How many hours have you wasted aimlessly scrolling through streaming platforms over the past year, only to repeatedly realise that, actually, you’ve already seen everything worth watching? It’s a pandemic dilemma we’ve all faced, friend. There’s only so many times you can rewatch Steve Carrell gurning in The Office.
But as the world opens back up, so too do our streaming possibilities. New series, films and documentaries are dropping on a daily basis and, now that we’re all busy again (for now), it’s time to start being a little more selective with our choices. THE FACE is here to help, of course, with a new weekly round-up of the best shows and films to suit your needs, whether you’re in the mood for deep thinking or desperately in need of a laugh. Cancel your weekend plans, there’s a lot to get through…
Got time? Watch it all in one go
Never Have I Ever series two
A teen comedy that’s captured the hearts of viewers of all ages, this series, co-created by Mindy Kaling, follows precocious Indian-American teen Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), as she grieves the loss of her dad, pursues Princeton University dreams and, in the second series, juggles two boyfriends. Top lass. A flawed teen balancing two cultures and those potent adolescent hormones, Devi’s character is written with wit and compassion, filling a gaping representation hole in mainstream media. It’s also very funny…
Series one and two are available to stream on Netflix now.
The film worth leaving home to see
Night of the Kings
Director Philippe Lacôte transports us to a Côte d’Ivoire prison in Night of the Kings, where a new inmate is tasked with keeping the penitentiary’s dying ruler entertained by telling stories each night. By ruler, we don’t mean the top prison guard; this domain belongs to its inmates, who wrestle for power using violence and intimidation. Dubbed “Roman” (a griot, aka storyteller), it soon becomes apparent that the prison’s newbie’s only chance of survival is by weaving a story that’s so fascinating his fellow prisoners want him to live, if only to hear the ending. Think Scheherazade with grit. Blurring the lines between reality and fable as the film switches from brutal prison life to majestic, fairytale scenes from Roman’s story, this entrancing movie is an ode to the power of storytelling.
Night of the Kings is in UK cinemas now.
A documentary to feed the brain
The latest in Steve McQueen’s mission to tell the untold stories of Black British history, three-part docuseries Uprising tells the harrowing tale of 1981’s New Cross Fire, which saw 13 young Black people die during a house party in South London. At the time, the police and the tabloid media tried to place the blame on partygoers, falsely accusing them of fighting, but its attendees and the wider Black community believed the fire to be something much more sinister: a racially motivated attack. Forty years on, McQueen reassesses the events of that night and the police investigation, protests and riots that followed, interviewing survivors for a first-hand account of the horror that unfolded. It’s certainly not an easy watch, but if we’re to move forward as a society, it’s an essential one.
Absurd comedy or reality TV to crack a smile
Just when you thought reality TV had reached its deranged zenith, Netflix decided to plaster a bunch of prosthetics and puppet heads on singles’ faces and send them on dates. In this bizarre The-Masked-Singer-meets-First-Dates concept, we get to see phenomena previously unheard of in the natural world: a beaver cosies up with a leopard, a mouse pairs a mullet with a pink leather jacket, a devil woman seduces a mandrill. The show’s “looks shouldn’t matter” premise is completely defeated by the fact that everyone turns out to be pretty hot under their masks anyway, but still, you’ve got to watch one episode just to see how utterly bonkers it is. No, you’re not tripping. It’s just 2021.
Talking points for when your next wave of social fatigue hits
Olympic Opening Ceremony
We know, you’re all sportsed out after the Euros final. So are we. And it certainly feels way too soon for the country to start screaming at the TV again. But alas, the Tokyo Olympics won’t wait for the UK’s footie wounds to heal and, as such, it’s all kicking off this week as planned. Rude. There’s still lots to get excited about, though, starting with the Olympic Opening Ceremony today. A list of performers hasn’t been announced, but we’d expect the ceremony to have a significant focus on Japanese technology and pop culture. Fingers crossed we get to see Hello Kitty have a crack at the pole vault.
On BBC One at 12pm, Friday 23rd July.