Give me your cheesy escapism!
January 1, 2019 7:34 AM   Subscribe

So I am furloughed and stuck at home. I need streaming movies, TV and books to get me through. I have spare Audible credits, Amazon Prime and Netflix. I'd particularly like some audiobook recs since usually listen to non-fiction and that's not really hitting the spot now. Special requests within.

I love fantasy and sci-fi, but I don't like the dark trend that's popular. I also love a good dumb action movie. Yes to Guardians of the Galaxy, hard pass on Game of Thrones. I love a good mystery, where I have no idea what the hell is going on, even if the end really makes no sense (X-files, anyone?). Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences.

I usually skip most things TV-MA, because I'm such a delicate flower when it comes to cruelty, torture, and suffering. Gore is fine, like in a CSI type situation where the person is already dead, or if it's cartoonish like Shawn of the Dead.

Some TV and movies I already have queued up (similar audiobooks would be great):
Legends of Tomorrow (Supergirl and Flash have too much interpersonal drama for me, even though I want to love them)
The 10th Kingdom miniseries
Thor Ragnarok
The Triangle Miniseries (2005)

posted by backwards compatible to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Ever watched Doctor Who? Older series are on Amazon Prime. Seasons one, five, and eleven are all intended as jumping-on points. (Personally, I’d say start with series five, but YMMV.)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:37 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Jupiter Ascending makes no sense at any point and I feel like the female lead is more strong than damsel-in-distress although I might be misremembering.

The Virgil Flowers series of audiobooks are lighthearted sorta procedurals. People definitely die but you won't be that sad about it. Dogs never die, and the characters are loving and goofy and the narrator does a slight Minnesota thing that I find cute.
posted by ftm at 7:41 AM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences

Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. The Junior Super-Patriots fits this description, and it's great. That's the audiobook link, since that's your preference, but the stories are available online if you dig around the author's LiveJournal: she links to the first set here, and I recommend reading them in publication order (the order they're collected in the book) rather than 'chronological' order.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:46 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Second time today I’m recommending Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series, my happiest discovery of 2018. It’s feel-good science fiction with lots of great female (and other) characters.
posted by Kriesa at 8:00 AM on January 1, 2019 [12 favorites]

Steven Universe. It's light, actiony, scifi and so much for adults to enjoy . They are also 12 minute chunks, so it's quick.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:05 AM on January 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

First two seasons of the The Good Place are on Netflix.
posted by COD at 8:05 AM on January 1, 2019 [17 favorites]

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Stargate: SG-1
Veronica Mars
posted by Automocar at 8:06 AM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Ben Aaronovitch “Rivers of London” series is a magical police procedural with some gore and horror, but it’s pretty intermitant and usually off-screen. The lead is male, but there are well-written female characters with lots of agency, and the cast is deliberately a cosmopolitan multi-ethnic slice of London. The audiobooks are narrated by the amazing Kobna Holdbrook-Smith who handles multiple voices with ease and is a joy to listen to.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:16 AM on January 1, 2019 [10 favorites]

Mystery: River, The Bletchley Circle, Sherlock, Elementary, Shetland
Sci-fi: Arrival
Books: the Mallory series by Carol OConnell, Louise Penny, and yes to Flowers.
Sorry, I know many more, but my brain just quit.
If you want silly-funny, Black Books is fantastic.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:32 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences

I don't know if biographies and autobiographies will fail to hit the spot in the same way that other forms of non-fiction are falling short for you right now, but Michelle Obama narrates the Becoming audiobook and it's terrific. OTOH, it brings home all we have lost since November, 2016 so...
posted by carmicha at 8:39 AM on January 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Pushing Daisies is back on Amazon Prime.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:44 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences.

Take a look at Jane the Virgin (4 seasons on Netflix). It's absurd & funny & occasionally sad. The character development & relationships are great. It satirizes telenovelas, so you also get cheesy voiceovers, cliffhangers, secret crime lords, and vengeful ex-lovers.
posted by belladonna at 8:45 AM on January 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Also came to recommend Becky Chambers' books. I will note, though, that they are not just an endless cascade of the happies, though the overall tone of all of them is very, very positive.

You might also try some of Scalzi's stuff, esp. the one-offs _The Android's Dream_ and _Agent to the Stars_. Scalzi reads like a Heinlein who isn't a pervy weirdo in that lots of his books are charming people being charming at each other.

(that's the books themselves; I've no idea about the quality of the audiobooks as audiobooks)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:51 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was just reminded of the Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you haven't read them, they are a delight. Some SF violence but the main characters are all good people, whom you can support and care about. Start with Shards of Honor or The Warrior's Apprentice.
posted by Alensin at 8:57 AM on January 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Have you watched the new Sabrina series on Netflix? Very bingeable.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:00 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Steven Universe, it's such a beautiful show with three women superheroes (who are such deep, layered characters) who are taking care of an amazingly empathetic boy. It's free on Hulu.

