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While June isn’t quite over yet (and one of Netflix’s best series is still set to premiere later this week), it’s time for what you might have missed on Netflix this past month.
If my social media news feeds are anything to go by, I doubt many people missed out on on catching the eight-episode second season of this reality hit (I’m a bit dubious on this being the actual second season and not simply a second half to season one, but I’ll take the Fab 5 any way I can get ’em). Much like the excellent first season, season two was an absolute joy to watch, with the Fab 5 making over a wide array of individuals (including a woman and a transman). Once again, there were plenty of tear inducing moments, along with plenty of laughs. And, perhaps heeding the comments on season one, certain members of the Fab 5 were given a bit more to do: we actually got to see Bobby in the process of making over some spaces and Antoni managed to teach his charges a bit more than how to properly create a dip with avocado.
Most importantly, the show took the rare “less is more” approach to programming (something some other Netflix shows should really look into), giving us just enough Queer Eye before making us wait for the next go-round with our favorite gay men. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up (or a good happy cry), spend some time with the Fab 5.
If you are one of those people who is addicted to the true crime genre (think Serial or Making a Murderer), The Staircase is can’t miss television. And, if you are a lawyer like me who wasn’t a big fan of either of those shows, this is the smart, complicated, and incredibly well-done true crime show you’ve been waiting for. Originally a multi-part 2004 French documentary, this release of the piece comes complete with additional episodes that take into account the 2016 appeals process surrounding the case.
The Staircase tells the story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist from North Carolina, whose wife is found dead at the bottom of the stairs from apparent blunt force trauma to the head. Peterson is the sole suspect, and is charged with her murder, which tears his family apart. The original documentary (which consists of the initial ten episodes) details the trial of Peterson, while the final three (the new portion) work through his appeal and where Peterson and his family are now, fifteen years after the death of Kathleen Peterson in 2001. As a lawyer, this is the most accurate depiction of trial prep and defense work I’ve seen in a true crime documentary, and it’s an incredible piece to watch. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I really wanted to like season two of Luke Cage. I enjoyed the first half of season one, and really liked Luke’s appearances in season one of Jessica Jones, but this second season of the series was just not good. I don’t know if it was due to the time between seasons one and two (while Luke Cage appeared in the superhero team-up series The Defenders, the writers behind the show didn’t really do much with the character or Jessica Jones, so I don’t consider that to be a true story point for either character), or if it’s just the writing staff and actors taking things in a different direction, but nearly everyone seemed to be acting completely out of character. Luke, who had taken the mantle as Harlem’s Protector rather reluctantly, is now showboating all over the place. Mariah, who was a sensible villain in season one, has turned into a full-on mustache twirling villain. The only one with any real sense is the newly bionic Misty (although she is having some issues with authority, but they appear to come from a much more organic place than these other character developments).
Once Danny Rand . . . oh, my bad, The Immortal Iron Fist . . . popped in to team-up with Luke, I had to tap out. As with season two of Jessica Jones, there are way too many episodes to fill, which makes the season drag for hours at a time (six to eight episode mini-seasons would probably be the best option for these Marvel shows- with a season of zero episodes for our buddy the Iron Fist). The highlight of the season comes from the music and ambiance created throughout the season- something Netflix Marvel shows have excelled at. Much like I worry Jessica Jones will never be able to capture the success of its first season (and the use of an incredible villain in Killgrave), I don’t know if Luke Cage will ever have the same fire it had in the first half of season one, where Luke battled with the spectacular Cottonmouth. It certainly didn’t manage to do so with season two.
I didn’t put out one of these lists for Netflix in either April or May because there weren’t that many interesting things premiering. Or so I thought, as I stumbled upon Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist recently, and wow, is it something. The series tells the tale of the infamous bank heist/pizza delivery man bombing that happened in Pennsylvania back in 2003. I recalled hearing about the bombing aspect of the crime (a pizza delivery man, Brian Wells, was killed when a homemade bomb attached around his neck went off while cops surrounded him), but I didn’t know about the insanity to followed. The documentary series delves into the planning of the crime, highlighting the different individuals who may or may not have been involved (including, possibly, Wells himself). It’s an intriguing look at human nature- and how some people think they can outsmart the law.
Wrapping up the month of June is the release of the second season of GLOW (June 29), which offered a really great (and surprising) first season last summer. The perfect show to binge, GLOW was an utter joy to take in last year, and I have incredibly high hopes it will continue its success with its second season. I’ll have a review of the show up in the coming weeks.