Bill Nye the Science Guy
1993-1998, PBS Kids
*Deep voice* Billlll Nyeeeee the Scieennnceee Guyyyyyy! The intro is something you kind of never forget, much like how to ride a bike or that one time you accidentally shaved off half an eyebrow in middle school because your parents don’t let you go get them tweezed at a salon. Off topic. Anyway, if you are bad at science (or even if you are good at science) you will enjoy Bill Nye because he makes everything really easy to understand, and his demonstrations are stuff you wish you could do in science class, like throwing stuff off buildings to demonstrate gravity. He has a rocker wig of science, you guys—how could you not like him?? The graphics on the show are so, so ’90s cheesy good and Bill is embarrassing but also endearing, like a nerdy uncle. Also, bowties. (Bowties are cool.) P.S. One of his professors was Carl Sagan! HOW COSMIC. —Arabelle
Stand By Me (1986)
This movie is just so good! It’s the totally standard boys’ friendship movie, with the main kid, the cool kid, the nerdy kid, and the hilarious chubby kid that everyone picks on but loves anyway. It was written by Stephen King, and it’s told from the perspective of a writer who is recounting his big adventure with the gang. You guessed it, he’s the main one. And with his friends, he goes out to search for the body of a recently missing boy. Why? Because it’s an adventure! And a coming-of-age experience! It’s time to explore! It made me sad that I’ll never be a 12-year-old boy in the ’50s. —Ruby B.
Another Earth (2011)
One of my favorite things to think about is what I’d be like in a parallel universe. Would the Other Marie be a florist in France? A scientist with dreadlocks? One of the meatballs on Jersey Shore? Another Earth explores the alternate-universe idea when a planet four times the size of the moon becomes visible in the sky and is discovered to be an exact duplicate of our Earth. Everything on this twin planet has the same things, including another version of you. The story is centered on a girl who is accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program, then gets into a fatal car accident with a family in another car the same night. Four years later she looks for the sole survivor of the crash to apologize, but ends up lying and says she’s from a cleaning service. I know it sounds really sad and like one of those movies I should watch on my period, but it is quite beautiful and thought-provoking. I saw it last week, and I keep thinking about it. OMG IS ANOTHER MARIE WRITING THIS SAME REVIEW RIGHT NOW?? I hope she’s wearing rollerskates. —Marie
Billy the Kid (2007)
Billy the Kid is an incredible documentary all about one teenager’s attempts at exploration in a place you mightn’t think would allow for it. The movie follows a unique and lovely boy, identified in the credits as “Billy P.,” who lives in a sparsely populated town in Maine. The streets and center square of his community are about a quarter the size of what you would expect a “small town” to be—it’s seriously, seriously tiny. Billy finds his own ways to embiggen it, though, by doing things like riding his bike everyplace he can, trying his luck with a local girl to varying degrees of success, and obsessively emulating pop-culture heroes like KISS and Steven Seagall, whom he idolizes (much to the puzzlement of some of the other locals). It’s really, really hard not to completely fawn over this person, who becomes more dynamic and loveable as the documentary progresses and you watch him try out many new and unfamiliar things. The best part is that even though it was shot in just five days, there’s so, so much for him to explore—because that’s just the kind of expansive person he is; he finds so much to see in such a small pocket of the world. This movie is really beautiful, and it’s streaming on Hulu now if you like to see beautiful things for free. —Amy Rose
1963-present (with some gaps), BBC
I could write a thousand Literally the Best Thing Evers on this show. Doctor Who and its fandom are two of my favorite things. I grew up watching the Doctor, and my dad did too—there are, like, decades of episodes and many, many different versions of the Doctor. Basically, the show is about this time traveler who is the last of his kind (they are called Time Lords). He travels through space and time to save the universe, the Earth, whatever, and he does it all from this blue telephone-booth-looking spaceship that is bigger on the inside. British accents! Fezzes! The TARDIS! That last item doesn’t make any sense if you aren’t a Whovian, I apologize. But seriously. This is such an addictive, wonderful show, with such an awesome fandom (PEOPLE BUILD THE TARDIS!), and the writing is so great. If you’re new to this world, I suggest watching “Blink,” “The Doctor’s Wife,” “Bad Wolf,” and “Rose”—if those episodes don’t suck you in I don’t know what will. I warn you, though, that once you become a Whovian, you begin to develop quirks, like being afraid of shadows, angel statues, and children in gas masks. You will fall in love, you will sob your eyeballs out, you will dream of being a companion, and you will never, ever forget your first Doctor. —Arabelle
1999-2002, the WB and UPN
