Couch Potato Guide: Volume One

by on Nov 9th, 2018

Welcome to reading break. The five days in November where you finally get to catch up on the semester. Oh right, and to study for that next round of midterms. But in between study session, group projects and term papers, you’re probably going to want to put your feet up, dive into a good show and melt into the couch/bed/chair/bean bag or whatever you find comfiest. Here is a list of some of SAMU’s favourite shows that are perfect for binge-watching while you recharge.

Ozark (Netflix)

If you thought you knew Jason Bateman as an actor, think again. Ozark flips the script on Jason Bateman’s traditional roles and makes him a Breaking Bad-esque money-laundering criminal, who managed to get his family into a whole lot of trouble with the cartel. Essentially, this show is about a small lake community, the Ozarks, and one man’s quest to launder money through it to hide the cartels money. All kinds of things go wrong including a band of criminal locals catching onto the ploy, a bitter old man living in the family’s basement and some real angry cartel members. Season two also recently added to Netflix and has been met with high praise since its debut in August.

For fans of: Breaking Bad, Jason Bateman, Crime Drama

Black Mirror (Netflix)

This show does an incredible job of feeling so real that it’s scary. This anthology of stories about the scary side of technology features some pretty interesting stories. The most recent series featured an episode titled USS Callister, a Star Trek inspired VR episode, which won three Emmy’s. Another episode from series 3, San Junipero, also won two Emmy’s in 2016. Each of these episodes brought an interesting perspective on VR spaces and the consequences they can have. While VR and AR are prominent ideas presented in Black Mirror, the show discusses an array of topics from intricate prisons and sci-fi worlds to highly-efficient dating apps.

The show’s changing themes and genres all ties together in an episode in the latest series called “Black Museum,” which ties the universe of Black Mirror together in an interesting way. Despite the tonal changes episode to episode and the made-for-TV movie feel of each episode, it is an amazingly well put together show.

For fans of: Anthologies, technology, thrillers, Orphan Black

Final Space (Netflix)

From the mind of YouTube sensation Olan Rogers comes the story of Gary, the interstellar prisoner, and Mooncake, the adorable space light-bulb (ok, it’s not really a light-bulb, but it’s adorable and it glows) and their rag-tag gang of space rebels as they battle to stop the Lord Commander from opening Final Space and ending the universe. This show is wild, emotional, all out ridiculous and beautifully animated. It has an incredible story that is paced perfectly, and even uses NASA imagery for its beautiful background art.

The show’s uniqueness is part of what makes it so special, an example of this is that it features a cat humanoid named Avocato, Av-O-Cat-O, and son Little Cato… So needless to say it can be a little ridiculous at times, but it does feature two of the most popular voice actors of all time Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) and John DiMaggio (Futurama), and is reminiscent of the magic of Futurama’s space adventures. This is one of the surprise Netflix gems of 2017 and can be watched in just over two-and-a-half hours. 

For fans of: Futurama, animation, story telling

Big Mouth (Netflix)

From the mind of Nick Kroll, this exploration of puberty from the perspective of seventh grade boys and girls with the personification of the “Puberty Monster” guiding them through their new phase of existing as humans. With a star studded cast including Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph and Jordan Peele, the show easily earned its second season on Netflix. It’s gross, it’s awkward, but it also has some genuine moments of the beautiful (and crappy) parts of growing up that we may forget to look back fondly (or not so fondly) on.

It may not be the puberty experience that you remember exactly, but there’s something in this show for everyone.

For fans of: Raunchy animated comedy, puberty, Nick Kroll

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)

You may or may not remember these books from your childhood, but the premise is that evil Count Olaf is trying to steal three innocent orphan’s inheritance. The three Baudelaire orphans Sunny, Claus and Violet, are forced into uncanny living situations like a house full of reptiles, a house that is hanging over a lake full of man-eating leeches and even a circus. Despite all of the horrible things that happen to the poor Baudelaire’s, the show manages to create an enticing mystery that is family friendly. They have also taken a vile villain and created a character that you will certainly love to hate.

The show is entering its third and final season on Netflix and has been met with critical and commercial success. The final season will follow story elements introduced in books 10-13, finishing the arc of the Baudelaire orphans.

