The latest news about Netflix is they’re laying off 15 people in their marketing department, and not just because people like me will promote their shows for them. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is planning to re-orient its marketing strategy, focusing less on individual works and more on Netflix in general. They’ll still promote a big star-studded new show or movie, but the promotion will also have to emphasize that this is just one of the many things the customer can get by subscribing to Netflix.
This fits in with one of the Netflix practices that has recently become familiar and controversial: the fact that Netflix is reluctant to extend a show’s run beyond two or three years. On a traditional network, a successful show—or even just a show that doesn’t flop—is a rare and precious thing that must be kept going as long as possible, because its existence brings value to the network. But no single show brings that much value to Netflix, whose power comes from its sheer size. So almost any show they make is expendable in a way that it wouldn’t be for a network with a smaller number of shows on it. Once it’s been on long enough that everyone is due for a raise, why not just bring in a fresher, cheaper show? That seems to be the thinking, and now it’s being extended to the way the service is being promoted: no one should be allowed to believe that any one show is the reason for Netflix’s popularity.
Netflix in February: What you should watch
Locke & Key (Feb. 7)
The success of The Walking Dead has led to many grown-up comic book series being optioned for TV, but it can take a long time for that option to be picked up. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s IDW horror-fantasy series, about three kids who discover a set of keys with mystical powers, had its first attempted adaptation in 2011, when Steven Spielberg co-produced a pilot for the Fox Network that didn’t get picked up. Then Universal Pictures announced that they were making a movie version, but cancelled the project. A few years later, another TV pilot was created, this time for Hulu, which didn’t pick up the series. And then, several years after that, Netflix finally ordered a series based on the comic, with a mostly different cast from the Hulu version. And by Hollywood standards, the creators have gotten very lucky: for every show that gets a pilot turned down, there are many others that never even get that far.
Narcos: Mexico: Season 2 (Feb. 13)
One way to keep shows alive even after two or three seasons is just to rename the show and start over with a new season 1. Narcos, a gritty period drama about drug law enforcement in the 1980s and ‘90s, began on Netflix in 2015, and has been successful enough to last—by Netflix standards—a long time. But after three seasons about DEA agents trying to stop drug dealers in Colombia, the show underwent a reboot, moving to Mexico, bringing in new characters, and changing the name from Narcos to Narcos: Mexico. So is this the fifth season of Narcos, or the second season of a spinoff? We can call it whatever we like, but it does seem like re-branding yourself as a mostly new show is a good way to get a renewal from Netflix.
All the Bright Places (Feb. 28)
Young adult fiction has become a key source of material for Netflix and other production companies, and it sometimes seems like the genre is providing the stories that adult fiction used to offer. Jennifer Niven’s 2015 YA novel dealt with two small-town teenagers, Theodore (played by Justice Smith in director Brett Haley’s film version) and Violet (Elle Fanning), who meet each other when they’re both trying to commit suicide in the same place. Instead they try to help each other deal with mental illness and families that don’t understand them. A few decades ago, a story like this might have been a successful all-ages novel and mass-market studio movie, like Ordinary People. Today, a serious drama about mental illness needs to be smuggled in under the heading of “realistic Young Adult fiction.”
Queen Sono (Feb. 28)
This South African series is Netflix’s first original production from an African country, part of an ongoing Netflix project to order more film and TV from across the continent and expand its reach in those markets. It’s a spy story, a seemingly inexhaustible genre for the streaming giants, but it seems like it may be a little less serious than usual: the creator of the show, Kagiso Lediga, is a stand-up comedian, and both the description and promotion play up the fantastic James Bond approach to spying: Pearl Thusi (Quantico, Catching Feelings) plays a high-heels-wearing secret agent who tries to defeat bad guys and uncover the truth about her mother’s death, with the help of her colleagues and even more help from booze and drugs.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 1
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Darkest Hour (2017)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
P.S. I Love You (2007)
Red Sparrow (2018)
Saint Seiya: Season 6
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Wedding Crashers (2005)
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Leaving Netflix on Feb. 2
The Mindy Project
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 3
Sordo (Netflix Film)
Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas wrote and directed this 2019 film about an anti-fascist revolutionary (Asier Etxendia) in Franco’s Spain, and an assignment to blow up a bridge; if this sounds like Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls with a Spanish character rather than an American as the star, that’s intentional.
Team Kaylie: Part 3 (Netflix Family)
Netflix’s Disney Channel-style sitcom continues to dole out its episodes in small doses; this batch will bring us another five or six episodes about the adventures of a spoiled rich girl (Bryana Salaz) forced to lead a school wilderness club through studio interiors with unconvincing-looking trees.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 4
Tom Papa: You’re Doing Great! (Netflix Original)
Netflix’s first comedy special of the month features a veteran comic trying to encourage optimism in a depressing age: from a venue in his native New Jersey, Papa advises his audience to get away from their screens, enjoy life and find love.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 5
La boda de la abuela (Grandma’s Wedding) (Netflix Film)
In 2015, Javier Colinas directed the family comedy film El Cumple de la Abuela (Grandma’s Birthday). In 2019, Colinas reassembled the cast for a sequel, where Grandma (Susana Alexander) shocks her family by marrying their gardener. Colinas and Alexander are already in post-production on another sequel, the rather ominously-titled El Testamento de la Abuela (Grandma’s Will).
The Pharmacist (Netflix Documentary)
The U.S. opioid crisis hasn’t been explored much in fiction or non-fiction. This documentary, from directors Julia Willoughby Nason and Jenner Furst, tries to look at it from the vantage point of someone who got an early view of the problem: a pharmacist in a small Louisiana town who noticed that a lot of young people were coming to him with suspiciously high-dose opioid prescriptions, and realized that this was a legalized version of the drug addiction that led to his son’s death years before.
8 Mile (2002)
Along Came Polly (2004)
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
The Land Before Time (1988)
Public Enemies (2009)
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 6
Cagaster of an Insect Cage (Netflix Anime)
This series, based on Kachō Hashimoto’s manga, is about the survivors of a decades-long epidemic that has turned much of humanity into giant man-eating insects—like zombies, but bigger and cooler.
The Flash: Season 6 (Episode 10)
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 7
Dragons: Rescue Riders: Season 2(Netflix Family)
The How to Train Your Dragon spinoff continues the story of Dak and Leyla, two kids who try to help dragons and humans co-exist happily; this season adds a new primary antagonist, and demonstrates how children’s cartoons have become quite serialized.
Horse Girl (Netflix Film)
Alison Brie (Community) is one of the many modern-day actors who have taken creative control of their careers: she not only stars in this independent thriller about an eccentric young woman who may or may not have been abducted by aliens, she co-wrote the screenplay (with director Jeff Baena) and co-produced.
Locke & Key (Netflix Original)
See introduction for details
My Holo Love (Netflix Original)
This South Korean series is about a love triangle between a woman with face blindness (Ko Sung-hee), a software developer (Yoon Hyun-min) and the A.I. hologram he created as his alter ego.
Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix Documentary)
A six-part documentary series taking an in-depth look at the truth behind Malcolm X’s assassination from the point of view of Abdur Rahman Muhammad, who set out to investigate whether two of the three men arrested for the murder were really guilty.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 8
The Coldest Game (Netflix Film)
An English-language film from Poland, this period piece stars Bill Pullman as a chess champ who is asked to compete against a Russian in a chess match in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 9
Captain Underpants Epic Choice-o-Rama (Netflix Family)
A choose-your-own-adventure special from the unstoppable “Captain Underpants” franchise, where viewers get to choose the next scene in the story.
Better Call Saul: Season 4
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 11
CAMINO A ROMA (Netflix Documentary)
Director Andrés Clariond was so inspired by Netflix’s Roma that he self-financed this documentary about the making of the film, built around an interview with Roma director Alfonso Cuarón. Now it’s on Netflix, making it a sort of DVD special feature for the post-DVD era.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 12
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (Netflix Film)
A sequel to Netflix’s 2018 film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (both based on young-adult novels by Jenny Han), picking up the story of Lara Jean (Lana Condor), whose sister sent out her old love letters to all the boys she ever had crushes on. A third film, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean has already been shot.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 13
Dragon Quest Your Story (Netflix Anime)
A stand-alone film from the Dragon Quest series, based on the video game Dragon Quest V.
The Flash: Season 6 (Episode 11)
Love is Blind (Netflix Original)
A 10-episode reality dating series where the contestants are never allowed to see each other as they meet (virtually) and date (also virtually), and only meet in-person after they get engaged; then the question becomes whether they will actually get married—and, if not, what part their looks played in the decision.
Narcos: Mexico: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
See introduction for details
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 14
Cable Girls: Final Season (Netflix Original)
This Spanish series follows the lives of four young women who work as telephone operators in the days when that was a relatively new business. In the last season, which will be released in two parts, we are in the 1930s, and the women are dealing with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War as well as their own personal problems.
Isi & Ossi (Netflix Film)
A German comedy film—yes, there is such a thing—about rich, sophisticated Isi (Lisa Vicari) and working-class boxer Ossi (Dennis Mojen), who have absolutely nothing in common and believe they couldn’t possibly fall in love.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Netflix Family)
Netflix picked up the streaming rights to Aardman Animation’s latest entry in their long-running stop-motion series; this time, Shaun and his fellow sheep meet an alien and try to help her get home, E.T. style.
Leaving Netflix on Feb. 14
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 17
The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia(Netflix Family)
Another multi-camera kids’ sitcom, co-created and produced by Saved by the Bell’s Mario Lopez. It’s about a teen genius (Paulina Chávez) who gets an offer to work for NASA despite not being old enough to vote. But to take the job, she has to move in with her working-class football coach uncle (Jencarlos Canela).
