Let’s just say somewhere between the blur that was 2020 and now – Google informs us it’s now May 2021 but that’s news to us – we definitely got our money’s worth out of our Netflix subscription or whoever else is still paying for it. One day we will grow up and put that right but until then, the show must go on.
What else was there to do but disappear down a rabbit hole of frothy period dramas, feel-good movies and nostalgic box sets that acted as a welcome distraction from reality? Bridgerton made us horny, The Greatest Showman stepped up as the perennial all-singing all-dancing tonic we can always count on and Normal People gave us Connell’s sexy f*cking chain. When we finally decided to stop getting a boner over quizzes and other equally terrible organised virtual fun, tv was there to pull down our pants and smack our arse with the biggest I told you so of the century. Watching tv is a top-tier activity, let’s not underestimate it again.
From the series we can quote verbatim to the on-screen comfort food greats like Gavin and Stacey and the pandemic viewing we discovered when we were elbow-deep in wishful baking, here’s a look at the team’s most treasured television and movies.
The Greatest Showman – Probably my favourite film of all time. I just love everything about it, the storyline, the cast, the songs, just everything. Especially Zac Efron, let’s be real. My favourite scene is when they’re in the bar and it zooms in on his face and he smirks (you know the one). I went and saw it 5 times in the cinema and brought it on DVD and Sky TV. It also has quite a nice story behind it. The first time I went to see it, Alfie, Zoe, and I went for dinner beforehand and this is where they told me they wanted me to work for them. So I will always have fond memories of that time, when I couldn’t concentrate for a whole film. I guess it kind of symbolises a turning point in my life.
Gavin and Stacey – Oh, What’s Occurring? I mean obviously, this was going to be there. I absolutely LOVE Gavin and Stacey with my whole being. For my birthday, my best friend got me a video message from Dave Coaches and I cried. It’s such a feel-good programme, I can put it on any time of day, I know it word for word but it goes beyond a comfort programme, it’s honestly just everything. If I had to only watch one thing for the rest of my life, I’d choose this.
One Tree Hill – Ultimate comfort programme. I remember being in my bedroom, age 12 watching One Tree Hill before school. I think I love it so much because the characters are really relatable, as are the storylines. Some of them are far fetched but of course what is a soap without a kidnapping every now and then. I also feel like I grew up with the characters, going through school, first loves, then growing up and having children. The characters are all so likeable and it’s another one I have the whole box-set on DVD.
Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging – Ace gang, it’s boy stalking time. When I was younger I was convinced that I was Georgia Nicholson (Still am a little bit) – What film is more classic than Angus Thongs. It’s set in Brighton and I was the same age as the main character when I read the books. It’s so relatable, to the point where I have accidentally shaved my eyebrows off in the past. The playlist is great and you’ll struggle to find someone my age who doesn’t think this is an absolute classic.
Football – Over lockdown, I got so into football. I’ve always been interested but over the past couple of months, I literally watch every match. I think it’s been something to keep my mind occupied and now I’m at a point where I cancel plans to watch matches that have no effect on Brighton. It’s so easy to have on in the background while I’m scrolling Tik Tok and I just love the absolutely outrageous goals, goal celebrations and random acts of comradeship every now and then. My absolutely favourite thing is an underdog story too. My highlight this year was when Marine got through to the 3rd round of the FA Cup
Bridgerton – It’ll come as no surprise that I think Bridgerton is the best thing Netlfix ever did, and if the 82 million households that tuned in to watch it in its first 28 days are anything to go by, I’m not alone in my regency rapture. I am obsessed with period dramas and this one blew me away. From the classic covers by the Vitamin String Quartet to the costumes and the unforgettable cast (I think about the Duke of Hastings and his exceptional ability to pull off a cravat every damn day), it had all the ingredients of a binge-worthy series and I have no problem admitting I’ve watched it four times. In the year when we needed it the most, Bridgerton came through with top-notch escapism, full of romance, scandal and madly-hot leads. We will forever be indebted to Shonda Rhimes.
Normal People – It’s not often a tv adaptation can match the book but in the case of Normal People, it absolutely did. With Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal at the helm as Marianne and Connell, it became something of a masterpiece. The awkward chemistry between the two was quite frankly poetic and the soft-focus scenes in Italy were beautiful. I also think the sex scenes were pretty revolutionary; very ordinary but intimate and, much like author Sally Rooney’s signature writing style, deceptively simple and direct. I feel like we needed to see sex scenes like that. The cinematography was also beautifully done, flooded with natural light and shot in a way that felt very observational, much like a documentary. The script was quiet and allowed for silence which, again, I thought was done remarkably well. It was just an incredible example of storytelling from start to finish, I can’t fault this show.
Downton Abbey – Downton is like the on-screen equivalent of comfort food and a long soak. I find myself going back to it time and time again, particularly on a rainy day when all you want to do is watch something cosy with a cup of tea and a box of chocolate fingers on your lap. I find the era fascinating, from the interiors to the architecture and the etiquette. Dame Maggie Smith is an absolute gem and expertly delivers her razor-sharp one-liners – she’s the star of the show IMO. It’s the perfect Sunday night watch.
