As 2020 cycles in, you’ve likely noticed a bounty of new (and old) content on streaming. While I’m no authority on what’s “best” — here are a few suggestions on what to stream as cold weather sweeps in.
If you haven’t heard of this Disney+ Original, you really do live in a galaxy far, far away. Adorable Baby Yoda memes aside — though show creator Jon Favreau said that “The Child” isn’t actually the toddler-version of the Yoda we already know — the show is a binge-able space western that packs a punch. And it brings something entirely fresh to the mega-franchise that is Star Wars. Though it exists in the same universe — sometime after The Return of the Jedi — it doesn’t tangle in any existing narratives.
Focusing on the show’s namesake, Mandalorian — or Mando — is a bounty hunter who takes a job for a former Imperial officer. That assignment is to retrieve The Child (better known as the very cute, soup-sipping Baby Yoda). But he decides not to hand him over and instead goes on the run with the tot, traveling to the outer edges of the vast galaxy.
Charming, full of twists, engaging and often funny, The Mandalorian is worth your time. The last episode, directed by Taika Waititi, is the funniest and most thrilling of the bunch; it also sets the series up for a compelling next season, which rolls out this fall.
Make it an Adam Driver double feature
Speaking of Star Wars, Adam Driver is having a year. From reprising the role of Kylo Ren (cough, Ben Solo) in The Rise of the Skywalker to starring opposite of Scarlet Johansen in Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama Marriage Story to portraying Daniel J. Jones in The Report — he is everywhere. You can stream the latter two flicks on Netflix and Amazon Prime, respectively. Though entirely different roles, he impresses in both (and, in my opinion, his Kylo Ren is the best part of RoS). Marriage Story sees him as a stage director who is in the grips of divorce with his wife (Johansen), an actress, with whom he has a son. When she moves to L.A. to work on a TV show, as he stays in NYC, their divorce becomes messy as it plays out coast-to-coast. Directed by Scott Z. Burns, The Report sees Driver as United States Senate investigator Daniel J. Jones. Based on a true story, he led the investigation of the CIA’s use of torture after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Listen. This Netflix reality show is like a Black Mirror episode come to life crossed with a more solitary take on Big Brother. It may be full of cringe, but it’s also admittedly entertaining. Here’s the premise: Contestants move into the same apartment building — each living in their own decked-out space — but never meet face-to-face. Instead, they communicate through profiles on a social media app designed specifically for the show. They can choose to be a catfish or be themselves. Throughout, players rank each other with the lowest-rated competitors at risk of being “blocked” from the game. Top-ranked players become “influencers” and whoever lasts till the end scores a grand prize of $100,000. It’s truly bizarre to see people read text messages aloud, emojis included, and see all the players holed up in their own spaces, pulling virtual puppet strings of their own making.
Hulu’s deeply relateable Shrill is back Jan. 24 for a second season. Following a young journalist named Annie, played by the brilliantly funny Aidy Bryant, the show is unabashedly honest in its portrayal of a woman trying to find self-acceptance as she fields sick parents, an ambitionless and mediocre boyfriend, a tough-to-please boss and everything else life throws at her. Though she has her flaws, Annie is a character worth rooting for. Colorful and sunny with plenty of genuinely funny moments, Shrill is a good way to warm up this winter.
Need to kill three and a half hours? Look no further than Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Stacked with solid performances from Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, you can find this modern epic on Netflix.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Alternatively, listen to Jeff Goldblum talk about everything from sneakers to ice cream to gaming and more on this Disney+ series. If anyone can make mundane objects interesting, it’s probably the quirky and rambling Goldblum. Bonus: Watch his appearance on Pitchfork’s web series “Over/Under.” Dude is whacky, for sure, but it makes for quality content — especially if you just want something light playing in the background.