Popular Culture

‘Tales of the Jedi’ Proves that ‘Star Wars’ Will Always Have a Place in Animation

Most recently, the world of Star Wars has perhaps become best known for its live-action adventures, with shows like AndorThe Mandalorian, and Obi-Wan Kenobi lighting up the Disney+ service. However, it is in animation that Star Wars may have found its best storytelling platform. Tales of the Jedi, the most recent animated limited series from Star Wars, is not only great, but it explores just how vital these shows are to the overall canon.

Spoilers for Tales of the Jedi follow

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Per the Wikipedia description, “Each episode of Tales of the Jedi tells a short story featuring Jedi from the Star Wars prequel trilogy era. The six episodes are split into two ‘paths’: the first following Ahsoka Tano across various points in her life, and the other depicting a young Count Dooku before his fall to the dark side of the Force.”

Created by Star Wars expert Dave Filoni, Tales of the Jedi was made in the same vein as Filoni’s other animated juggernaut, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Ahsoka Tano has become one of the most beloved characters in all of Star Wars and, after getting her start in animation, made the jump to live-action in season two of The Mandalorian. In the three episodes of this series where we follow her, we look at the beginning of her life until she joins the Rebel Alliance while in hiding post-Order 66.

For anyone unfamiliar with Tano, she was the Padawan learner to Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Eventually leaving the Jedi after being falsely accused of a crime, she was nevertheless hunted during Order 66 but managed to escape. Across the entire series of The Clone WarsStar Wars: RebelsThe Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett, we’ve seen Ahsoka at her highest and lowest.

Ashley Eckstein voiced Ahsoka in her animated appearances, with Rosario Dawson taking over as her in live-action. Eckstein makes a welcome appearance here, voicing Ahsoka in two of her shorts.

Elsewhere, Count Dooku is the central figure of the limited series’ other three episodes. Dooku’s shorts are the far more interesting ones; as his backstory we’ve never seen too much of before. We knew that he had once been a Jedi Master and taught Qui-Gon Jinn, but now we get an idea of what he was like during his time with the Order.

We encounter Dooku as his fall to the dark side begins, as his anger gets the better of him during a mission with a young Qui-Gon, and another where the Republic’s corruption has become all too apparent, but the Jedi refuse to see it.


While Ahsoka’s episodes, especially the latter two, are fantastic watches, it is the Dooku stories where Tales of the Jedi really shines. Looking at the fall of the Jedi and the Republic through the eyes of the man who tried, time and time again, to warn everyone, only for it to fall on deaf ears, is incredibly fascinating.

They add depth to a character whose failures and shortcomings had yet to be seen on screen. For those only familiar with the movies, he was a surface-level villain that offered very little besides being an opponent to the good guys. Even if you’d seen The Clone Wars, you could make a similar argument.

Here, Dooku is a tragic figure, one who was the canary in the coal mine in the twilight of the Republic. Here, he believed that he could have stopped the downfall of democracy and the Jedi, but no one was willing to listen. Instead, he listens to Darth Sidious, who corrupts him and, in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, becomes the very thing he swore to destroy.


The stories of Ahsoka and Dooku do not connect directly. Still, the narrative threads of betrayal, losing one’s faith, and adjusting to a rapidly changing world are felt throughout all six episodes. Ahsoka must learn to survive without a support system, and Dooku is forced to adapt to a world that has left him behind.

It’s here where Star Wars has done so well with animation. At first glance, shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels appear like “kids’ shows,” but thanks to writers like Dave Filoni, they succeed in telling much deeper and more complicated stories. Arcs like “The Siege of Mandalore,” which provides one of the best looks at the events of Order 66, is a story that is only told in The Clone Wars series.

Animation lends itself perfectly to the bright visuals of Star Wars and isn’t a replacement for live-action content. Rather it is the perfect way for people to expand on what makes the galaxy far, far away, so appealing, and so beloved.

