Canadian comic Mae Martin slides onto Netflix with her strikingly personal TV series “Feels Good,” one of the standout new programs making its debut in March.
And the co-creators of “The Wire” return to HBO with “The Plot Against America,” a potent drama that reconsiders American history under a fascist regime.
Beyond those picks, the mouth-watering plate of March options includes the new entries in David Chang’s deep-dive food documentary series “Ugly Delicious” (Netflix, March 6), a third season of “Westworld” (Crave/HBO, March 15), and “Making the Cut,” a fashion competition series hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (Amazon Prime Video, March 27).
Here’s a look at what could get people talking on streaming platforms throughout the month:
Mae Martin established herself as a writer on “Baroness Von Sketch Show” before hopping across the pond for this new semi-autobiographical U.K. series about a Canadian stand-up comedian battling her own demons while living in London. Everything seems to be in Mae’s control until one night when she meets George, a straight, female audience member with an irresistible personality. With hardly a moment to pause, the two hit it off, and it isn’t long before they’re shacked up together. That’s when Mae finds herself spiralling back into her past drug addiction while trying to keep both feet on the ground in a relationship that seems almost too perfect. Lisa Kudrow plays a supporting role as Mae’s well-intentioned mother. Darkly humorous, and strikingly personal, “Feel Good” will introduce Martin to a whole new world of fans. (Netflix, March 19)
“The Twentieth Century”
Canadian history takes a comically bizarre turn in Winnipeg director Matthew Rankin’s unhinged reimagining of the life of a young William Lyon Mackenzie King. Told using fabricated wartime news reels, German expressionist film sets, and a pungent subplot about a boot fetish, Rankin gleefully dances his cast (including Daniel Beirne of “Workin’ Moms” as the future prime minister) through an affectionately garish reflection on patriotism, propaganda and Canadian stereotypes, that defies anyone who might suggest our country’s leaders aren’t rich in character. (Crave/HBO, March 26)
“The Plot Against America”
Lately, filmmakers seem fascinated with how a single turn can alter the trajectory of history, whether it’s Russia winning the space race in “For All Mankind” (Apple TV Plus) or the alternate reality of “The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon Prime Video) where the outcome of Second World War split the United States into three parts. The latest addition to the emerging subgenre of faking history is “The Plot Against America,” a six-part series that considers how the U.S. might have taken shape if xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh had defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the presidential election. Using Philip Roth’s provocative 2004 novel as their foundation, “The Wire” creators David Simon and Ed Burns centre the story on a working-class Jewish family who witness the rise of fascism in their New Jersey neighbourhood. The series cast includes Zoe Kazan, Winona Ryder, and John Turturro. (Crave/HBO, March 16)
Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s social hierarchy drama is set inside a futuristic prison where inmates on the top floor delight in a feast that descends on a platform from the mysterious floors above, before the food scraps are passed on to each level below, effectively becoming lesser and lesser with each stop. But one prisoner isn’t satisfied with his status and devises a plan that could turn the entire structure on its head. Vicious and atmospheric, Netflix’s “The Platform” was one of the hidden gems of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, which it picked up the People’s Choice Midnight Madness prize. (Netflix, March 20)
In Case You Missed It (titles already streaming):
Two Toronto dudes juggle playing video games, smoking weed and their dreams of rising up the ranks as professional actors in this quirky series from Kris Siddiqi, a frequent supporting cast member on the “Baroness Von Sketch Show.” While it’s familiar territory for buddy comedies, the eight-episode series manages the tricky balance of zany humour and sharp satire by putting its leads, played by Siddiqi and fellow “Baroness” actor Nigel Downer, on the receiving end of white privilege and casual racism. “Bit Playas” hits a stride whenever it leans into the characters’ gamer instincts, such as when they incorporate strategy into a double date, or during a musical number that crescendos with a moment of police brutality. (CBC Gem)
Since the historic best picture win for “Parasite” at the Oscars, the buzz around South Korean director Bong Joon-ho has reached new heights. And luckily for new recruits in the “Bonghive” fanbase, many of his earlier films are already available to stream. Check out Bong’s full-length 2000 debut “Barking Dogs Never Bite,” for a taste of his sharp comedic edge in the story of a man who goes to great means to address the noisy dogs in his apartment complex, then watch “The Host,” the director’s 2006 monster movie. Both films are available for free on Tubi with commercial breaks. Anthology film “Tokyo!,” on Amazon Prime Video, features “Shaking Tokyo,” the story of a reclusive man whose pizza delivery opens new doors. Netflix stocks two of Bong’s English-language titles, the class-conflict-on-a-train action film “Snowpiercer” and “Okja,” the story of a girl who befriends a “super pig” created in a lab.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press