unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt1The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015– , Netflix)
I never thought I’d laugh so hard at something that I’d spit out my food, but Kimmy Schmidt left me with an empty cereal bowl and a soggy shirt. After escaping from captivity by a cult leader, Kimmy begins a new life in New York City as an independent woman…kind of. Although she’s in her 30s, Kimmy has the education of a middle schooler and a mentality to match. Her ridiculous antics, sense of humor, and resilience make her incredibly endearing, and, during the course of the show, she might even become your role model. Her situation might be unique, but her advice (“You can stand anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds!”) and perseverance, no matter the situation, are universally admirable. —Lucy

twister-blackgroundTwister (1996)
Dr. Jo Harding is a woman obsessed, (much like I was when, at 11 years old, I named my Barbies after the main characters in this movie). After her father dies in an F5 tornado, Jo grows up and dedicates her life to chasing and studying storms, hoping to create an effective weather warning system. Unfortunately, her plan gets a little more complicated when her ex-husband Bill comes back into her life and re-joins her chase-squad—especially since he brings his new fiancé with him. The storms, you guys: they are a-brewing. So, battling both the weather and her heart, Jo leads her motley crew of scientists into one of the most dangerous weather events in nineties film history, all while trying to figure out who she is, what she wants, and whether you can ever really get over the past. (Answer: yes—when cows fly.) —Anne

THE-DUST-BOWL-POSTER-The Dust Bowl (2012, PBS)
This PBS documentary gives the history of the Dust Bowl in four parts. The first, “The Great Plow-Up,” shows how and why the grasslands of the Great Plains states were plowed to plant wheat in the 1920s. The next two, “Dust to Eat” and “Reaping the Whirlwind,” show the economic and environmental fallout of this overplanting in the 1930s—families starving on their farms, entire towns in ruins, and great storms of dust that swept all the way to the East Coast. The final chapter, “The Hardy Ones,” examines the New Deal programs that brought changes to farming, and helped people survive. This documentary resonates so strongly because it’s largely an oral history. Ken Burns interviewed 26 survivors about the hopes and dreams that brought their families to the Great Plains, living through “Black Sunday,” and migrating to labor camps in California. Hearing their voices paired with rare photos and film footage from the ’30s—and songs by Woody Guthrie, the folk singer who chronicled the Dust Bowl in his music—transports you into that time period and allows you to experience a little of what they did. —Stephanie

Moonrise-kingdom-international-posterMoonrise Kingdom (2012)
I don’t think I knew what a good movie was before Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom—watching it is one of my earliest fangirl memories. If the vibrant costumes, glorious set design, and crew of royally awesome actors weren’t enough to win your undying love and approval, the subtle humor of every character is characteristic of Anderson’s blatant and sometimes dark style. Moonrise Kingdom is the story of young love between Suzy and Sam, who can’t seem to get the rest of the villagers in their small seaside town off their backs. So, naturally, they run off deep into the forest, fight off a wild pack of boy scouts, have a dance party on the shore, and get struck by lightning. The best part of this piece of art is that it’s not only a joy to watch, but it’ll also give you that comfy, fuzzy feeling of . . . pure inspiration. —Alyson

600full-lolita-posterLolita (1962)
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is my most favorite book. Its dark and disturbing beauty is so nuanced that I could read it a thousand times and still find new details. That’s why I love this Stanley Kubrick film adaptation so much; it follows the story of 12-year-old Dolores Haze and her kidnapper Humbert in a way that perfectly captures the breathlessness of obsession, and how cruel it can be to be infatuated with someone’s appearance instead of their personality. Dolores, played by Sue Lyon, becomes a character so real, you can barely remember this is fiction, and Kubrick’s masterful filmmaking will leave you reeling for a long time after you’ve seen the movie. Do yourself a favor and watch this! It will knock the wind out of you. —Lucy

SurvivormanLogoSurvivorman (2004– , OLN)
In this survival show the host, Les Stroud, is planted in an extreme, remote environment for 10 days to simulate a survival scenario. To heighten the situation, he’s often left with just a few tools, or nothing at all. It’s different from other EXTREME survival shows because it is isn’t about jumping off dangerous rocky cliffs or fighting alligators. Its pacing is slow and soothing, like a nature documentary, with Stroud’s voice gently narrating the action. He also films the show himself and uses a few cameras that he carries around through the survival site (which greatly increases the difficulty of each surviving in each episode).

Les is also refreshingly honest: He talks about missing his family while away on a shoot, the difficulties of hunger and extreme climates, and in some episodes, he becomes ill from exposure to elements. There are so many tense episodes when you wonder will Les make it? as he describes his body temperature plunging dangerously low, or suffers the devastating effects of dehydration. Filming Survivorman was reportedly so difficult for Les that he eventually had to quit the show because of the toll it took on his health. Mainly I love how, unlike some other survival shows, Les never treats nature like something that needs to be conquered—he treats each locale with the respect it deserves. —Meagan

forgotten-planetForgotten Planet (2011– , Discovery)
This six-part documentary series highlights 12 places that have been partially or entirely left to nature after humans polluted them beyond repair, depleted them of natural resources, or just moved on to the next thing. Each episode features an American city and a city from somewhere else in the world. The cinematography is the highlight of the series; seeing all of the abandoned places and the way nature retakes them—sand filling old mining structures or trees growing into houses—is mind-blowing. The narration and the music are definitely kind of melodramatic and cheesy, but this doesn’t take away the overall power of the show. I still teared up while watching a family from Pripyat—a Ukrainian city close to Chernobyl—visiting the home they had to abandon after the 1986 nuclear disaster. My jaw clenched as I heard how black Namibians were mistreated in Kolmanskop, a diamond mining town in the desert built by German colonists in the early 1900s. If you binge watch the series, you will have dystopian dreams, but more importantly, you’ll gain insights into history, social justice, and the delicate balance between humanity and nature. —Stephanie ♦