The problem with ‘Netflix and chill’ is that sometimes you really do just want to watch Netflix. And chill. But with so much choice, it’s easy to be stumped as to what to watch next. If you’ve binge-watched to the end of Breaking Bad, what do you do next (rhetorical question – Better Call Saul is what you do next)? Or what happens when you realise it’s another two years until the final season of Game Of Thrones? That’s a lot of time to fill. Well we hear you, and so we’ve asked around The Handbook office and put together a selection of what we’ve been watching this month.
Deputy Editor Phil‘s Watching: The Good Place
If you told me I’d be totally hooked on a show about moral philosophy then I suspect I’d tell you to go fork yourself (not a typo). But this series is one of my new absolute favourite things, straight up there with trifle and lie-ins. The premise is simple, what if you got to heaven only to find out that you’re not actually meant to be in heaven and there’s been a heavenly mix-up? The Netflix show, with Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Bad Moms) and Ted Dansen (Cheers and Fargo) is hilarious and clever in equal measure. It’s beautifully crafted into 20 minute episodes, making it the perfect ‘just one more’ series or a great accompaniment to a surreptitious ‘al desko’ lunch. The plot twists are great and former Radio 1 presenter Jameela Jamil steals the show. Watch it, you’ll forking love it.
Editor Emily‘s Watching: Mindhunter
The other day whilst watching Netflix, my housemate came in and alarmingly told me, that if there was ever a murder of someone we knew, she’d have to suspect me. I, of course, was outraged. She, in return, read out the titles of the books on my shelf: Famous Trials, A Very British Murder, Underworld London, The Hangman’s Tale and Magpie Murders. Still not seeing her point… Then she looked at my screen and said, ‘and you’re even watching a series about murder’. Admittedly yes, I was, but it wasn’t a show so much about murders but about murderers. Mindhunter, a Netflix drama that aired at the end of last year focuses on the start of criminal profiling in America during the 1970s, a time when they didn’t even have the term serial killer. Sure, you meet some of the most disturbing murderers such as Richard Speck (the Chicago mass murderer who brutally killed eight nurses), but you don’t see the murders take place. Instead it focuses on the two FBI officers who are battling to show prevention is better than cure or in this case, death and the unlikely relationships they strike up with these monsters. There’s tension and suspense, but this time no murder, so take that housemate.
Account Manager Charlotte‘s Watching: Vikings
Blood, fighting, talk of battle plans; normally a show with any of these in is not going to get any repeat custom from me, I like easy viewing and a couple of hotties thrown in isn’t going to confuse me into forgetting this. But Vikings is so much more than an aesthetically pleasing cast (um Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig etc etc). I mean, I’d be lying if I said having these beauties talk about how best to pillage and raid and rule lands isn’t a good percentage of what keeps me hooked but it’s actually a decent script and a semi-accurate history lesson on the Vikings first raids to England and France, and later on further afield. I’d liken it to a simpler Game of Thrones in terms of it being set so far in the past with a lot of emphasis on rulers and wars but Vikings tends to stick to the one plot of Ragnar Lothbrok and his obsession with travel and learning about the people and cultures, specifically the religion of Christianity, he finds. This is all executed by the cast’s fairly amusing Scandinavian accents, and as with any good series based in the past there’s a fair amount of sex – I guess they needed something to do when they weren’t pillaging.
CEO Elly‘s Watching: McMafia
So, my life is pretty busy at the moment; full time business with three kids and a fourth on the way (people keep calling me crazy, probably true). Plus my husband loves hosting dinner parties pretty much EVERY weekend, which leaves little time for getting stuck into many box sets or series. In fact, I can’t really remember when I last got properly hooked on a series, I think it was The Handmaid’s Tale, which was the one programme that actually got me forgetting about the terrible morning sickness that graced my first three months of pregnancy. Nothing has really grabbed my attention since this, that is until McMafia. Let me be honest here, the series is a million miles a way from the sort of thing that would normally lure me in, and I know a lot of people have panned it for being unpenetrable and boring, but it had me hooked. Not only was my husband’s best friend, Sam Hoare, playing an important role in it (which instantly makes it worth a watch), but also as you get to see James Norton as the son of a Russian Oligarch flitting in a tuxedo (most of the time) between Doha, London, Moscow and Eilat. His character, Alex Godmans, has spent his life trying to escape from the shadow of his past, building his own legitimate business and forming a close relationship with girlfriend Rebecca. The murder of his corrupt uncle, however forces Alex back into a web of organised crime. The plot in places gets a little complicated (especially for anyone who maybe like me suffering from COMPLETE baby brain or not being able to sit still through a film from start to finish) but nevertheless it remains involving, expertly cast and gripping. A must watch for anyone wanting to be hooked from start to finish and of course well worth it for anyone wanting to see James Norton dressed in a Bond style tuxedo. A new role beckoning there…?
Deputy Editor Phil‘s Watching: Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights is more American than the Mount Rushmore sculptures eating apple pie while Nascar racing. The show, which runs to five seasons, centres around high school (American) football coach Coach Taylor and his team, The Panthers. I’m not a sports nut, I barley understand the rules of (proper) football, but small-town America just gets under your skin. This parochial Texas environment where high school (American) football offers an escape from reality, or to university, is endlessly fascinating. Think The OC with (American) football and fewer long words. I can’t recommend this show enough, Kyle Chandler (Bloodline and Argo) and his on-screen wife played by Connie Britton (Nashville and Spin City) make this a delight. After all five seasons I tried to watch the Super Bowl. Turns out that after 76 episodes of a (American) football show I had learnt precisely nothing about the game, which can only be an endorsement.
Emily’s Watching: The Sinner
You know things are more than just a one- off Bumble date, when you start watching a boxset together. You’re locked in then. For the duration of the series at least. Now is when you’re going to learn an important lesson: can you trust them not to watch any episodes without you? The Sinner was the first boxset that I started watching with a guy (apparently guys aren’t a fan of Miranda…even though it is ‘such fun!’) and I’m pleased to say the trust is still there. Oh, and also that The Sinner, is actually rather good and definitely worth a watch. It’s only eight episodes and each less than an hour so you can definitely binge it, in a day. You’re not going to get your whodunit fix with The Sinner, but you are going to be asking why a lot, rather like a persistent toddler. Why did Jessica Biel stab someone to death on the beach (it happens in the first couple of minutes…it’s not exactly a spoiler)? Why can’t she remember things? Why does she have flashbacks of wallpaper? I would tell you, but then you won’t trust me to not ruin things for you…
Charlotte’s Watching: Dexter
So, Dexter hasn’t been on for 5 years and it pains me as much today as when I watched the final episode knowing it was all coming to an end. Dexter is the glorious, tongue-in-cheek series about a blood spatter expert who also happens to be a serial killer. He’s pretty hot (important I know) and manages, with some close calls, to keep his secret from his family and his very close sister who also happens to be a police woman – what are the chances right? Dexter is a slightly more loveable serial killer than say, Ted Bundy, as he corrects his moral compass by only killing other murderers, and he also has an amusing aversion to most people – who can blame him? Slightly less sex in this one but plenty of gore with slick plot lines and dark humour.