A good trial episode to see if you'll like the show is "Steven and the Stevens" but I'd go back to the beginning if you decide to stick with the show after that.
posted by thelastpolarbear at 9:02 AM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Dresden Files books check a lot of your boxes - they're urban fantasy mysteries that aren't too dark (at least the first few). A downside, though, is that the protagonist can sometimes get annoyingly chivalrous to women in That Way. The first one is pretty darn fun though, enough to let me overlook that part.
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 9:19 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

The expanse has high quality characters, strong female characters (moreso in s2 onward), season one is a mystery, there is some gore and violence, but nothing awful or torturous.

It’s one of my favorite science fiction shows/movies/anything on visual medium. You could do far worse. Highly bingable.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:24 AM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

The 11 Best TV Series of 2018 is posted on the BBC News website. This is a winnowing down of the "best new shows of [month]", they give a brief description, link to previews, and tell you which network/website.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:34 AM on January 1, 2019

Just watched Pitch Black and that's a big dumb B movie; you could do worse than go through the Riddick Chronicles.

Dwanye Johnson movies are worth mining; specifically, The Rundown and the remake of Jumanji.

The best, most spectacularly over-the-top Fast and Furious movie is Fast and Furious 6, which is about as big and dumb as you can get - also a barrel of fun.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:38 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Miss Marple, particularly starring Geraldine McEwan, which may come and go on Netflix.
I also loved the Becoming audiobook so much! I have offered to lend it to a couple people but may want to listen again first.
Firefly series, if you can find it?
Wall-E, but mostly before they get to the humans.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed Dr. Strange. Very funny and much Cumberbatch.
posted by Glinn at 9:46 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Audiobooks:. Ian McKellan reading The Odyssey is the greatest.
posted by benzenedream at 9:48 AM on January 1, 2019

The Good Place and, if you like it, The Good Place Podcast
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:50 AM on January 1, 2019

(Sorry, it's The Fate of the Furious I was thinking of.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2019

Netflix's new She-Ra. Depending on how far down your cheesy escapism goes, there are quite a few TV-Y7 cartoon series on Netflix with decent female leads, and well... Y7 levels of darkness.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

Nthing Becky Chambers and John Scalzi - Miniatures is a great place to start with Scalzi, and I’ve heard the audiobook of Redshirts (narrated by Wil Wheaton!) is amazing. Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold - I love her Sharing Knife series too. Dresden Files gets pretty dark but I love Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera Series.

I also love funny Connie Willis (To Say Nothing of the Dog, All Seated on the Ground, etc.). I recently read the Squirrel Girl novels after a rec here and they were utterly charming with a fun Marvel tie in, and I love Drew Hayes’ stuff, particularly the Fred the Vampire Accountant and Super Powereds series. So fun!
posted by bananacabana at 10:13 AM on January 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - the series is fantastic, and I've heard the books are just as good.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:32 AM on January 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Maniac, on Netflix, is 10 episodes of absurdity you might like. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill enroll in an experimental drug trial, and after a couple episodes of character development and worldbuilding, things go straight off the rails.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:06 AM on January 1, 2019

(PSA: don't forget to get a library card if you don't have one, and then get the Libby app, which has been a game-changer for this non-library-using person.)

My audiobook recommendation is Terry Pratchett's Discworld YA offshoot Tiffany Aching series, which begins with the book The Wee Free Men. You don't need to have read any of the other Discworld books, all the overlapping characters get sufficient introduction, but if you like the series do gird your loins for the last book, which was Sir Terry's goodbye letter and is poignant as fuck. But it's great, strong female characters all over the place, plus a clan of tiny blue strong male pictsies. And the narration is top notch.

Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut series is phenomenal, text or audio (which she reads, and she's great). It is an alternate universe history of the early space program, so there's a little non-fictiony feel to that, but it's very alt-universe so there's plenty of fiction there.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:12 AM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

The show, "Safe," on Netfix is good. It is a mystery where you won't know what is going on for a few episodes. There are eight episodes, which is the complete series.
posted by chocolatetiara at 11:37 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chuck is on Amazon prime. It's an action-comedy with one of the strongest series-long "we make our own family" themes I've ever watched.
posted by noloveforned at 12:22 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the audiobooks for Peter Clines’ “Ex-Heroes” series. It’s a “what if a world full of superheroes had a zombie apocalypse” scenario.

posted by anansi at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Middleman is on amazon. Totally worth $14 for the full 1 season run in HD or only $13 if you get it in SD. It has all of this: Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences.

posted by gudrun at 12:58 PM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think you'd like Sense8, the Netflix show by the Wachowskis. It's not violence-free, but it's not gory. It's an action show about fighting bad guys, but it's mostly about chosen family and being kind, respectful, loving and supportive while fighting hate and prejudice. The cast is incredibly diverse: there are lots of strong women, there are gay and trans folks, there are people of colour from a variety of continents and countries. I loved it--it's exciting and plot driven but also character driven and very positive and uplifting.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:59 PM on January 1, 2019

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner is available as an audiobook and it's a wonderful, wittty and fast-moving novel of alt history and superhero origin stories set (mostly) in Canada. You can read an excerpt here. Dangerous things happen, but it's not at all grimdark. Strong female characters, too.
posted by maudlin at 1:52 PM on January 1, 2019

Lighthearted escapism with a Strong Female Character and minimal gore: Agatha Raisin. You could get a free trial of Acorn TV and watch both seasons, plus all the British police procedurals you could ever conceivably watch.

characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences

I've been enjoying Schitt's Creek for this purpose -- available on Netflix. A little cringe-comedy-oriented at times and there are some gross-out moments (largely involving cheese, not gore) in the early episodes, but it gets better and better from season to season and is often genuinely sweet and wholesome.
posted by halation at 1:56 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Strong female characters are awesome, as are characters that love, respect and support one another, despite differences.

