Looking for something profound to watch or juicy to binge on? Look no further. Our Fringe staff compiled a list of streaming picks we are loving this week:
Sense8 /// Netflix
The newest creation from the Wachowksi siblings, Sense8, is a colorful and breathtaking show that meditates on the idea of what it means to be human. With a cast so large and settings so expansive it is hard to describe the premise of the show without going an hour long tangent. Eight main characters are all drawn together by so inextricable force that they soon discover is not them collectively going crazy but discovering that they are now a part of a different breed of human, a Sensate. Now you know where the title comes from and in that revelation the show takes a delightful turn as the characters try to figure out who they are while also figuring out how they fit into this new family they have been thrown into. Like all shows, it’s not perfect but the cinematography is unmatched with all the yellows of Mumbai and the dark grays of Berlin being captured so brilliantly, if nothing else it is beautiful to look at. If you’re filled with wanderlust and want a show that captures the beauty of the world while trying to figure it out through eight incredible singular characters then Sense8 is the show for you.
Upstream Color /// Netflix
Shane Carruth is an auteur. He made his first film for less than ten thousand dollars. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. Ten years pass. What has happened to the sweater clad wunderkind? While the details are hazy as to what bumpy road brought us Upstream Color, I’m certainly glad we got this singular film. Upstream Color is one of those films that your film major friend calls a ‘tone poem’ while pushing up the glasses on the bridge of their nose. Don’t let the arty reputation get in the way of a wonderful experience that will thrill and astonish in its construction, density and brevity. Large trance like sections showcase the soundtrack, sometimes going what feels like 30 minutes without any dialog. Fans of science fiction will enjoy how cohesive and comprehensive the central bio-organic-lifecycle based identity manipulation conceit of the film is, even while it reveals itself in the special unspooling way only Carruth can deliver.
Pariah /// Hulu
By: Sydney Zahradka
Before her Emmy-nominated turn in the critically acclaimed TV movie Bessie, Dee Rees was most known for her 2011 feature film Pariah, about an African-American teenager coming to terms with her sexuality in Brooklyn. Alike (pronounced “A-lee-kay”), played beautifully in a breakout performance by newcomer Adepero Oduye, lives a double life. At home, her mother forces her to wear feminine clothing and befriend like-minded girls from her church, but at night Alike dresses in men’s clothing and goes out to the clubs with her friends. While the representation of lesbians on film and television has improved since the days of Ellen and The L Word, butch lesbians still are underrepresented in the media. Aside from Big Boo on Orange is the New Black, can you name a prominent butch character in recent years? What makes Pariah so special is that it manages to show an underrepresented side of the LGBT community, but at the same time, Alike’s sexuality does not become her defining characteristic. Anxious about the future, coming to terms with one’s self… any viewer can relate. Beautifully shot, and with multiple standout performances, Pariah is a knockout. I can’t recommend it higher.
This is Life /// Netflix
By: Katie Swick
If you’ve ever been curious about being a Sugar Baby to your own Sugar Daddy or the under-the-rug drug abuse in the Utah Mormon community, look no further than your own Netflix queue. Lisa Ling, host of This is Life, travels to the corners of the United States to document the taboo and the inspiring. Recently added to Netflix, it was hard to not binge watch the 8 episode series from CNN covering stories of exclusive-“genius” sperm banks, traveling exotic dancers and The International Gay Rodeo Association. My personal favorite was “Filthy Rich” which looked into the male-dominated oil refineries of North Dakota, the sleepy towns that have been flipped on their head and the women who’ve capitalized and edged their way into this industry. Ling is a renowned journalist whose career spans from National Geographic, the Oprah Winfrey Show and now CNN. Her experience and expertise shines through while watching her listen, inquire and comfort people in need of telling their stories. Ling’s directing of the show from excitement to disbelief to craving more gives the viewer a taste of numerous subcultures never thoroughly discussed in everyday life.
Rich Hill /// Netflix
By: Mary Jo Contino
Think Larry Clark’s “Bully” mixed with the part of town your parents told you not to go when you were a kid. Meet that scrawny boy everyone new in high school who wore the same sweatshirt everyday. These kids are your tiny Midwestern hometown neighbors, but in desperate conditions. This documentary blows away any cliches about impoverished families and the children in them. That scrawny boy you saw everyday has a story, and it’s a powerful one. It’s depressing as hell, but it’s brilliant.
Narcos /// Netflix
By: Rob Hullum
Netflix continues its run of great original programming with this crime drama based on the real life story of Pablo Escobar and the special forces who are out to take him down. The show’s use of subtitles adds to its realism and draws you in to the dark world of Colombian drug trafficking. With a 10 episode first season you should be able to binge-watch the entire thing in a weekend. At least I did.
Steven Universe /// Hulu
By: Jack Fennimore
Steven Universe tells the story of Steven, a young boy who wishes to join the Crystal Gems, a group of magical young women who fight for truth and justice or something along those lines. Imagine Sailor Moon only with a male protagonist and a dash of The Powerpuff Girls. I haven’t had the time to commit to the show yet, so I’ll give you my first impressions. So far, the characters are the highlight of the show. All of the characters are believable and memorable without boxing them into labels. It’s not like one character is just the strong and silent type or one’s the nervous type or one’s the comic relief. While the characters certainly have those qualities, all of them are relatable without being stereotypical and share equal importance in the story, with some great writing to back them up. The show is not only a treat for the mind, but for the eyes. While the show’s minimalistic style is no different than its contemporaries, the art direction along with the fast and fluid animation makes the show stand out. So far, it’s a lovely show that I can’t wait to immerse myself in.
The X-Files /// Netflix
By: Brandon Miller
Thirteen years after The X-Files came to a close, FOX and creator/executive producer Chris Carter announced last March that the award-winning sci-fi drama will return for a new season. Slated to air late January, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will revive their roles as FBI special agents Fox Moulder and Dana Skully. In the meantime you can catch up with the complete nine seasons available on Netflix. Follow the iconic 90s duo as they solve cases involving aliens, ghosts, and other paranormal phenomena. The news confirms it. The truth is still out there!
Human Planet /// Netflix
By: Marisa Hellen
Lately I have been streaming the BBC’s eight-part series Human Planet on Netflix, which I watch my boyfriend on nights when there isn’t much else to do besides watch videos. Documentaries may not seem as entertaining as a drama, action movie, comedy, or reality TV to most people, but I typically enjoy them. The series takes on the same cinematography and narration as a nature documentary, but instead of plants and animals it stars human subjects from all over the world. It shows how amazing humans are at adapting to harsh environments as well that they find ways to live in every single environment on the planet, even the ocean. In addition, the series touches on some very important topics including the preservation of tribes untouched by Western influence, pollution and deforestation. So far we’ve made it through Episode Six, but we are excited to see what the last two episodes have and to learn how humans learned to adapt to life in rivers and huge cities.