Netflix

The Best Netflix Shows to Netflix & Chill With

By Andrew Hendricks

Netflix and chill doesn’t have to mean what you dirty millennials slowly made it become. I’m fond of a good Netflix and Chili myself. 

 

Although you might not want to actually mix significant amounts of onion and garlic (as any good chili requires) to your informal date, you ought to include at least some Netflix watching lest you be rightfully dubbed a scheming schmuck. If they can’t be bothered to laugh through a single episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or 30 Rock before attempting to turn the date R-ratedthat’s a dealbreaker ladies.

Netflix boasts an exhaustive list of B-movies and Oscar-winners, but if you’re going with a proper Netflix and chill date, it’s a good idea to have a few good TV options. A two-hour film is a long commitment for a date that takes place in the dark, especially if, halfway into it, your date realizes your movie choice was terrible. Since a “Netflix and Chill” date is the only date where you won’t get chastised for showing up in your comfortable, sexy, undies, you want to make sure your programming choices are up to snuff. It may be tempting to try to show off your high-brow taste by introducing your date to critically acclaimed shows such as House of Cards or Black Mirror, just remember that this means having to watch Kevin Spacey snap a dog’s neck and the Prime Minister of the UK engage in sexual congress with a pig in each first episode, respectively. The rest of House of Cards, while amazing, does not get any less depressing, and the ultra high-quality Black Mirror also gets pretty depressing too, albeit it with less bestiality. Spoilers, I know, but you’re welcome in advance. Here are five shows you can watch a lot more comfortably.

#1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

#2 Portlandia 

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Netflix and Cable: Frenemies for Life

By: Andrew Hendricks

Netflix and Hulu are currently the two largest streamers of network and studio-produced content. It’s hard to believe that Netflix has been around as a company since 1997. With the internet barely able to provide music let alone .gifs and videos, Netflix’s goal from the start to was to take on the movie rental industry. Revolutionizing the way television content is made was only a happy side effect.

It wasn’t until Netflix was already a well-known entity competing with rental video stores and directly with Blockbuster as they began their own DVD-delivery service. Yet just as Kodak died from a failure to cannibalize its own business for the future (disposable to digital), Blockbuster has finally closed up shop due to its own hubris in failing to alter their business model. Just before Netflix would begin investing heavily in technologies to perfect a streaming service, Blockbuster was approached by Netflix to be sold for $50 million in 2000, but the sale was declined.

Despite initial hiccups unveiling their streaming services and pricing model, Netflix ended up doing more than just irritate every rental store franchise owner in the country—they changed the way content itself is made.

As Netflix continued to realize its potential influence, just last year it began producing its own original content, much to the universal surprise and praise of critics. However, more than just producing a few original shows, Netflix and streaming content has literally democratized the way content is rated, made, and produced. By having instant feedback in the form of adding to your Netflix “queue” or rating something between 1-5 stars, heavily viewed and highly rated, critically acclaimed, scripted content can now immediately garner recognition in real time instead of having to claw it’s way to popularity in competition with unscripted television.

And while no one likes the “dumbing down” of American television (particularly on networks that have science, discovery, learning, or history in their name) it is important to realize that although there was a brief period during the Reality Television boom where cheap-to-produce, unscripted television was crowding out good, original content, this is no longer the case.  There is now a place for both, and the internet has spoken.

Take for instance a show like AMC’s Breaking Bad. A critically acclaimed phenomenon, and an advertiser-backed powerhouse. Universally seen as an astounding success by AMC, the actual viewer numbers compared to more mass-market appeal shows like The Big Bang Theory or Ice Road Truckers, it barely rates. But Netflix knows that people do want their high-quality, scripted television, but they also want their “guilty pleasures” too. AMC showed incredible foresight in being one of the first critically networks really put their faith in Netflix as a medium to augment a high-quality show with (at the time) mediocre numbers. This was very progressive thinking when at the same time AMC and Netflix were agreeing to such a deal, articles were being written by the dozen decrying how streaming content would destroy the entire TV industry. Now even Fox currently allows all but the newest seasons of American Dad and Family Guy to be available for streaming.

