What to Watch While Stuck in your Room
F Is For Family
This is my personal favorite show, so there was only a matter of time until I included it in my column. If you love adult cartoons, but you aren’t one for basic cutaway gags and toilet humor (cough, cough — Family Guy), then this is the series for you. Created by comedian Bill Burr, F Is For Family is often described as being ‘a dark comedy series with a huge heart.’ Throughout the series, audiences follow the lives of the dysfunctional Murphy family during the early 1970s. The Murphys are an eccentric bunch. Frank and Sue are the parents, who are plagued by anger issues and depression, respectively. However, it is the children who steal the show; there is teenage burnout, Kevin, whiny preeteen, Bill, and the youngest — and most manipulative — child, Maureen.
Each character is thoroughly developed, as are the supporting characters. The Murphys live on a cul de sac and are surrounded by an array of colorful neighbors, including: a quirky Italian-American family, a drug-addicted bachelor, a stalker, a big-hearted Holocaust survivor, and a family of ‘white trash renters.’ F Is For Family operates as very much of an ensemble series, which is great for keeping the comedy chops fresh, since viewers never get the chance to grow tired of particular characters or plot lines. This is also a series that expertly manages to intertwine multiple plot lines without causing confusion.
F Is For Family also employs eye-catching color schemes and clean animation. This was one of the reasons that I was so drawn to the show when it popped up on my Netflix recommendations (well, that and the hilarious teaser). It is such a blast to watch the Murphy family as they brave through their individual conflicts as well as their familial issues, since all of these things are so realistic. F Is For Family is one of those adult animated sitcoms that would translate well to a live action series, but is somehow funnier in its animated form.
F Is For Family is a Netflix original series that premiered in 2015. There are currently four seasons, and the fifth (and final) season is set for release some time in 2021. The series is rated TVMA, and includes the voices of Bill Burr, Justin Long, Laura Dern, Haley Reinhart, and Debi Derryberry as the Murphys.
Grace and Frankie
Sorry to overload you folks with comedy this week, but this is another show that is a must-watch! It is classified as a comedy, though there are a number of serious subplots throughout the seasons as well. Grace and Frankie centers around two elderly women who are the polar opposites; Grace is a sophisticated business owner, who is a bit uptight, while Frankie is a free-spirited woman who has never quite grown out of her flower child phase. They tolerate each other merely because their husbands are best friends and partners in law. These women have one thing in common: their husbands left them for each other.
When Grace and Frankie’s husbands get married and move in with one another, Grace and Frankie end up moving into the beach house over which they share ownership. Neither woman knows that the other will be moving in until the day of. Initially, they bicker and argue incessantly, but they learn to get along, and eventually label themselves as best friends. The sudden friendship between Grace and Frankie shocks their adult children, who are all working through their own independent issues. Grace and Frankie do stay on relatively good terms with their husbands, even becoming friends with them again as the series progresses.
For the most part, the show provides audiences with tons of comedy. However, since the main characters are elderly, the more serious issues of death and deterioration are brought up on occasion, bringing a sense of genuine sentimentality to the show, helping it to be so much more than a feel-good series. In later seasons, the ex-husbands start to get their own subplots, and throughout the entire series, the children have their own subplots that often intertwine with one another.
You can stream Grace and Frankie on Netflix. The series was released in 2015, currently has six seasons, and will conclude after its seventh. It is rated TVMA. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin lead this A-list cast as Grace and Frankie, respectively.
The Book Thief
Finally, something that isn’t a comedy. This 2013 film is based on the 2005 historical fiction of the same name, which was written by Markus Zusak. The Book Thief is a personal favorite book of mine, and the movie 100% lives up to its source material. The story is narrated by death itself, and follows young Liesel, who is a German foster child during World War II. Liesel’s foster father teaches her how to read, and she learns the power that words can have over history. She becomes fond of stealing books that have been banned by the Nazis, and she shares these with the Jewish man that her foster family is hiding in their basement.
The film is so beautifully directed, and the acting is top-notch. The Book Thief stars Canadian actress, Sophie Nelisse as Liesel. One of the reasons that this is such a captivating story is because it is such a unique take on your average Holocaust film. First off, audiences get to see these historic events unfolding through the eyes of a child. Secondly, the focus is not so much on the war but the idea that World War II and Hitler’s reign was only possibly through the way that words were used to manipulate an entire population. Liesel is a strong and clever girl, who is far beyond her years, which makes her such a compelling character.
The story of Liesel and her new life on Himmel Street with her foster family is a touching one that is sure to make you tear up at least a few times. The Book Thief is two hours and 11 minutes long, and is rated PG-13. Unfortunately, it is not available on any streaming platforms, but is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray.