Each weekend, I’ll share six cool finds. Some links may be referral/curator links.
I mentioned it in my last post, but I am a bit obsessed with the Netflix show GLOW.
If you haven’t watched it yet, stop reading this and go do so right now. Not because I’m going to spoil anything, but because it’s so dang good. It’s funny and smart, and watching the women throw each other around the ring and make a space for themselves in a male-dominated industry makes me feel both empowered and left with the urge to wear spandex and glitter.
Season 2 was delightful and the show just received 10 Emmy nominations, so this Saturday Six is an ode to GLOW–spandex included.
Tell me: Do you like GLOW? What are your favorite Netflix originals? What’s your favorite ’80s fashion trend?
We’re back for another edition of Couch Life! I actually started this post well over a month ago, but then we hit the month of season finales and weren’t binge watching as many shows. Most of these are old news by now, but I still wanted to post a round up. Enjoy!
Santa Clarita Diet, Season 2. We watched the second season in its entirety on a lazy Saturday. I love this show, and I thought the second season was funnier than the first. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that suburban real-a-tors Shelia and Joel Hammond (played by Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant, respectively) have their worlds rocked when Shelia becomes a zombie. Her previously submissive demeanor is now replaced by unstoppable confidence and energy–and a taste for human flesh. Joel tries his best to help support his wife’s new lifestyle, quickly becoming an accomplice while searching for a cure. It took me a while to warm up to Drew Barrymore’s character–nothing against Drew, but I wasn’t a fan of the sort of nonchalant flightiness epitomized by her character. I eventually warmed up to Shelia as events started to escalate. Plus I’ll watch anything with Timothy Olyphant, especially in a comedic role. Joel often tries to hold on to his simplistic worldview while rationalizing his wife’s actions, and his naive outlook is both charming and hilarious. The scene stealer though is the Hammond’s neighbor and daughter’s best friend, Eric Bemis, a nerdy kid who tries to do anything to impress their daughter Abby. Season two picks up right where the first one left off and continues to follow the Hammonds as they stumble through their new normal. Without giving too much away, we’re introduced to the existence of other undead and a Serbian conspiracy centered on a ball with legs. Notable guest stars include Thomas Lennon, Nathan Fillion, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, and Joel McHale. If you go watch it now, I promise to stop talking about it. If you are starting from the beginning, be warned–the first season features an epic puke scene, so probably don’t start it while you’re watching dinner.
Orphan Black, Season 6. It took us a while to get around to watching the final season of Orphan Black–I think I didn’t want to accept that the show was going to be finished. I don’t want to give any spoilers in case you’ve never seen it, but I’ll say that I was satisfied with how things ended up. It was a good season and a good finale–although I felt like they minimized Felix’s character over the last couple of seasons. If you’ve never seen Orphan Black, I highly recommend that you give it a watch. All of the seasons are available on Amazon Prime. The series starts off with Sarah Manning, played by Tatiana Maslany, witnessing a woman who looks exactly like her stepping in front of a train. Sarah later discovers she’s actually a clone. Maslany plays all of the clones, and she is phenomenal. Even six seasons in, I still had to stop sometimes and remind myself that all of the “seestras” were played by the same person. I think of them all as distinct and separate characters. We even named one of our cat’s after one of them! (Helena.)
Mom and Dad. I went into this movie with low expectations and they were wildly exceeded. From one of the minds that brought you Crank and Gamer, this horror flick probably isn’t for everyone. The basic premise is that a phenomena with an unknown cause suddenly causes parents to flip and develop an overwhelming urge to murder their children. They only target their own children, leaving everyone else alone. There’s a particularly dark scene, so if the concept doesn’t sound of interest to you, I’d skip it. It wasn’t super gory, which I always appreciate. I thought it was well paced and good at building suspense. I’d also classify it as a dark comedy. Nic Cage delivers with his trademark overacting. All in all, it was a fun, creepy watch.
