Tired: Uncut Gems. Wired: Good Time
We all do it: scrolling through Netflix for eons, giving up before finding anything to watch. At this point, facing the Netflix homepage is a daunting task.
The Top 10 shows you titles you have no interest in and the algorithm is scrambled by things you half-watched and didn't like and the choices of whoever else is using your Netflix password. Inundated with irrelevant recommendations of the same Netflix originals, it can seem like there's nothing to watch.
But there must be. Netflix Originals have been dominating at award shows for years and the streaming giant adds new content almost daily. Yet, all the potential gold seems buried under the same tired content. But there is hope beyond the disappointing streak you might be stuck in — from hidden gems to less problematic alternatives to overrated Netflix titles.
Overrated: Emily In Paris
The quintessential overrated show, Emily in Paris has terrorized our Netflix recommendations since it premiered in the middle of lockdown. It was a godsend for white women who moved to New York thinking they were Carrie Bradshaw and are now fantasizing about another city to ruin with nothing in tow but their bad outfits and their dreams.
Inexplicably, Emily in Paris was quickly granted a second season and famously received Golden Globes nominations. Like Sex and the City-lite, the show plays up the fantasy of living in the big city, surviving with nothing but your wits and your white privilege. It was ostensibly so popular because of the escapism it offered, and the part-enviable, part-relatable story of a young woman's life.
But in this genre, it's the bottom rung and there are alternatives which feel-good without sacrificing quality to such an egregious extent.
Overrated: Marriage Story
What is it about Adam Driver that everyone has been obsessed with since Marriage Story? His giant hands? His character's frequent crying? That scene where he punches a hole in the wall that's perfect fodder for memes? Whatever about Adam Driver has had the internet gripped, it can't be this movie because though it might have been technically good, it kind of just felt like if that couple from La La Land had gotten together and then divorced — some sort of sad, boring, familiar-feeling trek.And though the film got more than its share of awards attention and Noah Baumbach, aka the director dating Greta Gerwig, has had his share of hits, he's had his share of misses too. Marriage Story falls somewhere in the middle, but we're tired of hearing about it.
Overrated: Trial of the Chicago 7
Despite its 2021 Oscar Best Picture Nominations, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is not a good film. It had all the overtures of a good film: political commentary, an artfully experimental structure, and a powerhouse cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Yahya Abul-Mateen II.
However, its lukewarm version of the infamous trial of 1969 fails to do justice to the actual historical moment. The overly capacious effort dilutes the complex politics and personalities of the Chicago 7 and reduces Bobby Seale especially into a contrived plot point meant to stir white guilt.
The film's ending is not the powerful emotional catharsis it wants to be and makes a hero of the least radical character. Over all, the film was placating with a satisfying ending — overly so, for a move about the persistently unfair legal system.
Overrated: Hillbilly Elegy
When the memoir Hillbilly Elegy came out in 2016, it very quickly became the book white liberals touted to prove that they were Not Elitist and, in the face of the 2016 election, tried to understand what went wrong by understanding the lives of people different from them.
The film version feels gratuitous and overdone. The chronicle of poverty p*rn is melodramatic in an attempt at morality. It's also, frankly, boring and predictable. Despite the high profile actors and Netflix promotion, the movie fell flat.
Overrated: I Care A Lot
Rosamund Pike is glorious in I Care A Lot, but the film's attempt at feminism — and even its hint at the perils of corporate feminism — is more implied than realized. The film is enjoyable enough to watch, mostly because of the thrill of watching Pike and Eiza Gonzalez rise to meet the stakes in excellent pantsuits and incredible hair, but it was ultimately hollow and overhyped.Rosamund Pike and her vape carried the film on its back but, for a film about Girl Power, some of its overly-pointed dialogue felt so obviously written by a man, and there were no memorable lines or monologues or speeches — imagine casting the woman who delivered the Cool Girl Monologue and wasting it. Disappointing.
Overrated: Django Unchained
Of all the Tarantino revenge fantasies, Django Unchained is the most egregious. I wish cancel culture had been around after Tarantino cast himself saying the N-word liberally and unnecessarily in Pulp Fiction just so that we would not have been subjected to a career defined by foot-shots and gore.Yes, we may have gotten the gift of long haired Brad Pitt shirtless on a roof in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, but we were also subjected to Brad Pitt fighting a racist caricature of Bruce Lee and murdering his wife in the same film so, with Tarantino, we can't win.
Overrated: 13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why had its run as one of the most famous Netflix shows — but it didn't deserve it. The book of the same name was a powerful exploration of teenage relationships and mental illness but the nuance was sacrificed for sensationalism in the Netflix adaptation.
This was not just disappointing, but dangerous. The show glamorized mental illness, valorized the emotional manipulation of the characters, and even inspired problematic real-life copycats. While an attempt to start a conversation about mental health, the show was inelegant and too focused on teenage drama to do any good.
Overrated: The Irishman
Martin Scorsese is known for his drawn out, epic tales that tell his character's stories starting from childhood like Goodfellas and The Departed. His craft is one that spares no detail, and even his shorter, more focused works like Taxi Driver and Shutter Island focus on character development.
The Irishman, released on Netflix, takes this slow detailed approach to an extreme — culminating in a three hour movie that keeps you guessing on who you're going to have to root for, and who is going to die before the halfway mark.
The film isn't bad, but it feels familiar to any other Scorsese mob film — the same actors, the same betrayals. You've seen it all before, and you didn't have to sit through three hours to do it.
Overrated: Uncut Gems
The more famous Safdie brother film, Uncut Gems is incredible and iconic — but still feels overhyped because of every boy in a Brooklyn basement party (oh to be at one of those now) who has ever mansplained it to someone.
Adam Sandler delivers a career performance reminiscent of his role in Punch Drunk Love and wears a wardrobe so iconic it will live on for years — a yellow scuba shirt, a leather jacket, a fist full of rings.
But if you haven't seen it by now, you probably won't, and so much of its euphoric impact comes from seeing the ending for the first time that the no watching experience lives up to the first.