Not only have we reached the era of Peak TV, but it’s starting to look like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer climbs to the summit of an enormous mountain (The Murderhorn), only to learn that it is in fact not the summit and there is still much higher to go. Netflix is spending $7 billion on new original content for 2018, and in doing so, I do believe they may be trying to kill us.
Or maybe Netflix is simply keeping up with the times. Every studio and platform is pumping out more and more shows and show-like entertainments for our quick consumption and instant forget-abouting. It’s no wonder some amazing projects get lost in the shuffle during, say, the mad dash to finish GLOW before the new season of BoJack drops. And it’s not just TV series. Movies get buried too. (Let’s not even mention books; those do not exist anymore for any reason other than to serve as blueprints for more shows.)
So take a break from reading year-end best lists to watch some of the movies, shows, albums, comedy specials, and podcasts that fell between the cracks in 2017. Maybe something will end up on your future must-watch list, which would then cause you to miss the next underrated freshman offering and perpetuate the cycle anew. That’s how this works.
Netflix Original Movies
- The Discovery – Jason Segel and Rooney Mara star in this realistic sci-fi drama about what happens after we discover proof of the afterlife.
- Little Evil – Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly anchor a comedic take on whatever genre of horror movies includes The Omen.
- I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood amble through this ramshackle semi-thriller from frequent Jeremy Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair.
Big-Budget Comedies Nobody Saw
- The House – To paraphrase our country’s finest film critic, Chance the Rapper, this Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler joint, with a typically scene-stealing Jason Mantzoukas as third lead, did not deserve its ice-cold box office reception.
- Rough Night – Oddly enough, right around the same time as The House struck out, this ultimate bachelorette-party-gone-wrong comedy–which stars Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz and Kate McKinnon–also slipped by without catching the audience it deserves.
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe – Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox play a family of morticians, but the real star is an extremely vexing female corpse.
- The Devil’s Candy – You want a metal horror movie? This evil house epic starring Ethan Embry and Shiri Appleby is the most metal horror movie.
- The Transfiguration – It’s the most innovative take on vampires in some time.
- Creep 2 – Mark DuPlass’s skin-crawly serial killer is back, with a new videographer to antagonize–and a midlife serial killer crisis.
- Landline – Jenny Slate and her Obvious Child director, Gillian Robespierre, reunited for this perfectly charming relationship comedy, set in mid-’90s NYC.
- Personal Shopper – Kristen Stewart is magnetic as a young American in Paris, working for a celebrity and possibly communicating with her recently deceased twin brother.
- Brigsby Bear – SNL star Kyle Mooney is off to a promising screenwriting/starring debut with this film about a man newly freed from the kidnapper who raised him and finding a creative way to cope.
- The Lost City of Z – Charlie Hunnam stars as an early 20th century British explorer making his way through the Amazon, in an adaptation of David Grann’s bestselling book.
- Step – This real-life story, about a girls’ high school step team from inner-city Baltimore trying to become the first in their families to attend college, will tread all over your heart.
- Difficult People – Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner’s series about a pair of opinionated New Yorkers trying to gatecrash show business closed out its run with a stellar third season.
- Detroiters – SNL expat Tim Robinson joins forces with Veep’s Sam Richardson for this amiable, goofy show about a couple of local advertising execs who are hilariously terrible at their jobs.
- Big Mouth – This animated comedy about puberty–co-created by Nick Kroll, who stars, along with John Mulaney and Maya Rudolph–offers belly laughs along with shivers of recognition about things you’ve long since forgotten.
- Downward Dog – A dog narrates this comedy starring Alison Tolman. It’s already been canceled but still deserves an audience.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rachel Bloom’s musical celebration of anxiety has been around for a couple years now, but in its third season, it morphed into a very realistic portrayal of mental illness that’s not seen on TV very often.
- The Sinner – Despite a Golden Globe nomination for star Jessica Biel, this mystery about a woman’s surprise violent tendencies somehow went under the radar.
- Alias Grace – While Handmaid’s Tale got all the accolades and Emmys, this other tense, mesmerizing Margaret Atwood adaptation, about a domestic servant accused and convicted of murdering of her employer, deserves a look too.
- I Love Dick – Jill Soloway created this show about an intellectually bored New Yorker (Katherine Hahn) who becomes unhealthily infatuated with a stoic, arty Texan (Kevin Bacon).
- Claws – Niecy Nash stars in this personality-driven series about a group of overworked manicurists in economically depressed Central Florida.
- Line of Duty – Yet another British cop show, but one that keeps up the genre’s hot streak. It’s set in an internal affairs unit, and the most recent season stars Thandie Newton as a London detective desperate to protect herself as the walls start closing in on her.
Netflix Comedy Specials
- Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King – The Daily Show correspondent offers the most slide-show-like comedy special of all time and somehow makes it work.
- Lucas Brothers: On Drugs – If you enjoyed these laconic brothers’ turn in 22 Jump Street, you’ll like their standup special too.
- Neal Brennan: 3 Mics – In an innovative approach, Brennan uses a different mic for each of his modes here: one-liners, jokes, and longer stories.
- Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy – This special is low-key political, culturally relevant, but mostly just plain funny.
- Joe Mande: Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special – If you miss Joe Mande since he dramatically quit Twitter earlier this fall, watch him in his element in this debut special.
- Vic Mensa: The Autobiography – The Kanye-blessed rapper was prolific this year, and it is shocking that this album wasn’t a huge breakthrough hit.
- Japanese Breakfast: Soft Sounds from Another Planet – Prepare to be properly chilled.
- Rostam: Half-Light – The Vampire Weekend maestro (now departed from the band) and Discovery cohort made a promising solo debut.
- Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice – Two indie superstars united to make great jangly melodies together.
- Slowdive: Slowdive – The return of one of the key shoegaze bands of the ’90s found them picking up exactly where they left off.
- Sincerely X – Imagine a series of TED Talks from people who, for a variety of reasons, must not reveal their identities.
- Rough Translation – In NPR’s new international podcast, host Gregory Warner globe-trots to find stories that enrich whatever we’re all talking about back home.
- Tumanbay – Novelistic in scope, this multi-character epic is set in the fictional city of Tumanbay, the heart of a vast empire that is incurring threats from within and without.
- Mogul – This new podcast covers both mental health and the music industry.
- Heavyweight – Described as a “podcast about journeying back to the moment it all went wrong.” Host Jonathan Goldstein started off with stories from his family and friends, but in 2017’s season two, he expanded the concept to fascinating effect.
- Steal the Stars – A sci-fi noir serial created by the award-winning playwright Mac Rogers and voiced by film, theater, and voice actors.