Spring Watchlist and Playlist Recommendations 2024

Check out 30 movies, albums, podcasts, and TV shows beloved by Tufts community members

Do you believe in ghosts, or wonder about the afterlife? Maybe you yearn for parenting advice, the lowdown on your favorite celebrities, or a soundtrack for your next long drive?

Look no further than these 30 film, music, podcast, and TV recommendations from Tufts faculty and staff, which will answer your most burning questions—and ones you didn’t know you had. 

Podcast topics range from the highly specific (Big Dig and American Girl Dolls), to the general (jazz, classics, and law). Movies and shows span Westerns and mysteries, comedies and tragedies, love stories and hate stories, wine-themed treasure hunts (Drops of God) and alien abduction survivor support groups (People of Earth). 

Get takes on recent Oscar winners and nominees (Poor Things, Past Lives, Perfect Days) and the much-debated new season of True Detective, and advice on where to start with the 21 seasons of Top Chef

Watch Dr. Strangelove in light of today’s political tensions, or a magic show produced by Stephen Colbert and directed by Muppets guy Frank Oz (In and Of Itself), or Taika Waititi’s true tale of an American Samoa national football team trying for the FIFA World Cup under a Dutch-American coach (Next Goal Wins). 

If you have a recommendation to add to the playlist-watchlist, don’t forget to send it to tuftsnowrecommendations@tufts.edu.


Red movie poster with the words the ballad of buster scrugs in gold

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This two-hour film, released in 2018, is a compilation of six vignettes that take place in the 19th century during the settling of Old West. I don’t like (and often object) to Westerns, but what made me click on this film was the fact that it won several awards and has been nominated for many others (37, to be specific, including three Oscar nominations). Netflix kept suggesting it to me along with some other films that I watched and thought were fabulous. Three of the vignettes are morbidly funny, one is sad, and one is wrenching in a way that stayed with me for days. Without introducing any spoilers, I would say that the film is pointless and precious in a way that life often is. All characters are very well-written and brilliantly played. Watch it if you think that the best available remedy for suffering and death may be laughter. (Netflix) —Zoya Davis-Hamilton, associate vice provost, Research Administration Office of the Vice Provost for Research 

Cartoon of two men from the back talking on red phones with planes flying overhead

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Do you worry about what can happen if the wrong people are in power in these politically charged times? The most important civic duty we have is to elect leaders who are dedicated to representing the people and not individual ideology. However, in our world history, we have encountered too many powerful personalities who act above the state and make unilateral decisions based on personal preferences—and often these actions have been disastrous. Dr. Strangelove is a transgenerational film, a dark political satire that dives deep into the folly of decision-making by people in power outside of the state’s norms. The film stars Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones, and others. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and released 60 years ago, it is a masterpiece that transcends the decades, showing that the times have changed, but the themes have not. —Peter Towner, assistant director, Office of Emergency Management 

A worried looking man partly obscured by a grid of white tiles

In and Of Itself. On the surface, this may seem like the weakest recommendation—a filming of a magic show from 2019.  But the fact that it was produced by Stephen Colbert and directed by Frank Oz of The Muppets fame should give you some indication that there is something more to this performance created by Derek DelGaudio. In it, he tells the story of his life—from growing up with two moms in the ’80s, to becoming a card shark for the mafia, to moving on to magic and performance art. Some of the play is funny, some dark and tragic, but all of it is a poignant commentary on what it means to be a human in this world. The performance is punctuated with illusions or magic tricks that are—there are no other words for it—mind-blowing. Particularly the final act, in which DelGaudio performs a feat so moving and heartbreaking yet jaw-dropping, I think about it to this day. There are also some fun cameos of famous people, including Ronan Farrow, Titus Burgess, Kamau Bell, Bill Gates and others. Part play, part stunt, part drama, part movie, In and of Itself defies genre categorization and really can only be understood after it is seen. (Hulu) —Brett Nava-Coulter, lecturer, Department of Sociology 

