If you’ve made your way through our September picks and are looking for something new, this month’s streaming picks have something for everyone.
There is a classic romantic comedy, some British crime drama and even some contemporary dance. The weather might be turning, and the sun might be shining – but these picks will have you wanting to spend some more time on the couch.
Yellowjackets season two
Paramount+ (Australia), Neon (New Zealand)
While the second season of Yellowjackets is not necessarily a new series, given it was released across April and May, I have only recently caught up on this excellent show, whose buzz this year seems to have been overshadowed by both Succession and White Lotus.
In season one, a high-school girls’ soccer team survive a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. The narrative constantly switches between attempts at survival in the past and the survivors 25 years on as they cope with their trauma. The cast is incredibly strong, featuring Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis. Season two introduces Lauren Ambrose and Elijah Wood to the cast.
Season two continues to follow the depths of how dire the situation becomes for the survivors in the early timeline, as they lean into their belief of the occult.
Central to this season is the power Lottie (Courtney Eaton/Simone Kessell) has over the group. In the wilderness, the survivors slowly believe in her spiritual connection to the wild, relying on her instincts for survival. In the present day, Lottie now runs a cult, loosely disguised as a wellness retreat. One by one, the survivors are drawn to Lottie, once again needing guidance.
Yellowjackets reminds me of Lost, with its jumping between timelines and several mysteries remaining unanswered. The show balances the heartbreak faced by the young girls (episode six Qui is a season standout) and the dark humour, particularly Ricci’s sociopathic Misty, and Lynskey’s Shauna, who is trying to get away with murder.
If you missed Yellowjackets earlier this year, I highly recommend catching up.
– Stuart Richards
The Way Home
If you’ve finished the latest season of Sweet Magnolias and Virgin River and are looking for some more small-town sincerity, then check out The Way Home.
Starring Andie MacDowell and Chyler Leigh as mother and daughter, this new series tackles grief, friendship and growing up across generations and time, thanks to a pond-base portal to the past.
The Way Home tells the story of three generations of women coming to terms with their trauma and how it has shaped their past and present. The series joins Chesapeake Shores and When the Heart Calls as part of Hallmark’s stable of beloved, brightly lit family dramas about, and for, women.
If you enjoy Christmas movies where a pretty, white heterosexual woman returns home to be conveniently reunited with a lost love, then The Way Home is for you. It is light on plot and heavy on feelings. However, the inclusion of non-white and queer supporting characters reflects Hallmark’s increasing attempts to appeal to a wider audience and reflect more contemporary and diverse values.
Ultimately, The Way Home is more enjoyable than the sum of its parts.
– Jessica Ford
shaunparkercompany.com (worldwide) from October 4
Shaun Parker & Company’s 2014 work Am I is part of The Sydney Opera House’s 50 days of streaming, celebrating its 50th birthday, taking us on a journey into the who-am-I of the human condition.
The narrator, Shantala Shivalingappa, guides us with answers from physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and sociology as we move through scenes exploring important elements of existence such as the Big Bang, chromosomes, reproduction, the number pi and religion.
The dancers are all in black with only their feet, arms and faces visible, accentuating the shapes made by their upper bodies. The backdrop is a wall of golden white light bulbs, which light in different patterns: at times a pixelated digital screen, other times an exploding sun.
The dancers interact geometrically like the nuts and bolts of units of matter. They move through sequences using silver rods to produce line drawings in two dimensions, then three-dimensional clusters and networks.
They become less mechanised and breathier and airier as they shift from depicting the microcellular to the macro-whole of the human in an investigation of ideas, such as tribe (in its broadest sense) and consumption.
The music and song are loud, abstract and powerful.
Am I is a hypnotic and visually-engaging 80-minute piece of dance theatre which works spectacularly on film. I’ll be watching it again.
– Yvette Grant
While the Men Are Away
SBS OnDemand (Australia)
This eight-part dramedy is a queer reimagining of Australia’s World War Two history.
Set in rural New South Wales, when most men are away at war, Italian-Australian Frankie (Michela De Rossi) recruits two Women’s Land Army girls, Gwen (Max McKenna) and Esther (Jana Zvedeniuk), to work on her apple farm, alongside Indigenous domestic servant Kathleen (Phoebe Grainer) and conscientious objector Robert (Matt Testro). Well-meaning Gwen falls instantly for Frankie; the intense Esther is soon exchanging meaningful looks with Robert.
Overheated, melodramatic hijinks ensue.
The series is full of deliberate anachronism, with contemporary dialogue and a rock soundtrack. The costumes and production design have a soft-focus, Women’s Weekly glamour – a far cry from rationing and making do.
While the Men Are Away is a fantasy of queer visibility and acceptance, but the uneven script, churning plot and the often-didactic tone undermine its ambitions. The casting of Asian-Australian actors as Land Army girls and internment camp guards reveals the limitations of fantasy as a mode for telling historical stories: it effectively erases Australia’s history of anti-Asian racism.
The series is a playful – but not entirely successful – experiment.
– Michelle Arrow
Annika season two
Neon (New Zealand); season one is available in Australia on iView and BritBox
The second season of offbeat BBC police procedural Annika stands apart in a genre that usually veers towards silliness or misanthropy.
Droll Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed (national treasure Nicola Walker) is a Norwegian-born homicide detective with a penchant for bad puns, a stack of sensible wet weather gear, and a tendency to break the fourth wall with literary digressions that flesh out each episode’s themes.
Season one followed the establishment of Glasgow’s specialist Maritime Homicide Unit, a small and unflappable team, which spends its time fishing bodies out of Scottish waterways and solving odd coastal crimes. This is all while Annika navigated the prickly relationship with her teen daughter Morgan.
This season’s crimes are just as unconventional. A man is found frozen in a giant block of ice; a woman is drowned in a dog cage; a millionaire is discovered dead in his own shark tank. The season’s domestic B plot centres on Annika’s family life, particularly the newly-disclosed identity of Morgan’s father, which Annika has long kept secret. Although the narrative integration of home and work feels a little clumsier this time round.
Nonetheless, Annika remains a worthy comfort watch full of smart scripting, lush coastal landscapes, and charmingly wry cops who rarely raise their voices.
– Erin Harrington