BONUS: Ready Player One.
I started this post so long ago, right after we saw Ready Player One. Still, it’s worth mentioning. If for some reason you missed this in theaters, be sure to check it out once it’s released for rental in July. My husband and I had both read the book and weren’t sure if the movie would live up to our expectations. I quickly realized I needed to just separate the two and enjoy the movie for what it was. Quite a bit was changed, but that’s OK. It was extremely entertaining (I mean, it’s Spielberg–what do you expect?). If you’re a child of the 80s, you’ll love the references strewn throughout. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it. If you have, let go of your expectations and let yourself be entertained. I read an interesting article about how the author, Ernest Cline, actually started on the screenplay before the book was even released, so many of the changes were intentional–he recognized that it’d be difficult to capture everything in the book on film, and there weren’t yet fans of the book to have any accountability to the original story. That made me feel better about the changes, too–I was hoping he was on board with everything and that it wasn’t altered against his will or vision. Check it out!
We’re back for another edition of Couch Life! We finally bought that new sofa (a recliner!), so we’ve been living the good life. Here are a few of the things we’ve watched this month:
Jessica Jones, Season 2. Jessica Jones was my favorite original series in Netflix’s foray into the Marvel universe. It’s been over two years since season one aired, so I was more than ready for season two. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite feel that it was worth the wait. Jessica is still my favorite character, and I enjoyed parts of the storyline, but too much emphasis on supporting characters had me losing interest. I didn’t feel invested until episode seven, and after a few strong episodes, things trailed off again. The absence of Kilgrave was also strongly felt–he was such an excellent antagonist in season one. It’s definitely worth watching if you enjoy the Marvel shows, and I’ll keep watching future seasons, but it just all fell a bit short for me (and this is coming from someone who liked Iron Fist!). I will say I love Krysten Ritter and I think she does a great job as Jessica; I also really like Jeryn Hogarth as a character. It’s still pretty fresh in my mind, so I wonder if I’ll grow more appreciative after some time passes, or if I watch it again. Sometimes my expectations are too high, so once I know what to expect, I can enjoy it more. I’d be curious to get your thoughts!
Recommended if you like: Any of the original Marvel shows on Netflix, Veronica Mars, Powers.
Mute. If you’ve been waiting to see Alexander Skarsgard play a mute Amish bartender in a neon, high-tech future, then Mute is the movie for you! My aunt warned me not to bother with this movie, and I kind of wish I listened. The story was slow and mostly uninteresting. Skarsgard, who became mute after a childhood accident, tries to maintain a simple life in the big city. After his girlfriend goes missing, he tries to find her. This puts him in the path of Paul Rudd’s character Cactus Bill, a black market surgeon who does jobs for the mob. The movie had its moments, but I didn’t feel very attached to the characters and wasn’t particularly fond of staying in the seedy underworld the characters lived in. It’s supposed to be set in the same world as Moon, which was made by the same director, and there is a brief nod to the film by way of a cameo. It had sort of an Altered Carbon feel, but not as good. Highlights did include Rudd’s portrayal of the villian, an unusual role for him. He (unsurprisingly) has most of the movie’s oneliners, and you can’t help but laugh even when feeling such disdain for his character. Another point of interest was food delivery drones that can bring takeout right to your location–when will this be a thing? If you like the cast and have nothing else to watch, you might enjoy it, but overall, I’d pass.
