- Entertainment and Media
Ten TV Shows on Netflix Worth Watching
Netflix is quite popular these days and many are choosing to stream movies and television shows rather than watching them on television. The benefit of Netflix is that entire seasons of television shows are available so you can watch them on your own time. Netflix is also a great way to discover a series that you may not have heard of before. The following are some of the best series that I have discovered through Netflix Canada.
Survivors (2008, 2 series, runtime: 60 minutes)
This British post-apocalyptic drama stars Julie Graham and Max Beesley. The series starts with a contagious flu virus spreading across the country. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying. Once you’ve contracted the virus, it is certain that you will not make it. However, Abby Grant (Graham) is the only person to have recovered from the deadly illness. Her mission other than to survive is to find her missing son. Along the way, she meets Tom (Beesley) and a few other survivors and together they search for supplies and try to start over. Survivors follows this group as they try to survive in a new world filled with no rules or laws.
Survivors is one of those shows that you can finish in a couple of days. You’ll feel immersed in the story and attached to the characters. Each character has a backstory, but they only tell you as much as you need to know in order to tell the story. Along the way, the group meets individuals who have different ideas of how the world should be rebuilt. Much of the storyline focuses on the differences between those who want to restore order, and those who want to change the way the world works.
The Riches (2007, 2 seasons, runtime: 45 minutes)
Starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, The Riches tells the story of an Irish Traveller family who, after a disturbing circumstance, find themselves living a lavish lifestyle. This is quite a change from their con artist past. The series follows the family as they try to adjust to their new life while keep their past a secret. Their experience as con artists comes in handy when they try to keep their past and present separate.
The Riches bounces between two societal extremes. These social classes crash and often the result is quite funny. However, there are many depressing moments in the show as well. What I found most interesting was the way that Wayne (Izzard) and Dahlia (Driver) found their way out of awkward situations. Their schemes are so well thought out and the audience isn’t always aware of their plans. This results in many surprises which are enjoyable to watch.
Kenny vs. Spenny (2002, 6 seasons, runtime: 22 minutes)
This Canadian reality/comedy show is about two best friends who compete in competitions. Starring Kenny Hotz and Spencer (Spenny) Rice, each episode is based on a specific competition, some of which include:
- Who Can Stay Handcuffed the Longest?
- Who Makes the Most Convincing Woman?
- Who Can Dance the Longest?
- First One to be Mean Loses
- Who Can Stay Homeless the Longest?
While Kenny and Spenny try to outline rules before they compete, these rules are often broken (usually by Kenny) and the outcome is hilarious. It seems as if there are no limits for these two and it is all in an attempt to win. After the competition, the loser has to undergo a ‘humiliation’ which is chosen by the winner.
Kenny vs. Spenny is a great show to watch both alone and with friends. It is unscripted and many hilarious moments are caught on camera. What I find most interesting is that Kenny and Spenny each have their own crew to follow them around and film what they do during the competition. Oftentimes, the crew will help and they almost always appear in the episodes.
Arrested Development (2003, 3 seasons, runtime: 22 minutes)
Though not as popular when it was being aired, Arrested Development has become increasingly popular since its cancellation. A fourth season is in the works and will become available on Netflix in 2013.
Starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett and several other well-know actors and actresses, this series is a well-written comedy about an dysfunctional affluent family. The timing is perfect and there are many inside jokes that come up throughout the series.
Although I found Arrested Devleopment difficult to get into at first, once I got past the first two episodes, I was hooked. The comedy is genius and the cast is perfect. If you watch an episode twice, you will notice a lot more jokes and allusions than the first time.
Being Erica (2009, 4 seasons, runtime: 45 minutes)
Being Erica is a Canadian drama which stars Erin Karpluk as Erica Strange. Erica is a thirty-something who, after being dumped, fired and admitted to the hospital in one evening, finds herself at the attention of a therapist named Dr. Tom (Michael Riley). He asks her to list all of her regrets in life and after she hands him her list, he chooses one and asks her to talk about it. He stresses that if she wants to change her life, she needs to really want it. She agrees, and Dr. Tom sends her back in time to when she was a teenager. Disoriented and confused, Erica discovers that she needs to fix this part of her past in order to return to her life in the future. She finds Dr. Tom in the past and confronts him. Dr. Tom is often vague and only tells Erica what she needs to know so she can figure the rest out on her own.
