There’s no arguing that Netflix has changed the way we view and consume movies & TV shows. The precedent Netflix established with its mail delivery movie system was shattered with the introduction of its streaming function.
Now, at long last, America could become even less active than ever before. Now, you could consume several weeks’ worth of entertainment in a day. You can absorb entire shows intravenously as you sit slumped and drooling on your couch like a junkie, occasionally nodding off or letting out satisfied grunts.
Kids, the American dream is alive and well.
Whole libraries of treasured films, classic or contemporary, are now at your fingertips. Entire critically-acclaimed television series are listed one after another.
But for every silver screen treasure Netflix has in its repertoire, it also has a different kind of gold—some of the downright weirdest shit you’ve never heard of.
These aren’t just long-lost comedies or some cheeky indie shows that slipped under the radar, they’re downright weird TV in its finest, guaranteed to make you say ‘WTF?’ – and keep watching.
So, without further adieu, we present you with the weirdest, funniest, and most uncomfortably entertaining shows on Netflix.
Bear with me, because most of them defy explanation.
The Spoils of Babylon
Spoils reads like a 1970’s made-for-TV miniseries, an adaptation of a Great Gatsby-esque novel into a hokey, overacted mid-morning soap opera—a premise that’s hilarious in itself.
Each episode opens with the author of the novel, Eric Jonrosh (aka Will Ferrell) in a beard. He’s wearing a fedora and fat suit, sitting in an empty restaurant chugging merlot, and doing what Ferrell does: making you laugh just by looking at him.
In fact, Ferrell is not only the ‘Author’ of the book but is also the lead producer of the series. The whole show was a Funny Or Die production.
Alongside Ferrell, the relatively star-studded cast includes Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Haley Joel Osment, Val Kilmer, David Spade and the always magisterial Jessica Alba. Although Alba is the easiest on the eyes, it’s Wiig and Robbins that really steal the show, with their exceptionally melodramatic crying (I also watched this scene like 15 times because I love to see Tobey Maguire get hit with a cane).
“This is for Spider-Man 3, dammit!”
Even the names of some of the characters alone are enough to make you snort, my favorites being Cyrus Mego, Chet Halner, Talc Munson, and Dixie Melonworth.
The show uses model sets, toy cars, and puppets to compensate for its obviously (and hilariously) low budget, as well as to fit in its 1970s soap thematic. Pair that with a series of running gags such as changing accents, no concept of age or time, and the ever-changing list of Jonrosh’s titles (Author-Producer-Actor-Writer-Director-Raconteur-Bon Vivant-Legend-Fabulist) and you’ve got a show worth making a fake documentary about.
UPDATE: IFC, the host channel of the original Spoils of Babylon announced its sequel, The Spoils Before Dying—A story about sex, drugs, murder and jazz that’s been banned in 73 countries.
A Funnier, stupider British-er version of Scrubs. ‘Nuff said.
So maybe this isn’t exactly a hidden gem—its several seasons have run on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and other networks, but it’s still in the weird-but-funny category. The brainchild of Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) is essentially some sort of Scrubs/Patch Adams/E.R. hybrid show that makes little to no sense and is definitely not for children.
The show often takes ridiculous asides similar to Family Guy’s constant departure from reality to form a gag, but in the case of Children’s Hospital, the gags are just as elaborate, but also live action – making things even more ridiculous. For example, that time a churro run became a stroll through a Brazilian favela, complete with record deals, ‘Sclades (Escalades) and cocaína buys.
Besides its pure absurdity, the program also uses really, really bad one-liners to add to the absurd dramatic nature of the show, including several references to ‘butt cancer’ and ‘bullet cancer,’ which are the actual medical terms.
Turn it on. Stop thinking. Laugh at the moving pictures.
What can I say about Australian TV’s Danger 5 that hasn’t been said about other shows before it? Literally everything, because this is the weirdest TV show I’ve ever watched. We talked about Spoils of Babylon ignoring the logic of time, history, and plot, but Danger 5 doesn’t ignore those rules—they’ve honestly never heard of them.
Take the production value of Team America: World Police and blend it with everything that makes you uncomfortable about the Tim and Eric Awesome Show and you’ve got an idea of why this made the list.
The premise is essentially an international team of 1960s super spies alá Austin Powers, who are fighting Hitler and Nazi Germany…in the 60s. Remember what I said about the rules?
That being said, Nazi dinosaurs with machine guns on their heads, Hitler’s private sexy dance parties, and awful German puppetry are just some of the normal aspects of Danger 5. This show is the epitome of “So bad, it’s good,” but it’s also available on streaming so you can literally watch yourself stupid, if that’s how you want to spend a Sunday (you do).
Thank you, Australia. Thank you for Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee, and for this flawless piece of cinematic genius.
The list wouldn’t be complete without a comedy talk-show, so enter Comedy Bang-Bang, which is essentially Scott Aukerman and his musical accompaniment of one Reggie Watts.
Think of this as Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns web series with a little bit (lot) more production value; the same parade of guest stars set the pace for the show, sometimes appearing in character, sometimes as themselves.
Aukerman, besides having his name constantly misspelled by the teleprompter guy, generally does awkward dry humor perfectly, playing the host like a sweater-wearing Mr. Rogers—if Mr. Rogers were on acid.
Reggie, on the other hand, provides hilarious sound effects and intro/outro music, all using nothing but his own voice. He also hates Scott, which I’m sure other sidekick band leaders can attest to.
(Featured Image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi)