In case you’re many years younger than me, let me explain how television used to work. There were three big networks: ABC, NBC, and CBS. There were all broadcast at Very High Frequencies (VHF) which meant they tended to come in clearer than other channels, depending on the weather. There was also usually an independent TV station that showed news at 10pm (so weird, right?) and reruns the rest of the time.
On a good day, you could also tune in to the UHF channels which was where we found cartoons or goofy kid shows like Ultraman, Speed Racer, and the Banana Splits (give me a holler if you remember my very favorite show Marine Boy). And that was TV. When something was on, you watched it. When it wasn’t, you didn’t. And the new season every fall was a Very. Big. Deal.
Then something happened that disrupted my television continuum. It was the introduction on Fox as a fourth network. Sure, it had plenty of successful shows like Married with Children, The Simpsons, and The X-Files but I refused to accept it as a “real” network.
After a few decades, though, it became clear that the Big Three would never again be the Big Three. While it took me years of acceptance, I’ve more than made up for it with the way I now watch TV.
I don’t have cable or satellite TV. I can access the Big Three through an HD antenna but I never do. Most of my viewing is through Netflix streaming. I always wondered when I’d run out of interesting movies or TV series and just be done with Netflix. And then they did something crazy. They started creating original television series.
This time, I wasn’t resistant especially since the very first Netflix original show I watched was quirky, interesting, and well done (it was Lillyhammer, by the way). What I didn’t know then was that it was an experiment to see how receptive viewers would be to original programming on Netflix.
And it basically laid the groundwork for some of my favorite shows.
Based on the the book of the same name, this show, now into its third season, chronicles the time served in prison by a well-to-do white lady name Piper Chapman. My mom keeps asking me if she would like the show and I keep repeatedly telling her, NO, for the love of God, do NOT watch this show!
If you haven’t seen it, it’s an amazing character study as each episode reveals the story behind each woman in the cast of many characters. It humanizes what would otherwise be a show full of caricatures. Is it accurate? I’ve heard no but then again, I’ve never spent any time in a women’s prison. It IS, however, entertaining which is what I’m looking for.
Is it for you? If you don’t mind bad language and lesbian shower scenes, you might want to give this show a try.
Kind of like Scandal is what I’ve been told. I’ve never watched Scandal. I’ve only watched the deep underpinnings of the charming, ruthless, conniving, deeply brilliant mind of Frank Underwood and his wife Claire.
I don’t know if it’s the setting, the music, the filters used but I can’t get enough of this dirty world of politics that somehow just seems so real. Looking for morals and ethics? You won’t find it here. And generally, there is no protagonist but you can’t help but root for Frank as he weasels his way to the top.
Is it for you? You’ll find bad language and nudity (it is politics, after all). And some people are turned off by Kevin Spacey’s southern drawl but if you ask me, it makes it so much more perfect.
This was a show I wanted to like. Tina Fey was executive producer so it had to be good, right? I watched it and snickered a little but wasn’t really feeling it. Until I watched the next episode and the next. It’s a sitcom so it’s a short show. And it took me a full season to really get the characters. By the end of the episodes, I was laughed out loud (something I don’t usually do) and quoting the show.
While Kimmy is the star of the show, the real star is her gay sidekick Titus Andremedon (I’ve heard Tina Fey created the role just for that actor). It’s an ensemble cast full of retro humor and typical oddities like you might see on a show like 30 Rock. It was the perfect workout show for me. Light enough to keep me engaged while on the treadmill but not long enough to make me have to stay on the treadmill.
Is it for you? Do you like crass and subtle humor, sarcasm and funny stereotypes? Then it just might be for you.
Other Original Netflix Series
I’m lucky if I find time to watch one series, let alone multiple (I’m behind on many episodes so no spoilers please). But in case you’re looking to binge watch, Netflix has something for everyone.
In summary, I think Netflix is here to stay. I’m over the Big Three and really just always on the hunt for good entertainment. If you’ve watched some of these original Netflix series, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This post was written as part of my role on the Netflix Stream Team. Topics, selections, and all opinions are my own. Wouldn’t have it any other way.