Offbeat On-Demand: Weird Movies and TV to Stream

by LUCI HITTLE '22

Like many of us, I’ve watched a lot of television during the pandemic. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m choosing to believe that this article justifies it. Consider this a write-off of time and energy as I chronicle my strangest binges for your viewing pleasure!


Please note the ratings for each item. If you’re looking for more information on content warnings, IMDb’s parent guides and Common Sense Media are great resources!


Pushing Daisies

Rating: TV-PG

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Where to watch: HBO Max

It’s a classic story: necromancer meets girl, girl dies, necromancer brings girl back to life but now they can never touch due to a loophole in his powers and they start solving murders together? Maybe not that classic. With an over-saturated palette of 60-inspired jewel tones and pastels, Pushing Daisies is a bizarre, instantly charming experiment in the rom-com genre, expertly toeing the line between goofy and grim while never losing its human core to whimsy or pretension. I’d recommend this show for fans of Tim Burton, Psych, or Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events.


Annihilation

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

Where to watch: Netflix

Based on a book series, Annihilation is as beautiful as it is utterly confusing. Starring Natalie Portman as the leader of a team of all-female scientists that includes Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson, the film plunges its audience into Area X, a mutated stretch of coastline populated with beautiful and deadly creatures. The visuals range from stunning to grotesquely terrifying. The film initially underperformed at the box office, but its trippy visuals and intoxicating sense of dread have made it a hit on streaming services. It’s Arrival meets Midsommar - a fascinating car crash that’s impossible to look away from.


BoJack Horseman

Rating: TV-MA

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

Where to watch: Netflix

This Netflix original, featuring an fantastic cast, follows the washed-up star of a cancelled 90s sitcom as he navigates the worlds of love, addiction, and depression. It’s also a cartoon comedy starring an anthropomorphic horse. The show, which begins peaking after its first season and never lets up, handles the tough task of weighing grit against humor, which it performs admirably. With six seasons in the books, Bojack feels like a successor to the best seasons of The Office, balancing bone-dry black humor with developed characters and cringe-worthy storylines. Except, you know. It’s about a horse.

Save Yourselves!

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%

Where to watch: Hulu

Save Yourselves follows a young hipster couple from Brooklyn, who in an attempt to kick their addiction to technology find themselves stranded in a cabin during an alien invasion. These creatures, though deadly, are delightfully harmless-looking and charmingly referred to as pouffes (given their resemblance to a comfortable piece of furniture). Clocking in at a zippy hour and a half, the film is wonderfully surreal, benefiting greatly from its simple premise and charming leads. It’s a delightful comedy, though it doesn’t shy away from nuance. Fans of Stranger Things’s lighter moments will enjoy this wholesome sci-fi flick.


Firefly

Rating: TV-14

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%

Where to watch: Hulu

An early 2000s venture by Joss Whedon, the man who would go on to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer and direct two Avengers movies, Firefly is a single-season cult classic. Although restrained by a modest budget and the worst theme song you’ve ever heard, this sci-fi spin on classic Westerns has a surprising amount of heart and is carried by a charismatic cast and clever world-building. Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Mandalorian will appreciate its snark and charm, as well as its cultivated aesthetic.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Rating: TV-14

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Where to watch: Netflix

I can only describe Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as Phineas and Ferb for adults. Following an obsessive New York lawyer who abandons her career to pursue her childhood crush across the country, the show features multiple fully-staged comedic musical numbers in every episode, including a splashy Bollywood number, a boy-band parody, and a rap battle. Always poppy and inventive, it’s similar in tone to Jane the Virgin, New Girl and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. A lesser writing team couldn’t have pulled such a daunting task off, but the show is consistently witty and clever, always staying ahead of its audience while maintaining an admirable level of self-awareness. Favorite song titles include “I Love My Daughter (But Not in a Creepy Way),” “Trapped in a Car With Someone You Don’t Wanna Be Trapped in a Car With,” and “Gratuitous Karaoke Moment.”

Nathan For You

Rating: TV-14

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

Where to watch: HBO Max, Hulu

This reality show spoof casts its creator, comedian Nathan Fielder, as a marketing guru who interacts with real small business owners to help them boost sales. However, his methods tend to be less than desirable, often resulting in a surreal spectacle. A personal favorite episode sees Fielder rebrand an independent coffee shop as “Dumb Starbucks” - an exact replica of the international chain with a small “Dumb” printed in front of each logo on signs, cups, and aprons. The stunt gained international coverage and Dumb Starbucks served free (reportedly awful) coffee for a day before being shut down by the health department. I recommend Nathan For You for fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or The Eric Andre Show.


Edgar Wright’s Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy

Rating: R

English director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy consists of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, three genre comedies starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in different roles. Remarkably funny, each movie stands on its own (Shaun being my personal favorite) and can be watched out of order. However, I recommend going into any of the three with as little awareness of the plot as possible. Wright’s stylized, frenetic direction is incredibly impressive and his scripts are airtight, taking his audience for a wild ride at breakneck speed through vivid action sequences and unmatched visual gags. Let yourself be surprised by these movies; they’re a lot of fun! If you enjoy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Baby Driver, two more recent Wright films, it’s definitely worth it to give these ones a chance!


Legion

Rating: TV-MA

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Where to watch: Hulu

When I asked my mom what the weirdest thing we watched in quarantine was, she had an answer immediately. That answer was Legion, which is like if someone fed Wes Anderson on a steady diet of cigarettes, black coffee, and comic books. Based on the story of a lesser-known X-Man, Dan Stevens stars as a telekinetic superhero in a reality-bending, 70s-infused lucid dream of a television show. The cast includes Audrey Plaza, who’s gleefully magnetic here, and Bill Irwin, an actual professional clown. My only complaint is that at one point Dan Stevens wears a vest over a T-shirt. It’s not a good look, Dan. The top IMDb review for Legion is titled, “I’m now beginning to question my own sanity!” I recommend it for fans of Doctor Strange or Black Mirror.

What We Do in the Shadows

Rating: TV-MA

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

Where to watch: Hulu

What We Do in the Shadows, a spin-off of Taika Waititi’s cult classic comedy, follows three vampires who share a house on Staten Island. Delightfully ridiculous, its two seasons are consistent in their fast pacing and snappy writing. The premise lends itself well to television, aided by a talented ensemble as well as famous guests - Mark Hamill is particularly fantastic! The worldbuilding and set design are also intriguing and inventive, which makes for an effortlessly meticulous adventure that’s laugh-out-loud funny. Fans of Arrested Development will enjoy its absurdism.


Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Rating: PG-13

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%

Where to watch: Amazon

Barb and Star tells the story of two middle-aged women leaving their midwestern town for the first time in favor of a beachside vacation. It’s candy-colored and utterly ridiculous, seemingly without logic - at one point, Jamie Dornan’s suave spy character breaks dramatically into song, agonizing over a love triangle between Star, played by Kristen Wiig, and the movie’s antagonist, who is also played by Kristen Wiig. In the best way possible, Barb and Star is like a Muppet movie if the Muppets all had chunky highlights. For fans of Elf and Hot Rod!