What did the Polygon staff spend their weekend watching? Whether it’s the latest virally popular Netflix series, discovering an animated gem, or educating ourselves in older genre classics, most of us find something worth recommending before we head back to work.
And as usual, the answers range widely, as some people check out what’s new and popular on streaming services, and some return to past favorites. So here’s what we’re watching right now, and what you might enjoy watching as well. Head to the comments to drop in your own recommendations.
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, Hush) followed up his acclaimed Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House with another genre-staple adaptation: An updated take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Bringing several Stephen King books and the Shirley Jackson classic to life honed Flanagan’s instinct for translating the literary voice to cinema, and that talent is essential to what makes Bly Manor such a mesmerizing watch. Unlike Hill House, the new series is less horror-forward (there are only a few ghosts hiding in the background), but just as rewarding, trading jump scares for chilling encounters and unsettling revelations.
Set in the 1980s, but still sticking to the main beats of James’ novella, the series follows Dani (Victoria Pedretti from Hill House), the new governess to two young kids, Flora and Miles, whose parents were killed tragically and who now spend their days roaming the grounds of Bly Manor. They’re precocious and creepy — but even more so than typical British children. As Dani assimilates into life at Bly alongside the other staff, she stumbles into the violent history of the home, and the fate of her predecessor. True to the spirit of the previous installment, the ghosts of the past come in every phantasmagoric flavor.
Bly Manor is a rare Netflix show that feels evenly paced. Dani is at the heart of the story, and her flashbacks give the character a deeply felt arc, but there’s room for Flanagan and collaborators to carve out backstory for everyone in the house. T’Nia Miller (Years and Years) and Rahul Kohli (iZombie), playing Bly’s housekeeper and chef, deliver the two heart-wrenching performances built on the blistering effect of grief. Hill House alum Oliver Jackson-Cohen returns in a romantic-but-destructive role as one of the found family’s previous caretakers, while Kate Siegel also pops back up in an entirely black-and-white episode that pushes the series into Gothic territory. Flanagan even finds a way to bring his pal Henry Thomas back for two roles.
Bly Manor, like Hill House, uses haunted house tropes — What’s behind the door? What was that sound? Who just walked around that corner? — as a set of metaphors for the parts of life we’d rather not confront. It’s another creepy, stirring, yet meditative success. —Matt Patches
The Haunting of Bly Manor is streaming on Netflix.
What else we’re watching...
I wrapped up my first time watching the FX series this weekend and I get why some critics call it one of the best shows of all time. After watching the finale, I sat with my feelings on the six seasons and came to the conclusion that, at its core, it’s a show about looking at why people do the work that they do, and how they justify it to themselves and everyone around them. —Josh Rios
The Americans is streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Good Place
Season 4 of The Good Place is finally on Netflix. Season 4 of The Good Place is FINALLY on Netflix, and it only sometimes makes me sad when I remember what life was like the last time I watched new episodes of The Good Place, which was … only nine months ago. —Susana Polo
All four seasons of The Good Place is streaming on Netflix.
Izzy’s Koala World
On one end of the television spectrum is Tiger King, which shows troubled people in profoundly uncomfortable situations. On the other end is Izzy’s Koala World, which is apparently a documentary about the nicest family in Australia. This past weekend, I went with Izzy.
It’s a simple program about a little girl who lives on an island. Izzy never wears shoes. Izzy rides her bicycle everywhere. Izzy’s mother is a veterinarian, and together they take care of injured koalas who live in pens behind their house. Eventually, Izzy releases them back into the wild.
That’s it. That’s the show. It’s perfect.
The worst part about Izzy’s Koala World is that there are only a handful of episodes. The family’s favorite was episode 1, where Izzy rides around to collect samples of eucalyptus leaves for a koala bear taste test. It was a blissful few hours there on the couch cuddling with the kids. Izzy’s Koala World was exactly what I needed, especially when the world outside seems more like an episode of Tiger King than ever before. Now I just want to go find a real-life koala bear and hug the shit out of it. —Charlie Hall
Izzy’s Koala World is streaming on Netflix.
I don’t have much stomach for all the incendiary political docs that are hitting the market right now, but it’s easier to take the same rage and pessimism in the form of a fiction story. Guy Moshe’s dystopic science-fiction movie LX 2048 feels particularly timely and on-point, essentially channeling the nightly climate-change news (floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and so forth) into a wry, fantastical form.
James D’Arcy stars as Adam, a petulant jerk living in a near future where solar radiation has become tremendously lethal, and most of the people in his city live nocturnal lives and stay indoors, working and socializing through telepresence VR. It’s pretty relatable: it all feels like a high-tech version of coronavirus quarantine, complete with the growing sense of ennui and despair. There are a bunch of twists to the story, involving sun-proof clones that replace people when they die, Adam’s broken marriage and vindictive ex, the virtual woman he’s fallen in love with, and his life-threatening illness, but what really comes across about LX 2048 is the vivid, colorful rendering of our newly toxic world, and how familiar Adam’s rage, despair, solipsism, and aggressive self-pity all feel right now, to anyone watching the news or spending time on social media. —Tasha Robinson
LX 2048 is available to rent on Amazon and is streaming on Hoopla.