February is stocked with tantalizing streaming TV options, from a young woman’s superpower spectacle to an FBI agent who uncovers a Big Mac conspiracy.
There’s also the return of drug-war drama “Narcos: Mexico” (Netflix, Feb. 13) and the final season of spy thriller “Homeland” (Crave, Feb. 9, weekly episodes) to keep viewers on their toes.
Here’s a look at several upcoming film and TV shows worth a look on streaming platforms:
“I Am Not Okay With This”
The traditional coming-of-age story gets an offbeat comedic twist in this tale of a high schooler (Sophia Lillis) who discovers her pent-up anxiety manifests itself in unpredictable superpowers. While her newfound strength is both impressive and potentially destructive, she’s also caught in the tangles of growing up — balancing a guy (Wyatt Oleff) who’s romantically interested in her, with her best friend facing her own relationship crisis. Set to an incredible soundtrack of 1980s favourites, the seven-episode series pulls threads from John Hughes movies and melancholic teen flicks of late, such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It also marks a reunion for lead actors Lillis and Oleff who first shared a screen as the young stars of Stephen King’s “It” films. (Netflix, Feb. 26)
Burger meals become a major deal in this unbelievable six-part documentary about a former police officer who scammed millions of dollars out of the McDonald’s Monopoly game promotion. Using a network of fraudsters based across the United States, Jerome Jackson slipped under the fast-food giant’s radar by getting his relatives to pose as prize winners throughout the 1990s. But a chance discovery by a rookie FBI agent sent his swindle into a spin and became a pursuit of super-sized proportions. Using surreal archival footage and interviews with a colourful group of FBI agents, “McMillions” finds the comedic through line in a truly strange tale. (Feb. 3, Crave/HBO, weekly episodes)
Black History Month
A celebration of influential black figures gets started Feb. 1 on CBC Gem with the 2019 documentary film “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me,” which recounts the astounding life story of Pride, who rose from the son of a cotton farm sharecropper to the Negro American League, and later became a country music performer. The film is narrated by country veteran Tanya Tucker. Meanwhile, over on Netflix there’s “Marshall,” the story of Thurgood Marshall, the first black American Supreme Court Justice, and “Who Killed Malcolm X?” a new documentary on the activist that debuts Feb. 7. Horror streaming platform Shudder is carrying the original production “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror,” a riveting look at how representation of black characters in the scary-movie genre has changed throughout the decades. To close out the month, Crave’s HBO/Movies tier debuts the acclaimed indie drama “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” a poetic reflection on race and gentrification, on Feb. 28.
“Visible: Out on Television”
Sometimes painful and other times powerful, the history of LGBTQ representation on TV goes under the microscope in a five-part documentary series that considers how small-screen portrayals helped shape popular perceptions of the queer community. Starting with early examples “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” and later exploring the daring move by Ellen DeGeneres to come out on her own sitcom, the project uses interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Billy Porter and Neil Patrick Harris to frame a media evolution that’s still finding its shape. (Apple TV Plus, Feb. 14)
In Case You Missed It (titles already streaming):
Syrian filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab crafts a shockingly horrific video letter to her young daughter with this Oscar-nominated documentary feature set in the rubble of Aleppo. Alongside her husband, a local doctor, Al-Kateab brings her camera into the bombed-out spaces where local residents refuse to surrender to jihadists, their president and Russian bombers who are all set on exterminating them. Harrowing from the outset, the documentary’s unique perspective on a gruesome civil war seen from the eyes of a mother, finds both the heartbreak and humanity of living in an unimaginable nightmare. (Prime Video)
“Sword of Trust”
Director Lynn Shelton returns to the so-called “mumblecore” film genre she helped create with an indie comedy that’s built around her improvisational acting trademarks. Marc Maron stars as a pawn shop owner who joins two customers — “Brittany Runs a Marathon” comedian Jillian Bell and “Wanderlust” actress Michaela Watkins — as they try to hawk a Civil War-era sword inherited from their recently deceased relative. The group is dragged into a zany series of events that hits its peak when Maron’s character delivers a genuinely touching monologue about his turbulent past. It’s a moment that’s certain to mean more to listeners of the comedian’s “WTF” podcast, since some of its elements mirror Maron’s past struggles with addiction. (Netflix)
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David Friend, The Canadian Press