2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley returns as a scumbag we can’t help but swoon over in this Lifetime drama that’s now been handed off to the streaming platform. Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, a seemingly-sweet guy who works at a bookshop in the city and courts a beautiful blonde named Beck (Elizabeth Lail). Unfortunately, that’s where the rom-com portion of this thriller ends. You see, Joe’s “courting” includes stalking the object of his affections, breaking into her apartment, holding her boyfriend hostage, and peeping in on her most intimate of moments. And that’s only in the first episode. If anything, this show is proof that the modern dating world can be a terrifying hellscape.
3 seasons, 25 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
A throwback and love letter to the early 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, the Duffer Brothers Stranger Things feels both familiar and new. The first season is about a boy named Will (think E.T.‘s Elliot) who is captured by a The Thing-like creature and trapped in a Poltergeist-like world. His mother (Winona Ryder) recruits the local sheriff to investigate Will’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Will’s dorky, Goonies-like best friends take to their bikes to do some sleuthing of their own and eventually befriend an alien-like girl with telepathic powers (the E.T. of the series). The investigation into Will’s disappearance and the arrival of the telepathic girl all seem to lead back to a power plant operated by a character played by Matthew Modine. It’s great PG horror/sci-fi, like the blockbusters of the early ’80s, but for those who didn’t grow up in the era or aren’t intimately familiar with Amblin Entertainment’s catalog, the series may not hold as much appeal.
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
Natasha Lyonne stars in this Groundhog Day-from-hell remake about a woman who’s forced to relive the last day of her life over and over again. It’s been done before, but this series stands out thanks to its mix of dark humor and a tinge of the supernatural. Lyonne is one of the often overlooked OITNB stars, but it looks like this series is giving her a chance to show off her comedic chops as her character, Nadia, endures a constant loop of partying, dying, then waking up to do it all over again. As bleak as the premise is, Lyonne manages to find a silver lining, a universal message that basically read, “The world is sh*t, let’s help each other out if we can.”
1 season, 3 episodes | IMDb: 6.8
3 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
At once intimate and sweeping, The Crown presents an inside view of the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy, and the first few years of her reign. John Lithgow is featured as the indomitable Winston Churchill, struggling with the ignominy of age at the end of his career. Churchill’s support and mentorship of Elizabeth, despite his limitations, creates an important emotional center around which various historical events turn. Elizabeth’s relationship with her husband, Prince Phillip (Matt Smith) is also wonderfully explored; his role as consort is one that he by turns delights in and rebels against. The production spared no expense in painstakingly recreating the physical environments and rigid protocols that constrained and defined the royal family. The challenges posed by modernity and the post-colonial period are filtered through the Palace’s political structure, in which despite her role, Elizabeth’s personal needs and wishes are continually subsumed to protocol and appearance. This series will appeal to anyone who enjoys costume drama, but it is also a fascinating exploration of the post-WWII period and the development of a monarch who managed to maintain and even expand the popularity and stability of the British Monarchy against significant odds.
6.The Haunting of Hill House
2 seasons, 11 episodes | IMDb: 8.7
One dark and ominous night, Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) gathers his children and flees their vast, gothic mansion, leaving his wife, Olivia (Carla Gugino), behind. Olivia dies that night, her death ruled a suicide, and the tabloids run wild with stories of the haunted Hill House. The five Crain children — Steven, Shirley, Theo, Nell, and Luke — all grow up dealing with their trauma in varying ways, whether writing a successful memoir about the haunting of Hill House (Steven), or abusing drugs to numb the pain (Luke). As adults, the Crain siblings are barely on speaking terms, until a tragedy forces them all back together, and back to Hill House. Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House is a character-driven story, delving into the psychological problems of its many protagonists. It’s no mere family drama, though. In addition to their personal demons, there are some very real ghosts haunting the Crains, and Flanagan orchestrates some intense scares in the first episode alone, building tension but also knowing when to bust out a jump scare.