Though many of us sell the pleasant fiction that we spend our autumn moments outside, embarking on foliage hikes, spooky road trips and bonfire adventures, let’s confront a more likely reality. We’re going to spend a great deal of time in front of a screen.
Although we deeply encourage our readers to enjoy Maine autumn in all its resplendent beauty, we've made peace with the fact that Netflix holds a big chunk of our daily attention hostage.
So get excited for your next loafing-around session with our curated preview of the best shows and movies coming to Netflix this fall.
For fans of bizarre humor: Portlandia – Season 7 (out now)
You’d think in 2017 that jokes about quirky hipsters would have gone stale, but the new season of Portlandia proves that’s not the case. This may be their strongest season yet. Follow the delightfully eccentric Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein as they play a roster of colorful fictional characters keeping the “other Portland” charming and weird. And because of the unique sketch comedy format, the show’s accessible to casual viewers. If you want to get crazy and start watching on Season 7, you wouldn’t miss much. Portlandia doesn’t really have an overarching plot, instead it opts for loosely strung-together vignettes that peek into the lives of recurring characters.
For nostalgic millennials: Disney’s Pocahontas (September 14)
If you’re a millennial like me, it’s likely that you once collected VHS tapes of Disney’s classic feature films. Remember the adorable, boxy cases they came in? Times have changed, and those tapes are probably collecting mold in our parents’ basements. At least those animated gems exist in the cloud. Netflix offers Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and on September 14, Pocahontas on its streaming service. But if you want to paint with all the colors in the wind, do so this year, because rumor has it that Disney plans on launching its own streaming service in 2018, meaning all of its content will be pulled from Netflix eventually.
For the cautiously optimistic: The Magic School Bus Rides Again (September 29)
I’m hesitant to recommend the reboot of The Magic School Bus because Netflix doesn’t have the greatest track record resurrecting childhood classics (looking at you Mystery Science Theatre 3000). But the trailer looked promising, so at the very least, this revival’s pilot deserves your attention. The physics-defying Magic School Bus will ride again to such fantastical places as far-out galaxies and the inside of atoms for new adventures designed to get young kids excited about science. This time Ms. Frizzle will pass the keys to her technologically improved bus to her sister, voiced by Kate McKinnon. Despite being a grown-ass man, I’ll be tuning in and singing along to that classic theme song as soon as this show premieres.
For a heavy dose of Roman drama: Suburra Season 1 (October 6)
Netflix is debuting its first Italian production in the form of a Suburra, a 10-episode first season that explores the links between politics, organized crime, and the Catholic Church in modern day Rome. The trailer previews what looks to be a gritty, chaotic, and thrilling look at the seedy underbelly of surface-pretty coastal Italy. If you dropped House of Cards recently because America’s real-life politics provides enough anxiety, consider replacing it with this show. Because if political scandals, corruption, and state-sanctioned violence are your go-to forms of entertainment, Suburra will offer that without feeling too close to home.
For a disturbing look inside insanity: Mindhunter (October 13)
Producer David Fincher, known for the superb psychological thrillers Seven, Gone Girl and Fight Club, is debuting his latest work this month: a Netflix drama that explores the minds of serial killers and other sociopaths. Set in 1979, Mindhunter will follow two FBI agents (played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) as they question America’s most infamous serial killers in an attempt to understand their psyche. Along the way, they’ll stumble upon some troubling revelations about what pushes people to commit unspeakable acts. This detective drama will be perfect for the creepy season because there’s nothing scarier than man-made — and all too real — horrors.
For a return to the Upside Down World: Stranger Things – Season 2 (October 27)
When the first season of Stranger Things was released last year, it was met with widespread critical acclaim. From the show's lovable (and extremely talented) child actors, to its plethora of science fiction/horror references, to its beautiful cinematography and '80s aesthetic, there’s a lot to love. Fans are awaiting the release of the second season with bated breath because there are still so many questions that need answering. Thankfully we won’t have to wait long to return to this creepy universe and uncover more of its supernatural mysteries.
For some good ol’ fashioned revenge: The Punisher (November)
He’s coming to collect. Having first appeared in Marvel’s Daredevil and later in the Defenders, the morally questionable crime fighter the Punisher is finally getting his own show. Jon Bernthal is reprising the role of this ultra-violent vigilante who’s haunted by the memory of his murdered family as he wades through the criminal underworld of New York City. Stunningly choreographed street fights can be expected, but also some deep questions about how to deal with grief. Because the Punisher, a/k/a Frank Castle, sticks out in the crowded Marvel universe of crime-fighters; he doesn’t have superpowers, he doesn’t have a costume, he’s just a tortured man drowning in a world of darkness and despair. Will he soldier his way out of it? Or become one of the very monsters he fights? I can’t wait to find out.
For a historical mystery: Alias Grace (November 3)
Based on Margaret Atwood’s award winning novel (and true events) Alias Grace follows Grace Marks, a young, poor Irish immigrant who was accused a murdering two of her employers in 1843. Is she guilty? The viewer is left wondering as the show flashes back and forth in time, piecing together Marks’s involvement in the grisly crime. If it’s anything like the book, this six-episode mini-series will have viewers questioning whether their memory can be trusted.
For a high-stakes fantasy escape: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (November)
What happened to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? It used to be so good, but now its old tricks seem like tropes. Perhaps fans have grown tired of the drunk and clumsy Jack Sparrow — or maybe Johnny Depp himself is just not as charismatic as he used to be.
Whatever the problem with the series is, the third and fourth Pirates installments were met with tepid reviews, so Disney decided the world needed a fifth, this time with Javier Bardem — whom you might remember as the stone cold antagonist from No Country For Old Men — as the villain. Bardem’s probably the most compelling part of this film, so if you’re going to watch this played-out CGI fest, do it for him. His performance of the undead pirate Salazar does give this film some redeemable qualities.
For an introspective space adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (November)
On the surface, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy is about just that: guarding the universe against cosmic destruction at the hands of omnipotent aliens. This film does that very well, with the dazzling visuals and fluid choreography that Marvel’s known for. But a closer viewing of this hilarious and action packed adventure film also prompts questions that are quite deep for a standard superhero flick: Who can you trust when everyone’s self-interested? Can you change where you’ve come from? I won’t spoil the plot twist ending, but if you’ve got daddy issues, you may be crying by the time the credits roll.