Weekend Binge Guide: November 2017

Have the weekend free? Going out is overrated! Binge-­watch one of these shows instead:


If you want to laugh:


Nathan For You

See all reviews for Nathan For You

Nathan Fielder is not for everyone. However, if the type of humor where you take a situation and push it past what you thought was its most awkward possible point pleases you, then this is the show for you! Fielder is a "business expert" (the show's intro displays a report card with mediocre grades from a Canadian business school, which Fielder *did* attend) who meets with small businesses and then puts together a plan to help improve said businesses. These plans, however, are always ridiculously complex and convoluted - and involve things like fake publications, name changes, marriages, and more! Some of these schemes involve months of planning. Additionally, to add to the humor, Fielder amplifies his (probably) naturally awkward personality, asking uncomfortable questions and making awkward requests and demands to support his various schemes. In the show's most notable episode, Nathan turned a struggling coffee shop into "Dumb Starbucks", which he argued was legal by way of parody law. If you've never watched an episode, this one is a great starting point, although pretty much every episode will leave you howling with laughter.


If you want to cry:


Party of Five

See all reviews for Party of Five

As a San Francisco resident of 10 years, I have a soft spot for all shows that take place there (even if it isn't filmed in SF, besides a house and some B-roll). In recent years the show in its entirety has become available on a variety of streaming services, so you can binge easily. While the show is in some ways dated - as any show from the 90s would be - it still mostly holds up as an enjoyable family drama. The show follows the Salingers, a family of - yes, five - who are forced to watch over each other after their parents die in a drunk driving accident (luckily they left behind a pretty sweet San Francisco pad...). The show throws in plenty of 90s style after school special episodes, covering everything from alcohol addiction (Bailey's intervention episode is a classic) to teenage sex to domestic abuse - all opportunities for tears. The show also introduced us to a bunch of actors and actresses who all went on to become very successful, including Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell, Scott Wolf, and Lacey Chabert (4 out of the party of 5; #5 was youngest child Owen, who therefore was swapped out many times with different actors as the show aged), as well as notable guest star Jennifer Love Hewitt. The show won a Golden Globe for Best TV Drama in 1996 and might soon be getting a reboot.


If you want to scream:


Bates Motel

See all reviews for Bates Motel

This series - which ran a healthy 5 seasons (50 episodes) - never quite got the recognition it deserved. Carried by strong performances from Freddie Highmore (before he became a good doctor) and Vera Farmiga as Norman Bates and his mother, Norma, the show is a prequel to the movie Psycho (although it takes place in the present day, which is slightly confusing, but you just need to go with it), set at the titular motel, which is run by both Norma and Norman. Over the course of the show's run, we watch Norman mentally deteriorate from mostly normal teenage boy to the serial killer that we already know he becomes. We also get to witness likely the most creepy mother/son relationship that you will ever see on TV, certain to make your skin crawl. Even if you're not already familiar with Psycho, the show stands on its own as a compelling thriller. It's A&E's longest running original series, but at just 50 episodes, it's a great length for binging.


If you want to think:



See all reviews for Colony

Colony - which thankfully will be returning for a 3rd season - is one of my favorite sci-fi/futuristic shows on TV, and in my opinion, is one of the most underrated. Starring familiar (and attractive) faces Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies as a married couple in a dystopian near-future Los Angeles, the show begins after the "Arrival", an alien invasion (and in a smart decision, as TV alien portrayals are almost always disappointing, we never actually see these aliens) and conflict which has resulted in major cities being divided into "Blocs", now under human military occupation, controlled by the alien "Hosts". There are lots of relevant themes, mainly, resisting government and dangerous leadership (and heck, the different Blocs are even divided by giant walls), as well as doing what is necessary for survival in difficult times. The show will simultaneously make you think about the Holocaust (there are both camps that less elite citizens are sent to as well as Nazi-like police called "Redhats") as well as the current US political climate. The show starts a bit slowly, but if you give it time, you'll see that it's one of the most thought-provoking and relevant shows on TV.



1 comment

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Nov 2, 2017 10:38PM EDT

I highly recommend Nathan For You. It sounds really strange on paper, but at least give it a shot to see if you like it. Who knows, you might just get hooked on a unique, clever, and earnest show.

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