My favorite personal anecdote regarding this trend is when I noticed ABC has also wizened up to the game by putting the first two seasons of Scandal (one of my favorite shows) on Netflix. Although I watch ABC sometimes I had only seen trailers for Scandal at that time and it did not seem appealing. Yet when Netflix’s algorithm highly recommended Scandal as the type of content I would like to view, I binge-watched the first two seasons voraciously and continued the series on my basic cable, tweeting happily as #MamaPope pops up at the climactic end to season three.

New technologies don’t have to be a zero-sum game. When more people have more access to content in real-time, and are able to express their opinions on that content’s quality or watchability, literally everyone wins. Well, everyone except Blockbuster.

Derek -- the New Heartwarming Netflix Original by Ricky Gervais

By Andrew Hendricks 

A recent addition to the Netflix original series roster, Derek is Ricky Gervais's new mockumentary style film in which he plays an autistic elder-care worker who is loved by all and treats others with nothing but kindness.

Ricky Gervais and mockumentary comedy? Haven't we seen this before? And sure, a mentally challenged guy with a heart of gold is a noble premise—but it isn't exactly an original concept.

Yet, despite these two immediate red flags, Ricky Gervais brings an earnestness to this role that it is impossible to be cynical about the premise when you see how artfully and genuine the actors in this new series—not just Ricky Gervais—bring the show to heights now expected in the Golden Age of television.

Among the cast is Karl Pilkington, a name that will ring familiar to long-time fans of Ricky Gervais and his work. However, in this roll, it is refreshing to see Karl Pilkington as the levelheaded “everyman” handyman and friend of Derek rather than his oft-played role of the odd-notioned buffoon existing as the butt of some of Riky Gervais's meanest spirited humor.

In typical Gervais style, Derek is replete with Abbot and Costello-type humor, wimsy, sarcasm, sexual humor, and moments of beauty and reflection that would be manipulative if not so effective and earnest.

Gervais's character, though slightly challenged, is incredibly high-functioning, and always strives to make others happy, particularly the elderly in the home it is his job to care for. The co-star of the show, his coworker, Hannah, is a woman who has dedicated her life to this profession, and though she has resolute devotion to Derek (and he loves her), their relationship is much like a sweet kindergarten teacher and her doting student. Their friendship evokes some of the cutest moments in the show; for example, in one scene, the grandson of one of the residents is an attractive and friendly guy around her age. She tells Derek “He's gay, all the good ones are taken.” Gervais's Derek hops on this, wondering how she knows. Derek says he can go ask him for Hannah, to which she refuses nervously.

“I'll ask him if he's gay,” Derek says, “But I won't tell you.”

“No Derek, that's stupid. I want to know. I just don't want him to know that I want to know.”

Derek seems to digest this for a moment, and goes up to the attractive potential-bachelor and says: “My friend Hannah, she's gay, but she doesn't want you to know.”

This mockumentary-style comedy is one where, like The Office, Ricky Gervais plays a protagonist who appears not to entirely understand the world around him. However, unlike Gervais's anger-inducing portrayal of an incompetent mid-level manager, we never get the sense that Derek is oblivious to a wider, scarier, hurtful world—we are simply given a portrait of a hard worker, good friend, and kind individual who chooses to tune out everything except for good, interesting, funny, beautiful things.

This is a show that could have easily failed a hundred different ways, but it is clear Ricky Gervais poured himself entirely into the creation of this show, and the quality of this effort shines through. In Derek, Gervais has crafted the most heroic roles he and his friend Karl Pilkington have ever played. If you are interested in a modern comedy that makes you feel just a little better about all the crappy aspects of life we all go through, then give Derek a chance, and see the smug, pompous Ricky Gervais morph into the most likable fictional character you will ever encounter.