WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -
So there is nothing to do, so I have nothing to put on Craig’s To Do List: no concerts, no plays, no musicals, no movies to review in theater but I do occasionally blog about classic moves I watch at home, and will continue to watch for new releases that were intended to be released theatrically but now are streaming, for example: The Hunt and The Invisible Man.
I am sure this lack of content on Craig’s To Do List is disheartening, so I combined my cabin fever with my infinite obsession with storytelling and came up with recommendations to stream. I have chosen less obvious and arcane choices. I would never suggest streaming Schitt’s Creek, because of course you are already doing that-aren’t you?
This sitcom originally aired on ABC from 2011-2014 with 57 episodes. Set in Chicago this “Friends” inspired sitcom is charming, quickly paced, very funny and boasts tremendous chemistry form its six person ensemble. I personally never cared for “Friends” (let the hate mail begin) –even when I go back and revisit episodes occasionally today, not trusting my original opinion. Happy Endings is certainly more diverse than Friends. It features a hysterical interracial couple, Brad played by Damon Wayans Jr. (spitting image of his famous father) and Jane played by the hilarious by Eliza Coupe. Coupe is great as the hyper-organized, uptight fixer-my favorite character. My second favorite character is Max Blum, a brash, annoying, non-stereotypical gay guy. He is played perfectly by Adam Pally. Pally brings so much originality to the role, and is an actor I would love to see more of. He can be seen currently on the new Fran Drescher sitcom, “Indebted” on NBC.
Happy Endings often stretches credibility, especially in its vignette, anything for a laugh segments, but they try so hard they often succeed getting the laughs. If you don’t laugh at one thing, just wait a bit, there will be something coming shortly that makes you guffaw.
This edgy, realistic, sometimes caustic comedy is another quality show from FX. The show is still in production and the current season is presently running on FX. Co- Created (with Louis C.K.) and starring Pamela Adlon-who has picked up a couple of Emmy nominations for her stellar work here – Better Things Is the saga of hard working single mother Sam Fox who is a working, forty-something actress living in Los Angeles. If that isn’t challenging enough, she is saddled with three of the most unruly, combative, rebellious girls played by Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, and Olivia Edward. Better Things is very modern, and is so authentic and cynical it is sometimes difficult to watch. But you should, as it is genuinely funny, surprising and sneakily moving.
Previous seasons Streaming on HULU
Drama – Mini Series
Based on the This American Life radio show/podcast “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” – this 8 part drama serial is a knockout. Don’t take my word for it, just ask around, everyone I know who has seen it, has loved it. Although the show focuses on the hunting down of a serial rapist, it is by no means depressing. Yes there are some dark patches, especially in the plight of the young victim, no one believes, but it is a story of perseverance, and most importantly female empowerment. Katylin Driver plays the maligned victim, and she is fantastic. The young Driver is on a roll, from her turn as the daughter on Last Man Standing, to her performance in the hit film Booksmart, she is versatile, and credible as a teenager. It’s amazing that an actress with this much talent isn’t already the next best thing. Toni Collette is on fire as a dogged, abrasive, blunt detective—it’s one of her best performances ever. Emmy winner (Nurse Julie) is also great as another female detective, with a completely different personality, but who is equally as persistent.
A who-done-it, thriller procedural, rama about women overcoming, this was one of the most satisfying viewing experiences I had in 2019. And that ending – Wow!
Love is Blind – Season One
If you told me that I would binge watch a reality show, especially a reality show about love, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. I would also have been insulted. But this “love experiment” where young beautiful people are asked to fall in love with another solely based on conversation is so much fun. Sequestered in pods where they talk between a thin wall, but cannot see each other, couples must become engaged sight unseen. Once they are engaged they go on a romantic tropical, holiday, where they connect physically (or not) and then can decide to proceed to the altar. Even at the altar they can still say no, and the show’s artificial drama sets you up for just that.
Lauren and Cameron are arguably everyone’s favorite couple. They are so freaking adorable. Everyone deserves to be looked at the way Cameron looks at Lauren, at least once in their life-so desirous, so full of love. This is the way I Iook at a Jreck Sub after being on weight watchers for six months.
I feel absolutely no guilt for watching this guilty pleasure, because if something feels this right, how can it be wrong?
The Repair Shop
The Repair Shop is very British, and very charming. A quirky, warm cast of characters that could have come from a drawing room comedy are actually employees of The Repair Shop. Although they sip tea, and deliver soft, almost slow motion, quips to their co-workers, don’t be fooled –they are all excellent, skilled crafts people. Customers bring in a hodgepodge of family heirlooms, antiques, cherished gadgets and various other items that usually have sentimental value and memories attached to family memories, both passed and living. The Repair shop is actually about storytelling and the importance objects often play in these stories and memories. Where else can you see a ninety-year old grandmother sing in her walker while her granddaughter plays a nearly 100 year old accordion recently repaired and restored?
Check it out—Unique.
This brisk, no nonsense, documentary chronicles the career of one of America’s most beloved icons. There is so something so light about Betty White, whose two passions, show business and animals has fueled her career for over seventy years. As suspected, there isn’t really anything dark in this documentary, because Betty has always lived in a place of laughter, light and gratitude.
On Netflix and PBS streaming.
Three Identical Strangers
Although this documentary has been out for a while, there are still many people who haven’t seen it. The is the true, exuberant, sometimes painful story of triplets who were separated at birth and adopted into three different families –purposely – a working class family, a middle class family and a wealthy family. That isn’t the only sinister act enacted upon the young brothers. The whole story spins on the coincidence where two of the three brothers end up at the same junior college, completely baffling their friends’ and adoptive families. This ultimately bittersweet story proposes many ethical questions, about social experimentation and the nature vs. nurture psychology. I was riveted.
On Hulu for free, on Amazon Prime for a fee.
The Big Sick
If you haven’t watched this charmer from a few years back, check it out. Based on a true story and written by the real couple involved in the romance, Emily K. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani-who were nominated for an Oscar for best originally screenplay. Nanjiani essentially plays himself while Gordon is played by Zoe Kazan. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano do some of their best work in years as Emily’s concerned, in your face, yet warm parents. This film dodges so many clichés and tired plot points—and is filled with incredibly truthful moments, which never seem forced. Funny and refreshingly human it is a romantic comedy that actually works.
On Amazon – stream free with Prime Video
Olide but Goodie
The Golden Girls
It’s impossible to be in a bad mood while watching these old re-runs, especially the first four seasons. The show is Queen of “shade” and brutal one liners-some of them are so memorable I have retained them thirty years later like this brilliant one: “She was so bad in that production of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ that the audience was scramming she’s in the attic, she’s in the attic.”