#TopFiveFridays — Binge-Worthy Series on Netflix – Summer 2018

As parents to a ten year old and a six month old, the term “Netflix and Chill” has taken on an entirely new meaning for us. Perhaps not the most productive use of our evening, but by the time both kidlets are fast asleep, we often find ourselves cuddling on the couch watching one of our favourite binge-worthy series before bedtime. Don’t judge us, but I’m fairly certain we have about five on the go at the moment.

With such an excellent selection on Netflix these days, it can be challenging to find a series that we both enjoy and keeps us coming back for more. And it seems like this is often the case with other Netflix watchers. Not a week goes by where we don’t see a post on Facebook from a friend who is looking for recommendations because their favourite series has just ended.

If you’re having difficulty choosing your next Netflix obsession, look no further. We’ve got you covered. Here are our top five most favourites that are currently streaming on Netflix.

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Queen of the South

Source: IMDB

Breaking Bad meets Weeds meets nothing you’ve ever seen before, Queen of the South is raw, unsettling, and will leave you on the edge of your seat, wanting to sleep with one eye open.

With Alice Braga’s stunning portrayal of Teresa — an otherwise innocent money changer from Mexico who is trapped by her deceased boyfriend’s association with a powerful cartel — we’re taken on journey in almost constant fear of danger. While the show does make the most of the standard Mexican soap opera tropes (vicious cartel wars, powerful but corrupt politicians, internal family divisions, the DEA breathing down everyone’s necks on both sides of the border), it’s in Teresa’s constant struggle for survival, her indomitable will to survive, and her uncanny ability to learn and apply every lesson on the way up that the show really makes its mark.

We know Teresa gains at least a modicum of success. The show frequently flashes forward to a point in the future when she appears to be in charge of everything. But these are carrots on a stick, and we have no idea what steps she’ll have to take or sacrifices she’ll have to make along the way. How much of her soul does she give away in order to survive? In the meantime, even armed with that knowledge, every twist and turn brings new danger and some new side plot as she not only navigates the treacherous waters of her own survival by continuing to work for those who so recently wanted her dead.

Do. Not. Miss. This.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Source: IMDB

Tina Fey brings together Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, and the legendary Carol Kane in an ensemble comedy about the weirdness of life in New York. This is series is a little disturbing and a whole lot of hilarious.

Kimmy (Kemper) has just been released after fifteen years in an underground bunker, having been kidnapped as a teen by a cult leader who convinced her (and three others) that the apocalypse had turned the world at the surface uninhabitable. Effectively frozen in her personal development, education, and cultural awareness in the late 90’s, Kimmy must try to navigate life as an adult in New York in the 2010’s, with the help of out-of-work actor and flamboyantly gay roommate Titus and their highly unstable landlady Lillian (Kane). Kimmy’s first job is as an assistant at the home of Jacqueline Voorhees (Krakowski), whose tone deaf wealthy white privilege (almost identical to Krakowski’s character on 30 Rock) and messy divorce are the polar opposite of the innocent and quirky Kimmy.

While Lillian tries to be the voice of guidance and wisdom to the younger characters on the show, it turns out that through it all Kimmy’s innocence and detachment from material ambition and modern cynicism actually make her the wisest character on the show. And this is in spite of the fact that she’s unable to keep a job or a boyfriend…because she’s basically 15.

It’s a hilarious satirical comedy that pokes fun at everything we think is important today, because it views the ridiculousness of modern life through the lens of fifteen years ago. It demolishes everything we take way too seriously, and uses truly implausible situations (like an apartment building that’s really an overturned tugboat) as a vehicle to help us laugh at ourselves.

Arrested Development

Source: IMDB

Perhaps the most dysfunctional and awkward family on modern television, the Bluths use sarcasm and wit in an attempt to outdo and scam each other any chance they can, all in an effort to maintain their wealthy status.

Cancelled by Fox after its first three seasons, the series was given a reboot for a fourth season in 2013 when Netflix picked up the property, then a re-reboot with a new cut of Season 4 and a new season launching in 2017. If you followed all of that, you’re probably the kind of person who would have no trouble following the multiple storylines and extensive character relationships Ron Howard weaves into this hilarious soap-opera tale of privilege gone completely over the top.

From running real estate scams to corporate embezzlement, minimum security resort prisons to influence peddling to have a certain border wall built, there’s no angle the Bluths aren’t willing to play. And through it all, Jason Bateman’s character fights tooth and nail to just give his son a normal life with some semblance of ethics. It’s poignant, sometimes touching, and always bitingly satirical.

GLOW

Source: IMDB

An 80’s throwback to the wonderful world of wrestling, GLOW tells the story of a low-budget horror director’s last-ditch attempt to salvage his twilight career by bringing together a rag-tag group of actresses and the otherwise unemployable to create an iconic professional wrestling event for television. His efforts come up against his own ego, and his ego comes up against the talents of the two principal actresses in his show, Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin). Both are professionals, but for Ruth this is a shot at the big time, while for Debbie it’s a step down from her successful career as a TV star.

To be fair, it’s not about Sam’s show. It’s about Ruth’s story as a struggling actress. It’s about Debbie’s struggles as a newly single mom going through a difficult divorce and a tailspinning career.

The list goes on. Every character has a story, and every character’s story informs and empowers the strength of the dynamic they’re all trying to bring to their performances. The cleverness of GLOW lies in the way we get to watch as each character on the show develops her wrestling persona, while at the same time developing their characters for us in the audience. It shines a light on the goofy, slapstick, and sometimes seedy side of 80’s professional wrestling, while also keeping real people at the forefront of its storytelling.

Santa Clarita Diet

Source: IMDB

A quirky zombie comedy (AKA: zom/com), this series really takes a bite out of life. Okay, that was cheesy, but so is this hilarious show.

Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are ordinary, basically successful real estate agents, until an incident with some bad clams triggers a reaction in Sheila that turns out to be rather worse than food poisoning. After dying for a very short spell, Sheila discovers she has new-found stamina and strength, and an aggressive side to match. Desperate to keep their suburban life as normal as possible for their teenage daughter Abby (Liv Hewson), the Hammonds undertake any plan they can muster to keep their family secret, all while trying to find a cure for Sheila’s “condition.”

A condition which seems to be contagious.

Santa Clarita Diet is a suburban sitcom that combines horror and hijinks in a formula that breathes new life into a genre that’s been beaten to death, and does the fine tradition Shaun of the Dead proud.

 

aWhat about you? What are your favourite shows for summer binging on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates on new posts!

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