Netflix Wants to ‘Bandersnatch’ up All Your Free Time
Not long ago, Netflix was the place you went to passively watch sit-com reruns and catch up on movies you could live without. Nowadays Netflix won’t settle for anything less than total domination of every electronic device in your home – don’t be surprised when the next Black Mirror special shows up on your smart toaster. To win the content war, Netflix spends billions of dollars on original titles, and they’re announcing new TV shows, movies, and comedy specials with the frequency of presidential rage-tweets.
In the past few hours, Netflix dropped three trailers announcing the new content hitting their service in the coming weeks. What’s most remarkable is how little these three new titles have in common (a sci-fi flick, a docu-series, and an urban fantasy). Netflix won’t pick a lane, they want the entire highway.
Netflix puts out more than their share of duds, but when their titles hit, they hit big and win over viewers’ hearts and minds. Stranger Things, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and most recently Bird Box, came out of nowhere to become pop culture sensations. None of today’s three releases hint at that “It factor,” but who could predict our obsessions with Lara Jean, the upside down, and the Bird Box challenge?
On paper, IO is exactly what I want from a movie. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale that champions the human spirit. But I’m wary about getting my hopes up. More so than any other genre, Netflix keeps burning me with their sci-fi releases. For every great title like Lost in Space there’s a handful of bombs like Mute, The Titan, and Extinction. I’m down for IO’s cast of Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, and Danny Huston. But I have reservations. I’m going to keep my distance from this release until the reviews drop.
Sam, one of the last survivors on a post-cataclysmic Earth, is a young scientist dedicated to finding a way for humans to adapt and survive, rather than abandon their world. But with the final shuttle scheduled to leave the planet for a distant colony, her determination to stay is rocked by the arrival of another survivor, Micah. She must decide whether to journey with him to join the rest of humanity and begin life anew, or stay to fight for Earth’s survival.
IO premieres on Netflix January 18, 2019.
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike
Killer Mike positioned himself in hip-hop culture as a cross between a thinking man’s rapper and your pissed-off uncle. While you may not agree with what he has to say, one must appreciate his conviction. Killer Mike is a man of multitudes; a guy who shows up on Real Time with Bill Maher to promote prison reform and also NRATV to discuss gun rights. Now he’s bringing his distinct voice to Netflix. And his new show, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, looks custom-built to troll liberals and conservatives. I’m losing patience with entertainment that preys on America’s partisan divide, but it feels like this show doesn’t always take itself deadly serious. Trigger Warning would make a perfect double feature with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America?
In this funny and provocative series, rapper and activist Killer Mike puts his revolutionary ideas about achieving social change into action.
The six-episode series premieres on Netflix on January 18, 2019.
Based on the talent involved, Russian Doll looks like the most promising title of the batch. The eight-episode series comes from the minds of Amy Poehler, Natasha Lyonne, and Leslye Headland. Lyonne’s character Nadia gets stuck in a Groundhog Day-style cycle where she keeps repeating the same maligned night. The conceit here is that even as she plays it safe, she can’t help but succumb to horrible accidents. It’s as though death has a gripe and hunts her down Final Destination-style – without the menacing tone. I’m tired of the Groundhog Day plot devices, but Lyonne makes such a charming lead I’m compelled to queue the show up for a light binge.
Russian Doll follows a young woman named Nadia on her journey as the guest of honor at a seemingly inescapable party one night in New York City.
The eight-episode series premieres on Netflix on February 1, 2019.