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The Bubble’s Guide to Binge-Watching at Home During G20

The G20 summit makes it hard to get around this weekend, so stay in and watch TV

By | [email protected] | November 30, 2018 10:44am

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The G20 is finally upon us, which, if you’re anything like us, is probably causing you all sorts of mixed feelings right about now. On one hand, it’s nice that the international community will set its sights on Argentina for reasons other than our political scandals, rapidly spiraling economy, or fútbol riots. On the other hand, if you live in Capital Federal… holy heck, is it going to be a pain in the neck to do anything this weekend.

Here at The Bubble, we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on everything G20 related, so make sure to keep an eye on this page for our reporting on the week’s events (and hey, maybe also give us a follow on Instagram, where we’re posting live updates through our Stories. Turns out they’re not just for memes!). However, if you want to disengage from all the hubbub surrounding this group of incredibly powerful people play 3D chess with each other, we’ve also got you covered: here is an article about which parts of the city you need to avoid, and we’ve also given you a few ideas on how to spend the weekend.

But another alternative… and one that should not be written off so quickly…  is to simply stay home. Succumb to your inner misanthrope. Order some empanadas. Stare at your cat. And most importantly, turn to Netflix for your cultural engagement. Because we often lose perspective of just how incredible it is that we even have streaming platforms to provide us with hours upon hours of entertainment, overwhelm us with hundreds of options, and periodically provide a vague approximation of human interaction by asking us “are you still watching The Good Place?” All while refusing to judge us for eating an entire box of empanadas in one sitting.

In honor of G20, we’re looking at some politically-minded thrillers that you can binge on the streaming service. And though we’re going to be seeing a lot of well-portrayed versions of tired stereotypes, sinister politicians, hands-in-every-pot businessmen, cold and calculating right hand men, and gritty boots-to-the-ground reporters who know, but can’t prove, the terrible truth… we’re going to be staying away from House of Cards. It’s just awkward now.

Clear and Present Danger

You can’t go wrong with a Tom Clancy film starring Harrison Ford opposite a baby-faced Willem Dafoe (well, about as baby-faced as Willem Dafoe can be). This stone-cold classic by director Phillip Noyce marks Ford’s final outing as Jack Ryan (whose name I consistently mistake for Paul Ryan, which would make for a decidedly less exciting film). It gets a little bit ridiculous, as most Jack Ryan stories tend to do, but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun.

Suburra: Blood on Rome

A wonderfully addictive Netflix original series from Italy that serves as a prequel to the hit Suburra. It is inspired by a real-life political scandal, as these stories often are; in this case, it follows a conflict stemming from land development in a coastal town just outside of Rome, involving corrupt politicians, the police, the mafia, real estate developers, and even the Church. Suffice it to say, things get pretty messy, but it’s the kind of messy that’s fun to watch.

The Mechanism

Speaking of controversial pieces of work that are based on real-life events, how about this utterly binge-worthy Netflix original that attempts to depict of the most complex and wide-reaching political scandals of all time over the course of a single season of television? Operation Carwash is a bit of a clusterfuck, and this TV show does take its liberty in streamlining all the events and involved parties, but boy is it ever addictive. You can’t stop after one episode. For more information, check out our review of the whole season.

Zero Dark Thirty

Staying true to the “based on real-life events” theme of the last few selections, Zero Dark Thirty may not be a TV show, but its story feels as sprawling, dense and expansive as an entire season of television. Kathryn Bigelow’s smash 2012 film about the raid on Osama Bin Laden is also a thematically rich depiction of the darkest side of war, its toll on the human spirit, and what it leaves behind in its wake. It’s a gripping watch, if a little demanding towards the end. Maybe watch this one in more than one sitting.

The Confessions

This captivating and smartly-shot film by director Roberto Andò tells the story of a mysterious monk who is invited to a summit of world leaders in Germany, along with other figures such as a rock star and a children’s book author, as well as some of the world’s leading economists. The sudden death of an IMF leader takes the entire world by surprise, and the monk may have the answers behind the event. This film is a great example of how the more formal aspects of cinema can be used to effectively advance (and elevate) a story, and it’s a great discovery from the darker recesses of the Netflix catalogue.

Scandal

Scandal isn’t a tense, dense, darker-than-dark, white-knuckle political thriller. It’s a network drama. Not only that, it is a Shonda Rhimes network drama. As so, it has a tendency to be a little bland, a little silly, a little ridiculous (especially past its third season). But in its nature as a Shonda Rhimes show, it is also utterly watchable, and incredibly easy to become addicted to, even while your inner critic is yelling “wait, no! That is a ridiculous turn of events! This is basically a soap opera now!” Which is, oddly enough, the same thing I found myself thinking of House of Cards after its second season. Hey! These shows actually have a lot in common!

Enemy of the State

Okay, this is just a nostalgic pick. The mid-late nineties were actually not that long ago, but watching this film by director Tony Scott does make it seem like a lifetime ago. At the time, its paranoid ramblings about government surveillance and the gatekeepers of the world’s terrible truths felt like the future concerns of a dystopic, far-in-the-future society. Now they seem hilarious and quaint, but hey! It’s Gene Hackman and Will Smith! Watch this one and smile knowingly at how horrible everything actually turned out.

Dirty Money

Look, this isn’t really a “political thriller” per se. Instead, it’s a documentary series by Netflix about corporate corruption, and extremely shady companies and characters. What I want to call your attention to is the last of its six episodes, titled The Confidence Man, which examines the utterly sketchy history of incompetence and corruption of the Trump brand. Who? Tru– oh you mean Donald Trump? The real-estate mogul turned reality show star turned leader of the free world? One of our current visitors? I guess that’s the one. Watch this one only if you want to get real angry about the decisions of a very specific voting block of the United States population – and if you want to get fired up to leave the house for a good, old-fashioned, government-authorized protest.