A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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There's nothing on (internet) TV!
August 12, 2014
I hate to even admit this, but we've been cable free for about 7 years now (that's not the hard to admit part, being cable free is the BEST). During those years, there have been a couple of times that I've said to my husband "Ugh, nothing is on. I feel like we've watched everything!"
Let's just stop for a second and take in the audacity of that sentence. First off, I have claimed to my husband that we've FINISHED THE INTERNET. "Nope, honey. We're good here. We've watched it ALL. Nothing to see here". Second off, I've had the balls to say this on more than one occasion.
In my defense, there's a lot of garbage on TV in general, and Netflix seems to curate all of it. Lucky for you, I've invested a lot of time into developing a list of lesser known shows and movies that are absolutely worth a watch. It's a hardship post, but for all of you, I'll do the research.
To (tangentially) relate this to parenting, I would say that I binge watched a fair share of TV when Chewbacca was first born. Because when you're a new parent, you're basically glued to the couch, getting the hang of nursing/feeding, changing diapers, and having your life be completely changed forever. So, without further ado, here's some great lesser-known things to watch Online.
Lars and the Real Girl (Netflix)- Ryan Gosling stars as a—oh wait, a Ryan Gosling movie you haven’t seen? You don’t need to hear more you’ll just watch it? Got ‘cha. (In case you need convincing, it’s an adorable love story that takes place in a small town between Ryan, who’s not quite right in the head, and his fake mannequin girlfriend who he orders through the mail. I swear it’s cute and not creepy because the whole town starts to play along because they care about him in that small town way).
The Station Agent (Netflix)- If you're watching Game of Thrones, you've realized what I've known for a long time, which his Pete Dinklage is an amazing actor. This movie was written for him and was his breakout role. He stars as a misanthropic little person who's only friend dies and leaves him a railway station to live in. He moves there, and despite his best efforts, gets dragged into the local's lives. It's a fantastic ensemble cast and overall great movie.
Goats (Netflix): This is definitely a weird one. It involves a teenager from Tucson, with a new age hippie mom and a mentor named Goat Man (played by David Duchovny). The son is sent to an uptight boarding school on the East Coast. You can imagine how well it goes for the poor kid. But David Duchovnyis great, as is the contrast between Tucson and East Coast living.
Jeff Who Lives at Home (Netflix): This is a Mumblecore style movie, which is apparently a style of movie that is kind of aimless and nothing really happens. Basically, it's the Seinfeld of movies. It stars Jason Segel as a deadbeat (who lives at home) and the course of his day. Ed Helms and Susan Sarandonare also in it, and despite the kind of aimless style, the movie definitely works.
The Long Road Round and the Long Road Down (Netflix)- Two amazing documentary series about Ewan McGregor and his best friend, Charley Boorman, who decide to ride their motorcycles 10,000 miles AROUND THE WORLD. On Long Road Round (which is definitely the better of the series because it’s before Ewan hit the bigtime), they ride from London to New York and in Long Road Down they go from Scotland to South Africa. The landscape and people are obviously fascinating, but the relationship between Ewan and Charley is my favorite part.
King of Kong, Fistful of Quarters (Amazon-pay): This is a documentary about breaking the world record top score for Donkey Kong. The people in it are the BEST characters and the best part is they're real humans. It's got the underdog, the villain, the creepy/mysterious/possibly-rigged rule board. I mean imagine the type of people who have dedicated themselves to getting the high score of a video game.
Somm (Netflix): A really solid documentary about what it takes to become a master sommelier, which is a title only 170 people in the WORLD possess. It follows 4 guys trying to pass the exam. Spoiler alert, they don't all pass.
20 Feet From Stardom (Netflix): This won the best documentary at this year's Oscars. It's the story of all the back-up singers to all your favorite songs, and explains (although somewhat unsatisfactory) why some of them never made the leap to lead-singer.
