Archived Story

Netflix offers hours of entertainment

Published 12:50pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

I no longer have cable at my house, but there is hardly a night you won’t catch me curled on my couch watching TV.

I can watch almost anything – movies in any genre, documentaries, TV shows – all thanks to an Internet connection and Netflix Instant.

Netflix Instant allows me to connect through my Ninendo Wii to a virtual library of thousands of movies and shows that are available for streaming. And for only $8 a month, it’s a steal. Really.

I might not be able to find every major blockbuster (though more and more are added to the streaming service every day), but that is balanced out by the gems you find that you might not have heard of if it weren’t for the service.

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite Netflix Instant finds – I promise I won’t include any spoiler alerts.

- House of Cards

This series is Netflix’s first time delving into an exclusive TV series – and it works beautifully.

The show starts Kevin Spacey, a Southern politician and member of the U.S. Congress, and explores the precarious relationship among politics, non-profit organizations and journalism in our nation’s capital.

Spacey’s character is delightful, and the show is so well planned out you almost have to watch the series twice in its entirety to pick up on the clues they drop early in the series about what will happen in later episodes.

I pride myself on being good at picking up clues in a show, but every episode left my jaw on the floor. I didn’t intend to watch the series as a marathon, watching back-to-back episodes over a two-day span, but the show compelled me.  So if you start this series, make sure you have a good chunk of free time on your hands.

- Dear Zachary

This heartfelt documentary is one of the few I’ve seen on Netflix Instant that has close to five stars, as rated by its users, and after I watched it, I understood why. In this compelling film, the documentarian’s best friend is murdered by his on-again, off-again girlfriend, a woman who quickly escapes to her homeland of Canada. Once in Canada, she announces she is pregnant with the dead man’s child.

The documentary follows the dead man’s parents’ struggle to gain custody of the child, named Zachary, and also serves as a tribute so that Zachary has an idea of the great man his dad was.

I won’t tell you about the ending, but I will say this – it was shocking, unexpected and one of the most heart-wrenching stories I’ve ever heard told. Never have I seen a documentary make me cry as this one did.

But seeing the sheer strength of a family pulling together in a time of tragedy is well worth it.

- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I had never had the pleasure of watching this  show until I happened to watch a random episode one day at a friend’s suggestion.

This show is shocking, irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny, with some of the most selfish, politically incorrect characters I’ve ever watched in a television show.

Every time I think the show can’t push the boundaries any further, it again crosses that line in the sand. The show particularly hit its stride in the second season with the introduction of Danny Devito’s character.

If you need a quick laugh, these 22-minute episodes are just the trick.

- The Queen of Versailles

This documentary explores the opulence of one family in which a time-share mogul is in the process of building the biggest mansion in the world in Florida.

The focus of the documentary is the mogul’s wife, who spends drastically on plastic surgery, primping, clothes and home decor – but is surprisingly likeable as a person. The documentary continues to follow the family as the mogul takes devastating hits in the recession, showing how even the elite had to “do without.”

- Mad Men

This AMC television series is top notch, following an ad man Don Draper as his New York City advertising firm navigates the turbulent 1960s.

With a phenomenal cast of characters and a spot-on look at what life in the ‘60s was really like (I’ve had my mother comment during episodes we’ve watched together, “Oh my gosh, we had that decoration in my house when I was little!”), it’s hard to find better a television show. It provides the perfect balance of humor, drama and intrigue, and better yet, Netflix Instant has all five seasons of the show so far.

Happy watching.

Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.