Editor's Note: The list is in no particular order.
1. The Act
Introduction: Munchausen syndrome by proxy is put under the microscope in this stranger-than-fiction, limited true crime series based on the events that led to the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard in 2015 by her own daughter. To say that Gypsy Rose (expertly portrayed by Joey King) is a prisoner in her own home would be an understatement. She's endured years of medical torture and infantilization as the helpless victim of her abusive mother, Dee Dee, who parades Gypsy and her many feigned "ailments" around as a show pony for money, clout, and mass pity. Eventually, though, Gypsy realizes her mother is the one making her sick, and begins to open a Pandora's box of dark family secrets that grow increasingly unsettling up until the show's pulse-pounding climax. —J.L.R.
2. Castle Rock
Introduction: A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale
Introduction:The Handmaid's Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.
4. Only Murders in the Building
Introduction: Sharing an obsession with true crime, strangers Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver (Martin Short) are brought together after a mysterious death occurs in their exclusive Upper West Side apartment building.
Caught up in the crime, the trio begins to investigate using their precise knowledge of true crime and documenting their findings in a podcast. But when secrets about the building come to light and so do the lies Mabel, Charles, and Oliver have told, pressure mounts to find the killer — one who could be hiding in plain sight.
5. Normal People
Introduction: Marianne and Connell's time at secondary school in County Sligo on Ireland's Atlantic coast, and later as undergraduates at Trinity College Dublin. The focus is mainly Connell's and Marianne's complex relationship. Among her peers at secondary school Marianne is regarded as an oddball, though she rejects having any care for social standing. Despite her academic achievements, her home life is complicated by her dismissive mother, Denise, and resentful brother, Alan. Her father is deceased and is revealed to have been a domestic abuser, though her family avoids mentioning him. Connell is a high-achieving athletic student living with his single mother Lorraine, who is employed by Denise as a cleaner. He is popular in the school community, though he is diminished by remaining silent during the bullying of Marianne. This creates complexity as their relationship develops.
6. Nine Perfect Strangers
Introduction: Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? These nine perfect strangers are about to find out... Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can't even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. Can you stand to be in a room with nine people you don't know?
7. Love, Victor
Introduction: Love, Victor is an American romantic comedy series created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, based on the 2018 movie adaptation, Love, Simon from Becky Albertalli novel, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. It premiered on Hulu on June 17, 2020. On August 2020, Hulu renewed the series for a second season, that premiered on June 11, 2021. On July 2021, it was renewed for a third season.
In the Season 1, the series follows Victor, a new student at Creekwood High School on his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city and exploring his sexual orientation. When it all seems too much, he reaches out to Simon to help him navigate the ups and downs of high school. And the popular teen dramedy returns as season two finds a newly out-of-the-closet Victor entering his junior year at Creekwood High. But being out brings with it new challenges as Victor faces a family struggling with his revelation, a heartbroken ex-girlfriend in Mia, and the difficulties of being an openly gay star athlete — all while navigating the excitement of his relationship with Benji.
Introduction: The series follows first-generation, Egyptian-American Ramy Hassan (Youssef) who is on a spiritual journey in his politically-divided New Jersey neighborhood. Ramy brings a new perspective to the screen as it explores the challenges of what it’s like to be caught between a religious community who believes life is a moral test, and a millennial generation that doubts an afterlife even exists. In the second season, Ramy delves further into his spiritual journey, finding a new Muslim community and embracing a deeper commitment to his faith.
Introduction: DaimonDaimon and Ana Helstrom are two of the underrated greats of Marvel’s comic world. The Son of Satan and his powerful sorcerer sister were created in the early ‘70s as part of Marvel’s horror line, a longtime cult-favorite subsection of Marvel’s colorful superhero world.
Hulu’s new series Helstrom introduces them to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its TV tie-ins, though the visible MCU ties are extremely minor. Unfortunately, the new revival doesn’t fare much better than the comics when it comes to creating a lasting impact, and it only helps bury what makes them unique. The monster-of-the-week format could use any two characters in their place. In the comics world, Daimon and Ana are in tune with the world of the supernatural, but they both have personal issues that prevent them from fulfilling their potential as master occultists. They’re constantly hit with otherworldly attacks that leave them scrambling and on the defensive. Their TV counterparts are acting out more standard primetime-TV fare, which means audiences are losing out on the surreal, doomed tone that made the characters and their circumstances unique.
Introduction: Christopher Abbott is Yossarian, a bombardier, whose frantic obsession every time he goes up on a mission is “to come down alive”. His odds of success at such a simple aim keep getting worse, because Colonel Cathcart (Kyle Chandler) keeps raising the number of missions the men have to fly. More than the retreating Germans, the real enemy for Yossarian and his rag-tag bunch of friends is the bureaucracy of the military, inverting logic at every turn.
The pinnacle of this is Catch-22, a military by-law which states that if you fly your missions, you’re crazy, and don’t have to fly them; all you have to do is ask. But if you as not to, then you’re sane, and so you have to fly them. George Clooney stars as the barking mad, parade-obsessed Scheisskopf. Hugh Laurie is the mellow, slightly checked-out Major de Coverley. Clooney directs the six-episode series, along with Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras.
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