man with mustache beard and Russian hat with intense expression

The Last Command. A silent film classic, this 1928 drama is a powerful tale of the reversals that life throws our way. As it begins, a film director (William Powell, in his breakthrough role) is flipping through a stack of photos of extras needed for his movie of war in Russia, and lights upon a face he recognizes. Soon a movie studio flunky is calling the old man in question—he’s in a rooming house and comes to the hallway phone, his head shaking with palsy. He agrees to take the job—he clearly needs the $6 a day it offers. He is sad and pathetic—it’s hard not to feel for him. As the extras jostle for their army uniforms at the studio, he gets a general’s outfit and pulls out a medal, saying the czar gave it to him. The others laugh—this sad clown, a general? Then we are taken to the core of the film, as he remembers his earlier life, only a decade before, when he was in fact a general, called “his imperial highness,” a cousin of the czar, rich, arrogant, imperious. He treated his subordinates with contempt, and revolutionaries with violence. One of those revolutionaries was that same director, who the general beat with his whip. Russia was soon engulfed by revolutionaries, and the general captured by a mob. He escapes, though—all the way to Hollywood, a shattered man. That’s when the film within a film begins again, as the director taunts the broken man before him to play the role he lived in reality. Larger-than-life Emil Jannings plays the general with alternating pathos and hauteur, truly inhabiting the role. The Last Command has a few weak moments, but is stirring, powerful, and thought-provoking—all in a silent movie from almost a century ago. It’s available in a three-disc collection of films directed by Josef von Sternberg—one of the others is Underworld from 1927, based on a Ben Hecht story, which began the film noir trend in Hollywood. —Taylor McNeil, senior news and audience engagement editor, University Communications and Marketing 

A woman with a sad expression and a man and woman embracing on a beach

My Last Love. I recently watched a few random movies on YouTube, and the one I am recommending today is My Last Love. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, this is a drama—take out the Kleenex. The character who really brought out deep emotion from me was Viveka Davis, a beautiful, educated, and independent woman who is raising her young daughter as a single parent, and who is diagnosed with cancer. Her medical regimen doesn’t save her, and she goes home to be near her elderly parents, worrying about who will take care of her daughter when she no longer can. Cancer is personal to everyone, and everyone’s cancer journey doesn’t end the same. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how our life events can be different and the same simultaneously. I cried and laughed throughout the movie, which reminds us that the people in our inner circle can fail us when we need them most, but a perfect stranger can carry us through the darkest storm—and that it’s good to build a strong foundation, but our relationships are what get us through our best and worst days. There were so many takeaways that resonated for me personally: We can make plans, but the universe has the final say. Every day really is a gift. People are broken so the light can shine through. And gratitude and good memories are the best foundation for healing. (YouTube) —Diana Capone, administrative coordinator, Office of the Provost 

A circle of faces with a range of expressions against a yellow background

Next Goal Wins. If you’re already familiar with Taika Waititi’s uniquely quirky films and shows —Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows, and Our Flag Means Death, to name a few—you have a sense of what to expect from this highly creative New Zealand director, producer, and sometimes actor. Whatever he touches always manages to be a wonderful combination of hilariously absurd situations and poignantly human experiences. Next Goal Wins is no exception. It’s based on the true story of the struggling American Samoa national football team and their attempted comeback under the leadership of a Dutch-American coach tasked with helping them qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The tropical film location makes for a lovely setting, but it also authentically brings to life the culture of an off-the-radar Polynesian U.S. territory floating way out in the South Pacific. There are some fantastic performances from a collection of American, New Zealand, and Samoan actors, including Oscar Knightley, Rachel House, Michael Fassbender, Elizabeth Moss, Will Arnett and newcomer Kaimana, who depicts the team’s Faʻafafine (nonbinary/transgender) player—the first of their kind to compete in a World Cup qualifier game. And Waititi appears briefly in a very weird and funny cameo. Though the film flew under the Oscar radar this year, it is well worth the watch! (Hulu) —Julia Keith, program coordinator, Tufts International Center 

A man in a blue shirt and a woman in a white shirt stand on a subway, looking at each other

Past Lives. Nothing happens in this movie, but I still cried. It opens with an American couple (offscreen, voices only) speculating about a man and woman sitting across the bar, whose conversation we can’t hear, but whose intimate gaze and intense focus suggest an unusual connection. Through flashbacks, we learn that Hae Sung and Nora, childhood sweethearts in Seoul, lost touch when Nora and her family moved to America at age 12. They reconnect 12 years later, teasing and reminiscing over Skype at all hours—only to let each other go again, as he moves to China for a language program. Fast forward eight years. Hae Sung is on a break from his long-term girlfriend. Nora is married to Arthur, a fellow writer from her grad program. He visits her in New York City, and the next 24 hours are an exquisite portrait of tension, tenderness, courage, and catharsis. From Nora’s frank, vulnerable discussions with Arthur (some of the most heartening marital communication I’ve seen onscreen) to her direct, devastating exchange with Hae Sung (the one that opens the film, and closes it), the conversations are painful to watch, but impossible not to. Much of the movie takes place in silence—their last walk home as children, as he turns left and she goes right; their helpless, radiant smiles upon reuniting; their wordless yet urgent two-minute stare as they wait for his Uber at the end. Like I said, nothing happens. But in that nothing lives the heart of the movie, which tells us that though we may lose those we love most, we will often find them again, or they will find us—even if in another life. (Showtime) —Monica Jimenez, senior culture and trends editor, University Communications and Marketing

