Welcome to “Weekend Stream,” where every Friday, Darian Lusk — comedian and writer living large in Brooklyn — will gently recommend something new and exciting to stream, listen to or play over the weekend. Follow him on Twitter @eatpraylusk to send suggestions for future installments.
One of the hardest things about being a twenty-something is deciding which new Netflix shows deserve your meticulously well-allocated time. Which will get popular? Which will lose steam by episode 3? What is Sense8?
In the spirit of our fast-paced lifestyles, here’s a rundown of Netflix’s five most recent original series. I chose to only watch the first 15 minutes of each, as this is all the time you need to tell if a show is worth its salt in 2017. Also, I was super busy this week watching the National High School Theater Awards on Youtube. I just wish there were more hours in the day.
The streaming giant offered something for everyone this month, with two foreign-language shows and a children’s’ show amazingly starring Julie Andrews. But which are actually intriguing enough to binge in full? Let’s find out.
13 Reasons Why (Added March 31)
Netflix’s most recent original series is 13 Reasons Why, a brooding YA mystery about a girl named Hannah Baker who decided to end her life, though no one in this small town knows why.
Clay Jenkins, her classmate who is labeled a nerd even though his shoulders are extremely broad, is settling back into his normal high school routine when he finds a mysterious box on his doorstep. It’s filled with cassettes…recorded by — Hannah? But how? As the first tape plays, Hannah explains she’s going to tell us the reasons her life ended. “And if you’re listening to the tape,” she says, “you’re one of the reasons why.” Wow. Seems like a lot of guilt to put on someone, but I’m intrigued.
It appears that each episode of 13 Reasons Why will be a new tape; a new “reason why.”
The series is based on a bestselling YA novel from 2007, which is promising. But it’s executive produced by Selena Gomez (lol), which is not. I didn’t latch onto any characters, and with references to “obscure media” like Star Wars and cassette tapes, this show almost talks down to teens rather than appealing to them. I’d sooner recommend the sass and existence of Luke Perry you get with CW’s Riverdale.
Ingobernable (Added March 24)
If you thought House of Cards was dramatic, you have no idea. Ingobernable (which in English means “ungovernable”), is a political drama about the first lady of Mexico that is surefire proof that TeleNovelas have made it to Netflix.
Within the bonkers opening minutes, we discover that the Mexican president and his wife are getting divorced due to infidelity. As thunder claps repeatedly in the background, he pays her what turns out to be his final visit. Produced and shot in Mexico City, Ingobernable feels more authentically Latin American than something like, say, Narcos. In fact, I read up on lead actress Kate del Castillo — not only is she a superstar in Mexico, but she was the actress who went with Sean Penn to meet El Chapo! Bonus points for that.
Iron Fist (Added March 17)
It feels like just when we’ve completed the last chapter Marvel Netflix saga (“it was worth it by the end!”) we get another one. Iron Fist stars Finn Jones (Game of Thrones’ Loras Tyrell, back at it) as Danny Rand, an heir to a business empire who was thought dead after a tragic plane crash.
Clearly, that crash was a blessing in disguise because not only is Danny Rand alive, but he can do martial arts, jump high, control dogs with his mind and walk barefoot in Manhattan without anything weird happening (my laundry list of powers). It’s been 15 years since anyone has seen Danny. Where has he been? And can he resettle back into his old life?
This was an action packed, vibrant 15 minutes. But I have a feeling I may have gotten off the hook by only watching that much. Especially considering its rotten tomatoes rating (17 percent) and the backlash (a lot). I recommend this show solely for the friend who’s watched the other three Marvel Netflix shows and can’t stop now. Or anyone who thought Tilda Swinton was a brave choice for Doctor Strange.
Julie’s Greenroom (Added March 17)
Wildly enough, this children’s educational show stars Dame Julie Andrews as the director of a theatrical production company. But instead of students, she’s teaching muppets! In the words of Mia Thermopolis, “shut up!”
Yes, Julie’s Greenroom is a collaboration with Jim Henson and brings us original songs, useful theater vocabulary lessons and a lot of surprise human guests (Titus Burgess, Alec Baldwin.) And the puppets are voiced by the likes of John Tartaglia, Jennifer Barnhart and Stephanie d’Abruzzo. Names you’d know if, like me, you vibe to the Avenue Q soundtrack when people assume you’re listening to Pod Save America. This show is wonderful for young children, like, 3-8 young, who have expressed any interest in theater.
Samurai Gourmet (Added March 17)
This light-hearted scripted cooking show was definitely the most pleasant surprise of the bunch.
Samurai Gourmet centers on Kasumi, a likeable retiree in Japan who fashions himself a samurai of food. He vows to spend his newfound freedom trying to the different restaurants he never had the time to experience. Anyone who longs to professionally work from home can relate to this show. The values of drinking an artisanal beer midday and having time to yourself have never been more evident. Though the artful Japanese cuisine — which looks so good — is still in the spotlight, the journey there is so blissfully enjoyable that this show stands out from the pack.
Other great things to stream this weekend:
On Amazon Prime:
Election (1999): This comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon as an overachiever running for class president may give you 2016 election PTSD, but it’s a great watch. It’s Alexander Payne’s first film, and high-key where Ryan Murphy definitely got like 70 percent of the first season of Glee from. (Added April 1)
Pure Comedy: Father John Misty’s third full-length album is here and we gotta give it up for the master. Pure Comedy is definitely a tonal shift from his unironic praising of love and commitment that we all adored on I Love You Honeybear. But it is certainly congruent with these modern times and we can all commiserate with Misty on these 13 politically aware and ambitious tracks.