Seriously, where does the time fly? I feel like just yesterday it was the Fourth of July, you know the day Target decides summer is officially over and it’s time for backpacks and trapper keepers and boots. Summer does not spring instantly to mind when one thinks about binge watching but I think it is the perfect time to find a couple of shows to fall for and spend some quality time cuddling with your remote and a cold brew.
OJ: Made in America: This mesmerizing five-part documentary series directed by Ezra Edelman originally aired on ESPN in June. (A channel I mostly pretend does not exist, even with my limited internet cable connection options.) Not to be confused with the F/X series that gave Ross from Friends his first job in years (kinda like Chachi at the RNC). OJ: Made in America gives context to how and why Mr. Simpson walked and why the verdict was so divisive at the time.
Anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s could not escape the cult of OJ Simpson. He hawked orange juice (naturally, because advertising types are so creative) and ran through airports trying to convince your dad and all the other dads to rent a car from Hertz. He was in movies (Towering Inferno), television series (Roots) and charmed the pants off your grandma on talk shows. He was golden.
But beneath the smile and the athletic prowess was a grade-A narcissistic, controlling asshole. A wife-beating privileged football star who got away with murder, two of them to be exact. A man who skated through life on his ability to run with a football who hobnobbed with the elites, mostly ignored his own community, and only remembered the fact that he was African American man when he was down and out and it suited him.
I really, really, encourage you to watch this documentary. It is as compelling as Making a Murderer and in my opinion a better overall series. Blasphemy, I know but it’s true. The not guilty verdict is explained in way that most (white) people probably NEVER would have understood before this horrible summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and all the others who came before them. Consider this Must-See TV without Central Perk or Smelly Cat. (Coming to Netflix in August, streamable on ESPN.com)
Once you finished OJ, you will for sure need a palate cleanser. Luckily these next two shows will not leave you with a terminal case of the sads, quite the opposite in fact. Yay!
Lady Dynamite: Maria Bamford, where have you been all my life? I liked this series so much that I watched it twice and may even go for a third viewing if Hillary does not increase her poll numbers greatly after the DNC. Seriously, what is wrong with America? Lady Dynamite is weird in a good way like tater tot hotdish or just about any food on a stick. It takes place in the past, in the present, in Los Angeles and in Duluth (actually Roseville, apparently Duluth was too expensive for the producer’s budget). No glorious shots of America’s greatest lake, Superior, which is a shame because Duluth is such a beautiful city, maybe spring for some stock footage at least for season two, okay?
Maria plays Maria, her pugs play her pugs and everyone and everything else are stand ins for the many facets of her life as a stand-up comedienne/actress in Hollywood who struggles with mental illness. Lots of people will probably recognize Bamford from her stint as the crazy Target shopper lady from a few years back. She does not do those commercials anymore and most definitely never will again after the way she mercilessly skewers her former employer’s union-busting ways. Interestingly there has been nary a peep from the fine folks at Checklist about their portrayal on the show. Wise move, Bullseye, wise move.
Every time I think Mo Collins’ Susan character veers too far into Fargo territory Minnesota bad accent-wise I watch the local news, they interview a local and I am reminded that unfortunately sometimes stereotypes do exist for a reason. From the worst manager ever to her pug out Babe-ing Babe in a fierce sheep herding competition, Lady Dynamite is the perfect show for your summer fun binge. (Netflix)
The Strange Calls: Constable Tony Banks is having a bit of a shit life. His girlfriend won’t return his calls, he lost his shoes (along with his dignity) and his father (the chief constable) has re-assigned him to a small town working the night shift in the hopes that he will quit, like all the others before him. Toby’s job is to live and work out of a crappy trailer answering the phone calls of the town’s lonely and loony populace. He is assisted in his endeavors by the town’s self-appointed night security officer, a man named Gregor who says he is decades younger than his appearance would suggest and thinks the town is a hot bed of paranormal activity because of a local volcano.
If Lady Dynamite as weird with its juxtaposition of past/present, Los Angeles/fake Duluth, talking dogs and a commercial for a product called Pussy Noodles than fasten your seat belts because The Strange Calls is an even wackier ride. I could not even explain it if I tried other than to think of it as sort of a mash up of Hot Fuzz, The Vicar of Dibley and just about any show on the SyFy channel.
There are only six episodes at less than a half an hour each so you can easily binge this one quickly and then get yourself outside to the nearest PokéStop.