a man in a blue jumpsuit sits on a bench and looks up, smiling

Perfect Days. Before we begin, you should know this movie is basically a real-time ride-along with a guy who cleans bathrooms. Nope, that’s not a euphemism or a cover operation—Hirayama works for Tokyo Toilets, and he … cleans toilets in Tokyo. He picks up trash, mops floors, scrubs sinks. He wipes down the toilet seat, the underside of the toilet seat, and the underside of that porcelain lip just under the toilet seat, using a little mirror with a long handle. “You have your own equipment and tools,” notes his bemused (maybe a bit unnerved) coworker. He even removes a pipe thing from inside the wall (probably even knows what that pipe thing is for) and wipes THAT down. Then he goes home, and the next day he wakes up, and does it all again. And again. And again.  Now that 99% of you have scrolled on to the next recommendation, let me tell the remaining 1%: This is the best movie you will see all year, and maybe the year after that. It’s hard to say why—maybe it’s the Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, and Nina Simone cassette tapes Hirayama plays as he drives through the awakening city, or the sunny bike rides to and from the public baths, subway station eatery, and used bookstore. Maybe it’s the point-and-shoot camera with which he photographs the trees as he eats his daily sandwich and drinks his carton of milk, or the tic-tac-toe game with an anonymous restroom regular via a paper by the sink, or the way he sneaks upstairs to his apartment balcony to spray his seedlings without making a sound. Things do happen—work emergencies, unexpected visitors, attempted theft—but plot is not central here. It’s Hirayama himself and his steadiness, watchfulness, and care that will water your soul, open your shuttered senses, and make you, too, want to listen to a broom sweeping the street, look at the sky, and smile. —Monica Jimenez, senior culture and trends editor, University Communications and Marketing

A surreal image of a woman with straight hair and big blue sleeves, with smaller people arranged around an archway leading into her chest

Poor Things. Despite its big names (Willem Dafoe, Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo), Poor Things feels like a small-time, artsy-indie film that’s not afraid to take risks—and get really, really weird. We start with a mad scientist who burps perfect rings of smoke (Dafoe); his patient, Bella, whose brain has been surgically replaced with that of her own infant (Stone); and a chicken dog, which is exactly what it sounds like (front half is a chicken, back half is a dog). Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed The Lobster, here delivers the same brand of visceral absurdism that from moment to moment may make you gasp, laugh, or retch (sometimes all three). A mash-up of love story, sci-fi, and social commentary, the movie follows Bella from her London home into a steampunky, technicolor world of airships, alien architecture, and voluminous costumes, which is nevertheless unquestionably our own. The film feels at times like Alfred Hitchcock, at others like David Lynch, with its black-and-white scenes that burst suddenly into color; unusual use of camera angles and fisheye lenses; often jarringly discordant soundtrack; and title cards with celestial imagery. The highlight is a scene you may have seen on social media, in which Stone—wide-eyed and seized by some urgent, primal force—throws herself onto the dance floor with a series of convulsive movements that quickly draws stares. Meanwhile her wealthy, urbane lover (Ruffalo, who apparently initially asked to skip the scene altogether), joins in with moves so ludicrous and enthusiastic, you can’t help but laugh. But the real joke of the film is that as unprepared as this literal babe in arms may be for silver-tongued Lotharios, the taste of fresh oysters, the existence of poverty, and the depths of human cruelty, the world is equally unprepared for her frank questions, enormous appetites, refusal to be fazed by nonsense—and overall unfiltered and unashamed expression of all that makes us human. (Hulu) —Monica Jimenez, senior culture and trends editor, University Communications and Marketing 


surreal image of face and torso in stained glass style

Ascension. High Wolf, the artist behind this 2010 album from the label Not Not Fun, is a project of Parisian electronic experimentalist Maxime Primault—who has also released music as Annapurna Illusion, Iibiis Rooge (with Neil Campbell of Astral Social Club), and most recently Black Zone Myth Chant (BZMC). Primault’s apparent superpower is the distillation of wholly original sound textures from a variety of influences, including world music (especially African), ambient, and experimental psychedelia. In a sense, then, he’s producing an aural European cousin to Afro-Futurist visual art, or possibly a more minimal trance-drone evolution of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s landmark 1981 My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Ascension’s sound layerings may seem vaguely unsettling at first, but with a modicum of patience, they prove uniquely rewarding. At lower volume, this album could be fine for yoga, massage, or general relaxation. Turned up a bit, it’d be well-suited to postmodern social hang time, spiritual reflection, or inspired brainstorming. —Kristofer Thompson, senior library assistant, Tisch Library Resource Management & Repository Services 