From the very first episode of Roswell, where we see Max use SUPERHUMAN powers to save Liz’s life after she’s been shot in the diner and then later on she asks him, “Where are you from?” because she has no idea how she had a bullet wound in her stomach and then suddenly she’s healed and has a silver handprint on her skin, and he just looks at her with puppy-dog eyes and points upwards, like, really upwards, you will be HOOKED. Max, his sister, Isabelle, and their friend Michael are all aliens, something that they had (obviously) been keeping a secret all their lives until Max couldn’t contain his secret love for Liz any longer and BOOM now everyone’s suspicious because it’s Roswell, New Mexico, so everyone has aliens on the brain all the time. This show is so good! There’s lots of intense staring, close calls with the police, and TWISTS, but also Max and Michael are brutally hot and it almost hurts to stare at them. Liz’s best friend, Maria, played by Majandra Delfino, is a GEM and she has super-rad style and is a little crazy but you will fall in love with her. In the third season the storylines get completely BONKERS and it’s kind of hard to even get through it, but the first two seasons are pure GOLD. P.S. The Dido theme song is SO IMPORTANT and sets the perfect mood for everything that follows. —Laia
Jurassic Park (1993)
In a way, Jurassic Park seems better suited to a nostalgia theme—after all, what’s more nostalgic than using science to bring back the prehistoric past? The notion of the dinosaurs’ return was so awe-inspiring that I even watched the inferior sequels just to further indulge in it. But what I remember most about seeing it at summer camp, besides tripping over the theater rope in front of a boy I liked, was how the fictional scientists were able to start the cloning process in the first place. Based to some degree on fact, writer Michael Crichton imagined that if scientists found, preserved in amber, a fossilized mosquito that had once bitten a dinosaur, they could use the DNA from the dino’s blood to clone and breed new velociraptors and tyranosauruses. Yes! That makes perfect sense! Except it didn’t. Which is probably for the best considering what happens in the film, but it’s still a colossal disappointment. —Phoebe
Weird Science (1985)
What happens when two nerdy teenage boys make a woman using a 1980s computer and some sexy magazines? They become popular overnight, and have to fight off gross older brothers, scary biker gangs, and, of course, their actual crushes, who suddenly know they exist. This movie gets bonus points for Anthony Michael Hall’s excellently floppy hairdo, Robert Downey, Jr., in a small but memorable role, and Bill Paxton as the cruel older brother who turns into an actual pile of shit. Is it as moving or profound as some other ’80s movies? It is not. But the boys wear bras on their head, which is obviously what gives them magical scientific power. —Emma S.
Compared with Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, this will probably be one of director Danny Boyle’s less-remembered films, but I basically love any movie in which a crew is sent to do something, anything, that involves leaving the Earth’s atmosphere—kill an alien, blow up an asteroid, find out what happened to the first crew, whatever. Sunshine is special because it sends a team to reignite a dying star. Usually, it’s outer space that sees all the weird action, and the moon gets credit for tides and werewolves and menstrual cycles, so it’s endlessly fascinating. But what if it were the sun with all the power? The scenes that attempt to imagine this are kind of incredible, largely thanks to John Murphy’s amazing, ambient score. “What do you see?” asks one character over and over, but it’s too spectacular for words. —Phoebe
The Tree of Life (2011)
I am so grateful that I got to see this on the big screen a few weeks ago, completely absorbed in its stunning imagery while the loud sound of LIFE ITSELF being created rumbled through the theater. It was kind of a big experience for me, but the movie is almost as epic on a regular ol’ TV or laptop screen. It flips back and forth between two plotlines: (1) the creation of the universe (gigantic, sparkling galaxies, exploding stars, and bubbling volcanoes set to sort-of-scary opera music make me feel like I’m all up in the universe’s grille), and (2) the story of a complicated suburban family in the 1950s. It poses questions that my mind will probably never be ready to answer, while showing us just how beautiful the world around us can be if we just shut our mouths and pay attention every once in a while. If this wasn’t enough to sell you, all I have to say is: DINOSAURS. —Hannah
The Goonies (1985)
This is the ultimate kids-having-an-elaborate-adventure-in-the-’80s movie. A group of kids find a treasure map in their attic and decide to follow it to find the pirate’s gold, all the while being chased by a family of criminals. There are codes that need cracking, booby traps, and Rube Goldberg machines—i.e., everything you need to have a good ol’-fashioned adventure. Do they find the treasure in the end? You’ll have to watch and find out. This movie will make you want to explore all the hidden pockets of your neighborhood (just please, don’t talk to strangers, and always leave a note). —Anna
I went to see this movie in a tiny screening room in a fancy hotel, which felt exactly right. The first half is a gorgeous, sweeping wedding—between Kirsten Dunst and Alexander Skarsgård—and it felt precisely as disorienting and odd as a real one. It takes place at a grand estate, complete with horses. Kirsten pees on a golf course in her wedding dress, has sex with a random guy, disses her boss, and annoys her sister (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg). Oh, and there’s a planet called Melancholia hurtling towards Earth. The second half of the film is when things really get weird. Let me put it this way—when it was over, I was sure that I’d been sitting there, in the basement on this posh hotel, for four hours, when really it had only been two. When we emerged onto the street, I looked at the sky and worried that any of its little specks of light would come crashing down on me. The movie is lush and glowing and terrifying, and several scenes–Kirsten moon-bathing, naked on a rock—will stay with me for years. —Emma S.
