Thanksgiving is this Thursday. You will watch movies and television shows with friends and family you don’t normally watch movies and television. It could get weird. Here are some suggestions for some streaming content that will make everyone happy. Or at least quiet.
What to watch as your tryptophan levels start peaking
Bob Ross: Beauty Is Everywhere now on Netflix
While Bob Ross’ skills as an exceptionally soothing art instructor/zen guru have been referenced to the point that it’s hack, it’s easy to forget all those cliches once you hit play. Picture this: it’s 8:30 or so on Thursday night, dinner’s over, you’ve had a few glasses of wine with the big meal, you’re surrounded by half-and-fully asleep relatives. Grab the Roku remote, throw on Beauty Is Everywhere, one of two collections of these proto-ASMR masterworks, and it’s just you, Bob, and some pleasantly bland naturescapes. You’re gonna want to ride that vibe forever. -M.Br.
What to watch in the single parent household meeting a brand new significant other for the first time around a giant turkey
Dutch now on Max Go
Dutch is an underrated John Hughes movie about a wealthy single mother whose new rough around the edges boyfriend (Ed O’Neill) volunteers to pick up her bratty snobby son (played by a very young and adorable Ethan Embry) from boarding school in an effort to bond before Thanksgiving. Take a break from holding back vomit, not from the food but from watching your mom make eyes at what’s his face, to take in Embry and O’Neill kicking the shit out of each other in a way only an early 90’s film would allow. And as always John Hughes nails the soundtrack so turn it up to drown out the new pet names your dad and “that woman” have for each other. -J.T.
What to watch if the turkey was dry?
Raw now on Netflix
All the meat that’s consumed in this film is nice and fresh. The only catch is that it’s human flesh. -A.Z.
What to watch when you have to pretend to be someone you’re not to impress your relatives?
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton now on Netflix
A fascinating documentary about Jim Carrey’s performance as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, where he refused to break character on set despite infuriating pretty much everyone else involved in the production. Let Carrey’s method acting inspire you to fully commit to being someone for whom “things are going really well.” If you don’t feel the need to impress anybody, then you can take the role of Danny DeVito, who spends the entirety of the movie quietly exasperated at Carrey’s antics. -T.M.
What to watch if, in addition to all of the turkey you just ate, the banality of existence is weighing you down
Planet Earth now on Netflix
In general, I think it’s a pretty great idea to watch things like Planet Earth to mellow out and appreciate how amazing it is to be alive, in spite of all the bullshit that comes along with it. I am especially into of Planet Earth II since Hans Zimmer created such a fantastic soundtrack, but you could also get real heady with something like “Baraka” or “Koyaanisqatsi.” -M.Bu.
What to watch if the uncle is racist?
Manson Family Vacation now on Netflix
Now that Chuck is newly departed, maybe your racist uncle will appreciate a film about what happens ordinary people are obsessed with hateful racists. -A.Z.
What to watch when someone mentions Russia and/or Putin
Icarus now on Netflix
A documentary is probably the last thing you want to watch after falling into a l-tryptophan-induced coma but bear with me. Icarus is probably unlike any documentary you’ve seen recently, and follows playwright and actor Bryan Fogel as he tries to conduct a Super Size Me-esc experiment centered around taking performance-enhancing drugs. What initially begins as an expose into the porous anti-doping system in cycling turns into a vivid documentation of Russia’s state-sponsored doping scheme; the same scheme prompting International Olympic Committee officials to consider banning Russian from the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To give anymore away would ruin it, but it’s a must-watch. -R.G.
What to watch if you completely agree that the holiday celebrates genocide but it’s really nice to eat and drink with friends?
Eagle vs. Shark now on Hulu
Nothing says “I don’t care about bullshit American tradition” than an awkward comedy by Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi. -A.Z.
What to watch if you grew up abroad and this is your first Thanksgiving?
“Diego Calls His Mom” on YouTube
If you really want to understand what makes this country great, look no further than Lin Manuel Miranda – a goddamn national treasure and the only ray of sunshine left in this Darkest Timeline we live in. His episode hosting Saturday Night Live last year was goofy and kind-hearted while refusing to pull punches on social commentary, and in particular, the clip titled “Diego Calls His Mom” made me laugh and cry at the same damn time. -J.L-S.
What to watch when your team loses?
The Invitation now on Netflix
You’ll realize that mass suicide is never the answer. -A.Z.
What to watch if you stayed in D.C. for the holiday
28 Days Later available on Hulu
If you’ve ever walked in Shaw on Thanksgiving morning, aka the morning after the biggest bar night of the year, you’ve undoubtedly seen the occasional ambling, still-drunk straggler walking down desolate DC streets in search of coffee and nourishment. The opening scene of Danny Boyle’s 2002 post-apocalyptic horror film capture that aesthetic as accurately as anything I’ve ever experienced. Bonus points for playing that Godspeed! You Black Emperor track as you try to make your way back to your apartment. J.L-S.
What to watch if you feel trapped in the social prison of your obligatory family thanksgiving dinner
Wentworth now on Netflix
I’m also a big fan of Wentworth, which is a reminder that while you might like to go nuclear on your shitty problematic family members (or shitty problematic people in general), it’s great not to be in prison, especially one where people regularly get shivved and gang banged. Excellent for putting things into perspective. -M.Bu.
What to watch if you’re missing family dinner on Thanksgiving
The Big Family Cooking Showdown now on Netflix
In a naked attempt to capitalize on the immense success of the endlessly charming Great British Baking Show, the BBC produced The Big Family Cooking Showdown, hosted by past GBBS winner Nadiya Hussain and television personality Zoe Ball. While nothing is as pure and soothing as Baking Show, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is a concentrated dose of inter-generational collaboration and gentle competition, offering a glimpse into the delightful lives of two food-obsessed families each episode. -M.Br.
What to watch when grandma gets too drunk?
Krisha now on Netflix
Like your drunk grandma, this might be too on the nose, but just roll with it. -A.Z.
What to watch when someone suggests watching The Wire after dinner
Top Boy now on Netflix
A British show on Thanksgiving? Yea, and what a show it is. Top Boy follows drug dealer Dushane, a 20-something determined to become the “top boy” in the housing estates of East London. Creator Ronan Bennett uses Dushane’s narrative to explore wider commentaries of gentrification, social realism, and the innocence of youth in a crime-ridden area. Similar to The Wire, many of the cast are locals, which adds a tense grittiness to the story. This show is all about nuance, and provides a familiar story in an otherwise unfamiliar place. -R.G.
What to watch when you miss your flight?
The Lost City of Z now on Amazon Prime
Your travel plans could always go way, way worse. -A.Z.
What to watch to remind your family who they voted for?
Roots available on Amazon
Let’s be honest, slavery is probably coming back in a big way in 2018. What better gift to your family than the 570 minute miniseries about Lavar Burton and his journey to The Reading Rainbow? The anxiety from watching people try to live should burn the calories from that third piece of pie that you swear you didn’t eat. -A.L.
By Megan Burns, Matt Byrne, Ruben Gzirian, Allison Lane, Jose Lopez-Sanchez, Tommy McNamara, Jenn Tisdale, Alan Zilberman
This originally ran November 21, 2017. All streaming availability is accurate.