If little else, this unceasing lockdown has left us with ample time to binge every notable new TV show that’s currently trending. Which is useful because it means we can have conversations that don’t include the words “Pfizer” or “AstraZeneca”.
And while our rabid viewing habits have made us thirstier than ever for a steady rush of constant content, thankfully there’s always more. Fortunately, the streaming world is precise in its algorithmic tendencies. If Netflix says you’ll like My Unorthodox Life because you watched The Crown, who are you to argue?
Me, I’m just a human. But I can still make connections like an algorithm. So call me The Human Algorithm. Ready for take-off.
Jamie Hector and Titus Welliver in Bosch.Credit:Amazon Prime Video
If you liked: Mare of Easttown (Binge)
You should try: Bosch (SBS On Demand; Amazon Prime Video)
Sure, Titus Welliver is no Kate Winslet, but for those missing the gritty mise-en-scene of Easttown, Bosch’s location-heavy take on Los Angeles should scratch that itch, especially with its reliably evocative ride-alongs. The show’s recent seventh and final season is streaming on SBS On Demand, and the rest are on Amazon Prime Video.
If you liked: The White Lotus (Binge)
You should try: Search Party (Stan*)
The White Lotus, Mike White’s sharp satire on wealthy, white ego and entitlement, at least leaves some space for its characters’ personal redemptions. Search Party, on the other hand, takes great joy in sinking theirs ever further into a mess of their own ignobled doing (still not sure what’s worse, murder or moonlighting as an alt-right TV commentator just for the viral fame?).
If you’ve watched Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady in The White Lotus…
Try Search Party next. Credit:Stan
If you liked: Cobra Kai (Netflix)
You should try: Masters of the Universe (Netflix)
Like Cobra Kai, Kevin Smith’s He-Man revival captures not just ’80s nostalgia but the proper spirit of its original source (as Smith himself put it, they’ve treated this stuff “like it’s Shakespeare”). Watch it with your kids, but be prepared to explain to them why you’re shedding tears over a green tiger.
If you liked: Luxe Listings Sydney (Amazon Prime Video)
You should try: Selling Sunset (Netflix)
Amazon Prime Video’s Aussie copycat, with its surprising dive into the Jewish ethnography of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, brought a warm-hearted twist to this reality TV genre of pushy real estate agents selling preposterous properties. But the original is, to adopt their stars’ own lingo, “beyond”. Come for the glitzy mansions, stay for the workplace in-fighting.
If you liked: Hacks (Stan)
You should try: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon Prime Video)
They might start from opposite points on the timeline, but both shows take the hard-won careers of pioneering female stand-ups like Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller as their inspirations. Yes, they’re both shows about female stand-up comics – I’m pretty sure this is exactly how Netflix’s algorithm works.
Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.Credit:Amazon prime Video
If you liked: Celebrity Apprentice Australia (Nine)
You should try: Nathan For You (Paramount+)
Think of this as a corrective for putting yourself through the inane corporate challenges and boardroom dummy spits of local celebrities. The cult series from Canadian comedian (and commerce graduate) Nathan Fielder is a beloved spoof of TV’s “fix your business” genre, with ideas that are genius in their extreme silliness (poo-flavoured frozen yoghurt, anyone?).
If you liked: MasterChef Australia (Network 10)
You should try: Selena + Chef (Binge)
Unlike Paris Hilton’s new thing, Selena + Chef – an at-home cooking show led by a bizarrely disinterested Selena Gomez – features the helpful know-how of actual superstar chefs like Curtis Stone and Jose Andres. It’s like a breezy MasterChef masterclass, except with the added threat that Selena Gomez may slice off her fingers at any moment.
Selena Gomez in an episode of Selena + Chef, a 10-episode cooking series on Binge. Credit:AP
If you liked: WandaVision (Disney+)
You should try: Los Espookys (Binge)
I haven’t even seen WandaVision but I’m still sure Los Espookys, with its twisted sensibility from comedians Ana Fabregas and professional sadboy Julio Torres, is weirder and better.
If you liked: The Tokyo Olympics (Seven)
You should try: This Is Pop (Netflix)
I feel I’m starting to confuse you, but please [waves hands] just come with me. Surely you enjoyed Bruce McAvaney’s bizarre enthusiasm about, say, the runners’ 10,000-metre heats at Tokyo? Or his mid-race factoids about athletes triumphing over adversity? Then just watch the strangely affecting episode of This Is Pop about T-Pain’s use of autotune and thank me later.
Busy Philipps, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sara Bareilles and Paula Pell in Girls5eva.Credit:Heidi Gutman/Peacock
If you liked: Girls5Eva (Stan)
You should try: Nirvanna The Band The Show (SBS On Demand)
Despite being tonal opposites, both these fun comedies are tangentially related to music (the manic duo in cult favourite Nirvanna The Band The Show are on a mission to perform at Toronto performance space The Rivoli) and that’s enough of an overlap for The Human Algorithm. If Girls5Eva featured more jokes about My Dinner with Andre and Nintendo Wii, this would make more sense. But in any case, you’ll laugh.
If you liked: Reservation Dogs (Binge)
You should try: On My Block (Netflix)
The new series from Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi is endearing in its idiosyncratic tone and unique sensitivity to its teen characters’ listless trouble-making. With the magical realism that touches both shows, you can almost picture a perfect crossover with On My Block, a similar sleeper with a wacky take on street gangs in LA.
If you liked: I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)
You should try: Mr Show with Bob and David (Binge)
The second season of ex-SNL writer Tim Robinson’s sketch comedy series has its absurdist highlights (“Calico Cut Pants”, “Tammy Craps”). But every sketch comedy show will forever pale in comparison to the masters of the form, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, and their late ’90s opus. All four seasons are now streaming on Binge.
Matt and Amber Barnett on Love Is Blind: After the Altar.Credit:Netflix
If you liked: Married at First Sight (Nine)
You should try: Love Is Blind: After the Altar (Netflix)
Already the envy of reality TV fans across the globe, it’s clear Australia’s Married at First Sight – with its emphasis on drunken dinner parties and the seedy cast dynamics they induce – has influenced this Netflix production’s new season. What started with a cute dating gimmick (in pods!) is now all-out mayhem with intense cast bickering and doomed relationships. Australia, we did this.
*Stan is owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead.
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