Off the beaten path: Netflix recommendations

By Henry Thornton

Junior Editor

We were talking in the Purple offices recently about what activities took up a lot of students’ time that we weren’t accurately covering. The biggest one was streaming video. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Showtime Anytime, the options are numerous. The sheer enormity of the ocean of content available to stream can sometimes be paralyzing when picking a show to watch. The goal of this column is to bring you, the student, some recommendations that you might not have normally heard of.

The focus this week is two great shows you can catch up on quickly Rectify

Originally Aired on the Sundance Channel

Two seasons available on Netflix: Sixteen hour-long episodes:

Rectify is a gorgeous drama about Daniel Holden (Aden Young, in a revelatory performance) who is freed on DNA evidence after 19 years on death row. He comes home to a small Georgia town that receives him with that uniquely southern blend of politeness and hostility. Daniel has not actually been proven innocent, his conviction has been voided after new evidence came to light. A reader might notice this article doesn’t contain a comparison; there truly isn’t one.

The driving force of the show’s narrative is Daniel’s gradual assimilation back into society. The show smartly avoids jokes about how iPhones are new, and how the world’s in a hurry, and all of the stereotypical jokes made in stories about characters who have been in a state of isolation entering modern world. Instead the show steps back; creator Ray McKinnon (Deadwood) isn’t afraid to let the audience sit with Daniel in a silent room while he contemplates his freedom to leave.

This might fall flat or seem pretentious in a different, lesser show, but Young is mesmerizing. His performance is truly titanic; he holds every scene he’s in and we root for him even as his innocence remains ambiguous. Abigail Spencer (Mad Men, Suits) is equally incredible as Daniel’s sister Amantha. Amantha never doubted Daniel’s innocence, and Spencer carries that fire and dedication into every scene.

Rectify never rushes itself; almost every frame is filled with sunlight and almost transcendental beauty. This show is one of the most honest and caring depictions of modern Christianity to grace a screen. Themes of redemption, love, and forgiveness run through every one of the plots. To watch this show is to reflect, to give thanks, and to be happy.

Broadchurch

Originally aired on BBC America

Availiable on Netflix: One season of 8 hour-long episodes

One morning in the small English seaside town of Broadchurch, an 11-year-old boy is found murdered on the beach. All eight episodes of the first season follow the investigation of the crime. The final episode is one of the most devastating hours of TV ever produced.

The two primary investigators are Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). Hardy has just moved to Broadchurch after disgracing himself in London while Miller is a native of Broadchurch. The performances by both Tennant (Doctor Who) and Colman (Rev) are fantastic. Tennant plays Hardy as though sandpaper has come to life, always rough and grating against anything in his way. Colman is even better in a tougher role; she has to tell the badass cop to play by the rules, but she imbues her character with so much love for her town that we root for her regardless.

The plot is twisty and full of reveals, but creator Chris Chibnall paces it perfectly. The audience is never overwhelmed. No suspect ever seems to be obviously innocent or guilty. The final reveal is genius; the answer had been right there the whole time, but we don’t feel dumb for not seeing it. A lot of the credit for that should probably be given to main director Mark Strong, whose clean, precise, and reserved direction captures the rapid dissolution of the previously docile town with great skill. Watching the trust of the townspeople disappear is like watching a bubble pop in slow motion. It’s saddening and gripping and beautiful all at once, just like this show.

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