If there’s one season tailor-made for blissful days of uninterrupted, muted-phone TV binging, it’s the dead of winter. After careful research, we’ve arrived at the ultimate list of shows, currently available on Netflix Canada, to happily fill those frigid, snowy days when there’s no chance you’re leaving the house.
When Netflix announced they were rebooting Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the 2000s-era makeover show that inflicted Carson Kressley on the world, it seemed unnecessary at best, tone-deaf at worst. We’re the first to admit: we were wrong. The newer, fabber five are irresistibly fun — even Antoni’s avocado fetish gets charming after a few episodes — and the show expertly delivers instruction without condescension, politics without pushiness, tingly feelings without schmaltz (okay, there’s a little schmaltz). By the end of each episode, the erstwhile schlemiel has a French-tucked shirt, a glob of pomade in his hair and a streak of newfound emotional intelligence.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
After 10 seasons, three rounds of All-Stars and hundreds of queens lip syncing for their lives, Mama Ru’s drag extravaganza is more than a show: it’s a religion. The bulk of the back catalogue — seasons two through nine—are newly on Netflix, which means recent bandwagon-jumpers can catch up on their Drag Race herstory. The early episodes are fun, but the show really finds its sea legs around season 4, when it’s realized what it does best: camp, couture and cat fights (the Party City blow-up between Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara is pure histrionic gold).
Dear White People
The woefully underwatched campus dramedy of manners, now in its second season, follows a group of students navigating prejudice, sex and wokeness at a historically black American college. The direction is playful, the plots juicy and the dialogue packed with enough speedy banter and obscure cultural references to put Gilmore Girls to shame. The undisputed scene stealer: Antoinette Robertson as the sorority girl Coco Conners, who oscillates between delicate insecurity and searing shade.
The Haunting of Hill House
In Netflix’s Gothic ghost story, a set of (unrealistically gorgeous) adult siblings try to figure out what happened to their mother — chillingly played by Carla Gugino —in the haunted house where they lived as kids. The show is as scary as you’ve heard, though the horror has nothing to do with the ghosts. Sure, there are a few adrenalin-spiking jumps and screams and zombie kittens, but the real terror is purely psychological, as the show mines tortured family relationships for drama and trauma. In a way, it’s the perfect holiday show: your family may be messed up, but they’re not this messed up.
Even adults who hate cartoons sheepishly admit how much they adore this gloriously dirty, giant-hearted animated comedy that recognizes puberty for the horror story it is. The voice cast is exceptionally good, especially creator Nick Kroll as 13-year-old Nick, his lecherous Hormone Monster and his virginal gym coach, and Jenny Slate as the lisping, ultra-sensitive sci-fi geek, Missy. The only downside: the jokes are so fast and plentiful you’ll probably have to watch it twice to catch them all.
The Good Place
Kristen Bell stars as the exquisitely named Eleanor Shellstrop, a selfish jerk who dies and finds herself accidentally missorted into heaven. In lesser hands, the conceit would shrivel fast, but creator Mike Schur — who also dreamed up Parks and Rec and played Dwight’s cousin Mose on The Office — spins his gimmick into a blistering ethical satire that’s equally comfortable with Kantian theories and jokes about lizard poop. The cast is uniformly spectacular, but of special note is Jameela Jamil as the name-dropping socialite Tahani (“I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Pippa Middleton right before we went paragliding in Gibraltar: let’s go”) and Ted Danson, who’s doing the best work of his career as a harried member of Good Place middle management.
Not since the glory days of The O.C. and Gossip Girl has there been such an addictive soap about the manipulative wiles of bougie private school kids. The eight-episode Spanish drama is a bingo card of stereotypical teen storylines — the gold-hearted scholarship student who falls in love with an enigmatic popular girl, the Snidely Whiplash lothario who seduces a nerd, a seemingly endless array of love triangles and rhombi and pentagons — but the show is smart and sneaky enough to subvert its tropes at every turn.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
In the dead of December, without a fresh vegetable in sight, this gorgeous culinary travelogue is a welcome antidote for the winter blahs. It’s hosted by Samin Nosrat, known to many as the chef who taught food writer Michael Pollan how to cook. Each instalment focuses on a different flavour: in the Fat episode, Nosrat feasts on olives and prosciutto in the Northern Italian town of Liguria, while the Acid episode follows her to the Yucutan peninsula, where she tastes salsas and Mayan honey. Nosrat is infectiously likeable, as are the farmers, grocers and home cooks she meets along the way, like Doña Conchi, the Mexican abuela who teaches her to prepare a turkey meatball stew and pickled onions, and Yasuo Yamamoto, a Japanese chef who makes traditional soy sauce.
This dusky, propulsive German thriller is set in Weimar-era Berlin, about four years before Hitler is elected Chancellor. It skips around the freewheeling Jazz Age metropolis, from ghoulish cabarets to hyper-stylized society parties to organized crime syndicates, weaving together a cast of characters who don’t realize that they’ll be living in a fascist state in a few years. The moody plots and lavish production value are binge-worthy in and of themselves, but the real adrenaline comes from the knowledge that, a few seasons down the road, most of the people in this world will be Nazis.
This zany slapstick buffet is the anti–cooking show cooking show: a trio of amateur bakers get a sliver of time to recreate sculptural fondant cakes that look like they belong in the Louvre. What keeps the show watchable is its total lack of seriosity, from the exhaustingly flamboyant host, Nicole Byer, to the woefully inept contestants: one uses a pair of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as lips on a face cake, another forgets to put eggs in her batter, and another creates a Trump-inspired cake that manages to be scarier than the real thing. Watch out for a special Christmas edition dropping on December 18.