We all know back episodes of Louie, Arrested Development, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other greats are on there, but there are some deep-entrenched films and shows that can only be unearthed through random searches and a ton of free time that should be put to better use. These are the best-kept secrets of Netflix Instant accounts (who even gets the DVDs anymore?) and they’ll make you believe in that $8.99 you or the friend you steal from pays every month.
I watched this little movie for the first time a few years ago, mainly because it stars Anya from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the trailer looked pretty interesting and it heavily featured my local grocery store, which I thought was cool. It didn’t disappoint. Writer/director Jac Shaeffer creates a world in which everyone finds their soul mate through a timer that’s implanted during puberty and that goes off when you meet your ‘one.’ It sounds odd and maybe hokey, but it explores the possibility of growing up without dating or experimenting or worrying that you’re going to grow old alone, having to give yourself foot rubs until you die surrounded by cats who don’t give a shit (can you tell I’m super single?).
OK, hear me out. I know this show is largely known for an unfortunate haircut, but this is way bigger than Keri Russell’s hair (which is saying something). I was too young to enjoy this show while it was on the air, but my best friend’s older sister watched it when we were growing up, and as far as I was concerned, she was the coolest person alive, so I gave it a shot a couple months ago. Let me tell you, the CW has nothing on old school WB. This is first-gen J.J. Abrams; need I say more? Give it a chance and try to get over the theme song the show rocked for the first two years in which a woman makes incoherent oo-ing noises over new-agey tunes. It’s better than that.
3. My So-Called Life
If your Netflix homepage is anything like mine, Claire Danes’ angsty, teenage face circa 1994 stares at you whenever you’re going through the Teen Shows section (or maybe you’re a better person than me and you don’t have a Teen Shows section). It’s not even a full season long, but there’s a reason it’s right next to Freaks and Geeks in lists of shows that were canceled far too early. Claire Danes’ “Angela” is one of the most realistic portrayals of a teenager I’ve ever seen. Every other word is “like” and her voice-over musings express the total ambiguity of being 16—the simultaneous joy and hideous pain of high school. Also, it’s like a refreshing time capsule of 1994 when everything was worn in total earnest and “ironically” was only a word you used in your lit essays. A simpler time for sure.
4. Sports Night
Regardless of your views on the hotly debated Newsroom, you can’t deny that Aaron Sorkin has had some gems—The Social Network, The West Wing, his fantastic walk-and-talk cameo on 30 Rock—all genius. Back in 1998, Sorkin’s single-camera, face-paced workplace dramedy was unlike anything on television, but was undeniably fantastic. Boasting a hindsightedly-amazing cast of Peter Kraus (Parenthood, Six Feet Under), Josh Charles (The Good Wife, my dreams), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), and Josh Malina (The West Wing), it unfortunately didn’t run long, but it’s a sincere pleasure to go through the two seasons that did make it to air. Just ignore that bizarre laugh track that ABC made them insert in the first season.
5. The Myth of the American Sleepover
I love and miss the teen movies of the 90s and early 2000s. The ones that culminated at the prom and inevitably involved some bet or newspaper story or bribe that ruined the chances of the two 26-playing-18-year-old leads of ever getting together (but they did! They did!). But they set me up to believe that high school was filled with red Solo cups and proms in the gym and football games. No movie has ever rung true to my high school experience before The Myth of the American Sleepover. I watched this movie and thought “Oh God, I remember what it was like to be in high school…and I’m so damn glad that I’m not anymore.” But maybe your teen years were actually filled with crazy parties, popular guys and game-winning catches, in which case maybe just stick to watching She’s All That.