and U.S. Attorney General Chuck Rhodes. The latter is on a mission to take down the former, but as the series unfolds, you begin to realize that — surprise! — elected officials and Wall Street types share a mutual affinity for corruption and power. As the roles of protagonist and antagonist became unclear, I oscillated between contempt and adulation for the characters. A series of masterful manipulation, revenge-seeking and broken alliances, this show is endlessly watchable and downright addictive. My Billions backlog marathon wrapped at the perfect time: I’m now able to enjoy the fifth season as it’s currently airing on Showtime. Pro tip: Watch with closed captions, because reading the affected dialogue is a real treat. — Jake Heddaeus, Social Media Director
Normal People on Hulu is a raw and real look at a couple’s journey from high school through college. Instead of shying away from the characters’ emotional experiences, the show plays out every moment in closeup — and I can’t get enough of it. — Lauren Schumacher, Photo Editor
The Durrells is a perfectly slow-paced and inspiringly beautiful true story set on the Greek island of Corfu. Each character is wonderful unto itself, and together, the family dynamic is whimsical and smart and full of love and curiosity. I’m taking my time watching all four seasons. And I can’t wait to read Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. — Jenny Murray, Editor & President
In a time when things are feeling heavy to maybe even downright grim, the little things really can make all the difference. So imagine my excitement when I logged into the HBO app to discover that Insecure had released its new season. Created by and starring Issa Rae, the show explores the modern black female experience as the cast navigates through early adulthood into their 30s. Throughout the show’s four seasons, the cast attempts to find purpose through friendships, romantic partnerships and professional growth, with lots of hiccups and laughs along the way. Insecure‘s success has established Rae as one of entertainment’s most important voices, and for good reason. She manages to tell stories with a level of honesty and humor that delights the viewer while subtly challenging them. The first three seasons can be streamed right now, and season four episodes are released every Sunday. — Jake Heddaeus, Social Media Director
Terrace House on Netflix is the ideal reality TV escapism I have been craving during quarantine. Six strangers share a house in the middle of Tokyo while hosts watch and provide commentary. The format of the show was just familiar enough to pull me in, but the unexpected interactions among the different personalities keep me watching. — Lauren Schumacher, Photo Editor
Netflix’s Hollywood is just a great escape from the current stresses! I love Ryan Murphy’s Tarantino-esque changing of the history books. It’s beautifully produced and very easy on the eyes, with a great and pretty, young cast — including David Corenswet — but, personally, I think the veterans Holland Taylor, Joe Mantello and Patti LuPone steal the show. — Alison Edmond, Executive Creative & Fashion Director
If you haven’t yet watched Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, start now. For the rest of us, the series finale in April offered the perfect excuse to rewatch the show in its entirety. The basic premise is this: The members of the Rose family lose all their money and move into a motel. I found this show to be hilarious and heartwarming — and somehow now oddly relatable when you have to stay in one place for weeks on end. Nothing like social distancing to bring out your inner Moira Rose. — Charlotte Bryant, Art Production Manager
I guess my TV-watching theme in lockdown is escape! Merritt Weaver and Domhnall Gleeson have great chemistry in Run on HBO. It’s early on in the series, but I’m hooked. Like my other favorite show right now, Killing Eve, this one was created by “it” girl writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She’s on a hot streak after Fleabag … she’s everywhere! — Gina Tolleson, Senior Editor
My friend, Santa Barbara girl Catherine Reitman (from the famed Hollywood family that includes her father, Ivan, and her brother, Jason) created this series for Netflix, and it’s really funny. Now streaming its fourth season, it is just what I need for a laugh once the kids are in bed. — Jennifer Smith, Founder, Editorial Director & CEO
NEVER HAVE I EVER
Written by the hilarious Mindy Kaling (and totally unexpectedly narrated by tennis great John McEnroe), Never Have I Ever on Netflix is a charming, feel-good, coming-of-age series that takes me right back to those wonderfully awkward high school years. Pure TV joy! — Jenny Murray, Editor + President
Feature image: SHIRA HAAS in Unorthodox on Netflix. Photo by Anika Molnar/Netflix.
May 13, 2020
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