All six episodes of “Tales of the Jedi” are now streaming on Disney+.

Movies/TV Popular Culture

16 Batman Villains We’d Love to See In a Potential ‘The Batman’ Sequel

When it comes to comic book villains, one could argue that no one has a better or more iconic rogues gallery than Batman. After all, The Joker is one of, if not the greatest comic book villain ever, so even just having him alone makes Batman’s group of evildoers stand above many other heroes.


Even though the Riddler has been locked up in Arkham Asylum and Carmine Falcone has been killed, it’s clear by the end of The Batman that Bruce Wayne’s work is far from done. Despite the heroics of Batman, Catwoman, and James Gordon, Gotham City is still rotten to the core. In a very noir-like narration—also present throughout the film—Batman says that, after the flooding caused by Riddler, the city is now a breeding ground for criminals and supervillains alike.

A few breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout The Batman allude to future villains that will show up, including a cameo at the end that sets up something major for another entry.

So who should Batman go up against in the next movie? Here are 11 villains that would be ideal picks for a Batman sequel.

1. Court of Owls
DC Comics

For those unfamiliar with the group, the Court of Owls is essentially Gotham City’s version of the Illuminati. Since its founding, they have existed in Gotham City and secretly control much of what goes on there.

They regularly kidnap children from the circus to train them as assassins, known as Talons, to serve their mission and enforce their rule.

Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time,

Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime.

They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed.

Speak not a whispered word about them, or they’ll send the Talon for your head,” reads a nursery rhyme that refers to the Court, echoing the ruthlessness of the group.

Robert Pattinson also might have already spoiled their appearance, saying in a video for Vanity Fair, “I was definitely thinking Court of Owls is probably gonna be in the sequel. It definitely seems like– I mean, I am literally just guessing, I just keep saying it.”

If this is confirmation of their future involvement, we say bring it on.

2. The Penguin
Warner Brothers

This one is a no-brainer as Colin Farrell already made his debut in The Batman and is set to reprise the role in a Penguin-centric spin-off series.

As the movie heads to its finale, Carmine Falcone is gunned down outside the Iceberg Lounge by the Riddler. In this film, Penguin served as Falcone’s second-in-command and is now primed to step in and lead the new crime family.

Batman and Penguin interact multiple times, with Penguin even helping him a bit along the way. Given these films’ new, more grounded aspect, Penguin could be a very formidable opponent for Batman in the future.

3. Hush
DC Comics

Another villain teased in The Batman was Hush, aka Doctor Thomas Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne and whose upbringing was very similar to Wayne’s. He grew up in wealth but suffered abuse from his father, who also grew to hate his mother for not sticking up for herself and him.

Driven by an insatiable desire for his inheritance, he kills his father and severely injures his mother by causing them to crash their car. He eventually murders his mother after she cuts him off from his inheritance but is able to make it looks like an accident in order to not arouse suspicion.

He grew up resenting Bruce Wayne, and in an effort to sabotage his life, Hush gives himself plastic surgery to turn himself into an exact look-alike of Bruce.

While something along those lines could be difficult to pull off in live-action, the possibility of Batman facing off against someone like Hush is exciting.

4. Calendar Man
DC Comics

When you first hear of the villain named Calendar Man, he might not sound all that scary. After all, a serial killer that only strikes on holidays would make him kind of predictable, no?

While Calendar Man might not work as the film’s central villain, the idea of him being the “Hannibal Lecter” type of character that Batman visits is interesting.

If someone like Calendar Man wouldn’t fit into a future Batman movie, he’d be perfect for the upcoming spin-off series in Arkham Asylum.

5. A Night in Arkham Asylum

Speaking of Arkham Asylum, a film inspired by the storyline of the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum would be a fantastic idea for this new universe.

For those unfamiliar, in Arkham Asylum, Batman gets trapped inside the institution by the Joker. The inmates then run amok, and Batman must contend with his most infamous supervillains while he tries to stop the Joker. The game isn’t as grounded as these new Batman films will be, but the Dark Knight being surrounded by all of his greatest villains as they run loose across the Asylum could make for a fantastic movie.

