Streaming through Corona II: serial edition


Since we are having a lot more time on our hands and movies only run a couple hours at most, it was overdue to add some serial content into the mix. Again, we want to highlight some hidden or past gems and more obscure shows to get you out of your Friends and The Office comfort zones. All picks are, again, available in the original and with optional subtitles.

Mad Men – Netflix

This is the kind of deep dive that is perfect for a prolonged period of isolation and time to kill. Consequently, it is really tough to condense this show’s appeal and greatness into a few words. The journey of self-made and self-sabotaging protagonist anti-hero Don Draper is essentially that of the American Dream in its rawest and most honest form. Mad Men will give you a detailed and unflinching insight into the American psyche and all of its core ideals and concepts.

Neither flat out demonizing nor sugarcoating the brutalities and struggles of capitalism, the show manages to strike a balance that seems almost magical. In it, there are countless injustices to get furious about but also many opportunities and upsets that can make you feel righteously satisfied and victorious. If you bring the patience, Mad Men will reward you endlessly.

Available in German and English with various subtitles

Over The Garden Wall – Netflix

This one’s a really easy binge: 10 episodes, 10 minutes each, simple yet brilliant. The story of two brothers lost in the woods during Halloween brings an eerily off kilter, yet often upbeat energy, unlike any other kids’ animation. Each chapter of the story explores a new encounter with a weird or unsettling character. Throughout, the unique world and its own rules will enchant and hypnotize the viewers, as brothers Wirt and Greg journey deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest and, in turn, into their own selves.

While this is a show primarily aimed at kids, I do not recommend showing it to really young audiences. The tone and imagery can be really unsettling in a cartoonish yet strikingly real fashion. Have a look at the first episode, which is free on YouTube, below. And if you want to see more animation of this quality, check out also on Netflix Steven Universe and Adventure Time. Both share creative DNA with Over The Garden Wall and are highly enjoyable.

Available in German and English with various subtitles

Fleabag – Amazon Prime Video

Especially in comedy, the idea of critical acclaim and total creative achievement is something that is rarely used to describe a television series. Most TV comedies either run too long to have cohesive story-telling and consistent episode quality. Or they are just too small and uninventive in their approach to film-making because the focus rests so much on writing jokes. Fleabag just ignores all these issues and pre-conceived notions and completely reinvents the idea of what a comedian-focused show can be.

Having adapted Fleabag from her one-woman stage show of the same name, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is raw and unforgiving to herself and the world in it. I find it incredible how much comedic material she can mine from tragedy, self-hatred, introspection and her own completely fresh and unique point of view. Supported by a cast of British veterans, including recent Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman as her unbearable artisan stepmother, Fleabag will give you many amazing moments condensed into just two small seasons of television. It is also very, very not safe for work.

Available in German and English with German and English subtitles

Better Call Saul – Netflix

Known by many as the Breaking Bad continuation with the lawyer, Better Call Saul arguably significantly improves upon its smash hit, New Mexico-set predecessor. Broken from the shackles of a master-plan story line and with the only constraint being that they end up where Breaking Bad starts, the same writers visibly rejoice in having their sandy, morally-opaque playground back. In fact, all aspects of this production are so well-tuned and perfect that new characters feel even fresher and more exciting.

Both the creative freedom and its hard-earned, fully-formed rule book for this world are astonishing. Each episode surprises and captivates the viewers and rewards them with emotional and clever payoffs at regular intervals throughout the serial experience. I know this is not really an obscure choice but Better Call Saul is the content I am most excited about coming out each week and that excitement has only increased during this time.

Available in German and English with various subtitles

Heiner Uebbing originally hails from rural Lower Saxony and is based in Leipzig. His passion for film dates back to his teenage years, when he started attending film festivals, writing and corresponding about his experiences. You can probably spot him in one of Leipzig’s OmU/OV screenings in the front rows.

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