Looks like we’re all going to be staying at home a lot over the next several weeks with school and event cancellations. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite TV shows available on streaming services to help keep you occupied.
His Dark Materials (HBO/Hulu)
His Dark Materials stars Baby Wolverine (Dafne Keen) as Lyra, a young girl who embarks upon a strange and perilous journey in an alternate universe with her ferret-daemon-thing. Fair warning, it is from the same novels as The Golden Compass movie. As they say, don’t judge a TV show from its movie. Ok, no one says that. I did not read the books and thought the movie was unwatchable. I loved the show. The start is a little slow but the picks up steadily.
Highlights include performances by Dafne Keen, Anne-Marie Duff, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, adorable ferret-daemon-things, a solid story in a believable fantasy world, and a somewhat odd cameo from James McAvoy. Oh, and a bear.
If you read the plot description you will think it’s either Stranger Things or CSI. It is neither, nor is it like anything I have ever seen. I would best describe it as a paranormal mystery with beautifully human touches and a proper villain. It is also one of the few series where the second season is just as solid as the first.
It’s entirely possible Dark is my favourite show of all-time. It’s practically impossible to describe it and do it justice without giving away any plot elements. It twists and unfolds so perfectly. This is story-telling at its finest.
Highlights include its utterly unpredictable nature, lots of twists, and a satisfying resolution.
In German, you can choose either dubbed into English or with English Subtitles
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Everyone and their dog has probably seen this if you like creepy/horror stuff. If I didn’t add it, I would be hounded with suggestions for it.
Castle Rock (Hulu)
I loved the first season of Castle Rock so much! It was really creepy with a fantastic plot which kept me guessing. It is set in the “Stephen King Multiverse” which means it is an original story not actually written by Stephen King. I really enjoyed all the Stephen King Easter eggs (a phrase I never thought I’d type) but they were not distracting from the plot.
And can we talk about Lil’ Skarsgard? He really pulled this off! Who knew the kid from Hemlock Grove could actually act?
I can’t say I loved season 2 as much as 1 as it was far less paranormal-but the ending was very satisfying, and Lizzie Caplan’s performance makes it worth watching.
Highlights: intriguing mystery- you really never know what’s going on, original story concept, excellent casting in both seasons,
Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy stalks girl.
I think there’s something inherently wrong with me for loving this show as much as I do. There is something just too perfectly delicious about Woodchuck Todd’s performance. His voice over goes from endearing to hilarious to creepy to “oh hell no” and back again. I am partial to season 2 but season 1 is really brilliant too.
Highlights: The Other Tucker’s (Penn Badgley) performance, a fantastic anti-villain who will divide your house, intriguing plot, hilarious dialogue, and Jenna Ortega (Harley, Stuck in the Middle) knocking the role of Ellie out of the park.
Yes, one of these things is not like the others. This British series from 2000 is a romcom like no other. This normally is not my genre. I supposed you could describe it as being like Friends or How I Met Your Mother, but a bit more witty or clever. The humor is also racy as it’s British and they can get away with that. It’s one of my all-time favourite comedies.
Oh wait, did I mention it was created by Steven Moffat?
Highlights: It’s hilarious. Rich characters, relatability, blah blah blah. It’s hilarious.
I can’t believe I still have to mention this. Sherlock and Dark compete for the top of my TV favourites list. Most people are turned off by the 1.5 hour episodes, so think of it like each season is a movie trilogy. It can also take some time to get to know the characters, but once you do, they are so funny and endearing. The show is full of nods to the books and previous shows. It is set in modern times which offers a refreshing new take on the character. “A Scandal in Belgravia” is the single best television episode in history. I will fight you.
Highlights: The chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is undeniable, Moffat once again makes us care too much for the characters, you will completely OBSESS over Andrew Scott’s performance as Moriarty, the relationship between Sherlock and brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) is spectacular, witty banter, good mysteries
Hemlock Grove (Netflix)
Hemlock Grove is so bad it’s good. Vampires, Werewolves, Mad Scientists, Oh My! The cast is ridiculous: Famke Janssen (X-Men, other stuff that wasn’t X-Men), Dougray Scott (Ever After, MI2), Bill Skarsgard (It, Castle Rock), Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Six Feet Under), Landon Liboiron (um, he’s cute?) You really can’t stop watching it. In fact, I’m going to start rewatching this now.
Highlights: attractive cast, over-the-top campy factor, um, it’s Famke Janssen
Penny Dreadful (Showtime, Hulu, Netflix, Sling)
Penny Dreadful is a term for Victorian-era pulp horror stories. If that appeals to you, then by all means read on!
Penny Dreadful entwines original characters and plotlines with famous horror stories such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray.
Oh my gosh this cast, y’all: Eva Green, Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton….Timothy Dalton! You know it’s going to be delightfully campy if Timothy Dalton is involved.
Highlights: perfect guilty pleasure, interesting takes on established stories, Billie Piper’s show-stopping soliloquy at the end of the series
Locke & Key-Netflix
Locke and Key is a really entertaining modern fairy-tale type show. I would describe it as YA, but there are some fairly violent scenes. A family moves to their mysterious ancestral home where they discover keys which possess different magical qualities. Overall, I found it easy to watch and adorable. It was intriguing enough to hold my attention while not having to pay strict attention to it.
Highlights: a delightful villain, whimsical scenes amid mystery, new keys are introduced throughout the series so you never know what’s next
I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix)
Fantastic angsty teenage show following Sydney (Sophia Lillis), who struggles with social relations, sexuality, the death of her father, and discovering she can blow shit up with her mind. You know, what we’ve all been through. This was a great start to what will hopefully extend into new seasons. One episode in and I fictionally adopted Sydney’s neighbor, Stanley Barbour (Wyatt Oleff), an endearingly quirky kid who gives zero fucks.
If the names and faces of Lillis and Oleff are familiar, yes, they were Beverly and Stanley from It. Normally such casting would make me cringe, but we already know Lillis’ portrayal of Beverly was amazing, and Oleff truly shined in this much bigger role in the show. Sofia Bryant rounds out the perfect cast of leads as Sydney’s BFF Dina.
I will admit I found the ending anti-climactic. Dear Producers: everything does not need cliffhanger. You had a fantastically brilliant ending without it.
Highlights: awesome pop culture parodies esp 80’s films, fictional adoption of characters, escapism at its finest, music by Graham Coxon (Blur)