So many shows and movies debut on television and streaming services these days that it has become impossible to keep up. Long gone are the days when the whole country would watch “M*A*S*H*” together. Two of the last remaining super popular shows ― “Game of Thrones” and “The Big Bang Theory” ― just ended. You can now reliably fall in love with a show that nobody you know has ever even heard about.
With Netflix increasing the amount of Originals it debuts every year, now just keeping up with what’s on that one streaming service has become a fool’s errand. Almost every week Netflix adds at least one good-to-great show, movie and comedy special, let alone all the foreign projects and non-Original content the company adds.
And so great shows and movies that debuted only months in the past can feel like they came out years ago.
As such, I decided to circle back on a few shows and movies that I had practically forgotten about myself, despite covering them extensively when they debuted. When looking at a list of everything that’s come out this year so far (and it’s only the end of June), many of these titles elicited an “Oh yeah, I loved that” response from me as I realized I hadn’t thought about them for quite some time. And these aren’t foreign movies or super niche projects that never earned a large audience — almost all of these had a big debut for the few days surrounding their release, but now feel like they might as well have never happened in the culture.
So read on to see if you forgot about any of these or maybe didn’t even get a chance to check them out the first time. Regardless, consider giving all of the recommended projects below another shot before moving on to what Netflix has next.
And if you want to stay informed on the many things joining Netflix on a weekly basis, make sure to subscribe to the Streamline newsletter.
“Velvet Buzzsaw” (Movie)
What’s up: A satire of the contemporary art world starring Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich and Rene Russo. “Velvet Buzzsaw” uses a B-movie horror vibe to pair with the highbrow subject matter (and a $21 million budget), which gives the story many opportunities to have comedic set-pieces that are both thematically rich, but also viscerally thrilling.
Look up: Director Dan Gilroy spoke to “The Big Picture” podcast about balancing the various genres of “Velvet Buzzsaw” and his previous movie with Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler.”
“Friends From College” (Series)
What’s up: A group of 40-something friends from college continue to hang out together in New York City despite the various relationship dramas and terrible things that have happened between them. The comedy relies heavily on inventive pratfalls and slapstick. The strong cast of funny people includes Billy Eichner, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage and Cobie Smulders.
Look up: The co-creators spoke to Indiewire about the critically panned first season and how they course-corrected for the second season. “People were saying [about the first season], ‘these characters are just so horrible, hanging out with them is like crawling over broken glass,’” co-creator Francesca Delbanco said.
“Dating Around” (Reality Show)
What’s up: A reality show in which one contestant per episode goes on a handful of blind dates in New York City and can only choose one person to have a second date with (at least on camera). This stands out for its innovative take on the genre, as excellent camerawork makes this look cinematic rather than having the typical reality aesthetic of cheapness.
Look up: Amanda Hess called this show a “pleasant surprise” in The New York Times and made an apt comparison to another Netflix show, writing, “The editing style recalls the ‘Master of None’ episode ‘First Date,’ in which Aziz Ansari’s Dev embarks on a series of app-mediated encounters that are spliced together into a single narrative.”
“High Flying Bird” (Movie)
What’s up: During an NBA lockout, an agent tries to convince his young client to help him disrupt the entrenched power of the team owners over the players. This stars Zazie Beetz, Andre Holland, Kyle MacLachlan, Zachary Quinto and Sonja Sohn.
Look up: In an interview for “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” director Steven Soderbergh talked about his choice to film this movie with an iPhone and the unexpected filmmaking advantages that came with that.
“Black Earth Rising” (Series)
What’s up: A survivor of the Rwandan genocide lives in the United Kingdom and works as a legal investigator much like her British adoptive mother. When taking on a case involving an African militia leader, she uncovers parts of her past that put her future in question. Michaela Coel and John Goodman star.
Look up: Coel spoke to Vulture about the role and how she found a similarity with the character, saying, “I’m very much like her in a lot of ways in that I sometimes am not aware of my own trauma, so [I focus on] a wider thing: race, politics, war, TV, subconscious bias, prejudice, colorism, and kind of, We’ve got to sort this out! We’ve got to! It’s a way of not looking at you, maybe because you’re not aware.”
“Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy” (Docu-series)
What’s up: Comedian Larry Charles (“Seinfeld” and “Borat”) travels the world to interview comedians in unexpected places, where the conventional wisdom is that nobody could laugh among such horrors. Going to these actual extremes (at one point he interviews an alleged member of ISIS) makes this an inherently thrilling watch, but also one with much educational value to anyone interested in comedic philosophy.
Look up: Charles went on the “Chapo Trap House” podcast to talk about a few of the wilder moments in the show and his general approach to comedy.
“Sex Education” (Series)
What’s up: The high schooler son of a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson) in the United Kingdom teams up with his fellow outcast friend and a debt-ridden cool girl to create a makeshift sex therapy business. This ingratiates the trio with the student body, but also leads to relationship complications that the high schoolers are barely mature enough to handle.
Look up: The Guardian had a piece about the beauty of the Wales town setting and how the actual locals felt about the show. “This really is the most beautiful valley and in every season it has its charm,” said one of the locals named Roger Brown. “I have lived in Llandogo all my life and it is great to see it from above now at the beginning of the show, something they filmed with a big drone.”
“Trigger Warning with Killer Mike” (Docu-series)
What’s up: Grammy-winning rapper Killer Mike (Run the Jewels) tackles various issues within the black community with humorous interviews and ambitious comedic bits centered around activism. The show has a “Nathan For You” vibe, but jumps past the ridiculous premises to make philosophical points.
Look up: Killer Mike went on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to talk about the show and share a Crips-branded soda he created in one episode to parallel the merchandise sold by white gangs such as the Hells Angels.
What’s up: Mark Duplass and Ray Romano star in a buddy comedy about two men finding out that the most meaningful relationship in their lives has been their friendship. The duo has to deal with one of them getting terminal cancer and what it means to know their friendship will come to a permanent end.
Look up: Romano spoke with the Los Angeles Times about how even though he has done more serious dramatic comedies lately (“The Big Sick” and “Vinyl”) he still gravitates toward projects that have similarities to “Everybody Loves Raymond,” specifically how it focused on minute details within relationships.
“The OA” (Series)
What’s up: An ambitious show starring Brit Marling as a character who can jump between realities while an independent investigator tries to solve a mystery about a corporation potentially exploiting a mysterious new science. This second season recalibrated from the first to have much more of a “Twin Peaks: The Return” vibe, mixing eerie yet beautiful establishment shots with fun but grounded dialogue about high-concept plot points.
Look up: Rachel Syme called this “the best, most inaccessible show on television” in The New Republic, an apt description for a show that had a polarizing first season and then returned to introduce even more mysteries into the show’s universe.