I am one of those who takes Netflix and chill to a whole new level of dedication. It has fast become my favourite way to relax of an evening and even though I feel like I’ve seen many of the television series on Netflix already I’m so sucked in that there’s no going back for me. For those of you looking for inspiration (or enjoy wasting time as I do) here are some of my faves…
House of Cards
I know very little about American politics so when I first started watching this remake of a 90s English series I struggled to get into the first few episodes. But it’s amazing how much you pick up as you go along and it stops mattering whether you understand exactly why the Underwoods need to get this senator on side or why this bill is important due to the strength of their characters. Both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are amazing as the wily, manipulative, charismatic Underwoods and you’re completely torn between wanting them to fall flat on their faces and wanting them to succeed in their dastardly scheming to see how far they can go. As this is Netflix’s own show, it comes out each year as a whole series which is just perfect for the ultimate binge session and the next series starts on May 30th so I know I’ll be clearing my schedule for then!
Orange is the New Black
Whereas House of Cards is only as strong as its main characters OITNB is an ensemble piece with a multitude of characters and story lines (some might say too many at times). It’s loosely based on the novel of Piper Kerman documenting her fifteen months in prison for drug smuggling. Although the first series in particular focuses on Piper and her relationship with her husband outside prison and an old flame in prison it soon becomes much less about Piper and more about the other inmates too. Each episode is told through a mix of flashback a la Lost, how the inmates ended up in jail, what has happened to get them where they are today, and ties it into the current story in the prison. I’ve always thought this show ambitious because it’s funny, dark, incredibly moving at times and the characters can make highly questionable decisions and yet still be lovable. The most recent series I know a lot of people found a bit slow but builds to the most satisfying conclusions and again watching the series as a whole is definitely the way to go with this one in order to make sure you’re keeping up. The next season is out in June (a few days after House of Cards) so I know where I’m going to be spending my summer.
Having grown up with the likes of the OC (who didn’t love Seth Cohen?), the beautiful, spoilt, rich kids of Orange County, Gossip Girl felt like a natural progression for me (and is from the same team). Rich kids check, beautiful cast check, ridiculous formal occasions, charity galas, any excuse for amazing couture check. And this time based in one of the best cities in the world, New York. Like Sex and the City before it Gossip Girl is a love song to New York in all its glory. If you like teen dramas which aren’t really for teens at all and scheming but hilarious characters with ridiculous story-lines then this might be for you. The fashion is unbelievable (and still highly influential, you still get ASOS trends that mirror Serena and Blair’s style), the music is cleverly chosen with some of the coolest indie around and it’s really entertaining with so many ridiculous twists. I watched it recently in my thirties and although I am aware it’s probably meant for younger people I still think of it as a guilty pleasure….
Pretty Little Liars
Which leads me on to my next pick…. another ‘teen drama’ which is highly addictive. The premise is four teenagers coming together to be haunted by their dead best friend Alison. A great name for a main character if I say so myself! As the title suggests there’s a lot of secrets surrounding Alison’s death which her friends need to discover as they start getting texts from the mysterious ‘A’. This series is a thriller, a murder mystery leaving you constantly guessing as to who is messing with the girls. It’s creepy, it’s dark and full of twists and turns. Again the people are unrealistically good looking, the girls always look amazing even when they’ve been in hospital or been up all night (if PLL is anything to go by a cup of coffee is all you need to look like you’ve had eight hours sleep). There has been seven seasons and the last half of season seven starts again on Netflix this week and you’ll get one episode a week (only 24 hours after it has aired in the US) so if you’re interested you’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
The Vampire Diaries/The Originals
Without sounding like a weirdo (which I am) I am fascinated by vampires. I think being one sounds pretty awesome. But then I may have been swayed by watching TVD and The Originals a little bit too much. I loved Buffy (who didn’t), I watched True Blood and really enjoyed the first few series before it all just fell apart at the seams a bit and was never the same again. However, in my opinion TVD never takes a dip in quality like True Blood did. I know you’re going to laugh at me for putting the word quality in a sentence with a show about vampires, witches and wolves but I think you’d be surprised by the quality of the writing, the characterisation and the way the plot is woven together. The Vampire Diaries has some of the most consistent character writing I’ve seen, it’s hugely exciting and brave when it comes to killing characters and providing shocking twists. This has followed through to the Originals which is a spin off from its parent show taking some of the TVD characters (which were just supposed to be supporting characters until they proved so popular they became stars of their own show) and following their journey in New Orleans. It can be a little darker at times, but it’s themes of family above everything and redemption tie in nicely with the main characters which are all wonderfully acted. If you enjoy watching fantasy shows then give it a try, you’ll probably like it (against your better judgement!)
Another Netflix original and one I didn’t know that I would like because the trailer made it look a little childish (there are children in it!). It’s a short series, only eight episodes long but small and perfectly formed (a phrase my Mum taught me a long time ago!). Winona Ryder (as mesmerising as ever, but then I loved her in Edward Scissorhands) plays ten year old Will’s Mum who goes missing on his way home after game of Dungeons and Dragons at his friend Mike’s house. What is clear to the audience (and Ryder) is that there’s a supernatural explanation to Will’s disappearance and this leads to a hunt for Will by his amazing, lovable and hilarious friends. I’m pretty sure I said to Phil if I have kids I want them to be as awesome as these ones. There’s plenty of geeky references to Dungeons and Dragons and homage to 80s films that run through that I didn’t pick up on but I loved the kids and Winona and the 80s music. I found parts of the show really emotional and heart warming and it’s creepy without being overly scary. Stranger Things is returning this year (at Halloween I believe) so plenty of time to check it out before then.
Honourable mentions go to:
Prison Break: – the revival has just started and I’m still on the fence as to whether it should have come back at all but the first two seasons of Prison Break were iconic TV (the third and fourth seasons were more heavily criticised but still enjoyable). Lincoln Burrows is in prison waiting to be executed for the murder of the Vice President’s brother, a crime he didn’t commit. Knowing of Lincoln’s innocence his brother Michael decides the only way to save his brother would be to break him out of prison by going to prison himself. As with OITNB there are plenty of colourful characters along the way and the first two seasons really did create some edge of your seat moments.
Narcos: – set in the mean streets of Bogota, Medellin and other parts of Colombia Narcos tells the story of their infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and two American policemen’s attempts to catch him. Narcos sparked my interest because I’ve been to Colombia and Pablo’s influence is still felt even now (in a we don’t talk about it sort of way) but it’s a fascinating story and the fact that it’s based on real events makes it even better. There’s a mix of Spanish and English so one you need to be awake enough to concentrate on to read the subtitles.
Orphan Black: -welcome to Clone club! Without giving too much away Tatiana Maslany plays multiple characters including Sarah who watches her identical clone Elizabeth commit suicide by walking in front of a train. She assumes Elizabeth’s identity and ends up down the metaphorical rabbit hole discovering a vast array of clone sisters she didn’t know she had, each one with very different personalities and stories to tell. Tatiana is amazing, making each of the clones completely unique so that you forget that one actress is playing a multitude of characters. It’s funny, dramatic, thrilling and anyone who likes sci-fi, thought provoking drama or strong female characters (and great supporting characters too) will enjoy this.
What are your favourite Netflix shows? Please let me know in the comments below if you have any recommendations that I need to try, I’m always up for further procrastination!