As we move towards the coldest long weekend of the year and enthusiasm for the great outdoors wanes, Mediaweek looks at the best television that Netflix has to offer for a Queen’s Birthday binge. Although the smaller content library drew the ire of Australians when compared to the US offerings (as reported in the SMH), there’s still more than enough to keep yourself entertained over the long, cold weekend.
1. Orange Is the New Black
Showrunner Jenji Kohan already has two critically acclaimed series of the prison show under her belt, with a third set to debut on both Netflix and Foxtel (who secured the Australian rights) on June 12. The Netflix original series ended season two on a cliffhanger that saw one of the prison’s villains dead by the side of the road… Or did it? The clever, nuanced characters are set for more drama this time around, furthered by the addition of Australia’s own Ruby Rose (see this issue of Mediaweek for an interview with Rose) who will become the love interest of two of the show’s protagonists. Get caught up on all the Litchfield gossip before the third season of the addictive franchise drops. Recommended for Wentworth fans.
2. The Killing
Based on a Scandinavian crime series of the same name in Danish, The Killing is seriously compelling television. Set in rainy but picturesque Seattle, The Killing tells the tale of the investigation of murdered schoolgirl Rosie Larsen whose death reveals secrets in her life, the lives of her family and the city of Seattle’s mayoral campaign. The twists and turns of The Killing and the lives of those who live in its world make for perfect binge watching, while the increasingly warm relationship between the two main characters means you can’t help but cheer for them. Recommended for fans of Scandinavian crime and flawed protagonists.
An oldie but a goodie, Suits follows the lives of lawyer Harvey Specter and his associate Mike Ross, who is not a lawyer. Apparently annoying to those who know how the legal world works, Suits is ideal viewing for journalists who don’t care about such pedestrian concerns and watch purely for entertainment value. Sexual tension between co-workers and constant antics in court make for fast-paced, punchy television in which the good guys always win in style. Recommended for anyone who can relate to the line “When do you want it done?” “YESTERDAY!”
4. Redfern Now
Although Netflix has been criticised for its failure to commission Australian television, it has picked up the ABC’s Redfern Now – and will bring it to a larger audience. Redfern Now is harrowing, complex TV that tells the lives of contemporary indigenous Australians in Sydney’s famous suburb, and certainly deserves its critical acclaim. Fantastic acting from Deborah Mailman and co, as well as edgy drama makes this must-view television. With only 12 episodes, you’ll have enough time to see this and another series on the weekend. Recommended for lovers of Aussie drama.
5. Hot Girls Wanted
Hot Girls Wanted did the rounds at Sundance this year, and has generated a fair bit of buzz online, probably because it’s about five girls who embody the phrase “barely legal” and want to use the porn industry to achieve their ultimate shared goal of being famous. Produced by Parks and Rec‘s Rashida Jones, the documentary looks at the world of amateur porn and the impact that it has on its very young participants. Recommended for the curious.
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6. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino‘s films are clearly not for everyone, but if you like his wry sense of humour overlaid with scenes of extreme bloodiness, Django is the film for you. Set in the Wild West, the long-ish movie is a spaghetti western in which a slave is freed by a bounty hunter, who teaches him the ways of bounty hunting. It’s scary, off the wall and absurd in a way that only Tarantino could achieve, with outstanding performances from everyone in the cast – especially Leonardo Di Caprio, who does Western baddie better than we would have thought possible. Recommended for those who don’t mind a bit of blood and guts.
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7. Paper Giants
John Edwards and Imogen Banks‘ brilliant two-part series on the birth of Bauer’s Cleo magazine makes for phenomenal viewing, especially for those of us in the media industry who know the ongoing battle for circulation, readership or ratings. The very 70s outfits and office layouts are good for a laugh, but there is no laughing at a raging Kerry Packer (Rob Carlton). As usual Asher Keddie shines in her role. Recommended for everyone in the Australian media
The much-anticipated sci-fi television series made for Netflix from the producers of The Matrix and V For Vendetta enjoys its global premiere today, following much hype around The Wachowskis’ switch to making television. We’ve been excited about the globe-trotting series since star Daryl Hannah came to Australia for the March launch of Netflix. TV Tonight’s David Knox gives the first ep three stars, calling it ambitious.
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9. Catch Me If You Can
Categorised within Netflix’s “Exciting Movies” picks, Catch Me If You Can stars Leonardo Di Caprio as a prodigious teen who scams his way into everything – working as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all before he turns 18. The 2002 film is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, a master con artist who is surprisingly heartwarming. The movie is cleverly produced in such a way that the audience feels in on the trick, not outraged at Frank’s manipulation. Recommended for anyone wanting a chuckle at the expense of authority
10. Fawlty Towers
Although its initial broadcast was 40 years ago and only 12 episodes were ever made, the mayhem of Fawlty Towers has stood the test of time and continues to get laughs from Basil, Sybil, Polly and Manuel even today. It’s definitely John Cleese best work, especially when he goes on a tirade – “What did you expect to see out the windows of a Torquay hotel? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain..” The fact that Basil (John Cleese) and Polly (Connie Booth) were married in real life until the show is a testament to what a nut Cleese must surely be. Recommended for lovers of British humour.