Because You Watched Annabel Jones & Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on Netlix, You’ll Love David Lynch & Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks, Britt Marling & Zal Batmanglij’s The O/A, Grant Morrison & Brian Taylor’s Happy!, and Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, & Amy Poehler’s Russian Doll

Written by: Jason M. Lucia – April 17th, 2020 12:09pm pst

BECAUSE YOU WATCHED: BLACK MIRROR

Credit: Netflix

Whether you’ve had your third (and final) viewing of Tiger King or completed watching the newest season of a series or even a movie, a familiar message appears on the bottom of your screen: ‘Because You Watched.’ This phrase is followed by ‘Netlix’ recommendations for series or movies of like viewing.  No disrespect to our fave streaming service and content provider but AfterBuzz has recommendations of her own, with less bias and we believe more accuracy.

AfterBuzz TV’s ‘Because You Watched’ offers content picks based on specific titles. This week ‘Because You Watched: Black Mirror’, we present four other series on Netlix you’re most sure to love. 

Like Black Mirror, these four TV series might wildly veer between those extremes, from episode to episode or from scene to scene, but each has things to teach us about living in and through these strange days.  They may not offer the constant novelty of Black Mirror’s anthology format, but certain quarantine-friendly psychological science fiction themes do surface, and each show presents a world we can get lost in, a world that might break your heart or tingle your spine, but ultimately they change the way you see by seducing you with beauty and blowing your mind. 

  1. TWIN PEAKS

Credit: ABC/Lynch-Frost Productions

It might seem a little strange to recommend something so “old school” for narrative therapy in this weird future of ours, but Twin Peaks was ahead of its time and, in many ways, still is.  This metaphysical horror story disguised as a soap opera disguised as a murder mystery brought the surrealistic Americana of David Lynch to television, painting a portrait of small town life in the Pacific Northwest that mingles the moods of daydream and nightmare with a fluency the small screen had never seen.  The role of Special Agent Dale Cooper made a star out of Kyle MacLachlan, and his straight-arrow intensity and integrity will make you feel like everything in this mad world will somehow turn out for the best.

The death of Laura Palmer (played hauntingly in flashbacks and…elsewhen by Sheryl Lee) hits the town of Twin Peaks like COVID-19 hit the USA.  The shock of it drives all the witnesses and suspects deeper and deeper into their secret worlds, but they reveal their truest selves in the process.  FBI agents become iconic questing knights (like policemen in Magritte paintings), pitting their pure hearts and Buddhist dream yoga against a world of shadows.  The latent corruption of scheming businessmen and abusive patriarchs is exposed and beautiful teenagers pursue the ghost of love, despite the dream demons that grin in every mirror.  

The show is brutally honest about the rot that congeals under the surface of obsolete ideals and the morally gray world engendered by the little white lies of yesterday, but its baseline is the tenderness and compassion between people in small communities, suggesting that the biggest mysteries get solved when we blind the mind and open up the heart.

After immersing yourself in the first two seasons on Netflix, you can go deeper into this chilling but strangely gentle world  through its prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (available for rental or purchase on YouTube and Amazon) and the even stranger Season Three (entitled Twin Peaks: The Return), which picks up the story 25 years later, and can be binged  on Showtime.

  1. THE O/A

Credit: Netflix

The O/A is a mind-bending mystery that follows Britt Marling’s mysterious suburban messiah Prairie Johnson and Jason Isaac’s lovesick mad scientist Dr. Percy through at least three parallel universes and infinite afterlives, where all memories and identities are called into question. The little cults that form around Prairie (a.k.a. the Original Angel) are made up of great young actors giving passionate performances in extreme situations. 

There’s an epiphany in every episode, but the story is so heartfelt and so anchored in human urgency that it never feels too cerebral. It provides a layered maze of worlds to wander in, and it also provides instruction in a weird combination of tai chi and holotropic breathing that might induce transit to a parallel earth…just in case this one doesn’t work out.

Credit: Netflix

  1. HAPPY!

Credit: Netflix/NBC/Universal

Happy! is almost the opposite of the O/A: a crass, hyperbolic, ultraviolent collaboration between comic book writer Grant Morrison (author of We3, The Invisibles, and The Filth) and Brian Taylor,, one of the twisted minds behind Crank! And Crank 2!: High Voltage, action movies so outrageously nihilistic, brutal, and slapsticky that they feel at times like road runner cartoons on crack. 

Happy! applies that same too-muchness to the story of Chris Meloni’s Nick Sax, a drunken wreck of an ex-cop/contract killer who teams up with his missing daughter’s imaginary friend (a little blue flying unicorn voiced by Patton Oswalt) to save her and several other kidnapped children from a grotesque Christmas-themed serial killer. 

The violence is constant and extreme, all of the performances are WAY over the top, and the dark comedy of it all can be a little too much, but there’s something inspirational about watching an out of control anti-hero staggering with purpose through a world of candy-coated monsters, never backing down or giving a damn about anything but his daughter. It’s a ridiculous, often hilarious live action cartoon take on the primal plot at the heart of the darkest fairytales: finding love in hell.

Season one eviscerates Christmas. Season two destroys Easter in a heavy metal skittle storm that will make you appreciate the stillness of quarantine.

credit: Netflix/NBC/Universal

  1. RUSSIAN DOLL

Credit: Netflix

Natasha Lyonne’s tour de force mini-series Russian Doll (created by Lyonne,  Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler) and her hilarious, hardboiled, beautifully all-too-human performance as Nadia transplants the timeloop tension of Groundhog Day to the bohemian enclaves and melodramas of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, deepening the anxieties and dramatic possibilities of the day you keep coming back to by injecting resonant elements of game theory and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. 

It goes dark (as our heroine knowingly dies over and over as she tries to get it right) and it goes deep, emotionally and philosophically, but Nadia is so funny, lovable, and authentic that we’d follow her through any bardo hell-world on her road to wholeness, just to see what she’ll say on the other side. She’s a great role model for the funhouse life we’re living. Her cracked but unbroken New York attitude will not admit defeat or ease up with the worldly wisecracks, even in the face of the greatest unknown.

Credit: Netflix

In summary, Because You Watched Black Mirror and loved the way it charges genre tropes with creepy symbolic power and makes us love our neighbor’s shadow, investigate Twin Peaks.

Because You Watched Black Mirror for its emotional extremes and the way its parables can span worlds and yet are always intimate enough to touch your heart, you’ll die for The O/A.

Because You Watched the savage black comedy of Black Mirror and the way its apparent miracles almost always allow for the possibility of madness, get drunk on Happy!.

Because You Watched Black Mirror’s great performances by familiar faces and its streetwise approach to metaphysics, join the party on Russian Doll.  Just be careful on those stairs on the way out.

If you find these suggestions nourishing and you know superfans of Black Mirror, Twin Peaks, The OA, Happy!,  and/or Russian Doll, share this article with your friends. Keep reading our Because You Watched series for more recommendations and keep tuning in to Afterbuzz TV News for all the latest raves and reports.

About The Author:

Jason M. Lucia is a media critic, columnist, and professional ghostwriter whose work has been published under several pseudonyms.  He was raised in Medford, MA.  He went to school in NY.  He lives to rhapsodize the stories he loves on the page and in the flesh.

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