6. Two-Face
DC Comics

Batman’s one-time ally, who eventually became one of his greatest villains, Two-Face, would make for a perfect foil for Robert Pattinson in a future installment. Given that the Riddler murdered Gotham’s District Attorney in The Batman, someone needs to step into the role.

Harvey Dent was hideously scarred by a mobster who threw acid into his face, and it broke his psyche, causing him to adopt a good and evil persona, becoming Two-Face.

In a storyline that would mirror the villain’s journey in The Dark Knight, Batman would have to fight his former friend as he descends into madness. 

7. Deadshot, Deathstroke, Bane, and Other Assassins
WB Games

While the storyline of Arkham Origins wouldn’t need to be precisely followed, you can’t tell me that the idea of “multiple assassins hired to kill the Batman on Christmas Eve” doesn’t sound awesome.

In the game, the assassins are hired by Black Mask (later revealed to be the Joker) but in the film version, the Penguin could easily fill this role. It would also be a great introduction for classic Batman villains like Deathstroke, Deadshot, and Bane.

The substance Bane uses in the comics to “hulk up” is known as Venom, which was teased in The Batman. When he is overwhelmed in the final fight against the Riddler’s goons, Batman uses a green liquid that serves as an adrenaline shot of sorts to get back in the game. It wasn’t confirmed to be Venom, but it could easily be written into the sequel that this was the deadly substance.

8. Mr. Freeze
DC Comics

One of Batman’s most tragic enemies, Mr. Freeze, whose real name is Victor Fries, was a cryogenic scientist attempting to cure his terminally ill wife, Nora. He places her in suspended animation, freezing her in a block of ice until he can find a cure. After an accident causes his body temperature to drop to sub-zero levels, he creates a suit to keep himself alive and turns to a life of crime to raise funds for his research.

Matt Reeves has expressed interest in bringing the villain into his Batman universe in a grounded way. How he’d be able to tackle this sort of storyline remains to be seen. Still, Batman going up against a morally ambiguous supervillain is a story opportunity too good to pass up.

9. Hugo Strange
DC Comics

Dr. Hugo Strange became a recurring villain and frequent foe for the Caped Crusader and was also one of the first people to discover that Bruce Wayne was Batman. Able to match Batman on an intellectual level (a trait not many Batman villains share), Hugo Strange’s plots often involve him attempting to outsmart Bruce Wayne at every time.

It should come as no surprise that he often fails to do so. While The Riddler attempts to match Batman in terms of intelligence because of his own insecurities, Strange sees it as a competition and wants to prove that he is better than the Dark Knight no matter the cost.

10. Poison Ivy
DC Comics

Poison Ivy is an eco-terrorist who often comes into conflict with Batman and other supervillains. Given the state of the world and the issue of climate change, a supervillain trying to save the environment, albeit through destructive means, makes Poison Ivy a very socially relevant enemy for Batman to fight.

Formerly known as Dr. Pamela Isley, she was a botanist who, after being injected with various toxins and poisons, is transformed into the supervillain known as Poison Ivy.

She possesses power over almost all plant life, with an inane ability to use them to create life or destroy it. She also uses the power of pheromones to control people, primarily men, and use them to further her own goals.

A version of Poison Ivy could undoubtedly be introduced into this Batman continuity. While she wouldn’t have superpowers like in the comics, her role as an eco-terrorist would provide an attractive gray area for her to operate in, similar to Mr. Freeze.

11. The Joker
DC Comics

As one of the most infamous Batman villains of all time, there is no Batman without the Joker.

While credited as “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner” in The Batman, Matt Reeves confirmed that this person whom The Riddler talks to was, in fact, this universe’s Joker. Played by Barry Keoghan, he is in the cell next to The Riddler and says, “One day you’re on top, the next day you’re a clown.” Following it up with a riddle of his own, “Riddle me this…the less of these you have, the more one is worth.” Riddler answers this riddle fairly quickly, providing the correct response: “A friend.”

