‘Tis the Season to Stream

If you find yourself with some extra time between Christmas and New Year, you may want to catch up on some movies and TV shows that you didn’t have time to watch this year.

Though, I wish I could have watched more this year, the stuff I did squeeze in this I really enjoyed. So, if you are looking to stream some movies and TV shows while you get over your emotional hangover from spending too much time with your family, here are five things I watched that I highly recommend.

  1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Season 1

The first season of this show was a blast. Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gillmore Girls) creates her own world of 1950s Manhattan, including the Upper West Side and the Greenwich Village comedy scene. Midge Maisel is a housewife who, after separating from her husband, tries to make it in stand-up and ends up living with her parents and working at department store.

Naturally, as a comedy nerd, I loved the story lines with Midge trying to make it in stand-up, including a recurring Lenny Bruce, and what makes this stand out from other shows about comedy is the characters and relationships. Alex Borstein as Midge’s manager and Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s uptight father are just so much fun to watch.

Season 2 just premiered on Dec. 5 and I’ve only gotten to watch the first episode, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of Season 2 turns out.

  1. Neal Brennan: 3 Mics

When it comes to stand-up specials, Netflix has really cornered the market. Though Neal Brennan may not be one of the more recognizable names in stand-up, he did co-create The Dave Chappel Show, and this special is really worth checking out. I really enjoyed the premise: Brennan sets up three microphones on the stage and then he does a different style of comedy – traditional stand-up, one-liners and honest storytelling in each mic.

It’s clear that he’s quite accomplished in the stand-up and one-liners, but for me, it was the storytelling part that made this special really stand out. His stories are personal and honest, especially the one about his relationship with his father, and the device of the three microphones works flawlessly.

  1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
    (Amazon and You Tube)

In a year where I did not see many movies in the theater, I really wanted to see this documentary about Fred Rogers, and I am glad I did. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers as a kid, and like most people, I thought he was a kind and gentle man who knew how to talk to kids as people. What surprised me about this documentary though was even though he may have been mild-mannered in his approach, he was not afraid to address topics that were taboo at the time, such as race.

This movie moved me so much, I ended up crying in parts, and I had a new appreciation for someone who had been part of my life growing up.

  1. The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling
    (HBO Go or HBO Now)

In Judd Apatow’s four-and-a-half hour documentary about the life of stand-up comedian Garry Shandling, Apatow does a brutally honest job of presenting his friend as a human being, flaws and all, which makes Shandling a compelling character to follow for that length of time. Yes, Shandling was a top comic and the star and creator of two groundbreaking shows — The Garry Shandling Show and The Larry Sanders Show — but it is his spiritual journey and his personal struggles that make Shandling such an interesting subject for such a long documentary.

What Apatow accomplishes at the end of this film is what I think what Garry was striving for in his life: that you remember the man more than his body work.

  1. Red Oaks – Season 1 and Season 2

    Unlike all the other picks on the list, which were released this year, this show debuted in 2015 and ran for three seasons, ending in 2017. Set in New Jersey in 1985, the show follows David, who gets a job working the Red Oaks County Club during his summer break from college. We follow David and the friends he works with at the country club, as well as his sad home life. Although this show is a comedy, it also dealt with weighty themes like class, adolescent angst, happiness, and the struggle of an artist. Like Veep, this is truly an ensemble show, and every regular and recurring character has great, memorable moments. Each episode feels like a 28-minute film, maybe because some well-known film directors direct various episodes.

Do you have any recommendations for shows or movies you think I would like? If so, please let me know in the comments section below. I love it when people suggest stuff to watch.

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