Why does it feel like such a big decision to click “play” on a new show?
I really fell into a slump with TV shows last fall, constantly going back to my same old binge-worthy favorites and not exploring anything new. If you’re like me and have been looking for something else to change up your “continue watching” lists, I highly recommend you check out “Shrill,” “Next in Fashion” or “Sex Education.” A lot of popular shows the last few years have been increasingly dramatic and/or devastatingly sad. (Yes, I gave up on The Walking Dead after that first episode of season 7 and I’m still mad about it.) These options all offer positive, heartfelt responses to that trend.
Shrill now has two seasons available on Hulu and is the first “Hulu Original” that I’ve watched. It’s absolutely brilliant and I would probably best describe it as refreshing. SNL’s Aidy Bryant plays the main character, Annie, who tackles career, romantic and body image struggles with both bravery and hilarity. It resonated with me on a level that no other show has for its unbridled portrayal of life as a plus-size woman.
I was brought to tears a few times because I was so moved by seeing a woman who looks like me on TV. Annie navigates her way through the dense jungle of backhanded compliments and overt fat-phobic comments that many women do, and although she gets push back sometimes she continues to come out on the other side more confident.
There are also multiple side characters worthy of falling in love with, including multiple queer folks. It’s truly a show that I think just about any 20-something could enjoy.
Next in Fashion
Next In Fashion is Netflix’s answer to Project Runway, hosted by the delightful Tan France of Queer Eye and writer/model Alexa Chung. Its 10, one-hour episodes make it an easy-to-digest, low-commitment show to watch. Tan and Alexa play off each other in a delightfully light-hearted way, not taking their jobs as hosts of a reality competition too seriously. There are initially 18 contestants who work in teams, and the dynamics that play out over the course of the season make you feel like they’re all more of a quirky family than competitors. Think of it as Great British Bake Off, but with less desserts and slightly more eccentric outfits.
Even though high-end fashion is not an industry I generally care about, I came to love the contestants. The cast is a diverse mix of backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities, making it all the more interesting to see their interpretations of each episode’s runway theme. I was so invested in the finale that my body was literally tense with excitement as each new look hit the runway.
Although it’s easily the most divisive pick on this list for its younger audience and subject matter, I still think that this Netflix original is an important show to support. Set in the U.K. equivalent of a high school, the story follows a very colorful cast of teenagers who are all just generally doing their best at becoming adults and understanding their own identities. When I say colorful, I mean literally – the show’s noteworthy aesthetics include physical settings and clothing selections intentionally reminiscent of John Hughes’ cult classics. The soundtracks for each episode have also clearly be very carefully chosen, adding to its timeless atmosphere.
The show tackles both serious and comically non-serious subjects. Characters grapple with gender expression, sexuality, assault, consent, teen pregnancy, sexism and many, many more issues over the course of the show’s two released seasons. However, the writer are carefully to weave in enough ridiculous teenage antics to keep the overall tone light and funny.