You can only sort of make out his scarred face, but once he breaks out into his maniacal laughter, you know who we are dealing with.

It’s not a guarantee that we’ll be seeing the Joker in the next Batman film, or even in any future movie, as Matt Reeves hasn’t ruled out locking him up in Arkham and throwing away the key.

I’d love if Batman movies took a break from iterations of the Joker for a time, as the hero has such a great collection of supervillains to choose from that deserve their time on the big screen. However, as mentioned above, there is no Batman without the Joker, and a conflict between them is inevitable.

12. Clayface
DC Comics

Sure, he might look a little like Gloppy from Candy Land, but Clayface is a major force to be reckoned with given that he literally can’t be killed. He’s a bit of a two-faced (no pun intended) sort of character, as he’s known to both be on Batman’s side and to wreak havoc on Gotham City.

His ability to constantly shapeshift serves his personality well, as he’s never quite firmly on one side or the other: in a constant struggle for good or evil, Clayface is always at odds with himself.

13. Scarecrow
DC Comics

Sure, we got to see our beloved Scarecrow in Batman Begins, but the character was grossly underused in the film, even though Cillian Murphy’s performance as the villain was beyond incredible. Given the Scarecrow’s destructive powers, he seems like the perfect fit for another dark tale opposite Robert Pattinson’s Batman—and he just happens to be one of the most iconic Batman villains of all time.

Using the human brain’s capacity for fear as he way into terrorizing Gotham City, the Scarecrow uses a powerful concoction of toxins that he’s created to send the citizens of Gotham into a paralyzing state of fear—including Batman himself.

14. Professor Pyg
DC Comics

Not everyone has heard of this piggly-wiggly creature, but director Matt Reeves legitimately mentioned the villain as one he was seriously considering for a sequel to The Batman. Professor Pyg is a trained surgeon who likes to casually throw on a pig mask and abduct the people of Gotham to turn them into his personal minions. And it’s no simple makeover: Professor Pyg uses drills and ice picks to transform his victims, showing just how utterly deranged he is.

His origins come directly from the old legend of Pygmalion, which comments on perfection and how one specific artist—named Pygmalion—crafted his own dream woman to be with for eternity.

15. Killer Croc
DC Comics

Need I say more about a villain named the Killer Croc? Well, maybe a little.

In the same general vein as Marvel’s the Lizard, the Killer Croc also resides in the lovely sewers below Gotham City, where he was basically relegated to by his family as they showed zero support for their half-human, half-reptile relative. However, as the years went by, he became more and more like a real crocodile, massively growing in size, shape, and anger.

16. Victor Zsasz
DC Comics

Though this serial killer is spoken about far less than the other, more classic Batman villains, there’s no mistaking it: Victor Zsasz is the ultimate villain. Covered in tallies from the people he’s killed, Zsasz is an experienced killer with zero tolerance for flashy techniques: all this man wants to do is murder, and given that logic, he’d be the perfect match for Robert Pattinson’s Batman.

Sports Strength

The 30 Best Gifts for Sports Fans

It’s never “just a game” to the sports aficionado in your life. Between throwing out stats or plays in the midst of everyday conversations and cutting off society whenever a game is on, their life doesn’t have meaning unless there’s some form of a ball on the field.

After years of being gifted tickets and team shirts, it’s never quite enough to satisfy their obsession. This dream gift list for a sports fan takes all the thinking out of your shopping with something they can cherish beyond a single moment in time.

1. Lakeside Memento Wall Storage Boxes

Instead of rediscovering old ticket stubs crumbled up in a drawer months later, keep the collection together in this wall storage box that turns memories into an intricate collage.

