2016 is Going to Be a Big Year for Binge Watching on #Netflix

Disclosure: I’m a member of the #Netflix #StreamTeam and receive occasional product and early access to programming. But every word I write is my own.

Oakland, California, where I live, is blessed with some of the greatest weather on the planet. Okay, so we’ve had a pretty nasty drought for the past few years, but we’ve had dry spells before and we’ll have ‘em again. Anyway, we’re getting slammed with rain, which is a good thing. But I’m not complaining about the weather. Quite the opposite. In fact, I’m watching all that east-coast snow and feeling a little envious. I know blizzards can be life threatening and are no fun for the people they actually affect, but from out here on the west coast, there’s something almost magical about the prospect of being snowed in (assuming, of course, we’ve got plenty of food and the power’s not down).

What it comes down to is that I could really use a long break, one that would give me a no-guilt excuse to just hang out with the family, talking, reading, playing, and catching up on some of our favorites on Netflix—or discovering some new ones.

Here, in no particular order, is what’s on our must-watch list—and by “our” I mean mine and my 12-year-old daughter’s. There will undoubtedly be some that we’ll watch together, a few outbursts (from each of us) of “how can you watch that crap,” and plenty of dismissing something as “crap” but then creeping back into the room and standing silently in the doorway watching it anyway.

Making a Murderer

netflix - making a murderer

House of Cards, Season 4

netflix - house of cards

Mad Men

netflix - mad men


netflix - izombie

The Blacklist

netflix - blacklist


netflix - flash

Being Human

netflix - being human

Robin Hood

netflix - robin hood

Netflix’s Halloween Scream Team

the omenDisclaimer: I’m part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but I’ve been a Netflix power user for years and it would take a lot more than a few free movies to influence my opinions.

I’ve got to admit that Halloween—at least the costume part—has never been my favorite holiday. Oh, I used to get dressed up and take the kids out to Trick-or-Treat, and I’ve been told that I really rock a mini-skirt. But it’s hard to get excited about being someone else when I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

the othersIt’s entirely possible that my parents are responsible for my ho-hum attitude about costumes. When my sisters and I were little, the punishment for any mid-October-or-later infraction was that on Halloween we had to go door to door, not dressed up and asking for candy, but wearing regular clothes and collecting money in a little orange box for Unicef.

teh flyMy kids seem to have inherited my distaste for Halloween. The older two, both of whom are living on their own in New York, don’t do much in the way of late-Octover wardrobe makeovers. And the little has zero interest in anything but the candy.

rosemary's babyOne Halloween-related thing we do, though, is snuggle up together (whoever happens to be in town) and watch movies. We used to have to plan way ahead and rent actual DVDs. But now, we leave it up to Netflix.


the 6th senseSo on Halloween, we’ll turn off every light in the house, put a big bowl of candy on the porch, and start making our way through our list. Here’s what’s on it:




buffy the vampire slayer

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The Fly (the origina, with Vincent Price)
  • The Omen (the 1976 original)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968 original)
  • Scary Movie (the whole series)
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • The Sixth Sense


scary movie 5

What’s on Your @Netflix #shelfie List?

When I first heard the word “shelfie” I had no idea what it meant. So, naturally, I started guessing: Sean Connery trying to pronounce the word “selfie”? An elf on a shelf? A small piece of seafood? A gift you got but never use and it languishes on a shelf, all alone? When a bully hangs one of his or her victims from a shelf?

Turns out, a shelfie is none of the above. It’s a word coined by Netflix that refers to a TV show that you want to (binge) watch but just haven’t had the time. So it sits on your virtual shelf unwatched, gathering dust.

Around here, our shelfie list is pretty long, in part because the school day is so long. It starts with an hour drive to school, includes an hour (twice that on Fridays) to get back home, and finishes up with an hour or two of homework (not including the time spent arguing about it). By the time we add in a dog walk, some dinner, and a little exercise, it’s pretty much time to wake up and start all over again.

So our shelfie list keeps on growing. Here’s what’s on it now.

netflix - narcosNarcos. A Netflix Original. The true story of Colombia’s violent drug cartels. Since I loved “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad,” this one seems like a natural.

netflix - scandalScandal. DC lawyers who make scandals disappear while keeping the wheels of government well greased. I spend a lot of time in DC and I want to see whether the fictional players are anywhere near as sleazy as some of the actual ones I’ve met.

netflix gothamGotham. What is it about Bruce Wayne, The Joker, Penguin, and the rest of Gotham City’s underworld that’s so engaging? No idea, but I’ll always be first in line to see it and my 12-year old daughter will be right there with me.