people carrying snake on green lawn against city skyline

The Hissing of Summer LawnsIf you’re a fan of the ’60s folk music scene, you surely know Joni Mitchell. You might have caught her performance of her hit “Both Sides Now” at this year’s Grammy awards, at which she won Best Folk Album. The Canadian singer-songwriter's otherworldly voice and unusual open guitar tunings helped her gain attention early in her career on albums such as Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, and—probably her most famous—Blue, most of which she wrote after escaping Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon (and her relationship with Graham Nash) for the shelter of the hippie cave community in Matala, Crete in 1970. But soon after, Joni became restless with the folk sound and scene—and by the mid-’70s, her music had evolved to incorporate other sounds like rock and jazz. Probably the fullest expression of this blend came together on 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns. I recently gave it a full listen for the first time and was blown away. Electric guitar, horn, and keyboard lines weave together to create a lush, warm ’70s sound, and the poetry of Joni’s lyrics explores a wide range of emotions and experiences. The radio single “In France They Kiss on Main Street” opens Hissing fairly conventionally, but the album quickly veers off into uncharted and surprising territory. Critics had more praised for 1976’s Hejira, maybe in part because it features the mind-bending bass lines of Jaco Pastorius, but I was delighted by the less-talked about Summer Lawns. —Julia Keith, program coordinator, Tufts International Center 

woman's face crying red tears with tiger faces and colorful diamonds around her

Untame the Tiger. Mary Timony embodies the best of indie rock: a musical style her own, smart and elliptical lyrics, consistently inventive, not beholden to any trends, but making her own way. A D.C. native, she first appeared in Autoclave, a post-punkish duo, and after college, she helmed noted indie bands Helium and later Ex Hex. Around 2010 she teamed up with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney for an excellent one-off album under the moniker of Wild Flag—a powerful, rocking mix of their two distinctive musical sensibilities. Now Timony has a new solo record, and it’s my favorite of all her work. Lyrically meditative as she enters her 50s, she’s bounded by sorrow yet still hopeful, singing “Trouble held me in its cruel smile /made me sweat, made me try / but all the damage had been done / and I was still scared of everyone / but we’re all still looking for the sun.” Timony is a terrific guitarist—when I saw her playing the Crystal Ballroom in Somerville in early March, she was fiery on lead guitar, and her band was tight and rocking. Untame the Tiger the record is quieter by comparison, but you can sense the power about to be unleashed. —Taylor McNeil, senior news and audience engagement editor, University Communications and Marketing  


cars in traffic on highway against blue sky and city buildings

The Big Dig. The Big Dig—the massive engineering and construction project that put Boston’s Central Artery underground, added the Ted Williams Tunnel, and built the now-iconic Zakim Bridge—was the most expensive highway project in America at the time. Even today, the project is infamous for its cost overruns, delays, controversies, accusations of corruption, and falling concrete, which claimed the life of a woman traveling on the new underground roadway. In this riveting, nine-episode podcast released in 2023, GBH News’ Ian Coss—who remembers the project lasting for his “whole childhood”—explores the Big Dig in depth, from 1960’s local anti-highway activism to its long-term impact on the city, both positive (transforming travel in and through Boston) and negative (lasting cynicism!). He interviews many of the key figures from across thirty-plus years, including Tufts’ own Mary Jeka. It's worth asking: how do projects like this get accomplished? And what role does the negative narrative around the Big Dig play in today’s approach to city infrastructure? —Dorothy Meaney, director, Tisch Library 

smiling woman with clasped hands

Checkbox Other with Nikki Innocent. This podcast explores a variety of topics and "celebrates those who don't fit in a defined box or category." Most episodes feature guests who share personal stories of when they felt "other" or that they didn't belong. Nikki Innocent is a humanity activist, keynote speaker, and social entrepreneur with a focus on women's leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion. I was fortunate enough to work with Nikki at a previous job, and it has been amazing to see her grow from afar. I wholeheartedly recommend listening to Nikki's podcast and watching her TEDx talks. You can get more information at Nikki's website at nikkiinnocent.com. —Adam Wladyszewski, digital production specialist, University Communications and Marketing 

doll peeking up from bottom of frame against purple background

Dolls of Our LivesIf someone asks “Are you a Samantha?” and you think of the Victorian orphan in a sailor costume instead of the Sex and the City bombshell, this podcast is for you. Allison Horrocks and Mary Mahoney dedicate each episode to another chapter in the world of American Girl—the dolls, the books, and the fandom at large. The podcast is a blend of book recaps, historical insights, and pop culture critique, and I’m here for all of it. In addition to reflecting on the roots of Felicity’s manners education and Molly’s victory garden, the show goes into the modern books, which may prompt you to once again venture to the children’s section of the library to scoop up armloads of slim paperbacks. Maybe it will even convince you that you need another doll—or at least the “vintage” 1980s and 1990s accessories just released. It’s for the history, right? —Sally Brzozowski, Digital Project Manager, University Communications and Marketing 

cartoon of woman with long hair with headphones next to mic and child with dark hair playing with cord with loops in it

