For most people, living a life of lies and deceit isn’t a lasting one but for John Meehan, he turns it into a house on the waterfront, access to copious amounts of money and a lifestyle he could only have ever dreamed of.
Taking shockingly brutal and unbelievably incredible tales of true crime and turning them into binge-worthy documentaries really is the flavor of the moment. From Making a Murderer to The Keepers, The Staircase and Evil Genius there seems to be a story for everything. And it’s only been recently where those stories have been glossed over for scripted television and and sometimes it’s good (The People vs OJ Simpson) and sometimes it’s not so good (The Assassination of Gianni Versace – unpopular opinion I know)
The next ‘glossed over for TV’ story is Netflix’s Dirty John (via a full season run on America’s Bravo channel) based off the hugely popular L.A Times Podcast of the same name that follows well-off but unlucky in love interior designer Debra Newell (played by Connie Britton and her fabulous hair) who, with four failed marriages to her name, decides to get back on the online dating train and after a slew of disastrous dates, John Meehan (Eric Bana) with his cargo shorts, sweet demeanor and good looks arrive at the perfect moment in her dwindling love life to sweep her off her feet.
Though red flags begin to appear by the end of the first date, that doesn’t stop Deb and we watch as she dives very quickly into a new relationship with the mysterious John and it’s not long before the people in her life, including her children, start to realize he may not be the perfect man he is making himself out to be resulting in a devastating attack that threatens to destroy the lives of everyone Deb loves.
Netflix, in either a cruel joke (or delight for those who hate the day) are dropping the entire eight episodes of Dirty John for us to binge on Valentine’s Day aka February 14th. Check out the trailer below.
If you’re like me, your’e dreading the impending barrage of Rio Olympics television coverage and what it will do to the other free-to-air networks. Seven have already announced all of their FTA and digital channels will be non stop Olympics, Channel nine will probably opt for Big Bang Theory repeats and Network Ten…well they’ll do want they want and continue with their standard schedule.
So then we find ourselves aimlessly channel surfing trying to find something to watch in between episodes of The Bachelor Australia hoping to find a gem we’ve not yet seen. This is where the following list of recommended shows to binge during the Rio Olympics will hopefully come in handy.
Schitt’s Creek / Seasons 1 and 2 / Comedy / 2015 –
Now currently on hiatus after two seasons (season three is currently filming) Schitt’s Creek has a familiar premise of the fish out of water scenario where the fish is the ultra wealthy Rose family and the water being an unscrupulous business manager that left them with nothing but a small middle of nowhere town (and the Roses new home) named Schitts Creek that Rose patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy) purchased as a gag gift for his son David (Daniel Levy). Forced to forgo all their luxuries, the Rose’s must endure life as they never knew it until Johnny is able to sell the town to nab back some much needed dollars.
Why you should binge: Comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara back on screen together for starters! Plus it’s funny, heart warming and very ship-worthy, you’ll fall in love with “is he or isn’t he” David and his spoiled sister Alexis (Annie Murphy) will either make you uber jealous or scratch your head in wonderment.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst / Season 1 / Documentary / 2015
With the popularity of Making a Murder being so overwhelming, many people might be looking for something just as absurd and something just as intriguing. The Jinx delves into the mystery surrounding the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife Kathy along with the murder of his best friend Susan Berman and neighbor Morris Black. The six part documentary series is told from Durst’s point of view and you’ll be left gobsmacked when things start to unravel and truth’s start to come out.
Why you should binge: It’s like the opposite of Making a Murderer where we all (for the most part) assume Steven Avery’s innocence but are left fuming at the US justice system but here, Dursts’ guilt is obvious right from the go but the police can’t seem to nab him. it’s an incredibly powerful look into how power, money and influence can keep things hidden.
