'Seeing Allred.' (Netflix)
'Seeing Allred.' (Netflix)
By Darian Lusk / February 16, 2018 5:00 am

We’re now in the middle of February, with Valentine’s Day behind us and the much more romantic holiday, Presidents Day, still to come.

Though most new shows and films hit streaming platforms at the beginning of the month, this week saw a great crop of new content. Not only that, but I think they will take you by surprise.

From a disarmingly personal Netflix special from Chris Rock (yes!) to a 90s-era sitcom that falls into Freaks And Geeks territory, and I don’t say that lightly, these are some solid offerings.

Here’s everything streaming on Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Amazon Prime — and what will pleasantly surprise you — this weekend.

Netflix

Chris Rock: Tamborine (Available Feb. 14)

As far as literal surprises go, comedy legend (and I’m pretty sure real-life Benjamin Button — he looks great) Chris Rock announced and released his first stand up special in 10 years. Rock’s two-special deal with the streaming platform was made way back in 2016, so Tamborine is not only a huge sigh of relief for fans but extremely worth the wait.

Tamborine sees Rock riffing on the political and racial topics he’s known for, kicking things off with the bumper sticker-ready line, “You’d think every once in a while the cops would shoot a white kid just to make it look good.” But spends much of the second half on more personal topics, like his divorce and relationships in general. He opens up about cheating, and that all problems in a relationship are there from the beginning, “but you were f***king.” It’s his most introspective, resonating material yet. Not only do the tension of these honest moments lead to huge laughs, but they resonate. Of course, he does some of his classically raunchy material too, which we also love.

Younger fans may find the special easy to crack into, which isn’t a coincidence. It was directed with a steady, impressionistic hand by Bo Burnham, who did the same for Jerrod Carmichael’s excellent 8 last year. The result is a masterful, visually inviting hour in which a legend outdoes himself. It’s a great surprise not only in its arrival.

 

Everything Sucks! Season 1 (Available Feb. 16)

Pogs! VHS! Alanis Morissette! These are things mentioned within the first few minutes on Everything Sucks, a high school sitcom that really wants you to know it takes place in the 90s. It centers on the small town of Boring, Oregon — which does exist — where three AV Club kids,  Luke (Jahi  Di’Allo Winston), Tyler (Quinn Liebling) and McQuaid (Rio Mangini) become friends with Kate (a great Peyton Kennedy), a sophomore trying to stay unnoticed; a difficult task since her father is the principal.

At first, Everything Sucks! finds itself in the uncanny valley between Freaks and Geeks and Stranger Things (the character types are very similar if you haven’t noticed). But as the season starts to focus on Kate, it gets into its groove and becomes a buzzworthy, poignant sleeper hit. Netflix’s content boss, Ted Sarandos, called Everything Sucks! the show “people should keep an eye on” in an earnings call Monday. If you can get through the first couple episodes, you’ll see why.

Seeing Allred (Available Feb. 9)

It seems the world has finally caught up to power suit-wearing, ambulance-chasing icon Gloria Allred. The 76-year-old lawyer has been fighting for women, the LGBT and transgender community for decades, and now she’s finally getting her due. This documentary, which hit Netflix three weeks after its buzzy Sundance debut, follows Allred’s career rise and unfortunately stops just short of the #MeToo movement. But it doesn’t matter because we know where the story goes from there.

Seeing Allred doesn’t push its points too hard, and doesn’t have to. It’s shocking to see how harshly the lawyer was portrayed in the past but, as she takes on now villainous names like Cosby and Weinstein, makes us feel like the record will be set straight. By opening up on her personal life just enough, Allred’s struggles are elegantly humanized and the film definitely works.

The Emoji Movie (Available Feb. 8)

 

The Trader (Available Feb. 9)

 

Love Per Square Foot (Available Feb. 14)

 

Lincoln (Available Feb. 21)

Amazon Prime

Mozart In The Jungle: Season 4 (Available Feb. 16)

 

Logan Lucky (Available Feb. 16)

HBO

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Season 5 (Available Feb. 15)

 

Last Week Tonight, John Oliver’s informative, Emmy award-winning, great-for-eating-lunch-at-your-desk news show is returning for its fifth season on Sunday to HBO, and subsequently Youtube. And absolutely nothing politically has happened in the meantime so at least that’s good. I’m kidding! Trump.

Unlike other late-night shows, Oliver isn’t interested in giving us comfort food about the latest thing our current administration has done, as he announced at HBO last week. Instead, he will continue his hallmark of taking 20+ minute deep dives (with slightly predictable joke delivery) into topics we need to know about. Like infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and net neutrality, which he first covered in 2014.

When he does cover the president, Oliver said, “we’re trying to show one small thing” and explore its impact. It’s a great time for the return of this show that has risen above all other late night content on TV. Returning fans will be elated to know he isn’t falling for the Trump bait, and newcomers will inevitably be surprised at how well Oliver translates in-depth journalism to the small screen.

Hulu

Parenthood: The Complete Series (Available Feb. 15)

 

Star Trek (2009)

Spotify

Frank Ocean: Moon River (Available Feb. 16)

Growing up, I used to jam to a Best of Henry Mancini CD in the car with my mom. So it’s great news for both of us that Frank Ocean surprise released a cover ofMoon River” yesterday. It’s a Valentine’s Day gift of the highest order.

“Moon River” marks Ocean’s first release of 2018, and though it doesn’t really signal what’s in store from him this year, it doesn’t matter, because every time he puts out a song it’s essentially a national event. While Mancini’s arrangement for the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, alongside Audrey Hepburn vocals, was lush and orchestral, Ocean’s is expectedly stripped down. He uses a sparse, reverb-heavy guitar that is both very on brand for the singer, and fittingly intimate for the track. It’s pure magic, and I can’t wait to show it to my mom.