It’s Fall Break, and everyone knows that means binge-watching Netflix in your bed. To help you make it through this time without having to rewatch every episode of How I Met Your Mother or Orange is the New Black, I’ve compiled a list of Netflix options that are unconventionally awesome or shamelessly delightful. This list was compiled in a very unscientific way, so leave further recommendations in the comments section.
Disney Channel Original Movies
Netflix does have an impressive offering of classic Disney animated movies, including things like Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Mulan. But there are so, so many more gems from your childhood that are worth revisiting.
The Cheetah Girls, The Cheetah Girls 2, and The Cheetah Girls: One World. The Cheetah Girls tells the story of four friends as they try to make it in show business. They sing many songs, including “Cinderella” and “Cheetah Sisters” (both of which I can still sing by heart), and perform their last number in different-colored cheetah-patterned head warmers. It’s amazing. Once you’re done with that, the Cheetah Girls go to Spain and do it all over again. And then after that they go to India and do the same thing, except without Raven, so it’s not as good.
Cow Belles: This movie stars Aly and AJ Michalka who I only remember because I still think I have their version of “Walking on Sunshine” in my iTunes library. They are spoiled sisters who, through some cliched turn of events, have to go work at their family dairy farm. They learn about life, love, and cows. What more can you ask for?
Cadet Kelly: The most amazing thing about this movie is that it stars both Hillary Duff and Christy Carlson Romano (who played the sister/Ren on Even Stevens). Hillary gets sent to some military academy because her mother marries a General or something like that. I have vivid memories of a very long montage in which Hillary practices a rifle-spinning routine in a big, empty, dusty room. But the fact that I remember that scene means it’s worth watching. (Note: If there is a real trailer for this movie online I cannot find it. Instead, I linked to an early scene from the movie.)
Other Things That Exist: In Jump In, Corbin Bleu and KiKi Palmer get into the world of competitive double dutch. Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior stars Brenda Song, who does a lot of fighting in pink tracksuits. Additionally, the classic High School Musical and Camp Rock are on Netflix, but let’s face it, if you’re going to watch a musical, it’s going to be The Cheetah Girls.
Right now, there’s a trend to make cool, sophisticated animated shows for adults. What’s better than that? Uncool, unsophisticated animated shows meant for the six year old inside all of us.
Dexter’s Laboratory and Ed, Edd, n Eddy: Dexter’s Lab features an 8 year old scientist who has a laboratory in his bedroom. Most of the plots revolve around his sister Dee Dee getting into his room and creating all sorts of problems. Ed, Edd, n Eddy features three very strange looking friends who are obsessed with jawbreakers and try to earn money to purchase them in any way possible. A nice reminder of the days when candy was the dominant form of currency.
Powerpuff Girls: This show features Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup– three girls made out of “sugar, spice, and everything nice” who fight evil together. Everyone always had a favorite powerpuff girl growing up, and it could be fun to revisit your favorite massive-eyed superheroes.
Scooby-Doo: Do I even need to describe this? Shaggy and the gang solve mysteries, Velma’s glasses fall off, and they would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.
Rugrats in Paris: This movie is an amazing compendium of everything that is good in Rugrats. But, even more than that, it’s the one with the giant green dinosaur robot! There is nothing better than that in Rugrats world.
Sex, Drugs, and God
Bored during fall break? You could have sex, do drugs, or think about God, but lying in your bed and watching Netflix is so much easier. Here are some half-substitutes so you never have to leave your room.
Sexual Chronicles of a French Family: I watched this movie on an attempted road trip last spring, and it is probably the thing I remember most from that trip. The gist of the movie is that a boy is caught filming himself masturbating in class, leading his entire family to reconsider its sex life. In reality, the movie turns into something containing a vague plot into just different family members having sex. It is in French, though, so that makes it slightly more sophisticated, right?
Jesus Camp: Bizarre and interesting, this documentary tracks three kids who attend a Christian summer camp. The movie has so much crying and moaning that your family will probably feel weirded out that you’re watching it. At the same time it raises interesting personal and political questions about God.
UnHung Hero and After Porn Ends: Both of these are sexumentaries of sorts that will also make you think and feel strangely sad. In UnHung Hero, Patrick sets out on a noble quest to find out if penis size really matters. This takes him to many different countries and to have many semi-awkward conversations. After Porn Ends follows porn stars who have retired from the industry and their musings on how porn affected their lives. Watch it for no other reason than to see what some of these former stars look like in real life and real lighting.
Samsara: This movie is literally just an hour and a half of trippy images from around the world that will amaze you whether you’re under the influence or not.
