It’s been a long 12 weeks since we first entered lockdown here in the UK. And a lifetime of endless pub quizzes, attempting to make Tik Tok videos and finally having the time to binge watch everything that your heart desires.
Netflix has become a saving grace. From brilliant new documentaries like Tiger King and The Last Dance, to old favourites like New Girl, Modern Family and Community – there’s been plenty to keep us entertained. However after two and a half months, it’s easy to feel like you’ve completed it.
But squirrelled away from the streaming platform’s main page there’s a whole host of utterly excellent series, films and documentaries waiting to be devoured. From brilliant shows that criminally flew under the radar, to classic movies you’ve totally forgotten – there’s sure to be something you haven’t yet watched.
If you need a place to start – we’ve got you. Here NME recommends Netflix’s hidden gems for your viewing pleasure.
Upon release in 2007, Hot Rod was met with box office failure and critical indifference. But in the years since, The Lonely Island’s tale of a fledgling suburban stuntman has rightly blossomed into a true cult classic. Aided by Andy Samberg’s brilliant turn as deluded daredevil Rod Kimble and the film’s increasingly surreal humour, the strangest of premises eventually transforms into one of Netflix‘s funniest films. It’s an underrated gem and one that deserves to be seen by a much wider audience. Summon your inner Evel Knievel and get watching.
The Norwegian government has found a renewable alternative to fossil fuel, and plans to save the world by shutting off their oil supply so they can jump on board the environmental train. What a great idea! Except Russia aren’t happy about it, so decide to invade. What follows is three seasons of espionage, treason, twists and some mighty fine performances from an international cast. It’s a political thriller like no other, raising some prescient questions about valuing the economy over human life.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Desiree Akhavan is a genius. There, I said it. Little-known away from indie circles, the NYC native hasn’t made many films (three, including 2010 short Nose Job), but every project she’s directed, written and acted in is unmissable. Her latest movie, timely coming-of-age drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post, hit cinemas in 2018 after being nominated for Best Film at Sundance Film Festival. Witty, compassionate and often heartbreaking, it follows a teenage girl who is forced into a gay conversion therapy centre by her conservative guardians. Set in the mid-’90s, the soundtrack is stuffed with bangers – although few are from the time period. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride set to the soothing tones of Bon Iver, Maggie Rogers and Sufjan Stevens.
Circus of Books
Circus of Books tells the bizarre and brilliant story of straight Jewish couple who were short on money in the early 1980s, and accidentally ended up running a gay porn bookstore in West Hollywood. It was supposed to be a quick fix – but in the end Barry and Karen Mason ran the shop for 37 years, becoming one of the US’ biggest gay porn distributors, and surviving federal obscenity charges and an FBI sting. Filmed by one of the couple’s children, filmmaker Rachel Mason, it’s a sensitive and fascinating documentary that delves into the illogical nature of prejudice, and tells the story of an industry the internet left behind. Oh, and look out for a cameo from RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Alaska Thunderfuck – a former employee at the store.
I Think You Should Leave
Whoever said sketch comedy was dead was… probably right. But Tim Robinson’s unique series I Think You Should Leave is making a good crack at something new. The former SNL writer’s 20-minute episodes are stuffed with pretty grotesque and uncomfortable humour, though the most memorable moments are often the simplest. The Will Forte-starring sketch in Episode 2, centred around a shell-shocked man returning for vengeance on a baby that cried throughout a flight decades earlier, is particularly brilliant.
Man, don’t you miss going to restaurants? The other day I made a lockdown lunch of Super Noodles in a Cup-a-Soup and I thought: there must be more to life than this. And, reader, there is. Co-directed and co-written by actor Stanley Tucci, this lovely little movie is an ode to the social and cultural importance – and fun! – of kicking back with a great meal. Two Italian brothers (Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) are desperately trying to turn their ailing New Jersey Shore restaurant into a success, and tearing chunks out of each other in the process. It’s warm, funny, great to look at and well worth a nibble on.
No TV show can last forever – but it’s a damn shame we only got two seasons of Great News. Created and written by Tracey Wigfield (best known for her work on 30 Rock and The Mindy Project), it centres around Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan) an up-and-coming television producer who finds her goal to become a serious journalist complicated when the station she works for hires a new intern: her overbearing mum Carol (Andrea Martin). Executively produced by Tina Fey – who also appears in the second season – it’s one for fans of 30 Rock and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Gloriously silly, the gang’s ludicrous antics are a welcome distraction from the weird world we’re living in. Plus, who would’ve thought that Nicole Richie (who plays millennial TV anchor Portia Scott-Griffith) could be this savagely funny?