What first felt like a bold move—become a content creator, rather than merely a content distributor—has now become the template for all digital media to follow. Yahoo, Amazon, Hulu, they’re all making original programs now. But Netflix did it first, and arguably has done it better than most, including the slog of bad network TV. This list isn’t definitive, but it’s a delicious place to start.
Arrested Development “Season Four”
Jason Bateman recently told Marc Maron during his WTF podcast that the string of episodes released by Netflix was envisioned as part one of a three-part series, but that Netflix incorrectly promoted ‘em as the forth season. Seen in that light, the “season” feels like the start of something—catching up with all the characters—rather than just a continuation of season three. And while there may not be as many never nude-style moments in the latest iteration, any time with the Blooth family is time well spent. Alcohol plays its part throughout the series, so pair your choice beverage with your favorite character, from a bathtub-sized martini in honor of the matriarch, to a bit of grain alcohol mixed in with one of Buster’s juice boxes.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
By all accounts this should’ve never worked—a prequel to a cult movie starring the same actors, who are obviously older than when they were in the original? And yet the cast, crew, and show-runners Michael Showalter and David Wain pull it off in grand style. Part origin story, part wild romp, all ‘80s, and all wonderful. A case of Budweiser or like-minded cheap beer feels right here. Something that drinks easy on a hot day, something you might find stashed in some fridge standing in a neighbor’s garage that you raid after lights out. Or just spike the punch with some rail vodka.
This latest stab at Marvel to conquer the known media world hit a sweet-spot that the Daredevil movie never could: it’s actually pretty damn good. Star turns from the entire case—especially Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpen—helped. But the wider sensibility to anchor this version of NYC in the darker, noir-infused world of comic writer/illustrator Frank Miller, who wrote the comic in the 1980s, gives it the right kind of grit. The fighting sequences are great as well, with more legit marshal arts than CGI. And keeping the protagonist out of a silly costume until the final episode also helped. Toast the pulpy goodness of it all by chasing down a bottle of Devil’s Envy from Circle Brewing, a barrel-aged American amber with a modest 4.8% ABV—enough to keep you from drinking yourself blind.
This series dropped in late March of 2015—just in time to help you appreciate those cool spring nights as you watched the characters of this dense family drama sweat it out in the Florida Keys. The ample use of flashbacks and voice-over narrative might cause some drama purists to recoil, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a well-written, solidly acted series. Kyle Chandler plays a character that feels like Coach from Friday Night Lights tore his ankle as a kid and ended up as a Florida cop, while Ben Mendelsohn’s take on the family’s black sheep proves no one does abstract morality with such perfection. Being Florida, rum feels like the proper drink of choice. Avoid Bacardi and upgrade to something like Santa Teresa’s 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera, a barrel-aged brown rum from Venezuela ideal for sipping.
House of Cards
The one that really started it all for Netflix, it plays like The West Wing drained of all its morality, with a Machiavellian main character and an unflinching look into the world of Washington, DC, that feels almost exaggerated—until you remember who’s leading the GOP presidential race in the poles. An expensive scotch feels apt here. Or better yet, a rare Kentucky bourbon, in honor of both the expense accounts that fuel that city’s economy, and Jack Rose, DC bar and restaurant that houses the largest collection of whiskeys in North America.