Being Erica is one of my favourite television shows. While being sent back in time falls under the Science Fiction genre, the show uses it as a tool to help Erica come to terms with her past, rather than relying on time travel to tell the story. Very few details are given on how Dr. Tom is able to send Erica back in time, and because of this, our attention is more focused on Erica figuring out her life, rather than on technical details. Anyone in their 20s, 30s and 40s can find this show relatable because it shows Erica at her lowest point and trying to rebuild her life. Many of the situations are realistic and the lessons Erica learns are valuable lessons for everyone in general.
United States of Tara (2009, 3 seasons, runtime: 30 minutes)
This American drama/comedy stars Toni Colletee as Tara Gregson, a wife and mother who was diagnosed with DID (dissociative identity disorder). Tara’s husband and children deal with her alternate personalities which express themselves depending on how stressed Tara gets. The audience is introduced to a few of these alternate personalities at first, and as the series continues, more personalities are revealed.
United States of Tara is another show that I discovered on Netflix. I found the premise interesting and thoroughly enjoyed the series. The Gregson family, while understandably frustrated with Tara’s alternate personalities at times, is supportive of Tara and her illness. There are many awkward moments that will make you cringe, and many funny moments that will make you laugh.
Prison Break (2009, 4 seasons, runtime: 43 minutes)
Prison Break was popular while it was on the air, but it wasn’t something I found interesting at the time. However, while searching through Netflix, I decided to give it a try. For the next two months, I followed the story of brothers Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell). After being wrongfully convicted of murder, Lincoln is sentenced to death. Michael, a structural engineer, crafts an elaborate plan to get his brother out of jail, starting with being sent to jail himself. Pieces of his plan are revealed as they apply to the story, and problems always arise. This requires Michael to think on the spot and sometimes to include inmates in on the escape plan.
It was impossible to watch just one episode of Prison Break. Each episode ended on a cliffhanger and I always had to know what happened next. Each season brought new locations, new characters and bigger pieces to the puzzle surrounding Lincoln’s wrongful conviction. It is fast-paced, clever and emotional.
Freaks and Geeks (1999, 1 season, runtime: 60 minutes)
James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and Linda Cardellini all starred in this late ‘90s show about being a ‘freak’ in high school. The aforementioned play older students in the high school, and the younger characters are referred to as ‘geeks’. Freaks and Geeks later gained cult status, likely because it was a show that didn’t glorify high school. The students were average-looking and their problems were relatable. It was a show that didn’t take itself too seriously and showed high school students exactly as they are.
Freaks and Geeks reminded me of all the awkwardness I experienced as a teenager. I appreciated how realistic the story lines were and the combination of comedy and drama. Though this show is set in the ‘80s, many of the issues are still relevant today.
Reaper (2007, 2 seasons, runtime: 45 minutes)
Starring Bret Harrison as Sam Oliver and Tyler Labine as Bert “Sock” Wysocki, Reaper is about a guy whose parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born. On his 21st birthday, Sam meets the Devil and discovers that he is now a “reaper” and has to capture souls who have escaped from Hell.
Reaper is a comedy about best friends Sam and Sock. Both work at a hardware store called “The Workbench” and are in their 20s. Together, along with their other friends, they seek and capture souls and send them back to Hell by trapping them in a vessel. These vessels are given to Sam by the Devil himself and are often some sort of clue as to who they need to capture next.
As the series continues, the details of the contract that Sam’s parents signed unfold and Sam tries to get out of his deal with the Devil. While Sam deals with his problems, Sock adds comedy to the show and is easily the funniest character in Reaper.
Misfits (2009, 4 seasons, runtime: 45 minutes)
Of all the TV series listed here, Misfits is the only one that is still on the air (with the exception of Arrested Development’s return). As of the writing of this list, there are four seasons with a fifth on the way. This is a British science fiction comedy-drama starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Iwan Rhedon.
The show is about five teenagers that are currently serving community service. After a strange electrical storm, the teens discover that they have unusual powers. These powers reflect their personalities, for example, Simon (Rhedon) is a shy and reserved person and develops the power of invisibility. The series is about each teen discovering the limits of their powers and how they got them in the first place.
Misfits has its funny moments but there are also times when it can be intense. Each character is relatable and this makes the show easy and enjoyable to watch.