Stuff worth binge watching:
Friday.Night.Lights (Netflix): Ugh, it's just the best. My guess is you've probably seen this already because it's fantastic, but if not, it's a genuinely heartwarming show with lots of drama (but of the somewhat-believable variety) focused around high school football in Texas, which is apparently like a religion. It has some of the best characters ever. I'm honestly a little sad Tim Riggins is not a real person.
Sherlock (Netflix and Amazon Prime): Again, my guess is you've probably seen this. But if you haven't seen this modern BBC adaptation of the classic, you have to watch it immediately and will finally understand what all the fuss is about Benedict Cumberbatch.
Freaks and Geeks (Netflix): Fox, why are you the station that all good TV goes to to die? I can't believe this only lasted one season. Especially considering it's where Jason Segel and Judd Appatow got their start. It's one of the BEST honest depictions of high school, and full of laughs. The high school students are (mostly) high school aged, and their struggles definitely hit home. Let's start a kickstarter to get this one back on the air, shall we?
The Bletchley Circle (Netflix): This three-part British mini-series follows four women who were part of a code-breaking group during WWII. Flash forward 9 years (when they're all bored out of their minds not having interesting jobs anymore) and a killer is on the loose. They start using their code-breaking skills to track him down. It's like Downton Abbey meets Law and Order and you might easily watch all three installments at once.
Face Off (Hulu current seasons, past seasons on Amazon pay): This is a reality TV show, done in the style of Project Runway, except for the fact that they're making movie monsters instead of clothing. Need I say more? Well if I do, it's to say that it's fascinating to see how the special effects makeup is made, and the skill the artists have is amazing. Plus, the judges (being special effects guys) are totally weird in an awesome way.
Quickdraw(Hulu original series): Renewed for a second season, this story follows an overly-educated hapless Sheriff who is sent to be the Law in a town where everyone is rooting for his failure. This comedy is probably 90% ad-libbed, and it really excels when the cast keeps going past the point of where you think the joke is going to end. Kind of like the Family Guy style of humor. I found myself laughing out loud a lot throughout the series and am really glad it's back for a second season.
Battleground (Hulu original series): This was Hulu's first try at original programming and I think it definitely worked. It follows the mockumentary campaign of a senate candidate in Wisconsin. The relationship of the staffers is just as nail-biting as the outcome of the race.
Hot Tub Time Machine (Amazon-pay): This movie doesn't get the credit it deserves and I am so excited there is a sequal coming out. It's totally absurd, but something about it really works as a comedy. I think it's because it ends so nicely (I promise that won't give anything away) and it acknowledges that it's ridiculous. And John Cusack and Rob Corddry are two of my favorites. I rented this so many times my husband actually bought me a digital copy. True. Story.
Turbo (Netflix): I often say "when's the last time you went to the movies and saw an animated movie and said 'that was terrible?'" Not too often it turns out (Rango being the exception. That movie was terrible). Most animated features are pretty solid, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Turbo, which is the story about a super fast snail who races in the Indy 500. You know, standard plot line.
Bored to Death (Amazon Prime): I'm not sure why this isn't a break away hit, or maybe it is and I just didn't get the memo. But it stars Jason Schwartzman (favorite!!) as a struggling writer who becomes an unlicensed private detective. Zach Galifianakis is his best friend and sidekick. But Ted Danson (from Cheers) steals the show as his boss/friend/pothead. Some of the lines in the show are so good, I keep saying it's like if Woody Allen wrote a television comedy.
Zach and Miri Make a Porno (Neflix): Something about this movie is just so endearing. It's probably because the subject matter is so crass (obviously don't watch this with your kids or parents), that the juxtaposition of the love story at the center is so good. Again, it's got a really great ending, so maybe I'm just a sucker for that.
Down Periscope (Netflix): This movie is SUPER cheesy, don't get me wrong. But some of the shtick is just too funny to take it too seriously, you just have to laugh. It stars Kellsey Grammar as a navy captain who's been given the crew from hell to play war games. Classic underdog story, but the whale call scene gets me every time.
Alright, those are my suggestions. I know all of you have plenty more. So bring on the suggestions in the comments section!