Your eyes don't deceive you. That is Mr High School Musical, Mr Carlyle, Mr Bundy, and, most notably, Mr Hudgens. What is he doing on Netflix? He's saving Earth. Shot pre-pandemic, this is Zac Efron as fans have rarely seen him before: bearded, bleary-eyed - obviously due to jet lag - and barefoot on a French roadside.
Now 32, and sober since 2013, Efron decided/was commissioned by Netflix to find more sustainable ways to live. Why not aid Mother Earth by finding such ways Stateside, instead of gas-guzzling his way across the globe? Somewhat ironically, that's the point of this docuseries: these practices - "for the good of the people" - don't exist in the Land of Liberty. Episode one sees Zac and friend/wellness expert Darin Olien travel to Paris to see how it provides free mineral- water fountains. There's even sparkling water, on tap, streetside, for everyone.
After investigating how the water is filtered sans chemicals, Zac and crew head to Lourdes to inadvertently insult the Head of Medicine. Next stop, Iceland! This 'edutainment' series is arguably half-filled with Efron skateboarding, walking in slow-mo, and earnestly narrating. However, it tackles serious subjects while somehow managing not to take itself too seriously. And, for anyone wondering: yes, there is partial nudity.
Netflix, streaming now
“Waiting for you is the person you were always meant to be…” This same message fuels very different paths in this Cate Blanchett co-production. Sofie spends $400 a week to be psychologically abused. Ameer and his family, Afghan refugees, give up money and passports to get to Australia. Cam shelves his morals to make money. “Inspired by true events”, there’s an ongoing conflict in this ABC series. It should focus on Ameer’s family, and the abject horror refugees go through to flee war-torn countries, yet their story seems continuously hijacked by the plight of a white woman. Conversely, others could argue that this is white privilege in a nutshell, and therefore very necessary to include.
Netflix, streaming now
There are a number of serial genres Netflix consistently produces: real-life murder mystery, abuse cover-ups, and glaring inequalities in the US judicial system. Yes, they acquire partially palatable dramas (see above) — while unfortunately letting the likes of Mindhunter fall by the wayside — but the platform’s most compelling offering to date has been its reboot of NBC/CBS’s Unsolved Mysteries. Produced by the makers of Stranger Things, it’s bleak, heart-wrenching, and mind-boggling. You’ll be hooked after the first episode.
Amazon Prime, streaming now
First AMC, then Sky Atlantic, Netflix, and now Amazon Prime... if you’ve not binged all seven series chronicling Don Draper’s whiskey intake and ailing marriage, have you even lived?! If you’ve seen it a million times already, you may be interested to learn that the third season of Absentia returned to Prime yesterday.
Apple +, streaming now
Expecting the 1998 film featuring a supercharged Yorkshirian Jane Horrocks? Consider yourself bitterly disappointed — or elated — depending on your standpoint on Sara Bareilles’s warblings.
Bareilles supplies the music for this coming-of-age dramedy series set in New York City. Expect black velvet bowler hats, fraught love triangles, and much staring off into the middle distance.