Those born after the advent of DVR and streaming services probably never heard the yell from a sibling, “hurry, it’s ON!” We now look at the 1980s the way we once looked at shows like Happy Days. At that time, the only way to see a show was to watch it when it first came on or wait until the summer to watch a rerun. It could be the latter if the show was on a school night. The VCR eventually allowed you to tape programs, but inevitably the really good programs would go just a tad longer than the remaining tape on the cassette allowed. The cumbersome ordeal of setting a program to video record limited how many programs could follow and if two programs ran simultaneously there was no way to record both. Millennials and Gen Z don’t know how good they have it.
The modern era of streaming platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney +, Hulu, and Peacock have created an entirely new culture in storytelling. The 1980s was the golden age of the TV miniseries, a ploy by the network to get viewers to park themselves in front of the TV for at least one hour each night that week. The ability to DVR a season worth of programs or binge watch an entire series once it is fully available on a platform is the dream of every 80’s couch potato who had to wait for the show to come on or fight with temperamental VCR machines.
For those who are in love with popular streaming programs, here are a few suggestions for your bookshelf from some of the popular programs on each platform
#Genre Study - Psychological Thriller: You
Streaming on Netflix
An otherwise mild-mannered book store operator becomes obsessed with aspiring young writer who happens into his store one day. Viewers may also enjoy reading:
You should never trust a psychopath. But what if you had no choice? It would be easy to underestimate Chloe Sevre... She's a freshman honor student, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. She spends her time on yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her. Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study of psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can't comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements. When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan for revenge into action, she'll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.
One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.
She's a liar. She's a stalker. She's in your house. When Claire sees Hannah Wilson at an exclusive Manhattan hair salon, it's like a knife slicing through barely healed scars. It may have been ten years since Claire last saw Hannah, but she has thought of her every day, and not in a good way. So, Claire does what anyone would do in her position—she stalks her. Hannah is now Mrs. Carter, living the charmed life that should have been Claire's. It's the life Claire used to have, before Hannah came along and took it all away from her. Back then, Claire was a happy teenager with porcelain skin and long, wavy blond hair. Now she's an overweight, lazy drunk with hair the color of compost and skin to match. Which is why when Hannah advertises for a housekeeper, Claire is confident she can apply and not be recognized. And since she has time on her hands, revenge on her mind, and a talent for acting... Because what better way to seek retribution—and redress—than from within the beautiful Mrs. Hannah Carter's own home? Except that it's not just Claire who has secrets. Everyone in that house seems to have something to hide. And now, there's no way out.
Joe Goldberg is ready for a change. Instead of selling books, he's writing them. And he's off to a good start. Glenn Shoddy, an acclaimed literary author, recognizes Joe's genius and invites him to join a tight-knit writing fellowship at Harvard. Finally, Joe will be in a place where talent matters more than pedigree…where intellect is the great equalizer and anything is possible. Even happy endings. Or so he thinks, until he meets his already-published, already-distinguished peers, who all seem to be cut from the same elitist cloth.
Thankfully, Wonder Parish enters the picture. They have so much in common. No college degrees, no pretensions, no stories from prep school or grad school. Just a love for literature. If only Wonder could commit herself to the writing life, they could be those rare literary soulmates who never fall prey to their demons. Wonder tends to love, to covet, but Joe is a believer in the rule of fiction: If you want to write a book, you have to kill your darlings.
#Genre Study - Horror: Stranger Things
Streaming on Netflix
Nostalgia for the 1980s abounds in this paranormal story of parallel worlds and a group of unlikely heroes who join together to fight a supernatural foe. Viewers may also enjoy reading:
People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there. Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping. A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?
Three teenage girls who face off against an insidious monster that preys upon young women.
Shirley Jackson's beloved gothic tale of a peculiar girl named Merricat and her family's dark secret taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson were once college students looking to make some extra cash, volunteering as test subjects for an experiment orchestrated by the clandestine government organization known as The Shop. But the outcome unlocked exceptional latent psychic talents for the two of them—manifesting in even more terrifying ways when they fell in love and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has been gifted with the most extraordinary and uncontrollable power ever seen—pyrokinesis, the ability to create fire with her mind. Now the merciless agents of The Shop are in hot pursuit to apprehend this unexpected genetic anomaly for their own diabolical ends by any means necessary...including violent actions that may well ignite the entire world around them as Charlie retaliates with a fury of her own...
#Genre Study - Post-Apocalyptic Fiction: The Last of Us
Streaming on HBO Max
In a post-apocalyptic United States, Joel and Ellie travel westward in search of a cure for the fungal plague that has pushed the human race near the brink of extinction. Viewers may also enjoy reading:
When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania. What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves. Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.
