Photo Source: Public Domain Pictures
I was, without a doubt, the black sheep of the family. Being the black sheep has its pros and cons, and all in all I feel happy and relieved that the Universal birth lotto placed me in a family where I would most certainly be the odd man out. While my peers were curling their hair and attending football games, I was collecting vintage jazz albums and shaving patches of my hair off. Like many black sheep, I found solace and escape by taking off to see the world and moving thousands of miles away from my family. It’s a well-worn tale to be sure. With that said, holidays with family are always trips for me which involve staying in guest rooms and encountering an unaccustomed rush of family. Screens, whether it be a television, laptop, or phone, can be a great escape for black sheep during the holidays, and I have spent hours and hours pouring over Netflix’s latest releases looking for things that I believe will be comforting to all who were born weird.
No Time For Shame (Netflix 2019 TV-MA) Argentinian TV
“Follow Santiago Artemis, a Buenos Aires fashion dynamo, as he makes his dreams come true while grappling with his love life, therapist and clients.” (Netflix.com) From the Netflix promotion to the trailer, when I first tuned in to No Time for Shame, I was expecting a slightly exploitive campy show of an eccentric, gender-bending, over the top character, and at first, I approached Santiago with that mindset. However, it does not take long before you realize No Time for Shame and Santiago are far more real and deep than expected. To be sure, your eyes will be dazzled by Santiago’s genius for dressing; however, the surprise is that it is lovely—his style is amazing (and not simply campy). One also comes to see the bravery balanced with deep hurt from being gay and different in a conservative hometown. I watched it with a friend, and we both found ourselves quickly shifting from laughter to being genuinely moved and inspired by Santiago. AND, we both agreed we need more jumpsuits in our lives! The fashion in the show is amazing and works double duty as both personal inspiration as well as pure eye candy. If you are watching this on a communal TV, I would say it will clear out little kids, insecure jocks, and religious aunties—otherwise it might soften some of the more judgmental hearts of your family members and most certainly will inspire all black sheep of any age.
The Twilight Zone Original Series (1959 TV-PG)
Much to my shock and glee, Netflix has acquired four seasons of this sci-fi classic. I had not seen the show since it was played late night on TV when I was a teen. If you have never seen The Twilight Zone, know the show is amazing and worth checking out. While I had seen the show before, I watched a few episodes to make sure my memory was correct in thinking this show was awesome and a treasure to watch when I was a teenager. It was, in fact, better than I had remembered. It is dark, moody, weird, and loaded with the Cold War reality of impending doom. The world could end from nuclear annihilation at any moment in 1959, and The Twilight Zone beautifully expresses the dread that flowed underneath the nineteen fifties’ world of rapid economic growth, rock and roll, clean-cut boys and girls, and big, shiny Cadillacs. If you are watching this on a communal TV, you will be watching it with a wide array of family members ,as the show is ageless. You might even see a few angry teens surfacing (or you might be the angry teen who picked it). I can only see children and maybe popular high school kids drifting away from this pick.
The Model (2016 TV-MA) International Dramas
“Danish teen Emma moves to Paris hoping to become a top model, but her dreams soon unravel when her affair with photographer Shane turns obsessive.” (Neflix.com) The Model is my only pick that is not a new release. However, I highly doubt anyone caught it when it came out. I found it on accident as I was searching for a movie on Netflix with the word Paris in the title, and while they did not have the movie I wanted, they listed possible alternatives, and my inner teenage self zeroed in on the title: The Model. I must confess that ever since I was a teenager I have loved and watched any fashion model related movies, as they always are tragic and beautiful, and really fashion models are the ultimate black sheep. It’s one thing to be a skinny giant in Paris and another in a small hometown. To be sure, our model in The Model speaks of the torture of growing up in a town where everyone teased her and called her “the crane fly.” She goes on to say that nobody back home, including her parents, believes she can make it in Paris as a fashion model—they just can’t see her beauty. This movie is slow, dark, and tense. The model who plays the main character Emma, Maria Palm, is stunningly good at being really messed up. If you love Paris, tortured, beautiful teenage models, and very slow thrillers this is a great escape, as I promise, if you play this movie on a communal TV it will pretty much clear the room out. I can only imagine fellow black sheepers who are into fashion and do not mind a movie with zero sunlight hanging on to this movie. It’s also in subtitles (as is No Time for Shame), which I find clears out the more annoying of people. Note: there is in the last twenty minutes a very graphic and difficult-to-watch scene. I hid in a coat with my friend giving me a toned-down narration of what was going on. It is brief but terrible. So, have a blanket or sweatshirt ready to hide behind. Plus, make sure any little ones are out of the room.
These are just a few Netflix picks that I think will provide some rest from the world of family and of normal. I understand that normal people genuinely feel uncomfortable when around a black sheep; however, I find they rarely see that there are tons of them and only a few of the other and that perhaps it’s a bit more difficult being different in a world of white sheep. I do love my family dearly, and as I get older, I am starting to believe another truth: that we all are black sheep; however, only a few have the courage to unzip the white, polar fleece jacket. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and may you all have a holiday filled with love and laughter. And to my black sheep who find the holidays to be a more stressful or difficult time, I hope these Netflix picks give you an enjoyable holiday escape.
Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”
Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.