Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 27, 2022

GAGE SKIDMORE/CC BY-SA 2.0 Pedro Pascal plays the recurring role of DEA Agent Javier Peña in Netflix’s popular crime drama Narcos.

It’s 2017 and almost nobody with an internet connection actually watches broadcast television anymore, except for Game of Thrones and maybe Rick and Morty. Nonetheless, for the most part people are streaming, which is fine because there are literally thousands of sites from which to do so, be they legal or otherwise.

As we all know, streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have been actively creating their own content for some time. They are also fairly good at it, especially Netflix, despite the fact that they are allegedly $20 billion in debt. So, with that, here is a roundup of some of the new content currently available on the major paid streaming websites.

Remember that one time Netflix made a TV show about suicide and got criticized for it and then went and made a movie about anorexia and got criticized for that too? Apparently they never got the hint because in August of this year, they released Atypical, a show about a young man on the autism spectrum who wants to start dating.

Depictions of intellectually and developmentally disabled people in film and television have been deeply flawed in the past, so one would be right to worry about how Netflix might approach the subject.

However, they were seemingly not entirely unsuccessful, as the show has drawn both praise and criticism for its depiction of those on the autism spectrum.

Netflix is good at crime dramas, which is ironic since there is probably a loan shark threatening their CEO’s knees with a baseball bat right now. Narcos, one of the website’s premiere shows, just released its third season, set after — spoiler alert — the death of Pablo Escobar and the collapse of the Medellin Cartel. The third season documents the rise of the Cali Cartel, the Boston Red Sox to Escobar’s New York Yankees. While the Cali Cartel might like the certain mustachioed panache of Escobar, they still sold enough cocaine to ruin plenty of lives and septums.

Also new is The Confession Tapes, a documentary series investigating crimes where the supposed perpetrator claims to be the victim of a false or coerced confession.

Based on the fact that nearly every episode description includes the word “murder,” “attack” or something similar, this should appeal to those that read Wikipedia articles about serial killers in their spare time. Not that this writer does that — no need to check my search history, just trust me.

Related to the crime theme but more affiliated with institutional racism and violence against people of color is the documentary Strong Island.

Named after a slang term for New York’s Long Island, the film tells the story of William Ford Jr., a 24 year old black teacher, who was murdered by Mark Reilly, a 19 year old white man, in 1992. Reilly was not indicted for the killing of Ford, who was unarmed.

The film was made by Yance Ford, the younger brother of William and explores a personal family tragedy that is linked inexorably to the racism which continues to define the United States.

Technically, Strong Island does not come out until Sept. 15, but being that this is literally a day after this article will be published, it counts as current.

On a lighter note — but not too much lighter — the third season of Bojack Horseman was released earlier this month. This dark comedy centered around a man-horse voiced by Will Arnett can be relied on for bleak humor and uncomfortable laughs.

Bojack is pretty great, as long as your idea of comedy is incredibly self-effacing and cynical. Also, their theme song (which is amazing) is played by the band Grouplove, known for their song “Tongue Tied.”

New Amazon Prime shows include the second season of Tig Notaro’s comedy, One Mississippi, which is roughly based on her real-life experiences, so if you want to watch something that’s one part sad, one part funny and also has aspects of LGBT+ romance, check it out.

Perhaps in response to Netflix’s The Defenders­ — a show that is a combination of several Marvel characters who also have their own shows — Amazon has also released their own superhero show, a comedy entitled The Tick.

While technically a superhero genre piece, The Tick is essentially a spoof, built around a towering bug-themed hero with not much in the way of brains.

The verdict is still out on whether this as a running gag stands the test of the entire season, but if you’re a fan of shows that let you root for the underdog, this is probably right up your alley.

A more serious take on “The Man” vs. your “Average Joe” is the Emmy-nominated Goliath, which is worth getting caught up on if you have yet to watch. Who knew Billy Bob Thornton would make a comeback in 2017?

Also, the actress that played the best friend role in Diablo Cody’s Juno (opposite Ellen Page), Olivia Thirlby gets the opportunity to showcase the full range of her talents as a young corporate lawyer doing her best to climb up a rather greasy career ladder.

If you feel like watching something that will leave you incredibly depressed, you can stream Manchester By the Sea, which Amazon Studios produced for free with Prime, and spiral down the rabbit hole that is pondering how on earth Casey Affleck actually won an Academy Award for his performance.

Hulu admittedly has the least to offer of the three major streaming services. The Handmaid’s Tale is currently their main calling-card... and if you haven’t watched it yet, then honestly what are you even doing reading this column? Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley and that guy from Shakespeare In Love?

Throw in a clash between a growing feminist movement and an ultra-right-wing, religious-based regime and you’ve got not only an awards contender but also truly compelling TV. It doesn’t get better much better than this.

Of course we’d be remiss if we left out the final season of Mindy Kaling’s underrated The Mindy Project, which found a home on Hulu after it was unexpectedly canceled by FOX.

While the series arguably hit some rough spots in relocating its voice over the course of the transition, tried and true fans are anxiously anticipating what is to come for Mindy.

Will she at last get the happy ending she deserves or are rom-coms simply too good to be true? Also, will Kaling’s real-life pregnancy be incorporated into the show’s plot? Hopefully, these questions will be answered.

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