Quarantine, week 8. Anyone else climbing the walls? Just me?
Each Friday I have been sharing recommendations for what to stream over the weekend. If you missed any of the previous round ups, you can check them out here:
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 1)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 2)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 3)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 4)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 5)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 6)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 7)
Before getting into this week's picks, I wanted to remind you of a few things that are coming soon. On Wednesday, May 6, Michelle Obama's Becoming hits Netflix. On Friday, May 8, season two of Dead to Me premieres (also Netflix). On Friday, May 15, Hulu releases The Great, starring Elle Fanning, about the rise of Catherine the Great. I am excited for so many female-driven shows!
Ok, now onto this week's list.
1. Never Have I Ever (Netflix) - Mindy Kaling is co-creator and lead writer for this new, 10-part series about the life of Devi, a girl beginning her sophomore year at Sherman Oaks high school in Southern California. The previous year, Devi's father passed away at school during one of her band concerts. The show covers how she continues to deal with that grief, her quest for academic superiority and her attempts to lose her virginity.
The show is funny, poignant and very accurately captures the awkwardness of those teenage years. I loved so many things about it, here are just a few: (1) Devi's two best friends, Eleanor and Fabiola, (2) Devi's academic rival, Ben, and their showdown at Model UN, (3) Devi's crush, Paxon (well, more specifically, his abs) and (4) Tennis star John McEnroe as the show's narrator.
For those who did watch, did Ben remind you of someone? Maybe Bumper from Pitch Perfect? I can't quite figure out who he makes me think of, but it's someone!
I will close this particular recommendation by saying that watching this felt like eating a giant, warm bowl of mac and cheese - pure comfort.
Also, if you want to hear more from Mindy about her inspirations for the show, she did an awesome interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air this week.
2. Waco (Netflix) - One of my best friends had been urging me to watch Waco for a while. It originally aired on the Paramount network. Once it hit Netflix, she said, "It's so easy now! You can watch it all at once."
If you aren't familiar, Waco is based on two books: Waco: A Survivor's Story and Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. It's the true story of religious cult leader David Koresh and his 51-day stand down against the FBI outside his Waco, TX compound.
Koresh is played by Taylor Kitsch, best known as Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights. He makes you believe in him and his right to live as he pleases. So much so, you find yourself rooting against the FBI.
Michael Shannon plays Gary, the FBI negotiator. Shannon is a fantastic actor. The last thing I saw him in was The Shape of Water, where he played the story's villain. Here, he's a man trying to come to a peaceful resolution, while the rest of the FBI team just wants to nuke the place.
There are six episodes and each is about 48 minutes. The final two will have your heart pounding of your chest. I started watching at 7:00pm and stayed up until 1:00am to finish.
3. Shtisel (Netflix) - If you loved Unorthodox on Netflix, you will also love Shtisel. This is an Israeli show, that airs here in the States with English subtitles. It's the story of the Shtisel family, who lives in an orthodox community in Jerusalem. It follows a few of the family members, one year after their matriarch, Dvora, has passed away.
Shulem, the patriarch, is desperately trying to marry off his youngest son, Akiva, while also navigating romantic feelings in his own life.
Akiva is obsessed with a woman who has been married twice before, bringing shame to his family. He's addicted to her (honestly, that is the correct word) and will do anything to ensure they can be together.
Giti, Akiva's older sister, has been abandoned by her husband and is attempting to hide that from the community. She starts to run an underground currency exchange inside her apartment.
People who have watched both shows know this, but their common link is actress Shira Haas. In Shtisel she plays Giti's oldest child, Ruchami, and she is the lead, Esti, in Unorthodox.
I never thought I would spend the bulk of quarantine watching shows about orthodox Judaism, but here we are.
4. Circus of Books (Netflix) - I have a friend who also posts a weekly round up of his top picks and last week he recommended a documentary on Netflix called Circus of Books. Ryan Murphy is the executive producer. It's the story of a married couple, Karen and Barry Mason, who ran an "adult" bookstore in Los Angeles. Their shop became a safe haven for the gay community in LA for decades.
The documentary is produced, directed and written by their daughter, Rachel. For me, the most interesting part was when their youngest son came out to them and how they handled that news.
The film is 90 minutes and it ends on a very compassionate note.
5. The Florida Project (Netflix) - Before I say anything about what this movie is about, I have to begin by stating it was named horribly. The title does not give you any indication of what you're about to see. Is it about the state of Florida? Is it some kind of restoration project?
It turns out, it's an incredibly sad story about a single mother raising her daughter in a cheap motel in Orlando, FL. For one hour and fifty one minutes, we follow Moony, a six-year-old girl, living in a building the locals call "the purple place" (for its paint color).
We see the transient residents of the motel, the kinship between the kids who live there, the unspoken bond between the mothers working long hours and the compassion of the hotel manager, trying to bring some sense of order to everyone's lives.
That hotel manager is played by Willem Dafoe. He was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actor's Guild Award and Critic's Choice Award for this performance.
While this movie isn't uplifting (actually, it's quite the opposite), it's honesty stays with you.
6. Love & Basketball (Amazon Prime) - I wanted to close out this week's list with a feel good movie. Love & Basketball is one of my all-time favorites. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps co-star as Monica and Quincy, childhood neighbors who travel through life together, bonded by their love of basketball and each other.
This film has one of the best redemption scenes. Every time I hear Quincy ask, "Double or nothing?" I cry like I've never seen it before!
You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime. It's available for rent for $3.99. It also recently aired on BET, so if you have cable TV, you may be able to watch it for free on demand. Of course, I recorded it and have it in my DVR for safekeeping.
There you have it! This week's list. I'll be back next Friday with another round.