Netflix Holiday Watching Guide
By: Lily Bertles'22 and Luke Rapallo'24
New Shows to Netflix:
Lily pick: Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit is a new Netflix original miniseries about a chess prodigy named Beth Harmon. We watch Beth grow from a young orphan into a famous chess player during the cold war era. With a 100% rotten tomatoes rating, The Queen’s Gambit will keep you thoroughly entertained. Though the show centers around chess, it really is about Beth’s coming of age and her struggle with addiction, mental illness, and relationships. I enjoyed this show so much that I finished it in a weekend. The Queen’s Gambit is one of my favorite shows I watched this year and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick binge watch. The only warning I have is that this show is rated TV-MA and contains drugs and swearing.
Luke’s pick: Survivor
Survivor is a classic game show that usually airs on CBS that is now partly on Netflix. While Survivor has been on air for twenty years, two of the best seasons in the history of the show have just dropped on Netflix. This show’s natural drama makes it really fun to watch with groups of people. This drama is usually surrounding a large cast of people, and what makes the show so fun to watch is listening to different people’s opinions of the events. The general idea of the show is sort of a reality tv/game show where contestants live on an island together in a social experiment to compete for a million dollars. It creates a system where players vote other people off, so social dilemmas are a big aspect of the game. Survivor is a really difficult show to describe, however I feel like it is definitely worth the watch. If you are interested in watching other seasons of the show, they are available on Hulu and CBS All Access.
Shows with Multiple Seasons:
Lily’s pick: The 100
The 100 is a Science Fiction show that just finished its seventh and final season this fall. Unlike many long-running shows like Game of Thrones, I found the finale to be very satisfying. The show centers around a group of delinquents who are being sent to earth to see if it is survivable 97 years after the nuclear apocalypse. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the first season is very much a teen drama centering around the group of teens that are sent to earth. As the characters grow and the series progresses, it becomes more mature and deals with more serious issues. One thing I really like about this show is that it asks a lot of questions about morality and good leadership. The three main characters, Clarke, Bellamy, and Octavia all fill leadership roles and are faced with hard decisions. No character in the series is 100% good or bad, they all do terrible things in order to survive and to protect their people. This makes for a very complex story filled with many multi-dimensional characters. If you’re looking for a new show to get deeply invested in, this is perfect for you. This is a perfect show to binge while in quarantine (I know from experience). The two things I have against this show are the messy plotline in season 7 and that fact that so many characters die.
Luke’s pick: Community
In my opinion, Community is one of the best shows to ever air on television. That may sound dramatic but this show has so much to offer to anyone on the spectrum ranging from the average or diehard viewer. The general premise is that 7 community college students form an unlikely study group and become friends. While that sounds very bland, this show, after a mediocre first few episodes, delves into some of the best satire and absurdist comedy in recent history. This show combines genuinely impactful character moments with great jokes. These charming characters allow for great character writing that leads one joke into the next. The characters are so strongly written that they start to realize themselves in such a fashion I have only seen a couple times before. I really can not rave about this show enough. Community is an amazing show that leaves good memories with anyone that watches it.
Lily’s pick: Silver Linings Playbook
Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a rom-com like no other that focuses on two young adults struggling with mental illnesses. The movie begins with Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat, being released from a mental institution and heading back to his parent’s house in Philadelphia. He wants to rebuild his life and win back his wife. He meets Jenifer Lawrence’s character, Tiffany, a widow who is as equally unstable as Pat. Tiffany agrees to help him win back his wife if he enters a dance competition with her. Because this is a romance movie, they of course end up falling in love, but in an unconventional and quirky way. With multiple Academy award nominations, this movie is a must watch.
