Welcome to the first edition of Love Streams, The Spool’s weekly streaming recommendation column! In the ever-thickening mass of online streaming content, we’re here to pick three to five major recommendations among the major streaming services to help you narrow down your binge-watching choices. Let’s get streaming!
Valentine’s Week is here, which means flowers, candy, and last-minute reservations to whatever restaurant will take you because you just forgot to decide on a place and LIFE’S BEEN REALLY HECTIC OKAY. The day after, though, you’ll probably want to offset all that money you spent by just sharing a bag of Doritos on the couch and doing the ol’ Netflix and chill. Luckily, there are some great shows coming out to ease you into the post-Valentine’s weekend, from aggressively weird superhero series to cult sci-fi hits that are just hitting Prime.
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
Based on the hit graphic novel by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy tells the tale of a group of seven extraordinary humans (including Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Robert Sheehan and others) born in the same moment, raised by a mysterious benefactor to become a team of superheroes. Of course, life comes at you fast, and by the time they reach adulthood they’re as dysfunctional a family as you can get. But when one of their long-lost brothers (Aidan Gallagher) teleports back to the present with a warning that the apocalypse is coming in eight days, they’ve gotta pack their baggage up and save the world.
Having seen the season already (I reviewed this over at Consequence of Sound), the show’s pretty convoluted and languidly paced at times over the course of its ten hour-long episodes. But the main cast has plenty of charm, and showrunner Steve Blackman takes plenty of glee in its quirky Gothic tone. If the idea of a one-take shootout featuring a 15-year-old teleporter in a donut shop set to “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” tickles your fancy, this might well be the show for you.
Hulu’s had a great track record lately for lovely, female-forward sitcoms, and Shrill looks to be no exception. Based on the Lindy West memoir of the same name, Shrill stars Aidy Bryant (one of Saturday Night Live‘s brightest stars right now) as West, a woman struggling to juggle her love life and her writing career, all while dealing with the stigmas and hangups that come from being unabashedly, proudly fat.
West is a hell of a writer, acerbic and insightful in equal measure (read Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman when you get a chance, it’s a brilliant look at the way women deal with size and value in our modern world), and the bright-eyed Bryant is pitch-perfect casting for her, so we’re looking forward to this one.
The Expanse Seasons 1-3 (Amazon Prime)
If you’ve spent any measurable amount of time around me, or listened to any of my short-lived TV podcast from last year TV Party, you’ll know that I’ll take any opportunity at all to talk about The Expanse. The cult hit science fiction series, based on the books by James S.A. Corey, take place in a near-future world where mankind has colonized (most of) the solar system, but our sectarian conflicts still rear their ugly head. Earth, Mars, and the spacefaring denizens of the asteroid belt are embroiled in a cold war, which grows increasingly hot upon the discovery of a mysterious alien material that threatens to upend their understanding of the universe – or wipe them all out in the process.
The Expanse was one of those lucky shows last year (along with Brooklyn Nine-Nine) that got canceled, only for fan uproar to revive it – moving from its original home of Syfy to Amazon Prime, all three seasons are now available for Prime Video users to stream. Sure, this happened last week, but whatever, I didn’t have a column last week to gush about this extraordinary show. It’s got the fan-favorite characters and complex worldbuilding of Game of Thrones, the production values of a feature film, and a Martian-like adherence to the basic physics of space travel (zero-g, inertia) that make its interstellar dustups that much more exciting and novel.
Consider it a personal favor to me – stream The Expanse this weekend. By the time you wrap up season three, you’ll be scrolling through websites learning Belter creole (sasa ke, beltalowdas?) and anxiously awaiting the upcoming fourth season, coming exclusively to Amazon.
Lorena (Amazon Prime)
In an age where #MeToo has forced many to reevaluate the way we consider domestic violence narratives, and where true crime documentaries are at the forefront of our pop culture mindsets, now may be the best time to look back on the Lorena Bobbitt case. At least, that’s what Amazon thinks with its four-part miniseries Lorena, a Jordan Peele-produced true crime doc that reevaluates the story of Bobbitt, who famously cut off her husband John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis while attempting to leave him. The events, the ensuing court case, and the cultural conversation around it will get significant airtime in the doc, investigating the ways in which Lorena’s plight presaged an era in which we took sexual harassment and assault more seriously – and what it means for her today. Lorena will stream on Amazon Prime this Friday.
The Dragon Prince Season 2 (Netflix)
If you’re looking for something new to entertain the kids (that you also want to enjoy), the latest from the head writer of Avatar: The Last Airbender looks like a safe bet. The Dragon Prince‘s first season was met with much fanfare, with critics calling it “a worthwhile animated series for audiences of all ages.” Set in a fantasy world deeply mired in a war between elves and humans, The Dragon Prince follows Ezran (Sasha Rojen), his half-brother Callum (Jack De Sena), and the young elf Rayla (Paula Burrows) as they endeavor to stop the war after discovering a dragon egg that might save the kingdom.
The cel-shaded animation looks daring, the storytelling is sophisticated for a show aimed at kids, but oh my gah that baby dragon is so cute – three solid reasons for checking this one out.