It probably isn’t necessary to start off by mentioning the current tumultuous state of the world, because it’s pretty much the main thing that’s been on all of our minds right now. From the global pandemic to the recent waves of Black Lives Matter protesting to the upcoming election in November, we’re living in a country that is experiencing transformation and growth, but also intense and bitter divisiveness.
And, ironically, during all of this chaos, many of us are sitting at home in quarantine with a lot of time on our hands. Hopefully, we’ve all used some of this time to begin to educate ourselves about the movement for equality and justice that is taking place right now, and to learn about how each of us as individuals can contribute. In the midst of all that free time, though, an important question remains: Hmm… what show/movie should I stream right now?
The question might be even more important than it seems. While TV shows and movies are a form of entertainment and enjoyment, they also influence our views of the world: how we form our values and beliefs, how we learn about those who have different lives than we do, and how we develop the capacity for empathy and acceptance. In a time when our country is divided across countless lines, it’s critical that we experience the stories of people with diverse backgrounds and identities, from race to religion to ethnicity to sexual orientation and more. So, we’ve compiled a list of TV shows and movies that you can stream right now (in order to fight back against both divisiveness and quarantine boredom).
The Half Of It (Netflix)
In The Half Of It, Ellie Chu, an Asian-American teenager living in a remote town in Washington state, doesn’t have many friends. She does, however, have a pretty successful business writing other people’s essays for them. When football player Paul Munsky approaches Ellie for help, she’s surprised to find that he isn’t looking for her to do his homework; instead, he wants Ellie to fix up his love letter to Aster Flores, another girl at their school. As Ellie helps Paul, an unlikely (and super cute) friendship forms. As Ellie and Paul become closer, things get a little more complicated when Paul starts to realize that he might not be the only one in this friend pairing who likes Aster…
You can watch the trailer here: The Half Of It
Love Victor (Hulu)
For fans of the movie Love, Simon (or for anyone!!), this new show on Hulu follows Victor Salazar, a gay Latino teen who transfers to Creekwood High one year after the events of Love, Simon take place. Simon is now a sort of school legend, and Victor starts at Creekwood feeling hopeful about truly being able to be himself in a community that seems a lot more accepting than where he used to live in Texas. It doesn’t take too long, though, for Victor to realize that things aren’t that simple–from his religious family to his aggressive classmates to his own confused feelings, being himself is more of a challenge that it first seemed. Victor knows that everyone deserves a great love story; he just needs to figure out what his looks like.
You can watch the trailer here: Love, Victor
Never Have I Ever (Netflix)
Partially based on the real-life childhood experiences of the show’s creator Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation Indian-American teenage girl. With her friends Eleanor and Fabiola, Devi forges her way through the challenging, awkward, and exciting experiences of high school, struggling to win the affections of Paxton Hall-Yoshida and compete with her arch-nemesis Ben Gross. On top of that, she grapples with processing the recent death of her father and accepting her Indian heritage. Through it all, Devi remains confident, outspoken, resilient, and hilarious.
You can watch the trailer here: Never Have I Ever
Starring the awesome Yara Shahidi, this show follows Black-ish’s Zoey Johnson as she goes to college and learns to start navigating life as a sort-of adult. From relationships to internships, Zoey begins to understand what it means to make her own choices and become her own person. Thankfully, she has a really cool group of friends by her side and an even cooler wardrobe. Grown-ish is sometimes lighthearted and funny, sometimes serious and moving, and always super enjoyable to watch. There are already three seasons available on Hulu, so prepare to binge-watch!!
You can watch the trailer here: Grown-ish
Love on the Spectrum (Netflix)
Love on the Spectrum is an Australian reality TV dating show, but it’s unlike most other dating shows you might have seen. First of all, it lacks ridiculously contrived and far-fetched drama. But, more importantly, Love on the Spectrum follows the dating lives of a few different young adults on the autism spectrum. Romance is already complicated enough; for people with autism, certain social and communicative challenges can make things even trickier. The men and women of the show are of various ages and sexual orientations, each with their own unique experiences, obstacles, and victories. There’s a lot to learn from Love on the Spectrum–not just about the nature of autism, but about the nature of love itself.
You can watch the trailer here: Love on the Spectrum
Dark Girls (Amazon Prime)
If you’re in the mood for a documentary, and if you want to educate yourself about the nuanced ways in which racism and beauty standards intersect, check out Dark Girls on Amazon Prime. This slightly older documentary investigates colorism and the specific prejudices faced by dark-skinned women around the world. It contains personal stories from various women, including the award-winning actress Viola Davis, in order to unpack issues of self-image and self-esteem that result from internalized bias; it also examines the multi-billion dollar skin-bleaching industry. For those who might not have been as aware of colorism and its damaging impacts, this is a great place to start learning.
You can watch the trailer here: Dark Girls
Annie Stein is a recent graduate of Needham High School. She is a former member of the MEDIAGIRLS Youth Advisory Board and is very passionate about MEDIAGIRLS’ mission of using media to create positive social change! She is currently at home watching a lot of TV and movies, but will be attending Brown University in the spring.
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