BUY NOW, $21
2. Kitboys Reconstructed David Beckham Soccer Jersey

This collection of rebranded and reconstructed jerseys showcases soccer teams from around the globe. Whether the final product is a mashup between two authentic kits or an original design, the periodic new drops every few weeks keep fútbol addicts on their toes. 

BUY NOW, $30-$160
3. Sharper Image Golf Club Drink Dispenser
Sharper Image

Golf automatically gets dubbed as boring unless you’re at Topgolf and boozed up to the max. To spice up a day on the green, add this “club” that fits in any bag. The faux driver doubles as an insulated drink dispenser that holds 48 ounces of any beverage, hot or cold. 

BUY NOW, $60
4. Personalized Video Message From Your Favorite Athlete

A meet and greet with sport’s most iconic figures might not be in the cards, but a personalized video shout out is just a click away. You can request a plethora of stars like NFL legend Doug Flutie or soccer megastar Darren Bent send video messages to a loved one that legit make it feel like the recipient is their friend. 

BUY NOW, $5-$500
5. Custom Air Pods Case

Whether you want your own personal jersey number or a tribute your favorite player on this AirPods case, the crisp detail on this little memento is small but mighty. Put a name on the top of the case to ward off anyone who wants it for themselves.

BUY NOW, $20
6. Foster & Rye Polyresin Baseball Bottle Holder
Foster & Rye

For the baseball-loving, wine-o in your life, this specially crafted baseball player holds their favorite bottle.

BUY NOW, $51
7. Vintage Sports Art
Row One

Nowadays, something being vintage automatically gives it some added flair, and this vintage sports art is no different. Tickets from the biggest moments in sports are blown up into colorful art pieces that add life to any dull space.

BUY NOW, $75-$200
8. Michael Jordan Fat Head

Hear us out. We know it might be a little off-putting to most to have a giant replica of Michael Jordan in your room, but a sports fan needs it for their altar. The reusable, high-graded vinyl sticker is so HD you can even see Jordan’s sweat.

BUY NOW, $25-$100
9. Hockey Puck Chillers
Bergo Design

Ice cubes are so last year. Instead of diluting your cocktails with ice, these hockey puck chillers keep your drink extra cold without sacrificing any of the flavors. 

BUY NOW, $15
10. Football Helmet Bottle Cap Holder

It’s as if it’s scientifically impossible to focus on football without a beer in hand. This map holds 63 bottle caps of America’s favorite game-day drink in a variety of colors to match your home team.

BUY NOW, $28
11. NFL Tailgate Kit Collection
Bed Bath & Beyond

As tailgating season dawns upon us, it’s critical to let the sports world know what side you land on. The set includes one table, two chairs and four cupholders, all of which are easily transportable. 

BUY NOW, $80-$100
12. Stance Socks
Stance Socks

Repping your team from head to toe is only possible by donning the loudest, most attention calling socks. In no other instance is it acceptable to have someone’s face on your feet.

BUY NOW, $20
13. Wall Mounted Recycled Ski Bottle Opener
Uncommon Goods

In an ode to winter sports, these ski bottle openers are cracking open brews to stick in your bottle cap map. You can feel good about your purchase, knowing it’s both handmade and recycled.

BUY NOW, $45
14. NFL Denim Jacket
Sports Fan Island

This one goes out to all the leading ladies that are presumptuously left out of the “sports lover” conversation. Delicate patchwork and a bit of glitter dawn this denim jacket that’s an embodiment of football meet fashion.

BUY NOW, $65
15. Lasercut Stadium Map
The Grommet

We all know someone who casually slips in where they’re from every opportunity they get. If you put on for your city every day, you deserve this highly detailed 3D stadium art. The laser-etched birchwood includes not only the most celebrated sports arenas but the outlying city that surrounds them. 

BUY NOW, $125-$185
16. NBA TV
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Porch pirates aren’t a factor in this gift with the fastest shipping known to man. Access to exclusive interviews, never before seen angles and blacked-out games come together in what’s basically a headfirst dive into the NBA world. Prepare to be ignored while they’re immersed in their basketball bubble. 