The Intern – I can’t explain the attachment I have to this film, I just love it. I know it’s bad, I know the script-writing sucks but there’s no denying that final scene will get you sniffling into the sleeve of your very own slightly-less-fluffy- robe. Despite its predictability and silliness, there’s something endearing and likeable about it – it’s a Nancy Meyers movie after all, and I put that down to a handkerchief-carrying Robert Ne Niro.
A Star Is Born – It makes me weep every single time. Bradley Cooper’s mumbling demeanour as a barely functioning alcoholic, Lady Gaga’s tender performance, the soundtrack – ugh, it’s great. A love story and a tragedy all wrapped up in one, I find myself both doing anything to avoid watching it again (for my heart’s sake) but equally craving a lip wobble along to I’ll Never Love Again.
Moneyball – Probably a bit of a random choice but I love baseball and I think this movie did the ‘behind the scenes’ of the sport a lot of justice. Brad Pitt had to make it in here somewhere as he’s such a great actor, especially when playing fairly chilled out roles. I love the soundtrack, how it’s put together, but most of all the writing. Aaron Sorkin is one of my fave writers because he packs so much witty dialogue in and it always feels real, he also wrote The Social Network, Steve Jobs and most recently The Trial of the Chicago 7 which are also some of my faves. Jonah Hill is also both adorable and hilarious in Moneyball. For some reason, I always end up chucking this movie on when I’m flying somewhere long haul.
Midnight in Paris – I know Woody Allen is pretty problematic in his personal life but if we’re separating art from the creator then I have to say I love Woody Allen movies. Midnight in Paris follows a nostalgic screenwriter who finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight. I am 100% one of those people who glorify other generations, I love being transported through time whether it’s the 20s, 50s, the 1800’s etc. The movie shows us that the grass isn’t always greener and we should live in the now but in SUCH a fun way.
You’ve got Mail – I’ve probably written about this movie so many times for Zoella but hey, we like what we like. I can watch this movie at any point of the year for pure joy. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are so adorable, I love watching them together, I love that it’s set in New York. Nora Ephron is the height of comfort watching, When Harry Met Sally comes in a very close second to YGM!
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel – I’m obsessed with this show, it’s HILARIOUS, the writing is superb, the costumes and set design are so dreamy and the cast is simply magnificent, they were all made to play these roles. Taking place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the series stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a New York housewife who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy and pursues a career in it. It’s created by Amy Sherman-Palladino who also created Gilmore Girls, so if you love that fast-paced quirky comedy packed full of references vibe then you’ll also adore this.
Orange is the New Black – This series is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison. It lasted for 7 seasons and I started it when it came out so it was in my life for a good 6 years. The show evolved so much over the years and tackled so many hard-hitting subjects that occur in the American prison system and life in general, but they did it all with such grace and tact. The ensemble was fantastic they all hold a special place in my heart.
The Chef Show – My fiance and I love this show, it’s so easy to chuck on and enjoy, packed full of amazing food and recipes but also interviews and educational bits. It’s presented by Jon Favreau and Roy Choi who have great chemistry and the whole thing just feels quite effortless. If I’m thinking about shows I can’t wait for a new series of this is definitely up there and I think it deserves more love!
Stranger Things – I think I am with many in saying this is probably one of the best series on Netflix. I watched the first two series within about two days (with a lot of snacks) and was HOOKED. Not to mention series three wasn’t released soon after, so I didn’t have that long to wait. However, series four is really taking its time, no hate to them I know it’s because of covid, but still, I can’t wait to watch it. I surprised myself liking Stranger Things as I’m not usually a sci-fi kind of gal, but this is just toooo good not to like.
Doctor Foster – I was obsessed with this series, still am to be honest I’ve rewatched it like three times! The mystery, the drama, the scandals, I loved it. I was actually distraught (no joke) when they said a third series wasn’t coming back. like? How will I ever know if Tom comes home? I NEED ANSWERS.
Good Girls – Another Netflix firm fave, became obsessed with this when the first series was released and now eagerly wait for the next series every year. Although again to my dismay, NBC are thinking about cutting it and not doing a final series… I can’t take this kind of pain. This series is so good! It’s a comedy, with female power, a lot of motherhood and drug cartels all rolled up in one. I mean when do you ever get to see a group of three mums doing the school run and then making fake cash to money launder? Never. That’s what makes it so good.
The Sweetest Thing – Absolutely one of my favourite films, I love Cameron Diaz and I love a rom-com. She is so sassy and the girl power in this film is immaculate. Also very much enjoy a cheesy ending where the girl gets the guy, guy gets the girl etc. You know what’s going to happen in the end, but it doesn’t matter, cause you are here for the ride and every bump in the road. Also, the fashion in this is chefs kiss, 2000’s eat your heart out.
