The year 2020 likely kept many of us inside for most of it, and it looks like that situation may last at least into part of 2021. One of the few positives is that many great movies and TV shows were released on streaming services such as Netflix. The streaming service has made available a plethora of movies and TV shows, some original to Netflix.
Netflix currently offers three plans: Basic ($8.99 / month) lets you watch content on one screen at a time; Standard ($13.99 / month) brings it up to two screens and adds HD content; and Premium ($17.99) offers a total of four screens and Ultra HD content.
Whether you need a new show to binge-watch once The Office leaves Netflix or something for a movie night with your loved ones, here’s a list of 10 movies and TV shows you should check out.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, Windows PCs, and M1-equipped Macs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for gaming PCs, the PS5, Xbox One and Series X / S, Nintendo Switch, and VR. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Netflix; some great sci-fi books; and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing but may change.)
To the Lake
A 2019 Russian web TV series acquired by Netflix this year, To the Lake, is based on the Russian novel Vongozero by Yana Vagner and focuses on a group of survivors trying to evade a pandemic. The main character is Sergey, who is tasked with getting his family to a desert island in the middle of an area called Vongozero. Sergey is joined by his new girlfriend, her son, his father, his next-door neighbor’s family, his ex-wife, and his young son.
It’s quite unconventional compared to other shows in the apocalyptic zombie genre because it focuses more on its ensemble cast of diverse characters and adds a ton of tension, especially between Sergey’s new girlfriend and his ex-wife.
#Alive is a 2020 South Korean film that focuses on Joon-woo, a video game live-streamer, as he struggles to survive during — yes — a zombie apocalypse. For most of the movie, Joon-woo is barricaded in his parent’s apartment in Seoul. What makes this an intriguing watch is that it accurately depicts some of the same feelings many of us likely had due to the COVID-19 pandemic: fear, uncertainty, isolation, and loneliness.
Internet memes aside, Tiger King is one of the more enjoyable Netflix shows to come out of 2020. It’s a documentary miniseries that spans seven episodes and focuses on Joe Exotic, a private zoo owner with over 200 big cats. The miniseries focuses on various points in his life, such as his unsuccessful runs for public office and his feud with big-cat rights activist Carole Baskin.
Love is Blind
This year, Netflix had a ton of dating shows with wild concepts. Love is Blind brings together 30 men and women looking for love. For 10 days, the men and women partake in a blind / speed dating format where they “date” each other while in different “pods.” After those 10 days of dating, the participants need to decide if they want to become engaged or go home single. All these reality TV shows are very much guilty pleasures — at first watch, I got some mad Married at First Sight vibes.
Tuca & Bertie
With BoJack Horseman airing its final episodes in January, there’s a bit of a void for that type of animation. Last year, my best friend recommended that I watch Tuca & Bertie, about two bird women in their 30s with a very Yin and Yang type friendship. I really enjoyed the amount of diversity in the cast and how the show starred two female protagonists, something I find to be a rarity in adult animation TV shows. And so I was really angry when I heard Netflix decided to cancel the series after one season.
Thankfully, the show is getting a second season, thanks to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, with new episodes slated to premiere next year. You can still watch the first season on Netflix, and if you enjoy shows like BoJack Horseman, I strongly encourage you to go watch Tuca & Bertie as soon as possible. Then ask yourself, “How could Netflix not renew this show?”
I got my first experience with The Witcher franchise after playing the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. First, I decided to go back and revisit the first two games in the trilogy. Then I decided to read the books to see what the games were based on. So when I heard that Netflix was going to make a TV show based on the novels, I was very interested — and the fact that Henry Cavill would play Geralt of Rivia put me totally on board.
The first season aired roughly a year ago, and I really liked it. I am not going to claim the show is better than Game of Thrones because that is an unfair comparison. And I will warn you that the first season warrants a second watch because the story, which shuffles timelines, can get a bit confusing. Nevertheless, if you love fantasy TV shows and liked The Witcher novels and / or the games, the TV show is worth a watch.
A movie adaption based on the 2018 Broadway musical of the same name, The Prom follows a group of Broadway actors who travel to a small Indiana town to aid a lesbian student who was banned from going to her high school prom with her girlfriend. The movie is extremely vibrant with a ton of bright colors and glitter and energetic songs. While the story itself seems a bit disjointed, the acting and songs kept me entertained throughout.
The Big Flower Fight
What happens when you take The Great British Bake Off and switch cooking with floral design? You get The Big Flower Fight, of course. This oddly satisfying reality competition pits artists, florists, and landscapers against each other as they try to build giant sculptures out of plants. I like watching cooking competitions like MasterChef, and I was won over by the idea of a competition to make beautiful sculptures.
As a history buff, I am overly critical whenever I watch movies or TV shows inspired by historical events. While The Crown takes a lot of liberties with what actually happened during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, I can’t stop watching this show. To be honest, I am not following it because of its historical accuracy, but because of the incredible cinematography and superb acting from the cast members.
I grew up watching a bunch of crime-focused shows like Snapped and Unsolved Mysteries. They would keep me up all night while I played detective — and now, as an adult, I keep coming back to them. Originally a series released on NBC in the late 1980s, Unsolved Mysteries has breathed new life to a well-loved trope on the streaming giant’s platform. The 2020 reboot spans six episodes, with each episode focusing on a different cold case.