While “Netflix” may not (yet) technically be a verb, it is very much being used as one. If you didn’t have a subscription to streaming media services like Netflix before the global pandemic, chances are you almost certainly do now. But after months of scrolling through the same shows and movie titles that fall into the algorithm of suggested content, how about taking a look at some of the hidden gems you may not have noticed waiting patiently for you to stumble upon?
We combed through every single title and hand-picked five of our favorite binge-worthy series and five of our favorite movies to bring out from obscurity. So the next time you want to ‘Netflix,’ you don’t have to resort to hours of scrolling to find what to watch. Just press play and chill.
This Canadian sci-fi thriller centers around con artist and former foster child, Sarah Manning, after she accidentally witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. After Sarah assumes the woman’s identity, she stumbles into a world of secrets, lies, and clones. Tatiana Maslany stars as not only Sarah Manning, but over a dozen other clones, each one so singular and specific that it is difficult to remember it is the same exceptional actress. You will be on the edge of your seat as Sarah and her sisters race against nature and science to discover the truth of who they are and to save their own lives and the lives of those they love.
A Savoir Flair office favorite, this Canadian comedy is as hilarious as real life gets. The show tackles the honest-to-goodness challenges, struggles, and genuine problems that working moms face once maternity leave is over. With writer/actress/producer/creator and full-time mom, Catherine Reitman, at the helm, the series follows four moms who are dealing with it all: new babies, postpartum depression, men, bosses, breast-feeding, friendships, separation anxiety, being jealous of the nanny, and well, just plain life. It is as relatable as it is funny, and a show we highly recommend.
This Danish comedy-drama television series was so fresh and fun to watch, we didn’t even mind the subtitles. It centers around Rita Madsen, played by the perfectly playful Mille Dinesen, an unconventional teacher and single mother who relates better to her young students than to adults — probably because they are too stuffy for her wild heart. The show uses comedy to tackle serious, real-life issues and questions that all teens face, and Rita is the cool teacher you wish you’d had in middle school to help you navigate all the awkward stuff.
Maybe you have already jumped into the whole K-Drama craze, or maybe you are still trepidatiously cautious, but one thing is for sure, whether you are a die-hard K-drama fan or you’ve really only seen Parasite, Healer is a fun fit for everyone. It’s got your typical Korean romance that gives you all the feels as you watch it play out, but it also has action, amazing martial arts, cool technology, and the nerdy journalist by day/badass vigilante by night. So basically, it’s the Korean version of Superman, without the stretchy tights and cape.
Anne with an E
If you grew up loving the L.M. Montgomery book series, Anne of Green Gables, chances are you will love the Netflix original Anne with an E. But purists be warned. While the characters and situations are based off of the beloved novels, the writers of the show have taken a modern look at how abuse, neglect, and trauma can affect a young child and as such, have taken liberties with the plot. They manage to capture and explain Anne’s free-spirit and creative imagination that eventually saved her, even as they dive into her mental state from her oppressed life in foster care before she is adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The drama also touches on social justice issues, like racism, but at its core, it’s a heart-warming reminder that love, even when difficult, can truly heal any wound.
Willowdean ‘Dumplin’ Dickson is just your average teen growing up in small-town Texas. But after she loses her Aunt Lucy, the woman responsible for raising her and instilling in her a love of herself and Dolly Parton, Will (nicknamed ‘Dumplin’ by her mom) decides to enter the local beauty pageant as a “protest in heels”, much to the dismay of her ex-beauty queen mother, Rosie — played to perfection by Jennifer Anniston. The rest is a funny and inspiring coming-of-age story about family, friends, and yes, beauty.
Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation is the chilling story of young Agu, from an unnamed Western African country, who is transformed into a child soldier when he is forced to join a group of mercenary militants after his father and village are slaughtered during a civil war. It’s a sobering portrayal of the cost of war and the destruction and corruption that affects the most vulnerable. A difficult yet important film to watch, there is a a glimmer of hope at the end that might just spur you into social action.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
One of the best films to come out of New Zealand since, well, his last film, Taika Waititi wrote and produced this adventure comedy-drama about a cantankerous old man and his foster son who escape into the New Zealand bush after social services threaten to take the boy away, triggering a country-wide manhunt for the odd pair. With quirky, endearing characters and a gradual affection between foster father and son, Hunt for the Wilderpeople grabs you in the heart and leaves you feeling hopeful about the good in humanity. It is truly a film not to be missed.
Into the Inferno
If you like documentary films, you do not want to miss Werner Herzog’s brilliant Into the Inferno. It is hard to take your eyes off of the mesmerizing images of fire and lava as Herzog investigates active volcanoes with co-director and volcanologist, Clive Oppenheimer. The documentary also explores the spiritual practices of indigenous groups who live near volcanoes in an effort to discover a new way of minimizing the hazardous effects of an eruption. The film is violent, beautiful, informative, and interesting.
All we really need to say is this: Wine Country is directed (in her directorial debut) by Amy Poehler, and stars Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Paula Pell, Ana Gasteyer, Emily Spivey, Jason Schwartzman, and Poehler herself in a comedy about a group of middle-aged women who go on a wine-tasting tour in Napa Valley, California. The End. You’re Welcome.