Last week, on a Friday night Zoom with friends, a big question came up among the group: What are you streaming right now and how is it different than what you were viewing this time last year?
It was the type of question that really made me take stock of not just what I’ve been watching recently but how I’ve been watching it. In a moment of trying to grasp for a phrase to describe my new viewing habits, I replied, “I’ve really been taking a watch-what-you-need approach lately.”
And it’s true. Maybe it’s my soft Valentine’s heart or maybe it’s everything that’s going on around us, but I’ve never been more in-tune with what I need at the end of a long day — or from a weekend marathon — and what programming will get me there.
In a year of so many decisions and calculations, there’s nothing quite as cozy or luxurious as treating myself to what I need at the end of the long day — being very specific about what I want to feel instead of letting the TV inform me what I’m going to feel.
This week, I’ve made a running list on my phone, simply titled WWYN (watch what you need), with shows and movies — from low-commitment viewing to nostalgic rom-coms and emotional entanglements — I’ve seen are available to stream on HBO Max right now. (Heads up: you can get 20% off your first six months when you pre-pay. Restrictions apply.)
Here’s what I’ll be getting into in the coming weeks, in case what YOU need is for someone to just pick for you:
Issa Rae knows how to write full characters — ones you’ll identify with so strongly you’ll find yourself yelling at the screen through their good, bad, and incredibly human moments. I know for a fact I won’t make it out of this winter without a full series rewatch of Insecure.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A show that feels as complex and entertaining as your own friendships.
To know me is to know I love revisiting this movie, for all its Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan chemistry, nostalgia, and ‘90s quirks. There’s a very particular set of circumstances I draw up before watching, too. It needs to be a Friday night, I must have the TV to myself, and snacks will be prepped in advance so I can enjoy every moment of kindling love and dial-up sounds.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A heavy dose of nostalgia and a cheesy, iconic love story.
Several members of the GNI team have recommended Emma — adapted from the work of Jane Austen — to me. I find that I really need to be in a specific mood for a period piece, but next on my list is definitely this mischievous, coming-of-age drama with Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A little escapism as a treat.
Euphoria only has ten episodes so far — with more to come— but it tackles some hefty, complex subjects, from drug use to growing up. Zendaya is the breakout star but the cast around her is really something special. I'm catching up on season one in an effort to watch season two in real time when it's out soon.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: Beautiful costume and makeup work.
Maybe it’s because Adam Brody and Leighton Meester are now married, or maybe it’s because I wasn’t allowed to watch either of these shows growing up, but Gossip Girl and The O.C. live in the same cinematic universe in my head. I say keep them both on your HBO Max Watch List if you’re nostalgic for the mid 2000s.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: Two words — teen drama.
If you haven’t watched I May Destroy You on HBO Max yet, please do that immediately (cw: sexual assault). If you have, then no better time to explore the incredible Michaela Coel’s earlier work — specifically, her role in the self-written series, Chewing Gum.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: More of Michaela Coel’s signature writing style and humor.
You know those movies that take you right back to high school? Young America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel do that for me every time in this very wholesome movie based on the book series. This is the movie I revisit when I'm missing my friends most.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A sugary sweet friendship movie.
I’ve had multiple friends recommend this eight-episode action comedy over the last couple months, and IMHO those are the recommendations I trust the most. Kaley Cuoco plays the lead in this dramedy that follows her playing life as a flight attendant fast and loose, until one morning when she wakes up next to a dead body. Needless to say, it’s high on my to-watch-next list.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A fast-paced one-season show that’s equal parts comedy and drama.
Ah, to be young again! Betty follows a group of teenage girls through a summer of skateboarding tenaciously through New York City. I’m watching this one to feel the wind in my hair, even from my couch; and I’m most looking forward to the cast of self-assured skaters that are truly, deeply themselves.
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A reminder of what it feels like to be young again.
The 2018 remake of this movie is HEAVY and emotional, and one I know I’ll queue up for years to come when in need of a deep cry. (And also when I need to listen to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing Shallow for the twelve millionth time.)
🍿 Watch this one when you need: A good long cry.