- Asa Butterfield and Connor Swindells in Sex Education (© Netflix 2019)
Yes, it's true: the days are getting longer, but ever so slowly. And the cold seems to have settled on the Hudson Valley with a vengeance. So after long days in the office, the staff at Luminary Media are curling up at home to binge some quality television. And why not? With production powerhouses like Netflix and Amazon Prime churning out tight, well-written series at a near-constant rate, TV is better than its ever been.
We polled the office to see who's watching what, and the genres range from horror and crime drama to romcom and coming-of-age, so there's something for everyone. Here are the 12 shows we can't stop watching (or talking about) and where to stream them.
Schitt’s CreekGenre: Sitcom
Despite this particular writer’s inability to stomach more than the first 10 minutes, “Schitt’s Creek” was widely loved by a handful of our coworkers, some of whom are even watching it for a second time (ahem, Susan). The show is about a filthy rich family that loses everything and is forced to move into a rundown motel in Schitt’s Creek, a small, rural town they once bought as a joke. Drama and hilarity unfold as the parents (a former video store magnate (him) and soap opera star (her)) and their two spoiled kids try to adjust to their new life. “The show is truly hilarious and keeps me giggling throughout. Catherine O'Hara who plays the mother character Moira Rose has the best lines," says Marketing Assistant Victoria Levy. "If you are looking for a show that's guaranteed to make you laugh, then this is the one for you!" Media specialist Anne Wygal agrees, “This is my favorite too. Eugene Levy plays is the dad, Chris Elliot is the mayor. Eugene’s character is desperate to sell the town but nobody wants to be the owner of Schitt’s Creek. Very funny." (Read Vulture's piece on the show's co-creator, Dan Levy.)
This dramedy from Steve Conrad tracks the hilariously complicated life of CIA assassin John Tavner. His assignment is to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. This requires killing a lot of foreign nationals—and not always the right ones. The show's off-kilter sensibility plays like a John LeCarre plot filmed by Wes Anderson. “Something terrible is going to happen to John Tavner—he's going to get himself in a jam he won't be able to escape from—and I am on tenterhooks waiting to find out just what that might be,” says Editorial Directory Brian K. Mahoney.
Altered CarbonGenre: Action
Sex EducationGenre: Comedy
When awkward, gangly high schooler Otis is thrown together with Maeve Wiley, the sexy, smart, sorta-scary rebel chick of school, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they start a covert sex therapy clinic for their peers, with Maeve managing clientele and Otis dishing out top-shelf relationship advice. Despite being a sexually repressed virgin, Otis is full of sage council for his peers, thanks to his therapist mom. “This coming-of-age dramedy checks all the boxes. It’s honest, funny, awkward, and insightful, tackling major teenage issues—bullying, clique culture, sex, coming out, friendship, and love. A sort of Mean Girls meets ‘Freaks & Geeks,’” says Digital Editor Marie Doyon. “The main actors (mostly teens) are incredibly talented. I cruised through the first season and I’m already hungry for the next.”
Murder MountainGenre: Crime Documentary
This Netflix original docuseries dives into the culture, controversy, and evolving identity of Humboldt County, the “emerald triangle” of marijuana in Northern California. At first, a harmless hippie Mecca of free love, communal living, and pot, Humboldt County turns into lawless hotbed of drug trafficking and organized crime (and murder), before eventually becoming a place that entrepreneurs of legalized marijuana call home. “The series also highlights people who have gone missing, migrant workers and drug dealers,” says Sales Operations Manager Lisa Marie. “I love it because I lived it! I know this documentary series is for real—accurate information, interviews, and gorgeous landscapes/cinematography.”
Narcos: MexicoGenre: Crime Drama
After the enthusiastic public response to “Narcos,” which chronicles the ascent of legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Colombian cocaine trade, Netflix responded with “Narcos: Mexico.” The series, which was just released in November 2018, traces the origins of modern-day Mexican drug trade back to the incorporation of the Guadalajara cartel in the ’80s. “This show is pretty crash-course,” our coworker Taylor Davis says. “It’s crazy good if you're into crime thrillers. Diego Luna and Michael Peña as a pairing could make a season of ‘True Detectives’ rock. Plus it’s all in Spanish, so you get your foreign film on to boot.”
CatastropheGenre: Romantic Comedy
In the light-hearted rom-com series “Catastrophe” an American businessman accidentally impregnates an Irish schoolteacher during a weeklong fling. What as “no strings sex” turns into many, many strings, as the pair decides to have the baby and try to make their relationship work across an ocean. Think of it as Knocked Up meets The Holiday. “We binge-watched ‘Catastrophe’ this past fall in time for their long-awaited Season 4 launch on January 8,” says Creative Partnerships Director Brian Berusch. “It's hilarious—British comedy meets American wit. Worthy."
American Horror StoryGenre: Horror
Our newest employee, Media Specialist Jordy Meltzer has been busy binge-watching “American Horror Story,” which will keep her busy for a while as the show is now on its eighth season. Like True Detective, each season features a different story, but a lot of the actors return in new roles, with big names like Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, and Zachary Quinto. “I didn't watch the episodes as they aired and I'm late to the party. It may be the winter gloom that inspired me to watch one of the darkest, most gruesome shows I've ever seen,” Jordy says. “How co-creator Ryan Murphy could come up with the twisted storylines in ‘American Horror Story’ and also be capable of making a show like ‘Glee’ leaves me wondering about his psyche—but that's beside the point. This is a hard show to binge, but it's worth it.” Recommendation: Watch during the few daylight hours winter provides.
Grace & FrankieGenre: Sitcom
Associate Director of Marketing Samm Liotta is a new mom, so for the past few months she has been at home watching a lot of television between diaper changes and lullabies. "Grace & Frankie" is one of her top picks. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this hilarious show about aging, family, and newfound independence. Longtime nemeses Grace and Frankie are thrown together in their 70s after their husbands leave them to marry one another. Despite being very different (one a scatterbrained, new-age hippie, the other a rigid Type A businesswoman with a drinking problem), the women become unlikely best friends, with plenty of witty banter and sidesplitting situational comedy along the way. "With the cultural weight and impressive performance of heavy hitters Fonda and Tomlin behind it, this show is able to tackle taboo issues that rarely see the light of day like senior sexuality, senescence, late-onset homosexuality, and life’s elusive “third chapter” in a production that is reliably funny and moving," says digital editor Marie Doyon.
The Great British Baking ShowGenre: Reality TV
A dozen real people from the far reaching corners of Britain compete for the title of best baker in the UK in this hilarious reality TV cooking show, which has reached the cult popularity enjoyed by “American Idol” in the early aughts. Samm nominates this show, “Because who doesn’t love falling asleep to the sounds of delectable sweet treats being made, which inevitably makes you dream of cupcakes.” She adds, “Plus it’s just a wholesome feel good cooking competition and everyone loves each other.”
Queer EyeGenre: Reality TV
“This modern take on the ’90s show ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ is guaranteed to overflow your heart with warm fuzzies and flood your eyeballs with happy tears,” according to Samm. A new Fab Five set out to remake straight men in every department from fashion to grooming to diet and interior design, restoring their confidence and purpose along the way. The tagline, “I’m not crying, you’re crying,” is a nod to the tear-jerking aspect of these transformations.