Sometimes after a long, hard day of advertising (and they happen way more often than Melrose Place ever led me to believe), I just want to come home and watch something that requires no complicated thinking or thought processing whatsoever on my part. Mindless escapism with a sense of style is what I am looking for and luckily Netflix comes through for me with plenty of options every time. (A show like Mad Men, while entertaining to some, is just too close to reality for me despite it taking place in the 60’s, although no one has ever been run over by a lawnmower or killed themselves at any of the agencies I have worked at, even if they considered it for a quick minute.)
One of my dream jobs has always been to work at a super chic luxury hotel. The type of hotel that caters to heads of state from places with so many consonants in their names I can’t spell them let alone pronounce them properly and twenty-something internet billionaires. In order to do this I would definitely need to step up my sartorial game though as it has become far too lazy from working in the agency world forever where pretty much anything goes wardrobe-wise and my preference for over-priced casual wear has gotten out of hand. For this job I will need to dress exclusively in Prada (Chanel would be just too casual, sorry Karl!), rock a cat-eye like Kate Moss and get a much more professional hairdo, a super sleek blunt-cut bob so awesome even Anna Wintour herself would be jealous of it. Everyone else at the hotel will be simultaneously jealous and impressed by my ability to do the seemingly impossible such as finding discreet high-class escorts (male or female) at the drop of a hat, while securing tables at the hottest new restaurants and scoring tickets to those impossible to get sold-out Broadway shows. Did I mention I will need to relocate as well as get a new wardrobe and haircut for this job?
Hotel Babylon: actually this might even be an even better location than NYC for my fantasy job as this show is set in London, my favoritest city on Earth. Hotel Babylon is based on a book that I have never read by Imogen Edwards-Jones (hyphenated names = posh in the UK) and ran on the BBC for four seasons. For the first two seasons the hotel is run by a tough as nails career woman with a bad marriage (natch) named Rebecca Mitchell (Tamzin Outhwaite in real life, forever Melanie Owen from EastEnders* to me). The other various hotel employees all have their own personal baggage (pun intended) and include a stereotypical catty gay guy receptionist named Ben, another receptionist Anna Thornton-Wilton whose fake hyphenated name is as fake as her accent, Rebecca’s right hand man with a secret criminal past Charlie, and Tony the jaded but ever so efficient concierge. I am pretty sure Tony has my dream job, but not my dream outfit since he wears a uniform and that is a big fat NO in my book, unless it’s Prada, and even then I would have to think about it.
Hotel Babylon is like a modern, much more stylish version of The Love Boat, with new guests and new stories for each episode. Most of the guest stars I wouldn’t recognize if they came to my front door trying to get me to read the Watchtower. Sadly this happens kinda regularly with a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses down the road. A congregation Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson himself is rumored to be a member of and while I might open the door for him I still would not read the Watchtower. Not ever. And while I might not know these guest stars faces their names are certainly familiar because I do read the Daily Mail every day (I know it’s bad but it’s fun bad) and I always think to myself, who ARE these people? And then there they are, in the Daily Mail! This show is trashy good fun (just like the Daily Mail) with a posh British accent (definitely NOT like the Daily Mail). Amazon Instant** since Netflix must have lost the rights to this one back in July when Outrageous Fortune disappeared and my life changed forever because of it.
Grand Hotel: lots of critics and regular people like to compare this to Downton Abbey but I think that is a a major diss because this series from Spain is way more fun. While there is the same sort of Upstairs/Downstairs vibe going on and it takes place in roughly the same time period, the romance between the rich girl whose family owns the hotel, Alicia Alarcon, and Julio Olmedo/Espinosa/Molins (he has a lot of aliases), the waiter, is the centerpiece of this series rather than a side note like the relationship between Downton’s Lady Sybil (poor dead Sybil) and Branson her chauffeur turned husband turned widower. Mama Alarcon and her evil henchman Don Diego will do ANYTHING to hold onto the Grand Hotel, they are kind of a lot like the Borgias in that way. Add in some craziness that would not be out-of-place on a daytime soap like a faked pregnancy (hello Beyoncé!), some baby swapping, illegitimate children crawling out of the woodwork, a serial killer and a bromance rivaling that of Joey and Chandler from Friends between Julio and fellow waiter Andreas, and this show kicks Downton’s proverbial British ass.
The Grand Hotel even has some real people show up as guests like Agatha Christie (who also shows up in an episode of Doctor Who, but that episode features giant bee people and is even too weird for me and I am a fan), as well as Harry Houdini who even performs one of his daring escapes. Interestingly enough, everyone who works or lives at this hotel seems to have above average hearing abilities, like whatever the ear equivalent of 20/20 eyesight is these people have it and thankfully they use their super human abilities at every opportunity in hallways and doorways all over the place or else we would never know what was going on.
After watching all 42 of the episodes available on Netflix I have now picked up some basic Spanish beyond counting to ten and writing no basura on my recycling box at work so the cleaning staff does not throw it away. All that valuable second language knowledge is going to go to waste real soon if Netflix does not get the remaining episodes like yesterday. Not to mention that season three ended with an explosive cliff hanger and I need to know what happened por favor!!
* Pretty much every actor in the UK has either been on Doctor Who or EastEnders or both. It must be some sort of a rite of passage like a spiral perm or a goth phase, not that I ever experienced either of those. Well, maybe just the one.
**good news people, apparently my Netflix search skills suck because guess what showed up as a recommend show for me, on Netflix? Why Hotel Babylon of course!