Good Inside. One thing I’ve learned as a parent is that I crave hearing others’ perspectives and experiences. If fellow parents share about a struggle they’re facing, I am deeply grateful. Why? Because I so often relate on some level, and it makes me feel better. “It’s not just me. I can do this,” I tell myself. In one of these vulnerable moments, my trusted neighbor-friend asked me if I’ve ever listened to Dr. Becky. I had not, but should I? “Look her up on Instagram,” she replied. “I love her advice.” I quickly became one of the popular clinical psychologist’s 2.4 million Instagram followers and checked out her podcast, Good Inside—part of her larger Good Inside online platform. Becky Kennedy, a.k.a. Dr. Becky, mom to three young children, is also a New York Times-bestselling author. While Time Magazine dubbed her the “Millennial parenting whisperer,” I still listen intently as a 46-year-old mother of a seven-year-old boy. A dynamic speaker who finds engaging ways to get right to her points, Dr. Becky offers insights into better understanding your child’s feelings and needs, but also discusses the importance of understanding your own. Her tips center around community and conversation, parental leadership, and practical strategies, to name a few categories of guidance, and what she says, at times, makes me catch my breath. So much of what I take in leads me to feeling glorious “AHA” moments as I think through how I’ve communicated with my son about certain issues (bedtime, listening skills, conflict-resolution, the list goes on…). I still make a point to listen to a variety of voices on the important topic of parenting, but Dr. Becky is one I believe I’ll keep tuning into for as long as she continues dishing out her inspiring words of wisdom. —Katie Strollo, director of digital experiences, University Communications and Marketing  

circular pattern of green and blue tiles with the words natalie haynes stands up for the classics

Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. Comedy and the classics? It doesn’t seem a promising combination, but Natalie Haynes, a classicist, author, and yes, comedian, pulls it all together in these smart and funny fast-paced romps through the ancient world. She started in 2020 with her takes on the likes of Sophocles, Virgil, Ovid, and Plato, but then gave equal time to the legends—Medusa, Pandora, Clytemnestra, and many more. She’s sharp, knows her material inside out, and is laugh-out-loud funny. Many episodes were recorded with a live audience, which has its pros and cons, but does add some punch to her punchlines. These are wonderfully entertaining tutorials in the classics, and while it helps to have some baseline knowledge of myths and ancient Greece and Rome, it’s not necessary; just go along for the enjoyable ride, and learn a lot, too. Check out her novels, moving retellings of myths: Children of Jocasta, A Thousand Ships, and Stone Blind. All podcast platforms. —Taylor McNeil, senior news and audience engagement editor, University Communications and Marketing 

chat bubble with the words serious trouble

Serious Trouble. By its own admission, Serious Trouble is “an irreverent podcast about the law”—though surely that claim could not survive cross-examination. Truth be told, the show is irreverent about everything except the law, aiming Silly String at an entitled parade of powerful malefactors who find themselves in legal trouble even while the show indicts our collective failure to establish true justice. A weekly conversation between journalist Josh Barro and attorney Ken White, Serious Trouble takes the news from the anxiety-inducing arenas of horse race and partisan combat to the cool, analytical chambers of law. From there, we go on to the farther removes of play, with Barro setting up jokes like sandcastles and White delivering punchlines that surf in on waves of rhetoric and land as dry as sarcasm, squarely on scandal, corruption, and prosecutorial arrogance alike. An American kaleidoscope of absurd figures appears before us: presidents and senators, district and defense attorneys, crypto exchange fraudsters and monied hucksters of all sorts, the jetsam of our gilded age. The show’s analysis doesn’t fit into easy categories: either/or, us/them, left/right—labels that render a verdict before anyone says a word. Hear Barro and White out (hear anyone out, really), and you’re in for surprises. Barro’s almost jaded journalistic neutrality and habit of voicing the contrary view sometimes give way to an endearing personal story or a riff on the delightful weirdness of vintage cookbooks. White’s lighthearted civil libertarianism gains moral heft when the discussion turns to ordinary, powerless defendants denied equality before the same law that the well-connected so often flout. Perhaps, Serious Trouble suggests, it is possible to hold on to both our clarity and our laughter—to find our way to a more spacious place by listening with a little more reverence for each other, and a little less for our own certainty. —Laura Lucas, director, knowledge strategy & operations, Office of the Provost 