BUY NOW, $60 Annually
17. ‘New York Times’ Baseball Book
New York Times

Discover the glory days of every MLB team in a book that compiles all the greatest New York Times headlines. Every glory-filled moment is bound together in a book that hypes up a team even if they haven’t won a series. 

BUY NOW, $72
18. 25-Layer Stadium Lighted End Table
Stadium Views

Although this little table costs some serious dough, the chances of it being donated to Goodwill after a few uses are slim. Original word artwork gleams through the tempered glass surface surrounded by LED lights that replicate a stadium’s actual lighting. They’ll be obsessed for years.

BUY NOW, $600
19. Playful Sports Mugs
Uncommon Goods

Playing with our food might be what we’re all missing from our morning routine for an extra jolt of energy. We recommend the basketball mug where you can yell “Kobe” before swishing a piece of cereal through the hoop.

BUY NOW, $25
20. Ballpark Blueprints
Ballpark Blueprints

If they’re going to spend every free moment inside a stadium, they might as well get familiar with the architecture. These high-end blueprints give a look inside every detail of their heaven on earth. The designs are all original, crafted on museum-paper for a gift that’ll last throughout the years.

BUY NOW, $60-$210
21. Customized Wilson NCAA Black and Gold Basketball Size 29.5

This customized Wilson NCAA basketball is sure to make any sports fan happy. In addition to being great for both indoor and outdoor use, the ball can also be designed to have a customized name on it, making it a great gift.

BUY NOW, $60
22. Sports Icons Pillowcase – Football
Personal Creations

This custom pillow is the perfect touch for any football coach or player. The pillow can be designed to have the names of the coach/player on there, as well as the names of their teams making it a great gift for any football household.

BUY NOW, $18
23. Playful Sports Baseball Mug
Uncommon Goods

To follow the basketball mug, this baseball mug will also get the kids excited as the mug is shaped in the form of a baseball, and has a glove built in to “catch” whatever food/drink is in the mug. It could get messy, but it still makes a cool gift for those young baseball fans out there.

BUY NOW, $25
24. Gtracing Gaming Chair

If you know somebody who will be playing a lot of games (or watching a lot of games) this holiday season, then the Oversized Gaming Chair is perfect. The chair is super comfy, and will definitely make playing NBA 2K and Madden more enjoyable.

BUY NOW, $170
25. NBA2K23

Speaking of 2K, many people are waiting for the next gen to come out before purchasing this latest edition. The hardcopy version (or the money to buy it) would make a great gift to 2K fanatics anxiously awaiting for the next updates.

BUY NOW, $60
26. Home Plate Doormat
Uncommon Goods

What better way to reach “Home” than to have a home plate doormat waiting for you after a long day? The mat is a great gift for super baseball fans everywhere.

BUY NOW, $30
27. Golf Ball Whiskey Chillers
Uncommon Goods

This gift is self explanatory. The golf whiskey chillers help make your drink better, while giving you that “golf” aesthetic.

BUY NOW, $30
28. Spalding Mini Basketball Hoop

With a good percentage of kids being homeschooled this year, a mini basketball hoop would be the perfect addition to the house, and a great option for “recess.”

BUY NOW, $30
29. Record-Breaking Baseball Glasses
Uncommon Goods

While the baseball season is now over, it’s never too late to add some baseball glasses to your cupboards. With these glasses, you can still enjoy a nice cold beverage giving you that gameday feel. 

BUY NOW, $35
30. Nike Air Max 97

You can never go wrong with a classic. The Air Max sneakers are a staple to any shoe collection, and are a stylish and fresh new piece to add to your wardrobe.

