Okay, if you’re anything like me, you saw that headline and were like “oh hell no, I’m not buying into this because I’ve promised eight different people that I’ll watch twelve different shows they’ve recommended me and I am not going to add any more to that list.” I get it, believe me, but take a deep breath, because I promise these shows aren’t going to weigh down the back of your mind like neglected laundry.
Both of these shows are Netflix originals, both are one season of either 7 or 8 episodes, and (best for last) all the episodes are between 10 and 20 minutes long! (Short attention span club rejoice!)
First up at the plate is the new Netflix original: Bonding.
Bonding is about a graduate student living in New York who’s a dominatrix by night to pay her bills. Yes, you read that right. And Netflix surprisingly manages to make this show both racy and heartfelt, touching on themes of friendship, identity, connection, and even shame. Surprisingly, the nittier-grittier parts of the show are handled really well, and for anyone who’s uncomfortable with nudity, you’ll be happy to know that no swimsuit-areas are fully bared throughout the course of the show.
Bonding is funny and original, and the short episodes of the short season will leave you wanting more. And while it may be a little eyebrow-raising to see someone who’s supposed to be a grad student in psychology studying flashcards emblazoned with vocabulary as second-nature as “sexism” and “gender”, the heart of the show is definitely in the right place, and you’ll find yourself quite fond of its characters, no matter how initially abrasive they may seem.
Next, we have the Netflix original, Special.
Special is, for lack of a better word, really special. It’s about a guy in Los Angeles who’s gay and has cerebral palsy, and its star is also its creator – a gay man with cerebral palsy. It’s hard to put into words just how important that small fact is, because it is so rare – nay unheard of – to have stories about gay people actually told by gay people or stories about disabled people actually told by disabled people, and this show gives us both.
The plot of the show centers around its leading man moving out of his mom’s house and working as a writer/intern at an online magazine. It’s funny, self-aware, and a little satirical, and its deceptively short episodes really draw you in to get you invested in the story. As an added bonus for fans of the Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, you’ll be excited to see a familiar face in episode 2.
Both of these shows are fun and new and surprising in their own ways, and both tell stories that you really won’t find anywhere else. They’re great watches not just because of the main characters you get to meet, but because of the equally fleshed-out and dynamic side characters that populate both shows. Considering you can burn through an entire season of one of them in the same amount of time it would take you to watch a movie, they’re a great way to get a whole new show under your belt and, hopefully, get you in the mood to start something else.
Oh, and just as a p.s. – I mentioned earlier how much neglected laundry can weigh your mind down, so if you’re ignoring the ever-growing Mount Everest in your hamper right now, why not throw a load or two in the wash and sit down with one of these shows while you wait?