Area X has been but off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization and the lives of members of eleven expeditions. Now, the twelfth expedition consisting of four women hopes to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip. This year, something is waiting in the darkness. Something wicked.... An intruder stumbles upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine....
Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they'll never face the same fate. Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren't safe. After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics--all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.
#Genre Study - Comedy Drama: The White Lotus
Streaming on HBO Max
In this six-episode series, a group of privileged guests stay at Hawaii’s White Lotus Motel. A social satire, the series explores the role of money and how much of it one has affects Interpersonal relationships. Viewers may also enjoy reading:
In these pages, naturalists meet gruesome ends and unhinged heroes disturb our sympathies; simple cases of murder turn out to be something even more sinister, and the cruelties of childhood come to unsettling life. This is a captivating, important collection from "one of the truly brilliant short-story writers of the twentieth century.
Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Elena Ferrante's four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its main characters, the fiery and unforgettable Lila and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflicted friendship. This first novel in the series follows Lila and Elena from their fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between two women.
A psychological thriller that spins one woman's seemingly good fortune, and another woman's mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.
"Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge ..." This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the 22-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut. Shot like a bullet from a mundane past, she's come to New York to escape the provincial, to take on her destiny. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a "backwaiter”, on and off duty. Her appetites are awakened, for food, wine, knowledge and experience; and she's pulled into the thrall of two other servers--a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman whose connection to both young lovers is murky, sensual, and overpowering. These two will prove to be Tess's hardest lesson of all. Sweetbitter is a story about discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment.
#Genre Study – Comedy: Schitt’s Creek
Streaming on Hulu
Video store magnate Johnny and his soap opera star wife Moira go from wealthy to destitute overnight. The only possession left to their name is a backwater town, Schitt’s Creek, they bought years before as a joke. Along with their grown son and daughter, the couple take up residence in the town and learn to live within their very scant means. Viewers who enjoy this comedy may also enjoy reading:
An intimate, sparkling collection of stories by a debut writer about girls behaving badly and families on the brink of collapse.
Annie and Buster Fang have spent most of their adult lives trying to distance themselves from their famous artist parents, Caleb and Camille. But when a bad economy and a few bad personal decisions converge, the two siblings have nowhere to turn but their family home. Reunited under one roof for the first time in more than a decade and surrounded by the souvenirs of their unusual upbringing, Buster and Annie are forced to confront not only their creatively ambitious parents, but the chaos and confusion of their childhood.
Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they've relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella's poisoning of their whole clan. As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking act. Was it their aunt's mysterious death at sea? Estella's unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family's past and the truth about who she and her sister really are?
#Genre Study - Western Drama: Yellowstone
Streaming on Paramount
John and the Dutton family control the largest single ranch in the United States and will stop at almost nothing to preserve what is theirs from those who would take it. Viewers may also enjoy the following books which focus on western motifs and ties to the land:
Based on the Walt Longmire Mysteries series of novels by Craig Johnson. It centers on Walt Longmire, a sheriff in fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. He is assisted by staff, friends, and his daughter in investigating major crimes within his jurisdiction.
Spanning four and a half centuries, James A. Michener’s monumental saga chronicles the epic history of Texas, from its Spanish roots in the age of the conquistadors to its current reputation as one of America’s most affluent, diverse, and provocative states. Among his finely drawn cast of characters, emotional and political alliances are made and broken, as the loyalties established over the course of each turbulent age inevitably collapse under the weight of wealth and industry. With Michener as our guide, Texas is a tale of patriotism and statesmanship, growth and development, violence and betrayal—a stunning achievement by a literary master.
Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City's streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West. Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.
Three troubled construction workers get entangled in a dangerous plan against an impossible deadline. Why is it being built here, and why so quickly? These are the questions Cole, Bart, and Teddy, the three principals of True Triangle Construction, ask themselves when they are hired to finish a project for a mysteriously wealthy homeowner. Nestled in the mountains outside of Jackson, Wyoming, the house is a masterpiece, unlike anything they've done before. Once finished, it promises to be the architectural prize of Jackson and could put True Triangle on the map. But despite the project's lure, the owner is intent on having it built in a matter of months, an impossible task made irresistible by the exorbitant bonus that awaits them if they succeed. A bonus that could change the course of their business, and their lives. Up against the fateful deadline, and the looming threat of a harsh Wyoming winter, Cole, Bart, and Teddy are willing to do anything to get the money, even if it means risking life, limb, and family. And what becomes an obsession for all three quickly builds to tragic consequences for some.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning American classic of the American West that follows two aging Texas Rangers embarking on one last adventure. An epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.