Yes, the latest warm spell speaks of balmy evenings enjoyed carousing outdoors – rather than gloomy nights spent huddled on the sofa. But, obviously, British weather’s a capricious creature; inevitably, you’ll be shivering under an umbrella again soon. There is no bad time to hunker down in front of Netflix. Here’s the definitive list – no arguments, please – of the streaming giant’s best shows.
The title may refer to a many layered matryoshka, but you don’t need to delve deep to find the quirky joy in this new drama from Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Parks And Recreation’s Amy Poehler. Lyonne stars as joint-toking, blunt-talking, tech whizz Nadia. After getting hit by a car during her 36th birthday party only to wake up back at the bash, she realizes she’s caught in a loop, doomed to endlessly relive the final night of her life. It’s not always easy-watching (the premise requires Nadia to die repeatedly, and her fatal mishaps don’t get any less jarring with repetition). But it’s immensely compelling – and light relief is available in the form of Nadia’s mop of hair, which, in its curly, coppery abundance, is possibly the most aesthetically appealing metaphor of a robust life force to date.
Watch fake news get the walloping it deserves, if not in real life, then at least on screen. This tense drama sees historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) being forced to prove that Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) has lied in his work on the atrocity.
Denis Villeneuve’s alien drama starring Amy Adams is audaciously imaginative enough to satisfy the most exacting sci-fi nerd. It raises plenty of philosophical questions about the nature of language and memory, along with having a sophisticated human storyline if extra-terrestrial shenanigans aren’t your thing. NB: if you find yourself choosing between Arrival and similar-looking space drama Passengers, go for the former every time. Passengers is a creepy resurrection of the Cinderella storyline, involving a bloke ruining the life of Jennifer Lawrence’s character because, essentially, he likes the look of her slumbering body.
If you enjoyed the clever-clogs verbosity of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, then Gilmore Girls should be mandatory background viewing. It marked the breakthrough of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who created both of the shows; arguably, it remains her finest work. Single mum Lorelai raises precocious daughter Rory as she blossoms into… a solipsistic monster? A misunderstood millennial? Dig in and decide for yourself.
Otis’s mum is a sex therapist – and, predictably, he doesn’t find that quite as hot a state of affairs as horny school bully Adam does. It’s almost alarmingly sex positive – the romp-heavy openers might lead to inadvertent choking on cocoa. Still, it’s possible to glimpse slick comedy and expertly drawn characters through the pheromone fug.
Alfonso Cuarón’s profoundly moving black and white picture inspired by his own childhood rightly picked up three Oscars. It follows Cleo, a young woman of Mixteco heritage, who works as a live-in maid for a family in 1970s Mexico City. She doesn’t say much (none of the characters do; the film is not big on dialogue) but, nevertheless, as the storyline unfolds, you get a rich sense of her internal life and character development.
Five gay guys zhuzh up the life of a floundering heterosexual bloke. In other words, Queer Eye is a veritable injection of fun and tolerance straight into the heart of ailing modern masculinity. Ultimately more about mindsets than it is about makeovers, the show gets a new instalment on March 15. Watch back episodes now to get to grips with the quintet’s cargo pant scepticism, heartfelt pep talks, and infectious ebullience.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Samin Nosrat takes a defiantly geeky tour of the globe to explore the four components of good cooking, which she originally detailed in her hit 2017 cookbook (also called Salt Fat Acid Heat). Don’t watch on an empty stomach. Unctuous liquids are always swilling around wine glasses, hunks of cheese devoured, juicy slabs of meat licked with flames over open fires… you get the idea.
Its opening premise is more worn out than a doormat. Nevertheless Salvation draws you in from the first episode. A physics student discovers an astroid which is on course to collide with earth. When his university professor disappears in strange circumstances, he enlists the help of tech entrepreneur Darius Tanz to save the day. Darius’s futuristic, space-obsessed company Tanz industries bears a striking similarity to Elon Musk’s Tesla. As long as you don’t delve too deeply into the intricacies of when, where, how and why, this is a very enjoyable, if shallow, ride.
Okay, so some of the characters lack depth, and the tone is a tad worthy, but these minor glitches are more than overpowered by an irresistible premise: an ordinary bloke suddenly becomes president of the United States. Alright, he’s not that ordinary. The drama follows housing and urban development secretary Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), who is relaxing at a secure location when a massive fireball wipes out the entire government. Cue, a sweaty scene where he gets sworn in while wearing a comfy Cornell hoodie.
Turn Up Charlie
Idris Elba play a DJ who becomes a reluctant childminder to his famous pal’s difficult daughter.
And… here are the new shows to look out for:
Elsewhere, Netflix have stolen Attenborough: in possibly the most egregious example of the behemoth swiping BBC soil, the most treasured of national treasures is set to front eight-part natural history documentary Our Planet (April 5).
Osmosis (March 29) explores the fallout of a dating app that matches lovers by mining their brain data. (What fallout? Have you ever heard of a more romantic proposition?)