Last month I reviewed several of the successful miniseries based on true stories of people who swindled their way to the top - only to ultimately fail. I was honestly obsessed with theses stories. (Amazon Prime has a very artistic spin on this in “Chloe,” which is a bit reminiscent of “Inventing Anna.”) I kept wondering what it was with these stories that were becoming huge streaming hits. Well, I read an excellent article by Brett McCracken on this phenomenon, which he termed “failure porn.” His main point is that watching the mighty fall is cathartic; their failures make us feel better and satisfy a need for justice. Brett writes very thought provoking articles on pop culture for The Gospel Coalition. For parents trying to make wise family viewing choices, I recommend his articles highly.
Being confined to a sofa with an elevated foot gave me a chance to “be late to the party” for two favorites that I had never seen. “Parks and Recreation” is on Peacock, and “Schitt’s Creek” is on Apple TV or Amazon Prime, with the last seasons on Hulu. Laughter proved to be the best medicine, and I loved these pop culture hits.
While on family beach vacation, my oldest daughter saw an ad for the first movie to be made for Paramount + streaming service, and she suggested we save it for my season of recovery. “Jerry and Marge Go Large” stars Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening in the true story of a humble mathematician who breaks the code to winning the lottery. It is truly the sweetest, most charming movie I have seen in a LONG time. I have watched it three times already.
On the other side of the coin, I want to express my deep gratitude for good trash reality TV. I remember sitting in my in my granddaddy’s bed in the family room watching soap operas. That is such a vivid and fond memory for me, and I think at that young age, I understood that some “lower” forms of entertainment add joy to the lives of people who have very limited outlets due to health issues.
“Southern Charm” on Peacock has been my granddaddy’s “Days of our Lives.” After falling in love with Charleston in May, I put this show in my queue. Good golly, Miss Molly! This is reality TV at its best. It reminds me of why the Oscars have been spiraling downward for years; the Academy has been choosing films that are not even shown in some parts of our country or that most Americans have no desire to see, as they perceive the films as too “high brow.” In my world, I want to be open to viewing both, and appreciating both.
- “Stranger Things” This season of the beloved series is scarier. It makes me sad because part of the charm of this series for me was the fact that is was appropriate for family viewing for some families. I am looking forward to the fifth season, which will be the final one with the beloved teenage characters.
- “Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey” I have a deep fascination (some may say obsession) with cults. This story follows the brave women who escaped Warren Jeff’s abusive cult, a polygamist cult where children as young as 14 were married to adult men. The docuseries follows Jeffs’ trial, as well as the people willing to protect these girls and stop Jeffs.
- “Snowflake Mountain” Another reality show with a fun twist, parents whose adult children live with them and take full advantage of that send their lazy offspring off on a reality show. The parents are sending them to basically survive off the land, but the kiddos think they’re going on some luxury reality show gig. It’s quite entertaining!
- “The Lincoln Lawyer” By far my favorite series I streamed all month, it’s based on books by Michael Connelly. This is a road to redemption story of lawyer Mickey Haller, who runs his law practice from the back of his Lincoln.
- “Keeper of the Ashes” I enjoyed this Kristin Chenoweth-produced true crime drama. As a child, Chenoweth missed Girl Scout camp due to illness, and three young girls were murdered while at the camp she missed. It illustrates how a crime not only changes families but communities.
- “Only Murderers in the Building” If you enjoyed season one, you will be pleased with this season.
- “The Old Man” It is so hard to find a series that my husband, John Stroud, will watch with me. He loved ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ and ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ on Netflix, which I reviewed last month, and this series made the cut! Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow are fabulous in this tale of a retired CIA operative trying to live off-the-grid to protect his daughter and a long hidden secret.
- “Loot” Apple TV continues to produce quality, albeit not family friendly, entertainment. This Maya Rudolph-led comedy follows Molly, who has a very public divorce from her billionaire husband of 20 years. She decides to invest herself in a foundation she inherits in the divorce and begins to learn the extent of how her wealth has warped so much of her worldview.
- “Cha Cha Real Smooth” The only well known actor in the movie is Dakota Johnson. It is the sweet story of a 22-year-old college grad moving back home as he tries to figure out life. His relationships with his 12-year-old brother and a young autistic girl are endearing. There is adult language and content. I found this movie to be my second favorite streaming movie this month.
- Thankfully, there are movies in the theater worth the effort to leave the comfort of home to view. I reviewed “Maverick” last month, and I still think about that movie. It is truly excellent. If you want a family-friendly movie, see “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” It is sweet, funny and wonderful for kids and adults. “Elvis” delivers exactly what I wanted it to after seeing the first trailer. The acting is incredible.
So until next month, from the sofa and a handicapped seat at the theater, pass the popcorn!