Streaming Must-Sees (Both Good and Bad) in October 2021
This month's Tune In or Turn Off features 'Squid Game,' 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'The Problem with Jon Stewart'
Published Oct 19, 2021It's spooky season — which means you might be marathoning Squid Game, watching through our list of the best horror movies of 2021, or possibly trying to lighten the mood with fun comedy shows.
Whatever your Halloween vibe, streaming services have the content for you, from Netflix's latest horror shows to some very Ontario-specific reality TV and a couple of light-hearted sitcoms.
Tune In: The Baby-Sitters Club, Season 2
Unlike some attempts at intergenerational fare, The Baby-Sitters Club does a fantastic job at keeping young and adult audiences engaged with its cleverly poignant storylines. With key and endearing parental roles played by Alicia Silverstone and Marc Evan Jackson, the series delves into issues that teens (generally very affluent ones) go through with profundity and a comic lilt. Each episode is told from the perspective of a specific character, with narrative voiceovers guiding us through the action, which is lively thanks to the strong performances by all involved. The storylines are adapted from the original books, so it's got a little bit of nostalgia and contemporary bluster for almost every viewer.
Turn Off: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 8
Enjoying the warm-hearted cop sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always meant ignoring the troubling realities of actual policing — but the show's eighth and final season shatters the illusion with clumsy plot lines about defunding the police. B99's heart is in the right place, but this unfunny season almost feels like the show is apologizing for previously portraying the police in a positive light.
Tune In: The Guilty
Rarely has a thriller done so much with so little. The Guilty is an abduction story where you never actually see the perpetrator or the victim, and the whole thing plays out in a series of phone calls to a devoted but volatile 911 phone operator. Jake Gyllenhaal's intense performance and a timely subplot about police brutality leave an impact that resonates beyond the tense plot.
Turn Off: I Know What You Did Last Summer
TIL that '90s teen horror hit I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on a 1973 novel by Lois Duncan. This latest adaptation feels less like the movie and more like a season of Riverdale, as it somehow manages to be slapstick, self-serious, sex-obsessed and boring all at the same time.
Tune In: Midnight Mass
Haunting of Hill House's Mike Flanagan continues to deliver hit shows for Netflix, with his most recent addition being the enigmatic Midnight Mass. The series centres on the isolated community of Crockett Island, following the arrival of a charismatic priest, as increasingly miraculous and horrifying events unfold. Sure to inspire existential questions, it's a thoroughly engrossing exploration of how desperate people cling to religion — even when a suspension of morals is required.
Turn Off: Motel Makeover
The June Motel, located on the shores of Lake Huron in Sauble Beach, ON, is undeniably cute as hell. It looks amazing on Instagram — but the magic is lost somewhat when we see the motel's founders designing the rooms specifically with mirror selfies in mind. Like a cringe-y post on @influencersinthewild, it's embarrassing to see how the sausage is made.
Turn Off: The Problem with Jon Stewart
In some kind of evil twist, Jon Stewart spent most of his brilliant run helming The Daily Show decrying the real news for being a journalistic farce, but instead of taking his criticisms into account, real news became more sarcastic, smug and mocking. In other words, real news anchors started behaving like Stewart did on The Daily Show. Now, emerging from years out of the spotlight, he's back with The Problem with Jon Stewart, which tackles one hard news story per episode, with great research and expert insights — but also comedy that feels forced, clumsy and out of place. Since a reality TV star became the dangerous leader of the free world, perhaps satire is now a reality and not a balm against evil. Stewart, when told TDS was "a trusted news source," would defer, saying it was a comedy show and, if it had any influence on people's knowledge about the world, that was more evidence that real news media had lost its way. But so far with The Problem, Stewart, who is one-in-a-million funny and also a sincere advocate for serious causes, can no longer have it both ways. Go hard or go funny, but c'mon man, pick one.
Tune In: Squid Game
The coolest sets and costumes of 2021, a curiously horny slapping scene, and a blood contest that borrows from the best parts of The Hunger Games and Saw. Korean dystopian horror series Squid Game has been a smash hit, and you absolutely need to watch it — if only to understand why you're about to see a bunch of people running around in red jumpsuits and fencing masks this Halloween.
Tune In: The Velvet Underground
Featuring past members John Cale and Maureen Tucker along with an impressive list of associates and admirers, Todd Haynes' new Velvet Underground documentary celebrates the band as they deserve to be remembered. Opting for an immersive approach rather than a straightforward narrative, it's the kind of documentary that will leave viewers transformed — not unlike listening to the band itself.