WHAT WE'RE BINGE-WATCHING
Feature photo courtesy of @euphoria
From Disney+ to Hulu, here are the shows taking over my life
Despite being the proud owner of Disney+ (shoutout to Disney’s soft launch for the free trial), Hulu (shoutout to my ex for looping me in on his password), HBO (shoutout to my brother for including me in his Apple TV family plan) and Netflix (Shoutout to myself, because I’m clearly an independent woman who can pay for ~a~ subscription) accounts, I do not watch enough shows to justify my open access to all of them.
I always find myself rewatching the same shows from 2005. I put sitcoms on in the background in a loud-enough-to-hear-but-not-enough-to-disturb-me volume when I’m working on school assignments; for me, the repetitive laugh tracks and predictable punchlines are a form of low-maintenance companionship. I don’t have the will-power to simultaneously hang out with my friends and focus on the task at hand, so my form of entertainment became virtual.
For me, the repetitive laugh tracks and predictable punchlines are a form of low-maintenance companionship.
As I was going through a final push of midterms and assignments, I needed a distraction to keep me afloat and away from the sea of work. I ended up spending all of my downtime and study breaks watching these shows. And I spent all my other time looking forward to the next episode.
1. Living With Yourself (2019) on Netflix
Like everyone else in the world, I love Paul Rudd. Netflix seems to know this too because it wouldn’t stop shoving the trailer to Living With Yourself down my throat. At last, I caved. The 8 mini-episodes were easy to watch, but each episode is thought-provoking and urges you to dig below the surface.
Without spoiling the show, the protagonist Miles (portrayed by Paul Rudd), is also the antagonist of the show. The two are often at each other’s throats because they both want to exist without the other. It brings up the conundrum of wanting to be the most perfect version of yourself, yet losing yourself in the process because it is no longer you. Without mistakes and flaws, there is no way we would come out of the other end better, even if it’s the shallow grave you’re buried into (as portrayed in the trailer).
At times I felt like I needed to take a break between episodes to process, but Living With Yourself is overall a smooth binge. My favorite episode is the third episode overall in the season, ‘Green Tea’: it introduces the existential dread of not being enough in your life and for the people around you. The heightened dynamic and interactions between New Miles and Old Miles glued my eyes to the episode, leaving me wanting more.
Wen’s Unbiased-Biased Rating: ★★★★☆
2. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000) on Hulu
I was barely alive during the original run of Beverly Hills, 90210, but our age difference doesn’t mean I haven’t watched all of its reboots. I have, but I have always stayed away from the original series because I was afraid that I wouldn’t get the dated jokes and references. However, with Luke Perry’s recent death, seeing the show’s influence trickle through the fast-fashion industry, and its most recent attempt at a reboot, the show popped back onto my radar.
Unlike the also rich-kid-centered, Gossip Girl, the show showcases relatable family and friend problems beneath the Beverly Hills glamour. From dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, to coping with your parents’ divorce, to practicing abstinence under hook-up culture, to finding the balance between school and yourself, the show broke my expectations. I expected a shallow show about how ‘tough’ it must be to be privileged, but instead, it used its popularity to try to make a difference and show their young audiences that they are not alone in their struggles.
Overall, it was an easy show to watch, I would space out for a few episodes and catch up with the storyline in no time. Noticeable continuity errors (is David’s dad is a director or dentist?) when you binge through them.
Wen’s Unbiased-Biased Rating: ★★★☆☆
3. Euphoria (2019) on HBO, Apple TV
First things first: for a show based in California, there are barely any Asians. In the back of my mind, I kept hoping I’d eventually see an Asian kid carrying his parents’ ‘Princeton or bust’ attitude on his back whilst struggling with his Asian identity in a Western environment.
That aside, Euphoria took over all aspects of my life before I even laid eyes on it. My Instagram explore page was filled with Euphoria-inspired makeup and fashion. My YouTube recommendations were flooded with compilations of Maddy Perez being a badass.
Euphoria itself is quite a masterpiece of a show. It spoke more truth about high school and teenage culture than any of its precedents, showing the raw and ugly side instead of sugarcoating or brushing over it with a song and dance number. Euphoria was a better representation of how my high school and classmates were like. Without spoiling the show, its portrayal of Maddy and Nate’s relationship storyline sheds important light on how common toxicity exists within high school relationships.
Wen’s Unbiased-Biased Rating: ★★★★★
4. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (2005-2008) on Disney+
When Disney+ offered free trials in the Netherlands, I knew what I wanted from its vault: The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. I grew up watching dubbed Disney channel shows, and it wasn’t until recent years that I heard the original version of this show.
It is quite odd looking back on these characters, noting their recent shows (Cole Sprouse and the really really poorly written Riverdale plotlines...), but the show itself, with its horrendous early 2000s fashion (think Ashley Tisdale’s horrendous red carpet looks), made it entertaining to watch.
The plotlines are easy to follow—especially if you watched the original series. I am making my way through the series slowly in comparison to my other binge-worthy choices as Disney+ doesn’t automatically play the next episode -- you have to manually select the next episode. This choice is probably due to it being catered towards children, but it made for a less-smooth binge-watching session for adults who are nostalgic over a simpler time.