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This generation’s obsession with Netflix is evident, as displayed on many a Forever 21 t-shirt. While this seems to be the butt of many jokes, I find the fascination with Netflix to be very reasonable. It serves as an easily accessible plethora of movies and TV shows, as well as a safe haven for the bored and tired. However, I often find myself running into the problem that I seem to have watched every single thing on Netflix. Which, I suppose, is similar to people in movies who say that they have nothing to wear while staring at a closet full of clothes. For those who relate to that, I’ve compiled a list of worthwhile movies and TV shows.
If you are looking for a blast-from-the-past teen dramatic comedy:
Everything Sucks, directed by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan
Although it takes place in 1996 in a town called Boring, this show is anything but. Jones and Mohan’s show follows the students and parents of Boring High, revolving around the relationship between the kids of the A.V. Club and the Drama Club. Both clubs are satirized with their stereotypical clothes, attitudes and catchphrases: flannels, angst and slang for the A.V. Club, and eccentric outfits, melodramaticism, and flowery language for the Drama Club. Initially, the school’s “it couple” is in the Drama Club, so that club rules the school, and they pick on the A.V. Club for fun. But throughout the show, relationships—both romantic and platonic—blossom between the clubs. Every viewer will see themself in at least one of these characters and laugh and cry along with them in this hilariously relatable portrayal of adolescence.
Freaks & Geeks, directed by Paul Feig
Set in a 1980s Michigan high school, Freaks and Geeks is distinctly nostalgic, even for an early 2000s kid like me. It follows protagonist Lindsay Weir and her younger brother Sam through their high school quest to choose between cliques. The combination of a stellar cast—including pre-fame James Franco and Seth Rogen—and well-placed jokes makes for a very intriguing show.
If you are seeking a funny and family-friendly show that deals with controversial issues:
One Day At A Time, directed by Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce
This show is by far my favorite on Netflix. It addresses issues such as racism, LGBTQ+ rights, and mental health while remaining entertaining throughout. Set in Los Angeles, it centers around the Cuban-American Alvarez family and three generations of its members, following their struggles with discrimination, their sexual identities and more. Even with so many generations represented, every family member is fully developed and unique.
If you are craving a quirky show with a lovable cast:
Queer Eye, directed by David Collins
Recently added to Netflix, Queer Eye (a revival of David Collins’ Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) is the first makeover show that I have seen that does not seem trashy at all. While in most makeover shows, there is a subject and an almost ‘Fairy Godmother’-like character who gives the subject a new wardrobe and a few inspirational quotes, Queer Eye focuses on giving new confidence to not only the subject’s wardrobe, but their whole lives. The show will put a smile on your face as you watch the crazy antics of “Fab Five,” including Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness, a group of out and proud gay men who makeover the style and the lives of other men.
If you like movies with engaging characters and an even better soundtrack:
Sing Street, directed by John Carney
This movie is lesser-known but deserves all the fame of an Academy Award winner. Set in 1980s Ireland, this movie will make you miss or wish you were alive in the 80s with its catchy soundtrack and characters you would want to be best friends with. Its plot centers around private school student Conor who starts a band and in turn starts a revolution in his community. Facing off against peer and authority bullies and falling in love with an eccentric model, Conor makes the movie engaging all throughout.
If you want a feel-good adventure movie with great music:
Moana, directed by Don Hall, John Musker, and Ron Clements
After a long day, my prescription would be a nap and a showing of this movie;it never fails to cheer me up. With music composed by the one and only Lin-Manuel Miranda, what more could anyone ask? Unlike typical Disney princess movies, Moana is not a love story; marriage is not mentioned once. Moana, the movie’s namesake protagonist and daughter of a Pacific island chief, has always felt tied to the ocean. Flouting her father’s rule that nobody is allowed to sail beyond their island’s reef, Moana sets off an a quest to save her island, picking up a demigod and a mentally challenged chicken on the way. The movie is ultimately about determination and developing an identity, as well as showcasing the courage of Moana herself to inspire young and old viewers alike.
If you love female empowerment and gorgeous cinematography:
Whale Rider, directed by Niki Caro
Pai, a young Maori girl, dreams of becoming the chief of her New Zealander tribe. But only boys are allowed to take that role, and nobody believes that a girl could complete the rigorous training required. But Pai is determined, and her connection to the ocean and the whales that reside within is too strong to be ignored. This beautifully shot and inspiring movie follows her attempts to prove herself worthy of chiefdom.
If you are a sucker for a (happy) tear-jerking romance story:
The Way He Looks, directed by Daniel Ribeiro
As long as reading subtitles isn’t a problem for you— or if you understand Portuguese—this movie is definitely worth a watch. The Way He Looks is about Leonardo, a blind teenager attending high school in Brazil, and his relationship with his best friend Giovanna—that is, until the very attractive Gabriel moves into town. This coming-of-age story will have you on the edge of your seat wondering about the ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ relationship between Leo and Gabriel.
If you appreciate sarcastic, sometimes crude humor and immense character development:
The Fundamentals Of Caring, directed by Rob Burnett
A sarcastic road trip story is always a yes in my book, but The Fundamentals of Caring surpassed my expectations. The movie follows Trevor, a teenager with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and his caregiver Ben on their car trip to see the world’s largest pit in Utah during which they pick up a pretty young hitchhiker and a pregnant woman with their own complicated backstories. Throughout the movie, viewers see the connection between Trevor and Ben grow from that of a caregiver and his patient to a genuine friendship.