2007-present, The History Channel
Watching The Universe is kinda like going to church. Every time you watch, you learn something new about the forces that surround you and somehow contribute to your very existence, and you are humbled. With each episode of this History Channel series (that’s also on Netflix Instant, FYI), you get to spend an hour voyaging through outer space and learning about everything from Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons that may harbor life, to how it might be possible for humans to reproduce in space. It’s so addictive that you will spend entire afternoons engulfed in marathon sessions. It totally changed my outlook on life and brought new pleasure to a simple thing like catching sight of the moon during the daytime. They also have awesome animations that take you through the atmospheres of planets and put you right in the middle of supernova explosions. This is the best show simply because it will make you feel as one with literally EVERYTHING around you. —Laia
Lost in Translation (2003)
This movie is so important to me that I can barely talk about it. So I’ll just say this: it is nearly perfect. It’s about exploring new places and people and EMOTIONS, and it manages to express a bunch of feelings that were heretofore impossible to express—for example, what is it that I want from Bill Murray? I want SOMETHING from him, but is it to marry him, or for him to adopt me, or to be best friends—what?? I just want him to want to be around me all the time. Scarlett Johansson’s character gets to fulfill that wish, and it’s just as glorious as you’d imagine, and UGH I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH. Please see it. Love, Anaheed.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
Wes Anderson sometimes gets accused of using the same moves in every movie. And while he likes to play with certain recurring motifs (sad rich people, daddy issues, Bill Murray deadpanning), that doesn’t mean most of his movies aren’t wonderful in their own way. First of all: having a deadpan Bill Murray should be a law for every movie. Here, he plays the title character, a Jacques Cousteau type going on a deep-sea journey with his crew to find the shark that killed his best friend. The sea creatures that they come across are a surreal mishmash of stop-motion-animated colorful magic. And yet, underneath all the whimsy, there is some real heart. If you don’t cry at least once—well, I’m not saying you don’t have a heart, but I’m not not saying it either. —Anna
2000-2005, Sci-Fi Channel
Gene Roddenberry basically ran sci-fi television once upon a time. His work (particularly Star Trek) paved the way for shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. Andromeda was one of his babies. It was created after he died, based on previously unused material that he’d written. Think of it as Hercules in space! Only not really. The dude from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Kevin Sorbo) is the captain of the military ship Andromeda. It’s been frozen for several centuries but is suddenly revived by a passing ship and the commonwealth has collapsed and everything has been shot to hell and now Hercules—sorry, KEVIN—goes around with his crew (who are all super babes and hunks) to restore order. You’ll probably recognize some of the people from later shows, which makes this retro sci-fi experience even more fun to watch. —Arabelle
This movie is a total renter: how else can you lock yourself in a room with a bottle of Purell and protect yourself from the people who could be carrying the virus that will kill you? It’s a pretty alarming story that follows one pathogen along multiple paths of speedy destruction. Jennifer Ehle is the highlight as Dr. Ally Hextall, a scientist who seems emotionally divorced from the hysteria surrounding humanity’s extinction, yet whose singular focus is the key to finding a vaccine. We need more Ally Hextalls. Also, and slightly unrelated, you have to love director Steven Soderbergh’s morbid sense of humor in casting the prim Ms. Paltrow as patient zero, graphic autopsy and all. —Phoebe
This was the first movie I ever saw in 3D—aside from science-y IMAX movies as a kid. I had heard that 3D movies are really cheesy, so I wasn’t expecting that much. Guys: it blew my MIND. It was creepy and visually indulgent and magical and dreamlike, and everything I thought Tim Burton should be instead of remaking the same movie with Johnny Depp a million times (Coraline was directed by Henry Selick, who also did The Nightmare Before Christmas). When I came home, I locked myself in my bedroom and vowed that I would not leave until I could write something as beautifully unsettling (I couldn’t), then forced my best friend to come back with me to the theater the next week (that I could do). While you might not be able to see it in 3D at home, there are still so may brilliant things in this movie. The magic garden. The music. The mouse circus. OH GOD, THE MOUSE CIRCUS!! Hopefully, if enough of you watch this, they’ll be motivated to rerelease it in theaters in 3D. One can dream. —Anna