Recommended if you like: Any of the cast (Skarsgard, Rudd, Justin Theroux) enough to follow anything they do, 6’4″ mute Amish bartenders
Into the Badlands, Season 2. I enjoyed the first season of Into the Badlands enough to keep watching it, but season two, which just dropped on Netflix, cemented it as a favorite. Into the Badlands takes viewers into a post-war dystopian future where civilization has regressed into a feudal system. Barons run the show and are supported by clippers (soldiers), cogs (slaves), and dolls (sex workers). Each baron has assets backing their power, such as oil or poppy fields. The show focuses on Sunny, a skilled and favored clipper whose lapse in loyalty forces him down a new path. Season one felt a bit over the top, but the exaggerated violence and character dynamics are leveled out in season two by the introduction of new locales and new faces, particularly Nick Frost. I’d be lying if I said Frost’s character didn’t greatly contribute to my love of season two–he’s excellent. While season one only had six episodes, season two had ten, and season three (which starts April 22) was granted a run of sixteen. If this season was any indication, things are going to just keep getting better, so hop on the train now if you’ve missed out.
Recommended if you like: Kung fu, ridiculous fight scenes, Nick Frost, female assassins, stories about a dystopian future or feudal warfare
BONUS: Tomb Raider. We left our couch on Saturday to go see the new Tomb Raider movie. (We went to a theater that had recliner chairs, of course.) I actually really liked it! I thought Vikander was great. I admit I haven’t seen many of her movies, even though Ex Machina has been on our list for a while. I don’t think it’s done that well so far, but I was entertained, and that’s all I’m really looking for most of the time. I haven’t played the games so I can’t really speak to that, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Angelina Jolie versions to compare. For a video game movie–which tend to be notoriously bad–I enjoyed it!
Recommended if you like: Alicia Vikander, the Tomb Raider franchise, female protagonists, general female badass-ery
We’re back for another edition of Couch Life! Last week, it hit 60s in Michigan and ended in a snow storm. Pretty typical. Even though we’re shopping for a new sofa, we’re still giving our current one lots of love.
Here are a few shows we’ve enjoyed recently:
Archer: Dreamland (Season 8). I felt like I’d been waiting forever for the eighth season of Archer to finally hit a streaming service. It ended up being worth the wait–this season was one of my favorites. I’ve enjoyed how Adam Reed has been playing around with different genres after dismantling the show’s core premise at the start of season five. If you’ve never seen Archer, it’s essentially a James Bond parody, with (somewhat) sophisticated humor and deeply layered storytelling. Jokes are frequently repeated throughout the series, so it’s worth watching in order. Season 8 takes a noir spin, dropping the characters into Los Angeles in the 1940s. Archer is a private investigator trying to solve the murder of his partner. If you’re looking for a laugh and aren’t easily offended, give Archer a try.
Recommended if you like: James Bond, spy/detective/noir genres, puns, anything Adam Reed has done
The Last Kingdom, Season 2. I’d say it’s not our typical fare, but every now and then we enjoy a bit of historical fiction, especially if vikings are involved. The Last Kingdom tells the story of Uhtred (son of Uhtred), a Saxxon raised by Danes. At a young age, he was taken captive by Earl Ragnar during a Viking raid on his home. His father, a lord, is killed, and his uncle takes over the lands. Uhtred wins Ragnar’s favor and is raised as one of his own. The show is based on a book series, although I haven’t read it. I admit I enjoyed the first season overall but found it somewhat lacking. Season two, which was picked up by Netflix, was even better than the first and solidified the show as a favorite. It has been picked up for a third season.
Recommended if you like:Vikings, vikings, constantly trying to figure out the borders of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms against modern day maps, Game of Thrones
Broadchurch, Season 3. We’d put off watching season three of Broadchurch, knowing it was the end of the series (and it’s not exactly uplifting). Even though the third season heads in a bit of a different direction than the first two, it did not disappoint. If you’re not familiar with Broadchurch, it focuses on two detectives in a small coastal English town. In season one, the town is rocked by the death of local boy Danny Latimer. Season three finds the detectives–played by David Tennant and Oliva Colman–investigating a sexual assault. Each season is heart-wrenching, but I found season three particularly difficult to watch as it explores the trauma and stigma surrounding rape. When crime shows focus on solving murders, there’s a bit of detachment from the victim’s experience, but with a survivor story, you see the long-term impact on the victim’s life. Broadchurch does a great job of building suspense and keeping you guessing, but it’s the relationship between Tennant, a hardened and haunted big-city detective, and Colman, a sharp but kind-hearted local who still wants to believe there is good in people, that really makes the show. Have I convinced you yet? Go watch it.
