INDIANAPOLIS — The COVID-19 pandemic halted production for many films and TV shows in 2020 — which has led to an influx in original content two years later.
With too much to watch in too little time, here's what you should check out on Netflix.
"Bridgerton" (2 seasons, 16 episodes)
You are cordially invited to see how quickly you can binge this scandalous period series, with each season centering on a sibling of the titular family.
Admittedly, "Bridgerton" starts slowly with so many families/characters/storylines to follow, but you'll be hooked by episodes 3 or 4. Think of it as a mixture of "Downton Abbey" and the provocative natures of other Shonda Rhimes shows like "Scandal" or "Grey's Anatomy."
"Bridgerton" has been renewed for a third and fourth season.
For those who like: "The Crown," "Downton Abbey," "Scandal"
"The Circle" (4 seasons, 51 episodes)
Let’s make this clear: "The Circle" is much better than Netflix reality dating shows "Love Is Blind" and "Too Hot to Handle."
For those who haven’t watched, the reality competition centers on a group of strangers competing for $100,000 through a social media app to portray themselves however they like.
"The Circle" has been renewed for a fifth season.
For those who like: "Big Brother," "Love Is Blind," "Survivor"
"Cobra Kai" (4 seasons, 40 episodes)
Confession: I had never seen any of "The Karate Kid" movies until 2021. I wanted to watch the first three films before watching the series — and would highly recommend it as well since there are references to all three in the show.
The series is set more than 30 years after the movies and follows former bad boy Johnny Lawrence, who’s been down on his luck since his high school glory days. Meanwhile, Daniel LaRusso has trended in the opposite direction and has made a name for himself in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
It’s great to see the former child actors reprise their roles later in life in this fun, action-packed adventure!
The fifth season of "Cobra Kai" will be released in its entirety Sept. 9.
For those who like: "Big Shot," "The Fighter," "Warrior"
"Heartstopper" (1 season, 8 episodes)
Based on the young adult LGBTQ+ graphic novel and webcomic series, "Heartstopper" follows an openly gay high school sophomore (Joe Locke), who develops a crush on his athletic classmate (Kit Connor).
Here’s a coming-of-age show the whole family will enjoy — with no sex, drugs, alcohol and swearing — for its infectious charm and upstanding lessons on acceptance.
"Heartstopper" has been renewed for a second and third season.
For those who like: "The Edge of Seventeen," "Love, Simon," "To All the Boys I've Loved Before"
"Inventing Anna" (9 episodes)
I’ll try to ignore the fact that Netflix paid Anna Sorokin $320,000 — more than what she scammed from her victims — for the rights to tell her story, which was reportedly used to pay restitution and legal fees.
Julia Garner ("Ozark") stars as the Russian con artist, who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress and defrauded banks, hotels and acquaintances.
Fair warning: The episodes are long, with the shortest at 59 minutes and the longest clocking in at 82 minutes. Despite somewhat messy storytelling and overacting, "Inventing Anna" is a worthwhile true crime limited series on a woman's persistent desire for a lavish lifestyle.
For those who like: 'The Dropout," "I Care A Lot," "WeCrashed"
"Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey" (4 episodes)
It's hard to fathom some of these crimes within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints happened less than 20 years ago.
Netflix's four-part documentary series examines Mormonism within the polygamous Jeffs family, led by Rulon and Warren Jeffs, who each had dozens of wives as means of reaching the highest form of salvation.
With never-before-seen footage and testimonies from wives and members of the FLDS, "Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey" is an unsettling, engrossing glimpse into a real-life horror story.
For those who like: "Our Father," "Unbelievable," "Under the Banner of Heaven"
"MAID" (10 episodes)
A single mother’s perseverance to provide for her daughter is unmatched.
Margaret Qualley ("Fosse/Verdon," "Novitiate") stars alongside her mother, Andie MacDowell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Groundhog Day"), in the powerful limited series inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir of a woman who leaves her emotionally abusive boyfriend (Nick Robinson) and finds work as a maid.
My recommendation is to take your time with the 10 episodes instead of a weekend binge due to the sensitive — but necessary — subject matter.
For those who like: "Unbelievable," "The Unforgivable," "Unorthodox"
"Never Have I Ever" (2 seasons, 20 episodes)
Who knew people from India loved tennis' "bad boy" John McEnroe? The seven-time Grand Slam champion hilariously narrates Devi Vishwakumar’s (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) journey through high school shortly after her father dies.
There is no "sophomore slump" for the coming-of-age comedy as Devi continues struggling with her dating conquests and overbearing mother (Poorna Jagannathan).
The third season of "Never Have I Ever" will be released in its entirety Aug. 12, with a fourth and final season set for 2023.
For those who like: "The Edge of Seventeen," "PEN15," "She's All That"
"Stranger Things" (4 seasons, 34 episodes)
On July 15, 2016, the Duffer brothers' sci-fi drama debuted on Netflix — and the rest is history.
Six years later, "Stranger Things" has become a global phenomenon, centering on a group of kids in a fictional Indiana town in the 1980s as they try to solve mysteries and put an end to supernatural events.
"Stranger Things" has been renewed for a fifth and final season.
For those who like: "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "The Goonies"
"Uncoupled" (8 episodes)
How is one (Neil Patrick Harris) supposed to jump back in the dating pool in Manhattan after being abruptly dumped by his long-term partner (Tuc Watkins) of 17 years?
Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D." "How I Met Your Mother") shines in the lead role, effortlessly balancing comedy and emotional trauma as he goes through a mid-life crisis. Don't be surprised if you spend four hours binging the rom-com in one sitting.
For those who like: Loot," "Queer as Folk," "Sex and the City"