BUY NOW, $170
31. Huupe

Imagine a Peloton, but for basketball. Just as Peloton brought dynamic spinning classes to your living room, Huupe gives you access to high-level basketball training without even leaving your driveway. The backboard doubles as an LED screen, which can lay on-demand lessons as well as livestream one-on-one sessions with basketball trainers around the world. To wit, Huupe tracks every shot you take, giving you real-time feedback on how to improve as you play. And yes, don’t worry: it’s all weather-proof.

Buy Now, $3,995
32. Nettie Pickleball Paddle Set

At this point, you’re probably a pickleballer—or, at the very least, pickleball-curious. Whereas most pickleball rackets are engineered primarily for peak performance, Nettie meets the average player on their own terms, making equipment that’s stylish and fun yet still high enough quality to dink deftly.

Buy Now, $149.99
33. Roger Angell Baseball Collection

Roger Angell was the best baseball writer of all time. These three collections of essays are his best work, making it the perfect gift for any baseball fan or bibliophile
Tokens & Icons

Crafted from pieces of seats at some of college football’s most historic stadia, these bottle-openers bring piece of homecoming to your home.

Buy Now, $125
35. Adidas Ultraboost

Since you can’t really wear your Yeezys anymore.

Buy Now, $190

What You Need to Know About Gas, the New App That’s Banking on Positivity

Social media applications have been shown to be highly harmful to teens, who are spending more time increasingly online. The leaked Facebook Files revealed that 38% of teen girls spending five hours online are clinically depressed. The New York Times reported the average daily screen time of teens (ages 13 to 18) to be 8 hours 39 minutes.

RELATED: How to Set Up Your POAP App

Overthrowing YouTube, teens spend more time watching TikTok than anything else. Do we need more social media platforms in the age of anxiety, depression, body image issues, and addiction? I ask you, can there be a better social media platform? Gas says yes.

Self-proclaimed an app “to compliment your friends,” the anonymous question-and-answer app Gas was first launched in August 2022. While it’s currently only available in 12 states (not including California), it’s still topping the App Store charts (the App is not available for Android yet.) 

Gas (previously named Crush) was mainly created for teens—users can only interact with people they accepted as friends through polls. Polls are like year-book superlatives, all positive, with people voting anonymously. You collect coins as you answer polls and can use coins to see who answered specific questions. Unless you buy the pro version, “God Mode,” you can only know the gender and grade of voters.

Gas App

The app hopes to foster positivity in a smaller social network. After BeReal’s success over the last couple of months, ‘genuine’ apps are getting more popular. In Gas, users can only answer and ask questions about their classmates, meaning the people they know. 

Since the early days of the internet, the negativity was kindled by one main thing: Not knowing who the person across you is. When cursing on threads, you see the account across you as non-human, less than, without feelings. The person across is irrelevant to your argument and needs to be correct. In theory, that aspect of Gas could help with the toxicity of social media. 

The founders are not new to tech. Nikita Bier founded tbh (a very similar app to Gas) about five years ago and sold it to Facebook. The other founders include Isaiah Turner (software engineer since early age, co-founder of Monkey) and Dave Schatz (prev. FB, part of Proof collective).

With no free-form messaging feature, Gas got 500,000 downloads since its launch date in August. The app says they will never sell or share personal information (and that they don’t even store it)

With all the questions on the app being positive, will it really produce good results and increase positivity among students? Will teens use the app for its intended use, to ‘gas each other up,’ or find a way to do what they want to do with the features they got? Difficult to say. 

The concept reminds me of we used in elementary/high school. It was mainly used to spread gossip or reveal crushes (and sometimes self-crushes to make it seem like you’re cool, lol.) You could write whatever in, whereas Gas prompts and allows only for votes. 

Instagram and TikTok have already unveiled their BeReal copies—“Dual camera” and “Time is Now,” respectively. It won’t be late until the market leaders also grab what they can from Gas.

Who do you think will implement this idea first? 

Popular Culture

‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 10 Recap and Review: “The Black Queen”

As usual in House of the Dragon, something is always wrong. The wrong person sits on the Iron Throne; the wrong people are angling for war, and the wrong people are dying. If you’re at all familiar with the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, you know that this is business as usual.