Fuller House / Season 1 / Comedy / 2016 –
Sure there’s some nostalgia that surrounds this updated version of 80’s sitcom Full House that those not yet to watch may think be corny, but in fact, Fuller House is such an easy show to watch, you’ll make your way through all 13 episodes in a breeze. DJ Tanner (Candice Cameron) is back along with younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) who all join together to live in the house they grew up in. If Carly Rae Jepsen’s updated theme song doesn’t get you, then seeing the return of the old Tanner family (minus the Olsen twins as Michelle) will.
Why you should binge: It’s a very easy show to settle into, doesn’t take itself serious and throws uber shade at the missing Olsen twins plus who didn’t love Full House?! It was staple viewing growing up in the 80’s!
Looking / Seasons 1 and 2 + finale movie / Drama / 2015-2016
I’ll be very blunt, the first season of gay themed drama Looking killed me. It frustrated me with its slowness and un-eventfulness but Looking’s slow paced look at the lives of three gay men living in San Francisco is worthy of a binge session. Patrick (Jonathan Groff) has a stable work life but can’t get his romantic life on track, Dom (Murray Bartlett) is trying to clasp onto his youth with younger men and casual work while Augustin (Frankie J Alvarez) is a struggling artist with a drug addiction that’s spiraling out of control.
Why you should binge: It’s probably one of the more honest looks at the daily lives of gay men than we’ve ever seen to date and the acting by the leads – especially Groff – is understated and genuine. Once you move onto season two, the pace picks up nicely from season one and finishes off with the recent Looking: The Movie.
Playing House / Seasons 1 and 2 / Comedy / 2014 –
Maggie (Lennon Parham) is heavily pregnant, had just thrown her husband out for cheating and best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) ditches her job in Hong Kong to move in and support her. This hilarious look at what best friends will and can do for each other is honest and real and funny. As best friends off screen, Parham and St. Clair bounce off one another with such ease one could be forgiven for forgetting this was a scripted comedy.
Why you should binge: Filled with laughter and outrageous moments, Playing House is just fun to watch. Pure and simple, plus Maggie and Emma’s friendship offers up some major feels that will keep you moving onto the next episode.
The Staircase / Season 1 / Documentary / 2004
Another true crime documentary that falls into the Making a Murderer and the above mentioned The Jinx category where you can’t stop at just one episode. Offering up two main themes – The investigation into a very complicated murder and the defense and prosecution teams who are trying to construct winning cases, The Staircase is told from the viewpoint of worried widow/cold blooded killer Michael Peterson, and details the case around his late wife who was found at the bottom of their family home staircase in a pool of blood.
Why you should binge: While this 8 part series ends rather abruptly, this case of a woman dead at the bottom of a staircase isn’t as clear cut as it first seems. The family secrets and compelling connections that are revealed as time goes on will only leave you questioning your own mind on Peterson’s guilt or innocence.
Broad City / Seasons 1 to 3 / Comedy / 2014 –
Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) are best friends in their 20’s living the high life in NYC. Abbi works in a gym as a cleaner but has hopes of making her way up to personal trainer, Ilana works….well we never really find out what she does but it involves lots of sleeping in the toilet and spinning on her chair. With meaningless jobs, a very short supply of cash and virtually no shame, their day to day experiences lead them down some bizarre and unexpected paths.
Why you should binge: It’s like Girls but funnier, and you don’t want to cause physical harm to any of the characters. Broad City is wildly outrageous, crude and shocking in it’s approach to 20-something life in New York and the friendship between Abbi and Ilana will make you wish you had something similar, but with a more stable love life, professional life and cash flow.
I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about ‘binge TV viewing’ lately and it seems, every list, is as different from the other. We all have our favorites, those we recommend to others and those we keep to ourselves as guilty pleasures. With quite a few shows now on hiatus or heading into break, you may need something to keep your eyes on the screen so here’s my choice picks for ‘binge worthy television shows’.
Breaking Bad: Without a doubt, Breaking Bad makes every binge worthy list. It should. It’s ridiculously good. I never watched Walter White and Jesse Pinkman when Breaking Bad originally aired….yes I know that makes me a bad television blogger, but it was one of those shows I had to be talked into watching…and watch I did. I binged on the entire series of Breaking Bad over the space of 2 months and am somewhat glad I was able to take in the entire story-line in one sitting. Made me appreciate what was on offer and experience the build-up to that last season without beak.
