I Blame Netflix

One of the reasons that I am not reading much is, in part, because of Netflix, as I mentioned. TV on demand is hard for me to resist. (Also, I am lacking in time to go to the library. I have to fix that.) (Also: Netflix is making some damn fine television.)

I couldn’t tell you what exactly made me watch anyone of these shows. Maybe friends of mine were talking about them, or they were trending on Twitter, or a combination of the two. Dan and I usually pick shows to watch together, but I confess to watching Stranger Things and Jane the Virgin on my own. He watches The Walking Dead. To be fair, he did ask me to watch TWD with him, but I can’t do zombies.

Here are the shows that I am letting keep me away from books. (Spoilers are possible.)

1. Stranger Things

If you haven’t heard of this show yet, I question if you even Netflix. The night I decided to start it, Dan was out with a friend. Within the first five minutes, I was curled in a ball on my couch with a blanket clutched to my mouth. Hooked from the get-go, pretty much. To sum up, it takes place in 1983 in a small town. Stranger Things involves a group of four boys, one of whom goes missing, the boys’ families, a mysterious government building, a weird girl, and a terrifying monster.

Or, to put in another way: Stephen Spielberg directs Stephen King, with a little John Carpenter thrown in.

The story-telling is non-stop. You barely get time to breathe throughout each episode (or was that just me? I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time). Even as the episode careens from plot point to credits, character development builds. The 1980s references, look, and feel are spot on.

But what made this show an absolute stand out for me was the trio of Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, and Natalia Dyer, as Joyce Byers, Eleven, and Nancy Wheeler, respectively. Yes, the four boys were great actors, with Finn Wolfhound simply heartbreaking in his boundless loyalty and optimism. David Harbour made Jim Hopper incredibly layered and complex.

But, damn, the ladies. Joyce Byers could have been a one-note character: bereaved mother loses her mind. Instead, Ryder gives us a nuanced portrait of a hard-luck mom who loves her boys, and even as she confronts the impossible and horrifying, is going to do her damnedest to protect them. I almost dismissed Wheeler from the get-go — I even wondered “aloud” on Twitter if the teenage romance storyline had any purpose.

It does. Hoo boy does it. #RIPBarb

But as far as I am concerned, Brown stole the whole entire show. At turns fierce and vulnerable, she brings such a touching humanity to a specially gifted, and fairly terrifying, girl. Every flicker of emotion across her face was breathtaking. She knows her life has not been normal, and while her character reaches for normalcy, she also strives to protect her new friends from some bad truths.

2. Jane the Virgin

When I first heard the premise of this show, I thought, “No way they make that plausible.” But of all the things in this modern day telenovella, Jane’s unexpected pregnancy is the most plausible. This is a delightful show, again lead by an amazing female cast, with real touches about what it means to be a daughter, a mother, and a woman, all at the same time.

3. Daredevil / Jessica Jones

I enjoyed the heck out of the first season of Daredevil.
I felt obligated to watch Jessica Jones at first, and in the middle of the season I was frustrated, wondering if the plot was going anywhere. And then it switched into high gear, and was completely mind-blowing. Solid characters, all amazingly flawed yet human (except for Kilgrave, of course, that guy was a whackjob). Hoping season 2 (there is a season 2, right??) is just as good.
Season 2 of Daredevil is disappointing. Too violent, too graphic, too profane. I am totally over Karen Page, Murdock/Daredevil’s martyr act, and the relationship angst – and I mean *all* the relationships: Murdock and Nelson, Matt and Karen, Daredevil and Electra, Electra and Stick. My current favorite character is Marci. I’m not even sure I care what’s in that sarcophagus. Dan and I have two more episodes to go. I doubt the series is going to redeem itself in my eyes.

4. Person of Interest

Formulaic, ridiculously violent (but not graphically bloody), the characters take themselves a wee bit too seriously, but still a pretty good romp for a network show. We’re currently waiting for Season 5 to get to Netflix. A satisfying watch.

5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dan and I have to rewatch the last two episodes of Season 2, so we can get on with Season 3 (we’ve forgotten everything). I’ve really enjoyed this Marvel Universe creation on the small screen. Clark Gregg has too much fun as Agent Coulson, and I would watch it just for him. But I do enjoy the implausibility the various super powers and of secret organizations both sanctioned and evil, the interplay between Fitz and Simmons, and checking out Mack’s physique. (I ain’t gonna lie.)

What are you watching?

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