vinyl record with an orange album case with the words strong songs

Strong SongsSince 2018 (a lifetime ago in podcast years), musician and writer Kirk Hamilton has been churning out bi-weekly episodes of “Strong Songs,” a hidden gem in the vast sea of audio storytelling. From deep jazz cuts to iconic pop songs, each episode takes the listener on a 60-minute ride inside the history and harmony of a song, breaking down each element of a notable composition, performance, and recording. From the Beatles to Bowie, jazz giants like Sonny Rollins to opera legends like Puccini, Broadway showtunes to music from popular video games, the show’s genre-agnostic repertoire has something for everyone. And the combination of Hamilton’s affable demeanor and incisive musical analysis will appeal to aficionados and general listeners alike. —Ronee Saroff, editorial director, University Communications & Marketing 

cast iron pan, wood cutting board, and wood spoon with the words your mamas kitchen

Your Mama’s Kitchen. It makes sense that if our sense of smell is our strongest, that the memories we have in places like our parents’ kitchens would be some of the most vivid. In Your Mama’s Kitchen, veteran journalist and storyteller Michele Norris expertly interviews celebrity guests about their formative years, and how the time passed in their childhood kitchens helped shape their careers. Unlike other interviews where Norris’s guests may find themselves talking about a new endeavor, these conversations are intimate and evoke emotions across the spectrum. When I listen, I leave feeling like I know something more about the guests and, without question, something about myself. —Emily Wright Brognano, senior content creator / editor, University Communications and Marketing  


two hands holding up middle fingers, with the middle fingers being the figures of a man and a woman staring at each other

Beef. You may have heard Beef described as that miniseries with lots of Asian characters behaving badly—especially Ali Wong’s Amy Lau and Steven Yeun’s Danny Cho, struggling business owners whose lives and mutual anger management problems collide in a fateful road rage incident. But with more all-Asian casts entering the mainstream (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell, Everything Everywhere All at Once), and more Asian characters breaking the “model minority” trope (Wong’s comedian persona, Yeun’s Glenn from The Walking Dead), a show must do more to stand apart. Beef does that, by doing it all. Prancing forth as a comedy of manners, it sinks into a melancholy character study, swerves into thriller territory—complete with crimes, coverups, car chases, and burning buildings—then lurches without warning into horror (episode 9 is not for the faint of heart). In its final act, Beef drives entirely off the road into pure existential dread and rapture, exploring pain, happiness, loneliness, and connection in a way that’s also, now and then, hilarious. Through it all, Wong and Cho bring incredible life, depth, authenticity, and relatability to their characters, making the mortal-enemy bond at the heart of the story feel as intimate and charged as any romantic or blood relationship you can think of. Yes, the show is about hatred and alienation, simmering resentment and dreams deferred, backstabbing and front stabbing, but it also reminds us that every beef is a chance to make peace—whether with the nemesis in front of us, or the one within. (Netflix) —Monica Jimenez, senior culture and trends editor, University Communications and Marketing

a group of people holding a leash struggle to pull back the crawling baby attached to the other end of the leash

Breeders. If your experience with the Martin Freeman is limited to his John Watson on Sherlock or his Bilbo Baggins, his Paul Worsley in Breeders will be unrecognizable to you. Please don’t be deterred. Paul, a middle-aged London dad, puts the dark in dark comedy, which is exactly why you should check out this inventive, candid family sitcom. As a couple, Paul and his wife Ally (a delightful Daisy Haggard) face a barrage of challenges in the form of angsty and anxious kids, aging parents, financial concerns, and marital stress. Paul and Ally’s responses to modern parenthood’s pressures are unflinchingly honest and written with a knife-sharp wit. The year I discovered Breeders, this was the show to which I referred all my friends. By the time I was working my way through the recently released fourth/final season, I was routinely wet-eyed, realizing my time with this lovely, messy, tilt-a-whirl of a family was coming to an end. (Hulu) —Dave Nuscher, executive director of content and planning, University Communications and Marketing 

a goblet with the image of a woman with red hair and a man with dark hair, both with white collars

