Unorthodox is a story about a girl who rejects her radicalized upbringing and leaves to start a new life./Photo by Anika Molnar/Netflix
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Since social distancing and self-quarantining became the norm last month, most of us have been spending a lot of time at home—and in front of our televisions. Whether you need some background noise while working from home or you crave a full on distraction from the ensuing pandemic, here are some recently-released, binge-worthy options our editors have been loving lately.
100 Humans, Netflix
When you’re isolated, it’s hard not to ponder life’s most burning questions. What makes us attractive? Can you trust your senses? What’s the best age to be alive? These questions and more are tested by 100 individuals who participate in interactive experiments. Laced with humorous commentary by the show’s hosts, the social experiment dives into issues like happiness, sex, age, torture and other aspects that make us human.
The Circle, Netflix
We all know that social media is essentially just one giant popularity contest. In The Circle, Netflix takes this concept and flips it in to a reality series, where it pays to be the most popular. Players who enter The Circle must make a social media profile—but they are not necessarily required to play as themselves. Whether they choose to “catfish” other players or whether they stay true to who they are, the game is all about cultivating an online persona that others like and trust. Players rank each other weekly, and the highest-rated players decide who is at risk of getting blocked from The Circle. The last player standing wins a grand prize of $100,000.
Dave, FX and Hulu
If you’re looking for a humorous distraction from our current climate, this is a good place to start. Comedian and rapper Dave Burd, also known by his stage name Lil Dicky, takes us through the highs and lows of trying to “make it” as a successful entertainer in the music industry. The series, which is modeled after the Philadelphia native’s actual life, follows Dave’s humorous antics as he and his friends work to make him—a small, Jewish, white man—the best rapper alive.
Frozen II, Disney+
If you have young children who couldn’t get enough of the first installment in this Disney franchise, chances are you’ve pressed play on this one already. The same star-studded cast including Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and Josh Gad reprise their roles in this highly-anticipated sequel, which puts their characters on a new adventure to find the origin of Elsa’s (voiced by Menzel) magical powers and save their kingdom. Disney reportedly released the film to its streaming service months early, giving parents and Disney lovers alike something magical to watch while in quarantine.
High Fidelity, Hulu
Heartbreak. One of the least fun but most enriching things that can happen to us. In this Hulu series, Zoë Kravitz portrays Rob, a record store owner in Brooklyn on a personal journey to revisit past relationships and face the music of her heartbreak. A reboot of the 2000 movie of the same name (which starred John Cusack as Rob), the 2020 remake brings the old movie into the present with a more diverse cast, plus relatable themes of love, music and friendship.
Back for a fourth season on April 12, the acclaimed series explores modern, millennial adulthood in a way that’s funny and relatable. Created by Issa Rae (who stars as the show’s lead, Issa Dee) the show follows an awkward but resolute heroine who is just trying to do her best. For any 30-something attempting to navigate the dark waters of adult relationships and professional careers, the show hits home.
Little Fires Everywhere, Hulu
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon star in this addictive story of two mothers on a collision course to unravel the other. In this adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name, the perfect, white, suburban Richardson family, led by matriarch Elena (Witherspoon) becomes entangled with the new family in town, the Warrens (Washington and Lexi Underwood) who have a mysterious past. Class privilege and racial biases are prominent themes in the limited series, which is fueled by secrets, tension, jealousy and mistrust.
Love is Blind, Netflix
This Netflix original series, hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, was ahead of the curve when it comes to social distancing. Hopeful singles navigate the world of dating on a reality television show, with a catch—they can’t see who they’re speaking to. Separated into isolated “pods,” the contestants set out to see if love is truly blind and build connections without meeting face-to-face. Once engaged, the couples finally meet in person, go on a tropical vacation, move in together and plan a wedding, all in the course of about a month. Things get interesting at the alter, where they finally decide if love is blind, or if the connection formed in the pods isn’t strong enough to last a lifetime.
Another early release by Disney, Onward was made available digitally only two weeks after it was released to theaters. The Pixar film follows two teenage elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) on a quest to bring back their late father back to life for one day. Their magic-fueled journey is full of exciting and humorous twists and turns, and the tear-jerking ending makes this film a must watch.
This year’s Academy Award-winner for Best Picture (plus three other Oscars) has just hit Hulu. Parasite, a South Korean comedy thriller, centers around socioeconomic status and inequality in a way that is cinematically stunning. Two families in totally different economic classes develop a symbiotic relationship that goes very, very wrong. This critically-acclaimed film has been called everything from thought-provoking to unpredictable, so put it at the top of your quarantine watch list.
Schitt’s Creek, Netflix
Schitt’s Creek has come to an end, but this lighthearted sitcom is a welcome distraction that will keep you belly-laughing through quarantine. The show’s six seasons (five are currently available on Netflix) follows the formerly-rich Rose family, who lose all of their wealth and are forced to move to a ramshackle town they once bought as a joke—Schitt’s Creek. The character development, witty banter and the Rose family’s hilarious antics as they assimilate into newfound poverty is wholly entertaining.
If you’re feeling in a rut, press play on this inspiring limited series based on the true story of Madam C.J. Walker. Octavia Spencer portrays the trailblazing African American woman who built a beauty company that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.
It’s responsible for all of those mullet-focused, Carole-Baskin-conspiracy memes on your social media timeline, and it’s certainly distracting–and bizarre—enough to keep your mind off of the novel coronavirus over the course of its seven episodes. The easiest way to sum up this show: beautiful, exotic animals are in the possession and care of loony, shady individuals across the country who all seem to hate each other. While you undoubtably get wrapped up in the drama of these animal park owners, the conclusion of the series has a serious message—there are approximately five to 10 thousand tigers in captivity just in the U.S. versus the mere four thousand left in the wild.
Having the courage to stand up to society’s rigid norms and find one’s true self is a task many aspire to, and this desire for escape and hope for the future underlies the appeal of Unorthodox. The four part Netflix miniseries is loosely based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, and follows Esther “Esty” Shapiro’s journey to escape the ultra-religious Hasidic Jewish community in which she grew up.
If you’re a person who loves a show with twists and turns, Westworld is definitely one to keep you guessing. Now in its third season, which was recently released on HBO’s streaming services, the show starts as a futuristic theme park where guests can act on any desires they want with no consequences. The park’s artificial “hosts” are there to indulge guests and make their dreams feel as real as possible. But, things take a turn when the artificial beings fight for sentience, and have viewers questioning what is real and what isn’t.