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 19
Chef Show: Volume 3 (Netflix Original)
Jon Favreau created and co-stars in a show that’s half cooking show, half “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”: Director Favreau and actual chef Roy Choi go to picturesque locations to cook delicious meals and hang out with celebrities, including celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Favreau’s fellow superhero director Sam Raimi.
Vikings: Season 3
Leaving Netflix on Feb. 19
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 20
The Flash: Season 6 (Episode 12)
Spectros (Netflix Original)
Writer-producer Douglas Petrie (who ran Marvel’s Daredevil series) created this eight-episode fantasy/horror series for the Brazilian production company Moonshot Pictures: in Liberdade, a São Paulo neighbourhood with a large Japanese population, four children are caught in the middle of a supernatural turf war between Brazilian and Japanese evil spirits.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 21
Babies (Netflix Documentary)
This documentary, which follows the development of babies over their first year on the planet, took three years to shoot. We’ll have to watch it to find out how the math works.
Gentefied (Netflix Original)
Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez created this half-hour comedy drama (based on their 2017 digital series “Gete-fied”) about three cousins trying to save their grandfather’s old business in a neighbourhood that is being changed out of recognition by gentrification.
Glitch Techs (Netflix Family)
An animated series (originally produced for Nickelodeon, which chose to give it to Netflix instead) about two teens whose video-game habit has prepared them well for their current job: pursuing and catching monsters who have escaped from video games into the real world.
Puerta 7 (Netflix Original)
Playwright and screenwriter Martín Zimmerman, previously a staff writer on Netflix’s Ozark, created this multi-story series about an Argentine soccer team, which Zimmerman has described as being about “the intersection between sport, politics and crime in Argentina.”
System Crasher (Netflix Film)
A drama from German writer-director Nora Fingscheidt (who is currently working with star Sandra Bullock on another Netflix film) about a nine-year-old foster child (Helena Zengel) known as a “system crasher” because she’s impossible to control and has to be thrown out of every home she is placed in.
Leaving Netflix on Feb. 25
Blade Runner 2049
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 26
I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix Original)
Charles Forsman’s 2017 graphic novel had a premise that was almost begging to be a Netflix TV series: a relatable coming-of-age story about a normal high school girl with everyday problems…who also has super powers. The same combination of realism and fantasy will also be on display in Netflix’s series, starring Sophia Lillis in the main role.
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 27
Altered Carbon: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
This is a series about a future where humans can have their consciousness downloaded into new bodies, so naturally there’s a casting gimmick to go along with the premise: in the first season, Joel Kinnaman played the protagonist, an ex-criminal turned private detective, and in the new season, he’ll be reborn in the body of Anthony Mackie (The Falcon & the Winter Soldier).
Followers (Netflix Original)
Billed as Netflix’s first original live-action series from Japan, this series is directed by fashion photographer Mika Ninagawa, and applies her stylized use of colour and design to a story about young women trying to make careers for themselves in photography and show business.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution (Netflix Family)
Taking a page out of the Disney playbook, the venerable franchise presents a remake of the first Pokémon movie, but with CGI instead of traditional animation.
Happy!: Season 2
The Flash: Season 6 (Episode 13)
Coming to Netflix on Feb. 28
All The Bright Places (Netflix Film)
See introduction for details
Babylon Berlin: Season 3 (Netflix Original)
The first season of this award-winning German drama series took place in Berlin in 1929. In the third season, it’s still 1929, because that year was just that bad for Germany and the world. The new season takes place in fall 1929, when things are getting so bad that people are probably thinking, “At least there hasn’t been a stock market crash and global depression.”
Formula 1: Drive to Survive: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
A cross between documentary and advertising (well, a lot of documentaries are like that), Formula One produces this inside look at the Formula One World Championship and the people and cars involved.
La trinchera infinita (The Endless Trench) (Netflix Film)
The second of two Spanish Civil War period pieces this month, this movie is about a couple who decide to hide from the threat of violence in a shelter inside their home, and remain there for 33 years.
Queen Sono (Netflix Original)
See introduction for details
Restaurants on the Edge (Netflix Original)
Another show where the hosts fix up buildings and increase their value. This time, the buildings are restaurants.
Unstoppable (Netflix Original)
In a new series, three young women go on a road trip which goes wrong—or does it?—when a “dangerous woman” forces them to change their route.
Jeopardy!: Celebrate Alex Collection
Jeopardy!: Cindy Stowell Collection
Jeopardy!: Seth Wilson Collection
Leaving Netflix on Feb. 28
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Coming to Netflix in February (no release date yet)
Amit Tandon: Family Tandoncies (Netflix Original)
Stand-up special from the Indian comic, previously seen on Netflix in 2019’s “Comedians of the World.”
Taj Mahal 1989 (Netflix Original)
One of several Netflix co-productions with India’s Viacom18 (which in turn is a co-production between Viacom and TV18), this period piece is about university students who get involved with love and politics, and the intersection of both.