Nowadays, there's so many options that even narrowing it down to a genre is difficult. Luckily, Netflix has a new feature, the Top 10 Trending list. It's a country-specific top ten list created with the intention of helping viewers discover a new movie or show while offering insight into what others are watching.
When it first came out I took the people's advice and watched shows and movies that appeared to be trending that day or week. However, very quickly I realized how, for lack of a better word, vanilla the list is. I thought, maybe it's the algorithm that's wonky, maybe next week will be different, or maybe it really does accurately reflect what people are watching. Months passed and the Top 10 List continued to reflect overwhelmingly white casts.
I don't know about you, but I am getting tired of all-white casts with a token minority character added for comedic relief. This is not said to take away from the hard work and talent of white actors and actresses, but rather I wish Hollywood and Netflix would be more perceptive to their audience.
So, how do we ultimately choose what we are watching? Subconsciously, we all first make small decisions. Some choose shows because the cast looks like you and the people in your life. Or maybe the plot appears to be a reflection of the events that you can relate to. But what about the thousands of stories that don't look like yours? Will they be forgotten and left unwatched?
TV and movie plots are meant to be relatable and familiar enough for viewers to form emotional connections to characters and keep them watching to the point we obsess over Which Character Am I on Buzzfeed.
However, it's more difficult when you're someone BIPOC, Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color.
I'll put it in perspective for those who commonly see themselves represented in shows and films. How many films have you watched that feature an adopted Korean American being raised by a single white mother? Mostly likely none. (If you know of any let me know). This is the reality for many BIPOC who grow up not seeing themselves represented on screen, and it continues in our adulthood despite the "strides of inclusion" that have been made.
The point is, don't limit yourself to the content that you watch. It's powerful to pay attention to other's stories and events going on in the lives of people who don't necessarily look like you or share the same background. Let's create a new normal in the entertainment industry. Here's to hoping that our media will more accurately and regularly represent the diversity and unique stories within the U.S.
Here is a list of hidden gems you're missing out on starring BIPOC on Netflix that belong in the Top 10 (or 11) Trending on Netflix.
1. Lovebirds (Comedy/Romance)
"How do you know it's nice to meet me? What if I'm an asshole?"
You may have seen comedian and actor Kumail Nanijani in Amazon Prime hit The Big Sick. This movie is hilarious, offering corky comic relief between an interacial couple in New Orleans. It is an honest portrayal of a couple's highs and lows, with an outrageous murder mystery to tie it all together. Similar to Date Night starring Steve Carell and Tina Fay, this movie will take you through twists and turns to find out if the couple will survive the night.
Try Next: Always Be My Maybe and Someone Great
2. The Patriot Act (Political Satire and Talk Show)
"Try squeezing 20 minutes of comedy out of student-loan debt!"
Want updates on what's going on in the world? Don't feel like opening up a newspaper or watching the news? The Patriot Act gives you an adult version crash course on what we should be paying attention to. Each episode addresses a separate subject ranging from Elections, College, to video games and the NBA's global impact.
Try Next: Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark and Master of None
3. Dear White People (Drama/Comedy)
"Dear white people, our skin color is not a weapon. You don't have to be afraid of it."
You're typical binge worthy college series about a group of friends on campus, but with an important twist. If you are a white person, this may be an uncomfortable title. However, I encourage you to watch and gain perspective on racial politics, especially if you are a college student who attends a PWI (predominantly white institution), because believe me when I say I'm guessing similar events have occurred on your campus. If you are a PC student, I encourage you to read and follow the content on @blackatPC's instagram describing first hand accounts from PC students and alumni.
Try Next: #BlackAF
4. 13th (Documentary)
"Changes how the country understands human dignity"
Nominated for an academy award, this documentary is a must see for Americans. Whether you identify as right or left, Black or White, up or down, 13th offers a detailed and captivating modern history of the prison system. It discusses the criminalization of Black men, the power of the press and media, how politically charged and biased mass incarceration is towards people of color, the abuse of law enforcement and corporation and lawmakers, immigrants, the wealth gap, and the economics of prison complexes into a monetized business. Sit down and watch this with your friends and family, because the information, emotions, and education contained is unmatched.
Try Next: Who Killed Malcolm X and 13th: A conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay
5. When They See Us (True Crime)
"What these people stole from you, you can't buy back"
Based on the true story from 1989, this is a compelling and chilling portrayal of the events that changed the lives of the Central Park 5 forever. This hour long episode series is an example of the violation of human rights occurring in the United States, unproportionally towards Black men and BIPOC. This movie is recommended to watch after 13th as it it is a detailed and raw real life example of the abuse of power in law enforcement and the prison system.
Try Next: Oprah Winfrey Presents When They See Us, talk show6.
6. The Final Table (Culinary competition)
A binge worthy series for anyone like myself who loves competition shows, especially ones involving food. This global event features 24 of the best chefs from around the world. People joke that white people's spice tolerance is low yet continue to have three white judges on every cooking competition. Well, say no more. Each episode features a panel of three judges that are global stars from the country of the national dishes featuring countries like Mexico, India, and Japan.
Try Next: Cooking for yourself! Just kidding, Street Food: Asia and Street Food: Latin America
7. Moonlight (Drama/LGBTQ)
"At some point you gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be"
Have you seen those tiktok about the greatest cinematic moments in history? Ocean scenes from Moonlight are constantly in them representing the powerful healing that waters offer. Moonlight is a beautiful and emotionally striking cinematic feat tells the story of a young Black man growing up in Miami struggling with his identity.
Try Next: Imperial Dreams
8. Okja (Adventure/Drama)
"Translation is sacred"
This is a gripping story of 10-year-old Mija and her companion Okja in South Korea as their unbreakable bond is challenged by the greed and power of a major U.S. corporation. Korean filmmaker Boon Joon-Ho once again delivers great social commentary through the story of friendship, resilience, and power dynamics between the powerful West and the rest of the world. Warning, you may want to be a vegetarian after watching.
Try Next: Snowpiercer a bonus, it stars Chris Evans, and First They Killed My Father
9. Disclosure (Documentary)
"When you are a member of a marginalized community, most of the film and television is not made with you in mind"
You may recognize the powerhouse of an actress Laverne Cox from her role in Orange is the New Black. This documentary highlights the importance of film and media in the development of young adults. It portrays the hope and fear in the history of representation of transgender people, specifically their probelmatic portrayal in media. It acknowledges how harmful representation affects the real obstacles in transgender people's lives.
Try Next: Pose
10. Miss Virgina (Narrative Drama)
"I believe that women are incredibly powerful and incredibly capable and can make great, huge, tremendous strides, and do them quite successfully!" -Uzo Aduba
Based on a true story starring actress Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black, Viriniga features the story of a single mother who becomes an activist within her community, fighting for a better education for her son and those after. It highlights how a mother's resilience was able to take the power away from the hands that abuse it.
Try Next: The Pursuit of Happiness
11. Becoming (Documentary)
"Our stories are our power"
A documentary of America's favorite woman, mother, and leader. Although parts of the documentary feel staged at times, it offers a glimpse into the remarkable life, love, and struggles of Michelle Obama. I encourage you to read her book, or as my mom did listen to the audio tape, to listen to her story as a public figure, Black woman, mom, wife, first lady, and author.
Try Next: Self Made Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker and Barry