Winterviewing

On this New Year’s Eve I share with you the most bingeworthy series my husband and I watched on Netflix in 2022. Try some on the long winter evenings but there may be enough here for a whole year.

Our hands-down favorite was the Korean series Extraordinary Attorney Wu, about an autistic lawyer who has a thing for whales. Sixteen episodes and we can’t wait for more. It’s worth the strain of trying to speed-read subtitles.

We were morbidly fascinated by disaster docuseries. Aftershock: Everest and the Nepal Earthquake; Thai Cave Rescue; The Volcano (not a series), as well as human/corporate disasters like Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 and FIFA Uncovered (we watched that one instead of the World Cup—sorry, soccer fans.)

Royalty entranced us. The latest season of The Crown, however, was much more entertaining than Harry and Meghan (yawn). We enjoyed The Empress, about 19th century Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

As I was preparing to travel to Japan we sought out Japanese series, partly to help me revive my language skills. The series that worked best that way for me was Old Enough, about toddlers given responsibility to run complicated errands, because I could understand kid language. The freedom and expectations laid on small kids were astonishing–an interesting view of both safety and standards in Japanese society. We loved Midnight Diner, set in a tiny, old-style restaurant bar in Tokyo. Not so warm-hearted was Giri/Haji, a yakuza crime drama.

In another part of the world, Finding Ola will give you a taste of Egyptian middle-class culture.

European noir-ish crime and political dramas always intrigue us. The revival of the Borgen series on the rise and fall of a female politician in Norway was gratifying—the latest season is Borgen: Power and Glory. We were pleased to find the Trapped series renewed, though it is now called Entrapped: a moody murder mystery set in Iceland brings back a pair of troubled and lovable police detectives.

For good old American crime we finally discovered Better Call Saul, watched five seasons and can’t wait for season six. Somehow we never were able to get very far in Breaking Bad, for which this is a prequel. I am a Michael Connelly fan so I’ll check out any cinematic version of his books. The Lincoln Lawyer series is quite watchable. For more surreal mayhem try the German series Kleo.

Speaking of surreal, Michael Pollan’s book, How to Change Your Mind, has been translated to a strange and wonderful docuseries on the revival of scientific and therapeutic interest in mushrooms, LSD, and other mind-altering substances.

The integrity of some of our favorite comedians has been called into question but two remain who are both entertaining and relevant: Hannah Gadsby (LGBTQ, neurodivergent) and Trevor Noah. Watch anything by them.

Finally, here is a series you should not bingewatch. Save it for bedtime and watch until you get sleepy. It’s called Moving Art—nature and indigenous peoples, filmed beautifully, one region per episode, presented without narration. Sweet dreams!

What are your recent favorite binges? Share!

Happy New Year!