Hidden Gems to Stream this February
There’s generally not much to look forward to in February besides slightly less awful weather and a number of award ceremonies that remind you you'll most likely never wear anything by Alexander McQueen. But the good news is there’s a lot of great stuff available to stream! Here are my recommendations for hidden gems to watch once you’re done watching Making a Murderer.
(Netflix) – 2 seasons
TBQH I was watching Rectify earlier this week while procrastinating school and this article. This show inexplicably has not received the popular attention it deserves. If you’ve finished Making a Murderer and need your true crime fix, this is for you. Convicted of a rape and murder at 18, death row inmate Daniel Holden is freed almost 20 years later based on DNA evidence. The show documents what happens to him and his family after he gets out of prison and returns to the town that still thinks he's guilty. Thankfully, a third season exists, but it’s only available on Sundance Channel online if you have access to it through your cable provider.
2. Friday Night Lights
(Netflix) – 5 seasons
My mom loves football and this show. We disagree about most TV, so I initially wrote it off in spite of its devoted fan base. Honestly, I didn’t want to like this show because the concept seemed played out/I didn’t care about football/insert other dumb I’m-too-cool-for-this reason here. Here I am swallowing my pride, Mom—you were right. If you have somehow managed to have never heard of this show, it’s about a small-town Texas football coach and his team; but you don’t need to like football to appreciate this show. Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler play the most realistic and #relationshipgoals-inspiring couple I have ever seen on television. Just don’t judge it off the second season, which happened during the writers’ strike of 2007 and 2008—at least they had the decency to cut it short.
(Hulu Plus) – 1 season
Shows that revolve around family dynamics have all started to sound the same to me: “Oh, they’re crazy, and the sister is x and the brother is y, but they love each other even though sometimes they hate each other and everything works out in the end!” If you’re as sick of that as I am and you’re willing to explore some seriously dark comedy, then Casual is for you. Valerie, a single middle-aged woman (played by Michaela Watkins, whose name you probably didn’t know even though she’s in everything) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) move in with her younger brother Alex (Tommy Dewey), a wealthy tech genius who created a dating app. Valerie gets back into the dating game at Alex’s insistence, Jason Reitman (director of Juno and Up in the Air) is the executive producer, so if you enjoyed his other work you may want to look into this show—and if you haven’t seen Juno or Up in the Air stop reading right now and go do that. I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.
(Amazon Prime) – 2 seasons
Normally I wait to watch some show that ~everyone~ is talking about so I can decide whether I actually like the show or if I just like talking about it because it’s popular. But I had read so much about Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking show before its release that I couldn’t wait. This show documents a a transwoman's transition and her family’s subsequent adjusting. It’s a heartwarming and heartbreaking illumination of the incredibly personal decision to transition and the horrible ways people sometimes react. I really didn’t think it was possible for the second season to be better than the first, but trust me—it is. Season 2 involves some time jumping (which I realize sounds awful but I promise it makes sense in context) and further explores what it means to be a family.
5. While We’re Young
Transparent is a hard sell as a hidden gem since it seems to be the only thing anyone talks about on Amazon Prime, but if you have Prime there are actually a ton of movies you can watch for free. While We’re Young details the strange budding friendship of an aging documentarian (Ben Stiller) and his wife (Naomi Watts), the daughter of a famous filmmaker, and a young couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) he meets in one of the classes he teaches. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts try to reclaim the youth they feel has escaped them, but it comes at a price. I think this is Ben Stiller at his best and Adam Driver at his most insufferable (only this time he plays a hipster and it’s hilarious).
6. Obvious Child
You may remember Jenny Slate as the voice of “Marcel the Shell” or as Mona Lisa, Jean Ralphio’s sister and rival in ridiculousness from Parks and Recreation. She takes a turn for the sort-of-serious in Obvious Child as a comedian who, upon getting broken up with and losing her job, hits it off with slip-on-loafer-wearing Max and winds up getting pregnant. She struggles with the decision to tell Max about the pregnancy since she has already decided to terminate it. It’s weird to try to pitch a comedy about abortion, but I promise that whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life or wherever in between, this movie will give you a new perspective on the issue.
Feature photo by _tar0_/ VIA Flickr.