Drops of God. All right, everyone, gather around, because I've got a tasty treat to talk about —"Drops of God" on Apple TV+! Let me tell you, this show is like a fine wine—it just gets better with every sip, or in this case, every episode! So, picture this: Fleur Geffrier (Camille) and Tomahisa Yamashita (Issei) are like the dynamic duo of the wine world, bringing us on a whirlwind adventure through vineyards, cellars, and some seriously stunning landscapes. Yamashita plays the determined and passionate wine critic, while Geffrier steps into the shoes of a rookie wine taster with a legendary father and some serious shoes to fill. The plot? Oh, it's juicy! When their father, a renowned wine critic, passes away, they find themselves in a high-stakes competition to inherit his prized wine collection. But here's the twist—they have to decipher a series of cryptic clues about 13 elusive and divine wines, known as the "Drops of God." Talk about a wine-fueled treasure hunt! Now, let's talk vibes. This series serves up a perfect blend of drama, romance, and of course, plenty of wine-induced suspense. Plus, the chemistry between Geffrier and Yamashita? Off the charts! But what really makes Drops of God a must-watch is its celebration of wine culture. From the intricate process of winemaking to the art of tasting and appreciating different flavors, it's like a crash course in oenology—but with way more drama. So, whether you're a wine aficionado or just looking for your next binge-worthy series, pour yourself a glass, sit back, and let Drops of God take you on a tantalizing journey through the world of wine. Cheers to that! (Apple TV+) —Yanina Hillion, events manager, The Fletcher School 

A man and woman sit and look up with fearful faces at a row of people above them

Ghosts. It’s the time of year for comfort watching, and the show I keep coming back to (when I’m not making incremental progress in the latest Zelda game) is the BBC show Ghosts, a show that seems like a paranormal comedy, but is really about the tradeoffs people make in the execrable housing market. The show begins with a young couple searching for apartments, trying to find something in their budget that they would actually want to live in. How many of us in the Boston real estate market can relate? Then they get the news that they have inherited a British manor from a distant relative—and the housing problem is solved, right? Except that the manor is, well, crumbling around their ears, and, most importantly, it already has residents—ghosts across a spectrum of British history. There’s the scoutmaster from the 1980s, the Tory politician who died in the midst of a sex scandal, the Regency Lady, the closeted gay World War II officer, the maid burned as a witch, and many others. Ghosts is truly funny, and it is full of kindness and comfort. The characters, even the odious ones (looking at you, Tory politician), are not caricatures—they are full humans with fully lived lives, ones you wish would continue long after the show is over. (CBS) —Amy Gantt, director of strategic research development, Office of the Vice Provost for Research 

a group of people sit on a blue couch with others standing behind it on a cobblestone street in a small cheerful town

The Good Place. Can a half-hour network sitcom delve into some of philosophy’s deepest questions while remaining accessible and, importantly for a sitcom, funny? Those who have seen the four-season run of The Good Place know the answer is a resounding “yes.” Putatively, The Good Place is about four people and their experiences in the Good Place (a stand-in for heaven). It’s actually much more than that, but it's difficult to write too much without revealing important plot points. Instead, I’ll describe its effect on my children. My 15-year-old will often point out when her younger sister is doing something for moral deserts. (Typically, she’s doing it for an actual dessert, but that’s beside the point). My 12-year-old will bring up the trolley problem when discussing a challenging social situation at school. They’ve corrected me repeatedly about it being a leap into faith, not a leap of faith. And if I had a nickel for each time they mentioned Immanuel Kant, well, I’d probably only have 15 cents, but that still seems like a lot given the Groundwork in the Metaphysics of Morals isn’t on many teenagers’ bookshelves. The show is profound. You will laugh, but then you will think. Deeply. It will stick with you, gnaw at you in some cases, and profoundly impact how you view life and death. I find myself returning to it often, remembering the importance of trying to improve myself (“What matters isn’t if people are good or bad. What matters is if they’re trying to be better today than they were yesterday”), ruminating on sadness (“You said that every human is a little bit sad all the time, because you know you’re going to die. But that knowledge is what gives life meaning”), and, perhaps most important, considering the bigger lesson of frozen yogurt (“There’s something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it”). It's streaming on Netflix right now. I would offer my password so you can watch it for free, but I suspect that would cost both of us some afterlife points. (Netflix) —Mike Rodman, vice president, University Communications and Marketing 

a woman in a white dress surrounded by men in suits against a blue city background

Max Headroom. Set “20 minutes into the future” when it was released in the mid ’80s, Max Headroom proved to be oddly accurate at predicting the future that now exists.  The titular character is a rogue Artificial Intelligence (computer reconstruction, in the show’s terms) that, while seeming to know what is going on, more often than not gives information that only appears to be true. The other main characters of the show are, in 2020s terms, a live blogger, his hacker controller, and the producer of his livestream. In the dystopian future the show predicts, public opinion is shaped by an oligarchy of media networks, with terrorists taking down city networks via viruses; social media proving addictive to viewers; people staging things to later attract viewers; and so much more that seems to be the norm in our current society. The future it depicts, while bleak, is also somehow wonderful to behold, with a sort of steampunkish to early cyberpunk edge. Episodes of Max Headroom are available to rent on many streaming services, or is that also part of the plot…. (Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube) —Jesse Anderson, associate director, AV architecture  

a man and various objects in a bright beam of light being pulled upward against a dark night sky