netlifx - orange is the new blackOrange Is the New Black. Another Netflix Original. The concept sounds loony–a privileged women ends up in prison–but it just keeps on winning awards. I have a terrible feeling that I’ll groan through the first episode, then watch a second to be sure I hate it, and then watch the rest of the seaason in one night.

netflix - mad menMadmen. I took some classes on advertising in grad school and have been intrigued by Madison Avenue (the “Mad” in the title) ever since.

netlifx - sons of anarchySons of Anarchy. What little boy hasn’t had a fantasy–if only for a few minutes–of riding a Harley without a helmet. Plus, I met one of the show’s actors who convinced me to give it a shot.

netlifx - lutherLuther. Back to “The Wire.” Idris Elba was riveting. Plus, there’s some talk about him possibly playing James Bond. But he’ll have to kill Daniel Craig first.

Disclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and I receive occasional promotional products and some early access to programming. But all of the opinions are mine and mine alone.

Project MC2: Smart is the New Cool

Project mc2 logoDisclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and occasionally receive access and goodies from Netflix to facilitate my posts. But everything I write is my own.


Project MC² is a new live-action Netflix original aimed at tweens (mostly girls). Season 1, which consists of only three episodes, introduces us to super-smart teenage spy McKeyla McAlister and three equally super-smart, science-loving girls she reluctantly brings into an all-woman spy organization, NOV8 (Innovate), which just happens to be run by Mc2’s mother.

When I sat down to watch the show with my very own super-smart tween girl, I was a little skeptical. I’d lost a few bets with her and she’d forced me to watch episodes of a number of other shows aimed at teens (again, mostly girls). I can’t remember (or subconsciously blocked out) the names of those shows, but what I do remember is that they were horrid, filled with ditzy, stereotyped characters, poor writing, and horrid acting. So you can imagine my delight….

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Dragons: Race to the Edge–More Than Just Another Hiccup.

Disclaimer: I’m part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but I’ve been a Netflix power user for years and it would take a lot more than a few free movies to influence my opinions.

When my kids were young, say under 10, it was easy to get them to snuggle up somewhere cozy and read stories together or watch movies or special TV shows. Some of my happiest memories with all three of them involved exactly that. Over the years, I read hundreds of books—doing special voices and accents for each character—including every single one of the “Harry Potter” and “Series of Unfortunate Events” books.

I also dug into some timeless classics like Beverly Cleary’s “Henry and Ribsy” books and Eleanor Cameron’s “Mushroom Planet” series, and some of my childhood favorites, from “The Phantom Tollbooth” and “A Wrinkle in Time” to “Mr. Poppers Penguins” and everything ever written by Lloyd Alexander and Roald Dahl. The kids read to me as well, practicing their decoding when they were first learning letters and words, picking out their own favorites and the library, reading their assigned books from school, re-reading some of the books I’d read to them (and doing their own voices), then making their own book choices, such as Rick Riordan’s entire “Percy Jackson” and “Kane Chronicles” series, “Bone,” and “Amulet.”
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Connect with Your Children–and Re-Connect with Your Childhood

Disclaimer: I’m part of the Netflix Dream Team, but I’d been an active (okay. somewhat obsessive) Netflix user for years before.

speed racer 1960sWhen I was growing up, my parents were very much against television and limited my sisters’ and my consumption to PBS–at least when they were home. But the second they were out the door, the three of us would watch anything but PBS. And, like most people, we developed some faves that unwittingly became part of our DNA.

vertigoMy sisters were more interested in animated shows: Speed Racer, Casper, Scooby Do, Richie Rich, Tom and Jerry. But I was more into live action: Superman, Batman, The Three Stooges, Star Trek, The Prisoner, The Avengers. And, wherever I could find it, Hitchcock. Lots and lots of Hitchcock. But whatever we watched, it was inside a “fort” we built by throwing blankets over the back of the couch and some dining room chairs. And let’s not forget the Jiffy Pop. (The folks at Netflix just sent a fancier version of the couch/chair fort, which I’m planning on breaking out when my daughter gets back from sleep-away camp. Or I may try it out for myself, just to be sure it works.)

So when my kids got old enough, say around age five, I started them on Hitchcock and everything else I loved. And, not surprisingy, they came to love (most of) it too. We did (and still do, even though the kids are older) a lot more than just watch. We talked about the plots, the characters, their motivations, the choices they made, and what we might have done differently–or the same. At one point I had an epiphany about my parents’ insane fixation on PBS: It wasn’t the network itself; it was actually all about the “educational” content of the programs. And even though I rebelled against their TV preferences, I feel that I’ve passed my parents’ general philosphy on to my kids–but in a much more open-minded way: There’s something to be learned in almost everything (even The Three Stooges).
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