It’s a scandalous journalism drama, the darkest Marvel film yet, the thirstiest show on television and Queen Diva™ Mariah herself – it’s January on Lightbox.
Press (binge from January 2)
Is your New Year’s resolution to watch more classy TV? If it is, look no further than Press. If it isn’t, you better watch Press anyway.
This six-part BBC series follows two rival newspapers, The Herald (loosely based on The Guardian) and The Post (less loosely based on The Sun) and their bids to stay afloat in an ever-changing journalistic landscape. The Herald is trying to cover a fast-closing leak in MI5, while The Post covers more salacious news like the death of a closeted footballer. Journalists at both companies are trying to do their best to stay afloat or get to the bottom of stories, depending on what hour it is. The whole thing is written by Mike Bartlett, who wrote the fantastically prophetic King Charles III a few years back, and it’s smart, fast-paced, deep-digging television that doesn’t just look at the media: it tries to understand what makes it tick.
What better way to kick off your year? / Sam Brooks
Teen Wolf (binge from January 4)
There are two audiences for Teen Wolf. The first is the earnest kind who wants to watch an incredibly fun high school drama that involves a high school social outcast who finds himself turned into a werewolf and the supernatural goings-on around him.
The second is the kind who want to watch the unintentional homoeroticism, which there is a lot of in the first seasons. By the end of the series run, they lean so hard into the homoerotica that it becomes a genuinely heartfelt story, involving one of the tertiary characters returning to the town after coming out. It’s LGBT-friendly content at its most digestable, and sometimes that’s what you need.
Regardless of which audience you’re in, Teen Wolf is the fun summer watch that you need – you won’t have to think too hard, and you’ll find yourself way too invested in the travails of Scott McCall, the werewolf, and his love interest, Allison Argent, the werewolf hunter. It’s that kind of show, and it’s the best version of that kind of show. / SB
Westside (Season 4 from January 6)
With the fifth season being recently confirmed, there’s no better time to catch up with this Outrageous Fortune prequel than the present. Season four brought us the canon-defining marriage of Cheryl and Wolf West, and it moved forward the plotlines of the strongest trio on TV (Rita, Ngaire and Carol) in affecting, progressive ways. Most importantly, it gave us New Zealand legend Rima Te Wiata a chance to go full noise as Ted’s bookie, Iris, which is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in New Zealand drama all this year. Season four has lots to recommend about it, but Te Wiata’s performance takes the cake. / SB
Juliet, Naked (movie from January 9)
Before we begin, allow me to rattle off some names for you. Rose Byrne. Chris O’Dowd. Ethan Hawke. Nick Hornby. Judd Apatow. Ryan Adams. Conor Oberst. Mix ‘em all together and you get something close to romantic comedy perfection, not to mention a soundtrack to rival A Star is Born in the race to score the best fake rock star. In what has weirdly been negged as his “movie star turn”, Hawke plays MIA musician Tucker Crowe, who has a devoted fan in Duncan (Chris O’Dowd). / Alex Casey
Future Man (Season Two from January 13)
With Future Man, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg bring us the wildest teen boy fantasy concept that you’ll find. Josh Futterman (a wide-eyed Josh Hutcherson) finally beats his favourite video game, Biotic Wars, when suddenly, the game’s main characters, Tiger (a fantastic and absolutely up-for-it Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) appear in front of him to recruit him to save the world from the actual Biotic Wars.
We don’t get a lot of action-comedies on television, and this one leans hard into the action, but never loses sight of the fact that it’s a gentle satire of both video games and the kind of dudes who play them. It’s fun, it’s silly, but also smart; the perfect summer afternoon watch. Also, Haley Joel Osment has a cameo! / SB
Venom (movie from January 16)
The first thing I need to do, as a conscientious internet citizen, is direct you to Eminem’s truly hilarious single for this movie. It’s… a lot. He raps Venom a lot:
The second thing I need to do is assure you that Venom is a genuinely fun movie with a near career-best performance by Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, the guy who gets infected with a symbiote and becomes the sometimes-hero, sometimes-villain known to comic book nerds as Venom. I’m not kidding – there’s something full 1930s screwball comedy about Hardy’s performance here. He makes the interplay between Brock and the symbiote inhabiting his body closer to Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. It is deeply weird and deeply watchable. Come for the popcorn movie vibes, stay for Hardy giving it his all. / SB
Suits (Season 8B, drops weekly from Jan 24)
The first half of season eight of Suits ended with Donna shaking things up in a series-changing fashion. Sometimes-hero, sometimes-villain, always-pernicious Louis has been made managing partner of Zane Spencer Litt, and his first action point? Making Alex and Samantha name partners. Even more importantly, Louis found out he’s going to be a father. It’s rare to see a show shake its premise up this far into its run, and Suits shows no signs of letting up from its glossy, high-collar, tight-jacketed plotting and overall fun times. Bring on season 8B, still with TV Princess Katherine Heigl. / SB
Mariah’s World (binge from January 30)
It’s a reality show with Mariah Carey. Why you’re not already rushing to your nearest streaming device – likely the very device you’re reading this article right now – I don’t know! Although The Elusive Chanteuse™ herself said this wasn’t a reality show, it is one hundred percent a reality show that follows Mariah Carey around on her 2016 tour and her plans for a wedding that never actually happens. Basically, it’s that episode of Cribs Mariah Carey did, but split up over six episodes. When you’re at the end of January and resenting the fact that you have to go back to work, you can spend a couple of hours with Mariah; an aspirational diva who lives her life like she’s never had to work because everyone else around her does.
We stan an elusive chanteuse reality show, is what I’m saying. / SB
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.