Recommended if you like: David Tennant, British procedurals, pretending you’re a detective, feeling depressed
Doctor Who. It took a while, but we are finally completely caught up on Doctor Who (well, the revival, at least). I don’t know why but we’d been fighting getting into it–maybe because there were so many seasons to catch up on. Well, the longer we waited, the more we missed out. Consider us Whovians for life. If by some off-chance you haven’t seen the show, block off your calendars for the next few months and get to work.
Recommended if you like: Time travel, sci-fi, bow ties, any British actor (because I guarantee they’ve been on at least one episode)
I watch a lot of TV. It’s funny, because I never used to consider myself someone that even liked TV that much. I am not the type to turn it on just to “see what’s on” or have it going in the background while I’m doing other things. Ironically, I actually started watching a lot more TV once my husband and I got rid of cable several years ago. Now, we purposely select what to watch. With more and more streaming services like Netflix offering original content and abandoning the week-to-week episodic model, it’s easier to get sucked in–and with Michigan getting repeatedly pounded by snow this winter, we’ve been staying inside as much as possible.
Here are a few shows we’ve enjoyed recently:
The End of the F***ing World. Netflix recently added this short British series, based on a graphic novel of the same name. The six episodes each average 20-minutes in length, so we blew through this in a day. It’s a dark coming-of-age story about two misfit teens trying to find a connection: Alyssa wants to be loved, James wants to kill someone. It was funny, heart-wrenching, and endearing–and the soundtrack is awesome.
Recommended if you like: Teen angst, British TV, dark comedies, Dexter
The Shannara Chronicles, Season 2. My husband and I had been anxiously awaiting the release of the second season of Shannara Chronicles on Netflix. When we discovered it on a Friday, we quickly cancelled our (nonexistent) weekend plans and settled in. Based on a book series, Shannara covers a fantasy world of elves, druids, trolls, gnomes, and more, who are trying to keep the peace after years of war. I’m convinced the lack of success for this is show is solely due to its being on the wrong networks. The first season aired on MTV, with the second season moving to Spike. It looks like the third season is in jeopardy, with Spike switching to a new network. I was skeptical of an MTV show when watching the first season, but my doubts were quickly assuaged. This show is quality. If you can deal with a few cheesy teen drama moments scattered throughout, you’ll be rewarded in full.
Recommended if you like: Fantasy, role-playing games, Manu Bennett, Middle Earth, Game of Thrones
Altered Carbon. Yet another literary adaptation, Altered Carbon is a sci-fi series set in a future where human consciousness is essentially stored in (high-tech) flash drives (“stacks”). Those who can afford it can see themselves live on forever by transferring their consciousness to other bodies (“sleeves”), often clones. The main character, Takeshi Kovach, is brought back 250 years after his death and stuck in a new body to solve the murder of one of the richest men on Earth (who is still alive). Does your head hurt yet? It honestly took me a while to get into this show, but by the end, I really liked it–although I feel like I need to watch it a few more times to fully understand it.
Recommended if you like: Sci-fi, Joel Kinnaman, pondering what makes us human, excessive nudity, existential crises
Channel Zero: Candle Cove. I have to admit that I’ve been sleeping on the SyFy network. I typically associated the folks that brought us Sharknado with bad acting and even worse special effects, but after hearing a friend mention Channel Zero several times, I finally gave it a shot. An anthology-style series, each season tells a different “creepypasta”-based story with a new cast. We watched season one in a day. While I don’t recommend doing that if you want to fall sleep at night, I definitely recommend giving the SyFy channel another chance.
Recommended if you like: Horror anthologies, having nightmares, the guy from the first two seasons of Parks & Rec that no one remembers