Cheech and Chong: There are five different Cheech and Chong movies on Netflix, and they all basically feature weed-fueled hijinks spurred on by the Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Though these movies may not be that good, Cheech and Chong were the original stoner comedy duo, and that’s got to count for something.
Livin’ the Fast Life
Are you feeling like a broke college kid? These shows will remind you that there’s a world in which people spend money on many, many ridiculous things and not just take-out Chinese food.
NYC Prep: This show is an attempt to be real-life Gossip Girl. Though it doesn’t quite achieve the wonderful frothiness that is GG, it does a solid job scratching that Blair Waldorf vein. All the characters look like babies, and you will probably want to punch every single one in the face. On the plus side, the set where the kids do their confessionals includes piles of ancient reference books, a weird bust, and a giant leather chair. I don’t know who’s idea that was but it is wonderful.
Boys Over Flowers: If you have run through every episode of Gossip Girl and are sick of all the NYC Prep kids, try this Korean version of GG. It follows Geum Jan-di, a working class girl attending a very fancy private school who takes on the four most popular boys at school. Love triangles and drama ensue, and many boys will throw their jackets over their shoulders and stare meaningfully at the camera.
Suite Life of Zack and Cody: If you do not want anything even vaguely related to Gossip Girl, then Suite Life is for you. This Disney show stars two twins who live in a hotel with their mom and spend many hours messing with Mr. Moseby, the manager. The show also stars Brenda Song in a role meant to parody Paris Hilton and a pre-nose job Ashley Tisdale, so be prepared for both those things.
Who Came Up With This?
How do these exist? And why am I so grateful that they do?
Sharknado and 2 Headed Shark Attack: We’ve all heard of it, but have you actually watched it? Have you sat down and spent 87 minutes of your life being engulfed by a tornado made of sharks? If you haven’t, then you should. If you have, you should watch 2-Headed Shark Attack to fill the void that Sharknado left in your life.
Dead Snow: In a twist on the classic horror film, a group of young, attractive people are in a secluded house in the Alps when NAZI ZOMBIES attack. There is lots of red blood on white snow, but more importantly, there are NAZI ZOMBIES.
Hachi: I’m not going to say much about the plot of this movie because there actually isn’t much. But there is a dog, Richard Gere, and trains, and you will cry and cry and cry.
Galaxy Quest: Imagine if the cast of Star Trek was abducted by a civilization on the verge of collapse to fight actual space monsters. That is the concept driving this movie. What’s even more amazing than the plot of this movie, though, is that Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, and Snape from Harry Potter are all in it. 1999 must have been a rough year for them all.
The Paperboy: Oh my, this movie is weird. Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer who is attempting to exonerate John Cusack from death row. His younger brother (played by Zac Efron) hangs around for most of the film along with Nicole Kidman, whose character has fallen in love with imprisoned John Cusack. Bear in mind that this is just the setup…
We Like Sports and We Don’t Care Who Knows
I don’t know if you heard, but this weekend was Homecoming. If that got you in a sports mood, here are some suggestions for you.
You Don’t Know Bo: This 30 for 30 documentary is about Bo Jackson, the amazing athlete who played professional baseball and football, became an All-Star in both sports, and was named the best athlete of all time by ESPN. My dad and I watched this together over the summer and bonded hard-core over the magnificence that is Bo. Also, for anyone interested in marketing, there’s a whole segment devoted to Bo’s revolutionary Nike campaign.
Senna: A truly wonderful documentary about a Brazilian Formula 1 Driver, Aryton Senna. Grappling with fame, the expectations of a nation, and the life and death reality of Formula 1, Senna captures a life pushed to the extreme in every aspect.
Chalet Girl: This movie has been described as “Blue Crush on skis,” and that’s fairly accurate and the best compliment because Blue Crush is awesome. The movie is mainly carried by the complete charm of Felicity Jones and the fact that Ed Westwick/Chuck Bass is in it and speaking in his British accent.
Documentaries and Such
Most of the hidden gems of Netflix are documentaries, so even though other docs are scattered through this article, here are a few more for good measure.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: About the best sushi chef in Japan, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is really a chronicle of one man searching for perfection in his life. Watch it and you will be moved by his seemingly unending determination and also really crave sushi.
Mortified Nation: It’s funny when your friends tell you their awkward stories. It’s even funnier when people you don’t know tell their awkward stories in front of people they don’t know.
Happy People: This documentary about people living a rural life in the Russian taiga is slow and beautiful, but also a fascinating version of the man versus nature story.
Downloaded: This documentary about the creation of Napster will take you back to the days when the Internet was a bit of a Wild West and two high school kids ran the show. Also it’s a nice reminder of what the Internet used to look like.