The Binge List: 11 TV Shows You Should Stream This Week
This is truly our Golden Age, people. *raised hands emoji*
May was truly the Ultimate TV Month of 2017 so far. There is SO MUCH CONTENT. You guys, we got content bleeding out of our ear holes!
Lucky it’s also the beginning of winter, which equals terrible weather and optimal bingeing opportunities. So snuggle down with your housemate, s/o, pet or your boyfriend pillow, and sink your teeth into these little wonders. All hail streaming TV.
Master Of None – Netflix
The first season of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s small-scope romantic-comedy was beloved by all, but the second season, which dropped on Netflix earlier this month, is turning out to be far more divisive.
I adored the messy ambition of this new season, which is ten uneven but largely impressive episodes that prove the usually introspective Ansari is capable of looking outside his own experiences for story. He is also a bit of a virtuoso of the contemporary romantic condition; he understands frustrating, forlorn modern love better than almost anyone else (and literally wrote the book on it).
This season catches up with 30-something Dev (Ansari) and his old friends Arnold (Eric Wareheim), Denise (the wonderful Lena Waithe) and Brian (official hot babe Kelvin Yu who tbh is not in this season nearly enough). Massive props should also go to the underrated comedic charms of Bobby Cannavale, who plays Dev’s manic boss “Chef Jeff”.
This season’s episodes to watch out for are ‘First Date’; the divine ‘New York, I Love You’, which features an absolutely brilliant scene entirely in American Sign Language; and the life-giving ‘Thanksgivings’, written by Lena Waithe and guaranteed to make you bawl.
The best shot of the season (and possibly on television this year) is the exceptionally risky four-minute-long shot of Dev sitting in miserably in the back of a cab. As Ansari said to Vulture, “It just felt like it captured that cab ride that everyone’s had, where you’re in this really sad moment and you’re just sitting in this car with a stranger. It’s such a personal moment.”
This is exactly what makes Master of None worth the occasional blundering episode — when it’s good, it’s damn good.
The Keepers – Netflix
Though it was hailed as the new Making A Murderer, The Keepers is actually so much more. The new Netflix true crime documentary centres on the murder of a Baltimore nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, in 1969. It’s as breathtaking and creepy as they come, and what all great true crime should be: revelatory.
While Making A Murder (as engaging as it was) took you on a journey through the foregone conclusions of its advocate-filmmakers, The Keepers is a careful and passionate cry for justice where there has been none dispensed.
Meticulously crafted and beautifully structured over seven episodes, it’s pleasing as well to see that Netflix is beginning to learn an important lesson: TV doesn’t need to be either 10 or 13 episodes just because that’s your model. There’s not an ounce of flab in the The Keepers, which needed seven episodes to tell its horrific story and doesn’t waste a second.
Watch this one with a warm hand close by to clasp in your own.
House Of Cards – Netflix
The murderous Macbeths of Netflix are back for a fifth season of the beloved political drama House Of Cards. Cards is yet another (I’m sensing a theme here) Netflix show that was once buzzed about but is now semi-derided by audiences and critics alike.
Though the show remains demonstrably silly, even at times unbearably mawkish, there’s still plenty of sharp political satire and Shakespearean thrills left in this old gal (one of the streaming giant’s longest-running original series to date). The other joy? The performances, especially those vicious and uncompromising turns from dapper Kevin Spacey and the inimitable Robin Wright, are still absolutely top-notch.
The show may not be what it once was, but every year these two continue to receive award nominations it is well-deserved.
Key & Peele – Stan
Key & Peele is the absolutely superlative sketch show that centres on the dexterous performances of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (auteur of this year’s smash-hit indie sensation, Get Out). It ended back in 2015 after five consistent and considered seasons, but feels fresh this month thanks to Stan.
The series, which was broadcast on Foxtel’s Comedy Central, never quite got the attention it deserved from Australian audiences (Comedy Central AU also removed all its YouTube vids of individual sketches online). So I’m super thankful Stan has bought the entire series so we can now stream the lols all day every day. The whole series is an absolute triumph — at times like an edgier, more conscious Monty Python — but the final season is especially superb.
Now you can watch my favourite sketch, the absurdist masterpiece ‘Prepared For Terries’, on repeat. Draxx. Him. Sklounst.
Fargo – SBS OnDemand
Noah Hawley’s anthology homage to the brilliant classic film Fargo is now in its fourth season.
The show is always worth watching for, if nothing else, absolutely superb performances by actors who don’t get enough screen-time elsewhere (shoutout to the exceptional Carrie Coon). But this season is especially notable for its straight-up surrealist hijinks. Like, actual madness. Ewan McGregor plays HIGHLY ODD-LOOKING TWINS, ffs. Get on this immediately.
After you’ve watched, feel free to come back and @ me about all the Emmys that Carrie Coon deserves to win.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix
Kimmy Schmidt is another Netflix comedy that began with oodles of buzz but quickly dropped off the radar. This third season, released just a couple of weeks ago on Netflix, went virtually unnoticed by critics, and I can understand why.
