Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations.
I’m sure I must have watched Queer Eye For The Straight Guy at some point during its original run on Bravo, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan, exactly. However, I am a semi-closeted fan of reality television (the kind where people show off a skill of some sort, not the kind where drunk people yell at each other), and so I was very much on board for Netflix’s reboot from the moment I first heard about it on one of those TVs that hang by the gate at the airport. A month later, I’m happy to report that this show in particular is not some secret shame to be consumed in private like so many episodes of America’s Next Top Model, but—one misguided stunt involving a cop “pranking” the Fab Five notwithstanding—a joyful celebration of self-respect and living life to its fullest that also includes some very practical men’s grooming tips. By gently demonstrating to its subjects that a better life is possible when you open yourself up to new experiences, the reimagined Queer Eye isn’t just a real tearjerker of a TV show—although it is that; I wept like a baby at the end of at least two episodes—it’s dismantling toxic masculinity and making the world a more understanding and empathetic place, one awkward Georgia dad at a time. (And while we’re on the subject, you should also check out Jonathan’s Funny Or Die webseries, Gay Of Thrones. It’s hilarious.) [Katie Rife]
Last fall, Netflix announced a reboot of The Magic School Bus, the beloved animated kids’ series from the ’90s. Called The Magic School Bus Rides Again, it updates the series with only a couple changes. The new Ms. Frizzle (voiced by Kate McKinnon) is the sister of Lily Tomlin’s original, but is essentially the same character. The kids are all pretty much the same, too, though a touch more diverse. Gone is Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s Producer, who’s been replaced in the episode epilogues by Tomlin as Professor Frizzle. Oh, and Lin-Manuel Miranda sings the theme song now, because of course he does. I’m too old to have watched the original series, but because that’s also on Netflix and my 5-year-old is an obsessive fan, I’ve now seen old and new many times. The reboot definitely lives up to its predecessor; McKinnon makes a great Frizz, and the show boasts the original’s goofy humor and ease with making learning fun. The problem is my daughter now finds conventional teachers and school buses boring. [Kyle Ryan]
I completely missed the boat on this show during its initial five-season run on CBS, dismissing it as just another post-9/11 conspiracy procedural growing out of a big, amorphous clump of shows with initials in their titles. (Hence the heaping hints of snide “who cares”-ness in this Newswire I wrote about it ending a few years back.) Consider me a convert, though; lured in by the presence of Michael Emerson—the only Lost actor I’d ever bother following to a new series when the ABC mega-hit finally sank—I tuned in during a recent sickbed stint, and now I’m hooked. Emerson is, of course, fantastic as a mysterious, reserved sarcastic nerd with a magical crime-fighting computer, but I was surprised by how much I’m also enjoying Jim Caviezel as his superhumanly violent partner, Reese. I’ve never seen The Passion Of The Christ, but having binged Person Of Interest’s first season recently, I can totally get why he’d be Mel Gibson’s go-to Jesus; dude can project a mixture of calm, power, and cheekbones like nobody’s business. (In fact, my only real quibble with the show is that it seems deeply improbable that Reese could ever successfully sneak in anywhere, considering that he should be getting stopped on the streets by hordes of male-attracted followers.) Meanwhile, the series mixes in just enough mythology—and a legitimately interesting backstory about Emerson’s history, and the magic computer’s creation—to keep me from slipping into my usual binge-watch zone-out. [William Hughes]