Movie Reviews, TV Reviews

Escapism TV for January 2021

*Sigh* – well friends I want the refund on my seven day trail for 2021. I am horrified by the events in the US and I’ve spent the last 48 hours glued to the TV (I stayed up until 1am watching the coverage on Wednesday).

There are a lot of jokes floating around about how this is the series finale of America: The Trump Years but I hate this show and I want to ensure it never gets renewed. Frankly, I’m exhausted and need a break. I want to turn off this show and turn on something *mindless*.

So this is what I can do for you. I’ve got some escapism content that I’d recommend on all your favourite streamers if you want to turn off your brain this weekend/month. Lots of classics, lots of mindless reality, romcoms, and heist films. Things that are pure fun and hopefully won’t stress you out too much.

It was so kind of them to release Headspace: Guide to Meditation this week. Start with that. Then dive into any of the classic rom com – films like Legally Blonde, Clueless, Bring it On, Crazy Stupid Love, What a Girl Wants, 17 Again, You’ve Got Mail, How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days, and The Wedding Planner, or try a newer rom-com like Set It Up, Always be My Maybe, or To All The Boys I Loved Before. When I’m stressed I also love watching a musical – I can’t help but smile and sing away my problems so I’m recommending Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Grease, and The Wizard of Oz. There is also nothing that a Nancy Meyers movie and a glass of white wine can’t fix so curl up with It’s Complicated or The Holiday.

If that’s not your thing but you’d rather get some agression out with an action film – I always reach for a heist film. Catch Me If You Can, Oceans 12, Da Vinci Code, and Now You See Me 2 are all good options. On the TV side the mother of all heists is Money Heist. It is fantastic and very long so it will keep you engaged for a while.

There is always the comfort TV option – shows like Gilmore Girls, New Girl, The Office, and Brooklyn 99 are all great choices. If you missed The Babysitters Club – watch it. It’s perfect. Plus a full brain checkout can happen with The Circle. There are three versions on Netflix: USA, France, and Brazil watch them all.

Lastly if you do want to escape but also tap in I’ve got three picks for you. First – Harry Potter is the ultimate escapism for millennials and it’s nice to see someone beat the bad guys. Movies 5-8 are up on Netflix. Second – The Hunger Games might be a bit close with all the chatter about the ‘capital’ but I’ve heard a lot of people talk about wanting to watch this right now. Third – this is an extraordinary time but it was also an extraordinary time in the 90s in Northern Ireland and it’s very fun to watch the Derry Girls make it seem so ordinary. A civil war couldn’t stop them and it won’t stop you!

All that said I wouldn’t recommend Designated Survivor – it’s a *bit* close.

Crave is surprisingly all about reality TV escapism. RuPaul’s Drag Race just started their 13th American season and the 2nd season of the British version launches next week. It’s fun to have something to look forward to and this will do it. While you’re waiting for new episodes you can catch up on all the old classics: Ex on the Beach, Geordie Shore, Laguna Beach, The Hills, and PUNK’D. I’d also highly recommend Are You The One: Come One Come All. It’s the special edition 8th season and it is fantastic.

Crave also recently acquired your favourite comfort sitcom Friends, but it also has Letterkenny, and Seinfeld, plus the complete HBO collection.

If you loved Bridgerton, Crave has more like this. IMO – there is nothing more relaxing than Keira Knightly’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice. Crave also has the newest Austen movie – Emma. Other movies to check out while you are checking out include A League of Their Own, Mamma Mia, My Best Friends Wedding, The Devil Wears Prada, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Yesterday. If you want to see a cop that knows what they are doing – Sandra Bullock has two movies to do the trick – The Heat and of course Miss Congeniality.

My other main strategy to decompress is to watch kid’s movies: Despicable Me, Night At The Museum, and The Goonies are all great options.

If you are looking to use that ‘watch kid’s movies to decompress’ strategy the number one place for you to go is Disney+.

I could honestly list off every movie on the platform but these are my personal favourites. On the animation side, I love 101 Dalmations, The Aristocats, Emperor’s New Groove, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, and Tangled. From Disney live-action I adore The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Cheaper By The Dozen, National Treasure, both versions of The Parent Trap, Princess Diaries (1 and 2), and Freaky Friday. Plus of course all the major franchises like The Chronicles of Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean, and High School Musical. If you are a Marvel or Star Wars person there is so much for you. You can never go wrong with Pixar and again these are great: Toy Story (all), Brave, Coco, The Incredibles, Inside Out, Ratatouille, and Monsters Inc.

Disney+ also has some incredible classics like The Princess Bride, The Sandlot, Sister Act, and The Sound of Music. Their rom-coms are great: 10 Things I Hate About You, 27 Dresses, Bend It Like Beckham, and The Fault In Our Stars. I’ve talked about how much I love a musical and with Newsies, The Greatest Showman, and Hamilton, I basically live on Disney+.

Lastly – watch Free Solo. It doesn’t really fit with anything here – but I promise it will take your mind off things for the duration.

As a Canadian, I need to bring it back home and focus less on the States. So if you haven’t spent time on Gem yet – do it. They have great stuff. It’s ‘free’ so there are commercials but totally worth it.

Let’s start with the Canadian content. If you want real Canadians (ie factual/documentary) check out The Great Canadian Baking Show, Landscape Artist of the Year Canada, or Still Standing. For scripted comedies try Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, or The Newsroom. I’m a big fan of some of the dramas – Being Erica, Trickster and Frankie Drake Mysteries are all good picks.

The CBC has a lot of BBC content that I appreciate – factual shows like The Great British Baking Show, Escape To The Country, and Grand Designs. Put these on and I 100% guarantee you’ll relax. If you prefer scripted try Call The Midwife, Normal People, or Downton Abbey.

On January 26th to mark Australia Day, Gem is releasing a whole bunch of Aussie shows, so check back then for some good stuff.

Finally, Gem also has two fantastic American shows that are worth your time: Pen15 and Freaks and Geeks.

Friends if you like reality TV – GET THE 30 DAY FREE TRAIL. Just do it. You will not regret it. Then you’re going to start with The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. It’s the newest franchise and it is so good and so stupid and so perfect. Then start on episode 1 and watch Below Deck. Then add in a British show – Made in Chelsea is nice and calming but Love Island could also work here. We’re going for the fun shows here.

Hayu has all the seasons of the original Queer Eye, all 19 seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and 17 different Real Housewives shows. Plus countless random one season reality shows.

If you want to completely check out and park your brain this is a great way to do it. My parents would argue it’s a great way to melt your brain. Normally I’d agree, but right now that sounds perfect.

I’m not a fan of ‘Amazon’ but I grudgingly admit they have some good shows. They have a lot of ‘intense’ shows – but for this moment we’re going to focus on the comfort hits.

Hit their great comfort shows like Parks and Rec, Bones, Will+Grace, 30 Rock, and Buffy. Prime also has some great originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and solid lienced shows like Younger. I’ve heard great things about The Wilds – and I think I might dive into this as my next binge soon.

But personally, I’m turning to Prime for the movies. I want to watch JLo in Hustlers; I want to quote-along with She’s The Man; I want to watch Booksmart and think about Olivia+Harry; and I want to watch Little Women and dive into that beautiful world. I just want to dance with Timothee Chalamet you know?

So with all that said – I leave you *ultimate* cozy youtube escape – this Little Women x Taylor Swift cross-over.

If you have a cozy favourite that’s not on this list let me know.

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