Ocean’s 8 – I feel this film needs no explanation, if you’ve seen it you know how good it is. Again female power! Can you see a theme here in my choices? I also do love a comedy/thriller and anything crime related to be honest. The way they strategically steal this Cartier necklace I find fascinating, like I know it’s not real, but it could be and that’s what’s exciting. Also how can you not like a film with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina and Helena Bonham Carter? Come on.
Mary Queen of Scots – Love me a period piece, a film based on real events. Also find Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I relationship fascinating, because they never even met. Maybe this is my A Level history coming out, but the battle they both fought for the throne of England is pretty astonishing really, ending in Mary’s execution. Also again, fantastic actors, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, hard not to like the film with two strong female leads.
Prison Break – I LOVE a series with tonnes of episodes to get my teeth stuck into and Prison Break is definitely a long ‘un! With 5 seasons and 90 episodes it’s one you don’t need to be worried will end as soon as it gets good, and boy oh boy does it get good. The story follows Michael Scofield as he is sent to Fox River Prison after he frames himself for a bank robbery in order to try and free his brother who is currently serving a sentence on death row. As the name would suggest, breaking out of prison is the aim, and there are so many nail biting moments throughout that keep you gripped and invested in the storyline and characters- even the baddies you know you’re not supposed to like.
I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say that they do indeed break out of prison (it would be a very long run of episodes if they never managed it) and I controversially love the later seasons when they’re on the run even more than the original prison scenes which I know are most people’s favourites. Wentworth Miller is just wonderful and honestly I’m just obsessed with the whole cast and both their on and off screen relationships. If you like edge of your seat drama that shows the power of true friendships, love and alliance against the odds then this is the show for you.
Stranger Things – I’ve been obsessed with Stranger Things since its first season and have eagerly followed the cast and their friendships and endeavours since 2016. ST is one of those series where everything is nailed to a tee. There is nothing you would change or want more from the show because every possible detail has been considered and it goes beyond your wildest imagination. The cast are quite possibly my favourite of any TV series because not only are they so god damn CUTE but you can really see how genuine and real their friendships are off screen too. They all had their big breaks together and it’s so evident that the show is just a wonderful adventure to be a part of. Winona Ryder and David Harbour are personal faves of mine- they can do no wrong in my eyes.
I’m generally not a big sci fi lover and prefer more ‘realistic’ storylines but Stranger Things really changed my mind on this and I truly appreciate the magic of being transported to another world. The 80s styling, music and references are also simply exquisite, and if I could steal the wardrobe of Nancy Wheeler some time I 100% would.
Grey’s Anatomy – UGHHHH SO MANY EMOTIONS. I haven’t even finished this series yet but after many tears and hours invested I can safely say that nothing compares to the emotion of a Grey’s Anatomy episode. The ups and downs, the highs and the lows, the laughs and the tears- truly next level stuff. The cast is once again 10/10- Patrick Dempsey is chefs kiss and I will never get bored of watching him. Each character is lovable and flawed and difficult but just so human and you connect with each of them in different but complex, perfect ways. They really do feel like your real friends. I’m so addicted that I really did Google ‘how to become a surgeon’ last week, and needless to say I don’t think I’ll be obtaining the necessary qualifications any time soon, but hey, a girl can dream.
1D This Is Us – Fan girls unite! I literally left a university open day early when this film came out because I had booked tickets to see it at the cinema and you best believe that comes before anything else in my schedule. I’m realistically never going to have anything bad to say about My Boys but even if you’re not a fan I genuinely think this film is made up of feel-good magic that anyone would enjoy. I love a tour film like this and the format of backstage content we would otherwise never see as well as on stage performances of their endless BOPS. The Take Me Home tour was a real highlight of their career in my opinion and reliving it every time I watch this is such a treat. Their cover of Teenage Dirtbag deserves an honourable mention here because has there ever been a musical cover as groundbreaking as this? I think not. Watching this feels nostalgic and like pure serotonin in my veins and for that reason it will always be my go-to watch.
Me Before You – If you need to cry, just watch Me Before You. I love both Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin so the film was always off to a great start before I even watched it for the first time, and boy oh boy are you in for a ride with this one. I’ve loved this film for years but since suffering with chronic pain and a plethora of health issues it hits home even more and perfectly conveys the struggles, frustration and isolation that can come with being unwell. I really do feel like it does those feelings justice and I come back to it again and again if I need a cry and to feel a little bit more understood. Despite its sombreness, you’ll be smiling through the tears throughout, and if a film can be feel-good whilst also leaving you sobbing then this is the one.
Titanic – My first celebrity crush was Leonardo DiCaprio and when I tell you I pretty much know the script of this film as a result I am being deadly serious. It’s a classic, I don’t need to sell it to you, but I really feel like the Leo and Kate dynamic just truly never gets old. The styling and costume also deserves an honorary mention too and really does make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. I’m a sucker for a love story and nothing even comes close to that of Jack and Rose in my opinion- this will always hold a special place in my heart as the go-to film of my adolescence. Sometimes I do have to press stop before they hit the iceberg just to soak up the joy of young, new love, but even watching only half the film still cements it as a favourite of mine forever.