Online streaming is bigger than ever, and with so many streaming services adding new shows and movies every week, it can be nearly impossible to sort through the good and the bad. If you need something to watch and don’t want to wade through the digital muck that washes up on the internet’s shores, follow our picks below for the best new shows and movies worth a watch.
On the list this week: Two documentaries, the return of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and a modern take on Archie.
Riverdale season 1
Archie Comics is one of America’s most inexplicably long-running properties, a series following the hijinks and love lives of teenage everyman Archie Andrews and his friends in Riverdale, a small town steeped in 1950s sensibilities. Archie’s world has received a modern face-lift in the CW adaptation, Riverdale, which reimagines familiar characters like Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead in a contemporary setting — although vintage touches, like letterman jackets and a local malt shop, remain.
The setting isn’t the only thing that’s modern about Riverdale — the story and writing will feel familiar to anyone who has watched recent, dark teen dramas. The show opens as the idyllic town of Riverdale is rocked by two changes — the arrival of a new, mysterious student named Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and the murder of star quarterback Jason Blossom. Childhood friends Archie (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) must juggle typical teenage problems as they investigate Jason’s murder and the dark secrets of their quaint town. The show often feels like Twin Peaks for teens, and while it never reaches the same heights as David Lynch’s pioneering drama, Riverdale is still an intriguing — if often goofy — mystery.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3
With wacky characters and a constant deluge of jokes, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt often feels like a live-action cartoon, and the show hasn’t lost any of its madcap sensibilities in its third season. The show follows Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), a woman who spent most of her life as part of a cult living in a bunker. After she’s set free, Kimmy moves to New York City, where she tries to adjust to life in society. The show is notable for its distinct, outlandish characters; in addition to the Pollyanna-esque Kimmy, her roommate, the theatrical Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess), is one of the more memorable characters in sitcom history. The show’s nonstop pace may get tiring occasionally, but the show somehow never runs out of ideas.
Batman & Bill
It’s a tale as old as time: Two men get together with an idea, the idea becomes successful, and one of the creators muscles the other one out. In the case of Batman, arguably the most popular superhero of all time, the relationship between writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane started out well, with both men contributing their own ideas to create the iconic superhero/ace detective. Kane’s negotiations with DC ended with him receiving sole credit for creating the character; although Finger wrote many of the formative Batman stories, his contributions went uncredited for decades.
The documentary Batman & Bill investigates the secret history of Batman, following author Marc Tyler Nobleman as he tries to get Finger posthumous recognition. The result is an emotionally moving tale about the clash between art and business, and how friendships can collapse in the face of profit. Batman & Bill is an excellent documentary for Batman fans looking to learn more about the franchise, or anyone who enjoys a good yarn.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
For years, Dee Dee Blanchard appeared to be an ideal mother, taking care of her terribly ill daughter, Gypsy, who had a variety of ailments and spent her life confined to a wheelchair. As a result, it came as a shock when Gypsy and her boyfriend conspired to murder Dee Dee, at which point it was revealed that Gypsy’s various illnesses were fake. Erin Lee Carr’s documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest probes the strange story of the Blanchards, shedding light on how Dee Dee exhibited Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition in which a person pretends another person in their care is ill, for attention or profit, going so far as to lie to Gypsy about her age to keep her thinking she was a minor. It’s a disturbing true crime story, and a compelling film.
Jackie Brown is perhaps Quentin Tarantino’s most overlooked work, which is a shame, because it’s a smart potboiler that pays homage to blaxploitation cinema. The movie follows a flight attendant named Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), who moonlights as a smuggler for an arms dealer named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). When the ATF captures Jackie, agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) offers a deal: Collaborate with the ATF to take down Ordell, and she will go free. But because the plan involves $500,000 in cash, things get a little crazy. Although it is a bit more down to earth than Tarantino’s other films — no ninja assassins here — Jackie Brown shows off the director’s energetic style and love of charming criminals who get in over their heads.
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