The show isn’t very flashy; it’s not “appointment television” (but honestly, with so much to see, what is anymore?), and it’s not exactly ripe for endless delineation online (the marker of all recently ‘important’ shows). However, it remains true to its essential brilliance, even in this largely uneventful third season; the show is an expert joke delivery service.
Like 30 Rock before it, Kimmy Schmidt relies almost solely on its unparalleled ability to trot out bell-dinging joke after joke. It may not be particularly topical (and when it is, as in the eye-roll-inducing ‘Kimmy Is A Feminist!’, it doesn’t hit any discursive home runs), but hoo boy, it is funny TV.
Full of masterful comedic performances from hilarious women (Kemper especially is tirelessly delightful), Kimmy Schmidt is worth watching just to see the best comedic performance on television: Tituss Burgess’s gif-worthy, glorious Titus Andromedon. ‘Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!’ is Emmy-worthy stuff.
Enjoy Kimmy Schmidt and enjoy remembering that all TV doesn’t have to be about something — sometimes it’s just funny!
War On Waste – ABC iView
If you’re on social media, you’ve no doubt seen snippets shared from Craig Reucassel’s excellent documentary series, War On Waste. Reucassel, who you’ll recognise as one of the hosts of the Chaser team, has created a gem of a series about our country’s environmental crisis.
In the three-part docu-series, all of which is available to stream on iView, Reucassel goes after our overuse of plastic bags, our bad clothes-buying habits, and Melbourne’s addiction to the disposable coffee cup. The show is a gentle guilt trip for all of us single-use addicts and, though it may be sickening at times, it’s illuminating and essential viewing.
Search Party – SBS OnDemand
In their infinite wisdom, the content buyers at SBS OnDemand have made a smart choice purchasing TBS’s genre-defying noir sitcom Search Party.
The show, which debuted in the US last year, stars the effervescent Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development’s Maeby) as Dory, a neo-Nancy Drew investigating the disappearance of her college acquaintance Chantal Winterbottom. Search Party is full of vicious humour and poignant malaise which, in my opinion, makes it the ideal Winter Binge Show.
Telling you anymore would ruin the brilliance, so just watch it already!
Travel Man – SBS OnDemand
Richard Ayoade, the wonderful Morris Moss from The IT Crowd, and general Hero Of The Panel Show, is hitting you with about as much European mini-breaking as you can handle.
This comedy travel show sees Ayoade shepherding his famous friends — including Bake Off‘s Mel, Catastophe’s Rob Delaney, and surrealist British fave Noel Fielding — on 48-hour mini-breaks in various European locales. Together with his buddies, Ayoade tries out the truly bizarre sights of famous holiday destinations. Those who love Ayoade’s distinct brand of oddball humour and dry wit need no further convincing.
This series, short and sweet, is a real treat, and select episodes are available on SBS OnDemand.
Seven Types Of Ambiguity – ABC iView
If you didn’t get enough of brooding, suburban multi-perspective drama with ABC’s The Slap, you’re in luck, because Aunty is back with a brand-new sprawling book adaptation, this time of Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types Of Ambiguity.
Featuring a cast positively glittering with stars, including the excellent Susie Porter, Alex Dimitriades, the underrated Xavier Samuel (a must-watch in the brilliant film Love and Friendship) and Australia’s Grand Old Man, Hugo Weaving. The series is dark and cool and a little confusing, with the titular “ambiguity” spiralling out of the warring perspectives of each of the lead characters (like The Slap, each episode focuses on a new character’s perspective on a particular incident and its aftermath).
Australia has become very good at creating top-notch short drama series, many of which go generally unnoticed by audiences that would certainly enjoy them. Don’t miss out on Seven Types of Ambiguity, all six parts of which are streaming now on iView.
The Leftovers – Foxtel Play
Damon Lindelof’s exquisite short-lived drama The Leftovers has just aired its last episode ever. As sad as it is to lose such a wonderfully wild and weird show from our screens, the upshot is the entire show is now available to stream on Foxtel.
The series, which is based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name, follows the fortunes (and considerable misfortunes) of the sprawling Garvey family and their acquaintances after a Rapture-like phenomenon disappears two percent of the earth’s population, seemingly at random. (Yes, it’s that weird.)
Featuring stunning performances from Justin Theroux (and his rocking body), Carrie Coon (see above!) and Christopher Eccleston, The Leftovers is a real head-scratcher of a show, and definitely worth a sit-down on the couch for a solid binge-watch. It also features hands down the best dramatic performance on television: Coon’s prickly, sharp, open-hearted Nora.
Just be prepared, as I was, to question your life, your beliefs, yourself and your very existence on this planet as you plunge down the rabbit hole of Lindelof and Perrotta’s beguiling master work, which The Guardian has called “the most ambitious show of the decade”.
PS no spoilers but the end of season two features the most authentic singing performance ever done on television, by a broken-voiced Justin Theroux. That clip alone is a must-watch.
Matilda Dixon-Smith is Junkee’s Staff Writer. She tweets at @mdixonsmith.