People of Earth. This two-season comedy series has a great premise. Reporter Ozzie Graham, played by Wyatt Cenac, is assigned to write a story about an alien abduction survivor support group in small-town Beacon, New York. He meets the StarCrossed group, which meets nightly in a Catholic church, and thinks they are all nuts. He is about to move on when he starts seeing deer—talking to him. Soon the clues are coming up more and more that the aliens might be real—and connected to Ozzie. And not just to him, of course, but the support group members, too—who are cast and played with perfection, including Oscar winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph. We see the Reptilians, Whites, and Grays on their spacecraft—Jeff, Don, Kurt—annoyed with each other and the technology they have to use, just like in any office. The storyline swings a bit darker in season two, and by then the characters are so well defined, we know and care about them all, aliens included. Sadly, People of Earth is not streaming for free anywhere currently, but available for purchase—or go old school like me and get it on DVD from the library. —Taylor McNeil, senior news and audience engagement editor, University Communications and Marketing 

a man and two women against a colorful background

Top Chef. I love cooking shows and competition shows, so you would have thought I was a Top Chef fan from its humble beginnings. Yet somehow it took a few seasons coming to Netflix for me to finally watch an episode. I fell in deep—and it’s been a feast exploring that 2006-fueled time capsule. Watching the show from the start makes you appreciate the evolution of this empire: how it changed when Padma became a host, what foods were considered strange or popular back in the ’00s compared to now, which contestants proceeded to greater fame or disappeared from the spotlight. The recipe is simple—immunity from elimination is up for grabs, one contestant gets eliminated per week, plus each season boasts a new location and new flavors that come with that region—yet the show stays spicy, now going into its 21st season. This chef’s recommendation: catch an old season before diving into the new one, to better appreciate the enhanced palate of 2024.  (Netflix, Peacock) —Sally Brzozowski, Digital Project Manager, University Communications and Marketing 

two women with serious expressions reflected on cracked ice

True Detective: Night Country. Whether or not you’ve tuned in for earlier seasons of HBO’s famed True Detective, you should add season four—called Night Country—to your watch list now. An anthology series where every season presents a different cast, characters and plot, True Detective always focuses on complex police investigations and even more complex characters. Night Country continues this formula, with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as Police Chief Danvers and Detective Navarro in a remote area of northern Alaska, investigating the deaths of eight researchers whose bodies are found naked and frozen into a solid mass on the ice. Even more unsettling is that all of this happens during a weeks-long period of perennial darkness in Alaska (hence Night Country) and in a community plagued by racism and environmental issues affecting its Indigenous citizens. The darkness becomes its own kind of character in the show, disorienting viewers and characters alike, and serves as a fitting backdrop for the show’s supernatural undertones and depiction of trauma and mental health. And while I wouldn’t describe the show as horror, it is deeply unnerving at times, expertly blurring the line between what’s real and what’s not all the way up to the season finale. What is undeniably real, though, is the show’s focus on powerful, complicated women and how captivating they are to watch. (HBO) —Jessica Byrnes, communications manager, Tisch College 

two women with serious expressions reflected on cracked ice

True Detective: Night Country. The fourth season of the anthology crime series True Detective may not need any further promotion; according to HBO, Night Country was the most-watched season, eclipsing the much-lauded and revered original installment. However, this season has been polarizing for devoted True Detective fans, with even show creator Nic Pizzolatto piling onto the hate. Night Country is the first season in which Pizzolatto was not involved; he only has an executive producer credit. Issa López took over as showrunner, writer, and director, and most critics have called this season the best one since the first. López took the original True Detective formula and flipped it; instead of the hypermasculine Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson toiling away in the South (Louisiana), the brusque Jodie Foster and Kali Reis are plunging through a fictional Alaska town so far north that they endure round-the-clock darkness for much of the winter. The two cops are investigating the mysterious disappearance of a team of scientists from a secretive research base; most of the scientists later are found naked and frozen together outdoors, and the crime may be connected to a cold case of a murdered local Indigenous woman. Night Country contains many of the same elements that set the first season apart: inspired casting, a setting so integral to the plot as to be another main character, supernatural hints, and well-rounded characters who are flawed and never fully “good” or “bad.” The storyline is less nonsensical than season two and more gripping than season three, and it’s refreshing to see strong female leads and a focus on the plight of Indigenous women. This season succeeds at balancing the mundane with the mystical, and the story arc is satisfying. Issa López will return for True Detective season five; I can’t wait to see what she does next. (HBO) —Melissa Lee, senior communications specialist, Office of the Dean of Students 

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