For fans of: The books, NPH, Kids outsmarting bad guys

 Atlanta (FX)

Atlanta was pretty much destined to be a good show. It was created by multi-talented superstar Donald Glover and his brother Stephen Glover, who both write and direct many of the episodes. The show has won five Emmy’s over two seasons and they are well deserved. It takes some unorthodox approaches to how it handles episodes, sometimes giving a topic an entire episode to do something aside from the main story, but overall this approach pays off.

The story follows a Princeton dropout trying to reconnect with his cousin, who is an up-and-coming rapper, make a better life for his daughter and overall just get ahead. Amazing casting, incredible writing and backed by a proven network (FX), the show will likely be on for a very long time. Might as well catch up now!

For fans of: Donald Glover, Satirical Dramadies, Bojack Horseman

Castle Rock (Crave)

Castle Rock, Maine, is a fictional town created by Stephen King. It is one of his common locations and has been featured in IT, The Green Mile, Dr. Sleep, Revival and more. The show acts as a link between many novels and short stories Stephen King has created, using the setting as the place that ties it all together instead of the characters. Interestingly enough there are a handful of Easter eggs that leave people questioning what the show is really about. For example, Bill Skarsgård, who plays Pennywise in IT, is featured as a nameless character 27 years after the events of IT. Considering the character returns every 27 years to torment, this is an odd coincidence. There are a slew of other things things that King fans will pick up on, but we’ll leave that for you to discover.

Stephen King’s writing has an unparalleled amount of universe building and therefore can easily have a series surrounding not only characters, but towns. This is being demonstrated by how interesting this show is being handled. A solid cast, including many Stephen King vets, produced by J.J. Abrams and already renewed for a second season, this show has a bright future. 

For fans of: Stephen King, Bill Skarsgård, Maine

Barry (HBO)

This HBO series, featuring Bill Hader, follows a U.S. Marine turned hitman. Barry is attempting to live a normal life after moving to LA. He joins an acting community, finds love and signs up for Facebook! Of course the life of a hitman doesn’t always stay so fresh and breezy.

Bill Hader took home an Emmy for his convincing performance of the struggle that comes with the life Barry has chosen to lead. The show is charming and funny and never forgets what it is trying to be, even in the tensest situations. It is watchable in a day, with the first season only running for a total of four hours. 

For fans of: Dexter, Bill Hader, Dark Comedies

 The Goldbergs (Crave)

The Goldbergs is an autobiographical look at the journey of growing up as a geeky kid in the 80’s. Following the life of Adam F. Goldberg in Jenkintown Pennsylvania, it manages to do an incredible job of showing what it was like before personal computers and Marvel took over the world. The show also follows Adam’s brother Barry, sister Erica, Mom, Dad and Grandpa (Pops) as they go through life’s adventures. Each episode features a clip from Adam F. Goldberg’s actual collection of home movies which often echo scenes in the episode.

The show manages to tug at the heart strings, while making you simultaneously laugh, cry and yell at characters for being morons. Between the lovable characters, the meticulous care given to placing the setting in the 80’s and the incredible representation of the Goldberg family, this show is a must watch. There are five glorious seasons available on Crave TV, so you’ll need more than an afternoon for this one.

For fans of: Family friendly sitcoms, comics/video games and Sci-Fi movies, the 80’s

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)

This period dramady’s first season led to five Emmy wins, two Golden Globes and a swift renewal for season two, which launches Dec. 5th. Featuring House of Cards’ Rachel Brosnahan and renowned funny-woman Alex Borstein, the show launches into some pretty great comedy right from the get-go.

The story follows Miriam Maisel as she travels through the journey of learning what it’s like to reinvent herself. After discovering her husband, an aspiring comic, has stolen all of his material and is leaving her for another woman, she takes the stage at the comedy club to try and upstage her husband. Once she realizes she has a knack for comedy, she begins rebuilding her life with new friends, a pair of new jobs and a new lease on life. With plenty of feels, this is the perfect show to get all of the other emotions going, besides stress.

For fans of: I’m Dying Up Here, Period Dramadies, Giving Amazon money