Valentine’s Day sucks. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t celebrate your undying love, nor even to not celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. However, the day itself sucks. It’s a money grab, and every even peripherally-related industry knows it. Roses are about four times the price of roses the day before or the day after, and restaurants change their menus to hackneyed Valentine’s Day menus that are designed to be able to be easy to prep and serve. Every chef I know hates the Valentine’s Day menu. None of them want to cook yet another molten chocolate cake. Do you really want to eat food that is cooked with that degree of hate?
No, of course not. Choose love, choose life. Choose to stay in and netflix and chill. Literally. Here’s my list of the top 10 Valentine’s Day Netflix binges. Your date night can wait until the 15th.
- Daredevil (Netflix)Starring that guy from Numbers, and also Hannibal (Charlie Cox), the first and second seasons of this adaptation of Marvel’s blind ninja-like superhero mixes complex characters with a somewhat convoluted, but still generally compelling, narrative. It also features some of the best fight scenes since, well, Old Boy, which inspires single take fight scene in a hallways full of henchmen. The Valentine’s Day tie-in: the muddled relationships between the main characters.
- Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
This adaptation of Piper Kerman’s novel is a bit less gritty than the memoir, and a lot less “authentic,” but that goes for pretty much any adaptation. No one really wants a police procedural in which a moose wandering in the park is the main crisis, anyway. The later seasons get a bit flabby, and then bam, you are hit with a doozy of a season. Of course, in the memoir, the protagonist is in the system for two years. So, to fill out so many episodes, either she has to get stuck in the clank for much longer, or things just happen at a frenetic pace in prison. Romance? It’s a choice between Jason Biggs and Laura Prepon. C’mon now. Of course, then you get a season of Ruby Rose.
- The Walking Dead (AMC)The Hospital Scene in the very first episode of the series, when Rick wakes up from coma into a world that has taken a decided change for the worse, still resonates. It’s hard to describe the awesomeness that is the first two seasons, and “survivors navigate lawless, zombie-ridden America” seems somehow inadequate to describe one of the best shows of the decade. Enjoy the first two seasons as our protagonists navigate couples counseling in the zombie apocalypse.
- Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)This was much anticipated, and it doesn’t disappoint. At least, not the first few episodes. No spoilers, please (my kids finished this one well before me). The show follows the three talented and precocious Baudelaire children, who constantly outsmart the villainous, vain, and only semi-competent Count Olaf, who is after their vast fortune following a mysterious house fire that apparently claims the lives of their parents. The series plays out like a collaboration between Wes Anderson and Tim Burton, and it’s really an excuse – I mean vehicle – for Neil Patrick Harris to ham it up. And there is nothing wrong with that.
- Narcos (Netflix)I thought I was practicing my Spanish, but it seems that the joke is on me. Apparently, Wagner Moura, who plays Columbian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, speaks terrible Spanish. Nonetheless, he gives an amazing performance that is charismatic and terrifying, and sometimes, touching. Besides, the series is visually stunning. The entire show drips the heat and the fecundity of jungles and blood, although I think that the setting never moves further north than Miami).
- Black Mirror This is the American release of a British anthology set in a dystopian near-future (or even a future-now). That it’s an anthology means that unlike the other, character-driven series I’ve been recommending, it will be easier to stop watching so that you can get to more Valentine-y activities. Note: if you are looking to engage in after-the-show intimacies, maybe skip the pig-fornicating (really) episode. Unless you like that type of stuff.
- Justified (FX, on Amazon Prime – I know, I know)If ever there was an American hero, it would be Timothy Oliphant’s Raylan Givens. That is to say, he embodies being crap at relationships while being hyper-competent at his job, which he demonstrates by acting constantly insubordinate in the name of efficacy and efficiency. In other words, he sucks at relationships, but that’s okay because he is a badass who gets things done and is a rugged individualist who has no time for bureaucracy. Also, he is great with one-liners. If you have ever dreamed of being this hardcore even once, this show is for you.
- Shameless (Showtime)Robert H. Macy plays the drunken, narcissistic, father of a large Irish family in South Chicago. The family copes with the turd pie life serves to them, as well with all the romantic, legal, and other mad troubles they get themselves into. What’s to not like? It’s like your family, but with much better acting. Plus, you have Emmy Rossum as Fiona, the oldest sibling. The show is worth showing for that alone.
- The Leftovers (HBO – on Amazon Prime)What if 2% of the population of the world suddenly disappeared? The Leftovers explores the world after something that could be the rapture. On Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to love, counteract all those gooey, icky feelings with a marathon spent watching of a show dedicated to the themes of isolation, grief, and disorientation.
- Westworld (HBO – on Amazon Prime)In Westworld, androids called “hosts” cater to the whims of the paying customers, or “guests,” in a virtual western setting. But what happens when the hosts start to realize that maybe not everything is as it seems? You can see this as a treatise on artificial intelligence. Or, it could just be a fun and scary science fiction show. This was one of the HBO’s biggest names of 2016, and for good reason.
There you go. Hours and hours of passive consumption. After all of that, you should have at least some energy left. Enjoy yourself.