Stars: Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn
Seasons 1-5 available on DVD
The Comeback: Lisa Kudrow (post Friends) as a faded and jaded actress named Valerie Cherish who has allowed cameras follow her and her journey to reclaim her former spotlight. A show that was well before it’s time and only really appreciated after it’s demise. Great to hear talk of a possible comeback for The Comeback!
Stars: Lisa Kudrow, Malin Ackerman and Kellan Lutz
Series one available on DVD
Melrose Place 2.0: The beauty here is that fans of the original series like to claim this re-boot never happened but for those new to the series, we’ve got an 18 episode single season that follows a who-dun-it murder mystery of Melrose’s junkie landlord Sydney Andrews. Everyone is a suspect and it’s great to watch while playing drinking games (that mostly involve guzzling your wine anytime Ashlee Simpson appears to act or whenever a character from the original series pops up!)
Stars: Laura Leighton, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Calabro and Ashlee Simpson.
Series One available on DVD (from Amazon or eBay)
The Chicago Code: Jennifer Beals post The L Word as tough as nails Teresa Colvin, Chicago’s first female police superintendent who plans to bring to light the mass of political corruption currently polluting the town. There’s connections to the Irish Mob, undercover cops, and this accents all-round.
Stars: Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke and Matt Lauria
Availability: None as yet 😦
EYES: Tim Daly as a smarmy and cocky Harlan Judd, who is the head of J.R Investigations, a risk management firm that will bend all aspects of the law to get results. His company is in financial crisis, his competitor wants to buy him out, there’s a mole within the company, his staff have secrets of their own and his love interest is a do-good lawyer who has issues looking the other way. ABC shamefully only ever aired 5 episodes of this 12 episode first series back in 2005.
Stars: Tim Daly, AJ Langer, Laura Leighton and Natalie Zea
Series One is not available on DVD but can be found on YouTube.
ORPHAN BLACK: Fast paced sci-fi thriller that looks into the world of human cloning and accelerated human evolution through the eyes of young mother Sarah who’s world comes crashing down when she discovers she’s not as unique as she originally thought. Edge of your seat stuff that keeps knocking out reveals and epic scenes.
Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Garvais and Dylan Bruce
Season one now available on DVD.
Miranda: Britt comedy at it’s best, Miranda Hart is an unlucky in love, bumbling and fumbling joke shop owner/operator who manages to give the crazy that goes on inside her head a life all it’s own and spreads it among those around her including her highly posh and overbearing mother, her vertically challenged best friend and co-worker and the man of her dreams who works down the road.
Stars: Miranda Hart and Tom Ellis
Seasons 1-3 available on DVD
Dawson’s Creek: You can’t have a binge list that doesn’t include Dawson’s Creek. It’s the mega 90’s teen drama that gave us James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams. Joey has feelings for Dawson but Dawson is too interested in his movies to notice Joey, that is until new girl Jen Lindley comes along while Pacey is having secret meetings with his teacher. Drama, ugly crying, teen sex…this has got it all.
Stars: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson.
Seasons 1-6 available on DVD
Nip/Tuck: Christian loves drugs, money, women and sex. His professional partner Sean McNamara loves his son, his wife and his professional career. It’s the lives of two plastic surgeons trying to rule the roost, deal with their inner demons and still come out on top regardless of who they end up hurting. One of the greats to come out of the 90’s/00’s period.
Stars: Julian McMahon, Dylan Walsh and Joely Richardson.
Seasons 1-6 Now available on DVD.
Cougar Town: Bad title, good comedy says it all. Cougar Town feels very Scrubs with it’s humor (created by the same team) and as you watch through the seasons, you’ll see this great show evolve from it’s ‘cougar’ story line into a very tight and funny comedy around friends and family. Don’t judge this show by it’s title!
Stars: Courteney Cox, Busy Phillipps, Christa Miller and Dan Byrd.