Luke’s pick:Bo Burnham: Make Happy
Bo Burnham’s Make Happy is one of the best pieces of stand-up comedy I’ve ever watched. Bo Burnham is a stand up comic who is most known for his rise to fame on YouTube, but since then he has been performing outside of the box, experimental comedy. Bo Burnham so well incorporates music into his jokes, creating comedy songs that can be appreciated for both their music, and their humor. He also does a beautiful job of adding real emotion into his shows which contrasts the jokes causing even funnier moments. There are multiple Bo Burnham specials on Netflix but personally I believe Make Happy is the more complete show. If you are in the mood for stand up comedy, I definitely recommend this show. (Warning: MA rated)
Lily’s pick: Holidate
Holidate is Netflix’s take on a Hallmark Christmas movie but without all the sappiness. Starring Emma Roberts as a frustrated single woman who hates being alone on the holidays. She meets a handsome stranger at the mall who shares her distaste of being single during the holidays and they agree to be each other’s dates for every holiday over the next year. While you know that they are going to end up together because it’s a romcom, how they get there is unexpected and at times, hilarious. Unlike Hallmark movies, Holidate is kind of raunchy with lots of inappropriate innuendos. I really enjoyed this movie because it isn’t your typical holiday romance movie. It’s quirky, funny, awkward and overall, pretty entertaining.
Luke’s pick: Klaus
Netflix has a lack of classic holiday movies, but they compensate for this with a plethora of originals. Personally my favorite of these was a children's animated film called Klaus. Though the production studio may not have the best track record, I still very much enjoyed this film. If there was one word I could use to describe this movie it would be charming. The art style and plot all evoke a “Hot chocolate by the fireplace” feeling, yet still allowing for some light-hearted drama. This movie follows a very strong story structure, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, strong story structures can make you feel like a movie is more complete, which is what happened in this situation. It is about a spoiled kid who moves to a town where the residents need to learn how to coexist with each other. I won’t spoil what happens, but it is a fun, harmless little movie. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it is a solid movie you can watch with the whole family.
Movies to Watch with your Family:
Lily’s pick: Enola Holmes
Enola Holmes is a feel good movie about famous detective, Sherlock Holmes’s, teenage sister. The movie follows Enola on her journey to find her mother who has disappeared. As she navigates Victorian England she uncovers mysteries that get her into unwanted trouble. By the end of the film she outsmarts her older brother and proves that she has what it takes to be a proper detective. Action, Mystery, Comedy, and Drama are all blended together to make this movie thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. Visually, Enola Holmes is very vibrant as it reflects Victorian era fashion, architecture, and decor. This movie, which is entertaining to all ages, is a great movie to watch with your family during the holidays. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and think it's perfect for a family movie night.
Luke’s pick: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Spider Man: Into The Spider Verse is really good. That is a little blunt but also true. I think a lot of people wrote it off as a kids movie when it came out and decided not to see it. However this movie has so much more to offer than being “just” a kids movie. The animation style, the story, the soundtrack, the action, all add to a movie that is a blast to watch the entire way through. While this movie only came out last year, it already feels like a classic in my brain. It takes the classic story of Spider-Man, which is admittedly played out in movie form, and adds enough inversions on the formula to allow for a brand new, fresh feeling movie. This is definitely a must watch especially with kids, so if you have a chance to watch this movie, jump at it.
Lily’s pick: Bling Ring
I stumbled across the Bling Ring a couple of years ago while searching for a movie to watch. I saw that it was written and directed by Sofia Coppola who has worked on multiple movies that I had enjoyed (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette). Coppola has a very distinct film style that includes using color and visuals to tell her story rather than just dialogue. This film uses this same technique to tell the true story of a group of Los Angeles teens who find the addresses of celebrities, break into their homes, and steal their things. The Bling Ring is jam-packed with late y2k pop culture and references, and even includes a cameo by Paris Hilton. This unique and visually pleasing film is a must watch for movie buffs and frequent Netflix-watchers.
Luke’s pick: Twilight Zone
I was really shocked when I realized The Twilight Zone was on Netflix. I feel like more people should be talking about this. If you haven’t already heard about The Twilight Zone it isn’t really a traditional tv show. Although it started airing in 1959, I think it still has a lot of value to offer. It has many episodes that are entirely disconnected from each other. These episodes are typically horror based, but most times they are just eerie. It’s a shame it is already December because this would have been a perfect Halloween recommendation. While the show is still eerie, the effects are just old enough that they aren’t terribly scary, but that adds to the charm of the show. In a weird way it almost feels comforting. While the show is far from new, if you have never seen it, even if you have seen it, I definitely recommend you watch it.