Movie Guru: Quirky Netflix originals you should definitely be watching right now, and yes, ‘Tiger King’ is one
In times like this, we need streaming services almost as much as we need chocolate.
Unfortunately, Netflix’s collection of big-budget movies might not be up-to-the-minute: for example, “Fellowship of the Rings” was on streaming, but then they removed that one and put up “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King,” making a “Lord of the Rings” marathon torturously impossible.
But they make up for it by offering weird little delights you can’t find anywhere else, some of which have entire seasons you can happily fill up your hours with. And if they’re not on trend enough, who cares? You no longer have to worry about water cooler discussion at the office.
Here are some of those weird little gems to watch, if you haven’t already.
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It’s the Netflix equivalent of comfort food, and isn’t that what we all need right now? “Nailed It” takes all those competition shows on Food Network and turns them on their heads — instead of professionals competing for glory, we get amateurs just doing the best they can. The results may look like complete disasters sometimes, but there are no breakdowns or crushed dreams here. Laughs are more the norm, especially given the reactions of hosts Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres. If you’re as sick of this spring as the rest of us are, there’s a separate holiday-themed edition called “Nailed It Christmas.”
“The Letter for the King“
A healthy dose of escapism is exactly what most of us need right now, and what better place to find it than in this six-episode quest of a young man trying to win his knighthood? The story is engrossing without being depressing, quickly-paced enough that it sucks you in and keeps you going for the entire ride. On the casting front, Amir Wilson has the perfect balance of inherent dignity and youthful rebelliousness that makes him exactly the sort of person we all want to cheer on. The rest of the characters take a little longer to warm up, but it’s deeply refreshing to see a medieval series where not all of the main characters are white.
Those of you who remember the Bravo-era version might think of it as nothing more than a makeover show, but I’m happy to tell you that “Queer Eye” has received a considerable glow-up. The Netflix version of the show is less about fashion and more about helping their chosen person of the episode be happy, whole and reconnected to the people they love. This results in an hour that combines heart-warming moments with impromptu therapy sessions, sprinkled with some genuinely hilarious moments that are so much better in real-time. It’ll make you laugh, cry and probably feel a little bit better about yourself. Season 5 is due to release this summer: Keep an eye on the Fab Five’s social media accounts to see the actual release date.
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness“
Okay, so if you’ve been on social media, this is the big thing everyone is talking about right now. The ability to comment about it on Twitter, however, is nothing compared to the sheer ridiculous escapism it offers. The story of Joe Exotic has almost everything you could want out of daytime television, and what it can’t manage it fills in with tigers. Exotic, who’s currently in federal prison as part of a murder-for-hire scheme, is exactly the kind of wonderfully larger-than-life figure that even the most creative screenwriter would have trouble getting right. He’s enough of a disaster that he deserves all the trouble he gets into, but you still can’t stop watching him. If you were a fan of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong’s crazy story with the pizza bomber in “Evil Genius,” you’ll love “Tiger King.”
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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It’s time to broaden our horizons beyond the entertainment media that’s familiar and comfortable to us.