I came in to Nth Netflix's new She-Ra. (Yes, it's a kids' show!) It's so good, and the relationship between protagonist/antagonist is rewardingly nuanced. Almost all characters are women, and while it's not steeped in complicated mystery, there is a background lore that unfolds over the season.
posted by missmary6 at 1:58 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Doomsday Book, Connie Willis
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:59 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

An audiobook with a similar vibe:

The Rook (a woman wakes up surrounded by dead operatives with no memory of what happened; a note in her pocket reveals that she is an agent in the supernatural equivalent to MI-5. Lots of strong women characters, humour, positive relationship building). Great audiobook reader.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:02 PM on January 1, 2019

It's not SF/Fantasy, but the sitcom Derry Girls just hit US Netflix, and has a primarily female cast.

I find it hilarious and delightful. There's no violence or gore, but there is swearing.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:32 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Travel Man is on Hulu and worth the commercials for the free signup.
Seconding Derry Girls on Netflix, also Burnistoun, a Scottish sketch comedy show that has formed a root dialog between me and my wife.
Finally, on Amazon, you can get that X-Files mystery vibe from Missing 411.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:43 PM on January 1, 2019

They’re no longer streaming for free on Prime, but if you’ve never seen Avatar, the Last Airbender series from Nickelodeon, or its sequel, The Legend of Korra, now is a great time to binge every episode. Don’t be put off by the just-average pilot, or the fact it’s a “kids’ show.” It deals with some very adult themes in really smart, respectful ways. Every main character is a person of color, it draws from Eastern mythology and culture without appropriation, and the storytelling is epic and beautiful. Also—wonderful, complex female characters throughout both shows.

The Dragon Prince on Netflix was created by some of the same folks who did Korra and ATLA. I’m not quite as huge a fan of that series, but it’s still amazing and again, features excellent POC, differently abled, and female characters.
posted by lieber hair at 4:32 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Miss Fisher, and along similar lines, Frankie Drake. (And most other PBS/BBC/CBC or other countries' equivalents cozy mysteries: Miss Marple, Poirot, Murdoch Mysteries, Cadfael, etc.)

For a team of female characters who all support each other, I really like Call the Midwife.

If you're in the US (and especially if you're a PBS member and have the passport service), you can stream a lot of their series on the PBS video site or app.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 4:52 PM on January 1, 2019

I don't see The Goblin Emperor audiobook recommended yet so I will.
posted by jclarkin at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Dark Shadows is available on Amazon Prime. Cheesy but addictive, and suitable for this delicate flower when I was 12.
posted by elphaba at 5:33 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Many above have touched on some of the excellent animation available (She-Ra, ATLA, Dragon Prince). I am also going to drop in K-drama as a genre, with a particular focus on the vaguely supernatural ones. They are definitely in the realm of zone-out comfort show for me, much like Great British Bake-Off and Bob's Burgers. I also wouldn't necessarily say that they are high art. However they aren't gory, they often have a female protagonist (of varying flavors of strong), and after you watch a few of them you can play Spot the Trope. I suppose it fills the same niche for me that cheesy Hallmark movies do for others, only with ostentatious product placement, ghosts, psychics, supernaturally strong people, and fox spirits mixed in with meet cutes, love triangles, class conflicts, and maybe an attempted murder or three in there for drama's sake?

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that there are a ton available on Netflix, with more coming later this month.
posted by daikaisho at 9:17 PM on January 1, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks to you all! I've got lots to keep me company here!
posted by backwards compatible at 4:36 AM on January 2, 2019

I think you would like the series Wanted on Netflix. Strong female characters. There is a mystery and I binge watched it because every episode I was dying to know what would happen next to Lola and Chelsea.
posted by cda at 5:12 AM on January 2, 2019

If you like Chambers and Bujold, I'd also suggest The Murderbot Diaries.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:58 AM on January 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Becky Chambers Wayfarers series are good as audiobooks. The Murderbot diaries are excellent books but really disappointing (imho) audiobooks.
posted by poxandplague at 2:03 PM on January 2, 2019

...characters that love, respect and support one another...

Lovesick is a British series on Netflix that we enjoyed a lot, in part for this very reason.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 7:57 PM on January 2, 2019

Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia Trilogy shows on Netflix are beautifully animated and a lot of fun. Aimed at a young crowd, but, really, all-ages entertainment. Trollhunters and 3Below are set in the same town (Arcadia), with a few crossover episodes.

Seconding The Expanse as well.
posted by the sobsister at 10:51 AM on January 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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