Related: A Guide to the Game of Thrones Houses

The entire series has led up to this point, and it was only a matter of who would actually be the first casualty of the Civil War known as the “Dance of Dragons.” Blood has been spilled, and there is no going back now.

Peace was simply Viserys’ dream.

Spoilers for House of the Dragon follow

Long Live the Queen

“The Black Queen” opens with young Lucerys, aka Luke, standing at the table map of Westeros, looking somewhat anxious. His mother finds him there, where he begins to express his fears of being the Lord of Driftmark. He’s no sailor like his grandfather Corlys was (or is?) and doesn’t believe he’s worthy of the role.

Rhaenyra reminds him that she found herself in the very same position when she was his age. Duty is of the utmost importance in this world, and she tells him she’ll always be there to help him along the way.

At a meeting with Rhaenyra and Daemon, Rhaenys arrives to inform her of the bad news: Viserys has died, and Aegon has been crowned King. The information doesn’t sit well with either of them; Daemon believes Viserys was assassinated and Rhaenyra feels betrayed that Alicent would crown her son King.

“The Greens are coming for you, Rhaenyra, you and your children,” Rhaenys ominously predicts. Rhaenyra panics, which causes her to go into premature labor.

As Daemon makes his war plans with the leaders of their side’s military, we hear Rhaenyra in the other room struggling through her labor. She calls for Jace and Luke and tells them of everything that has happened: The King is dead, and people are coming to try and kill them all. You know, normal stuff. Before they leave, she lets Jace know that now that she is the Queen, nothing will happen without her orders.

We find out that Corlys has survived his wounds and is in recovery. Daemon continues to ignore his wife’s pleas from the other room, and Jace informs everyone that nothing will happen without his mother’s permission. Daemon brings Jace to the Dragonmont, where he puts their Kingsguard to the test of loyalty, demanding they swear fealty (under threat of Dragonfire, naturally.)

Tragically, Rhaenyra miscarries, and the baby is brought out to be cremated in the Targaryen tradition. As they observe the fire, Ser Erryk Cargyll of the Kingsguard arrives and, after a brief but tense exchange, brings Rhaenyra a gift: Her father’s crown. He bends the knee and swears an oath of protection to the new Queen. Daemon places the crown on Rhaenyra’s head, and all of the funeral attendees bend the knee. Except for Rhaenys, who gives her a look of respect.

Rhaenys has yet to pick her side, so it’s naturally better not to lock yourself into a contract prematurely. That’s just good business.
At the painted table of Westeros, the Black War Council breaks down where everything stands. They do not have a ton of soldiers available, but they have declarations of loyalty from some of the smaller houses to bolster their forces. The most significant decision comes over three of the major houses: Baratheon in Storm’s End, Arryn in the Vale, and Stark in Winterfell.

We all know that a Stark is always loyal to their oaths, so Rhaenyra is confident they’ll be at their side. Rhaenyra shares blood with the Arryns; the Baratheons are the wild cards, however. The conversation shifts to where much of the power lies in this world: Dragons. Daemon believes they have a numbers advantage, 13 to 4, but Rhaenyra is less confident. Daemon being the maverick he is, thinks they’ll soon be able to surround King’s Landing and execute all of the Greens.

Let’s take a deep breath here for a minute, Daemon.

A Showdown at Dragonstone Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Otto Hightower has arrived on Dragonstone with peace terms, and he looks to treat with Rhaenyra, who arrives on her dragon much as she did back in episode two. Flying around Otto and his ensemble, she lands behind them and gives them all a good scare.

Otto continues to call Rhaenyra “Princess” and gives his terms, which are less than favorable to her. She calls Otto and his men traitors, but he reminds her that every symbol of legitimacy belongs to Aegon. The other major houses like Stark, Tully, and Baratheon are also considering terms from them.

The odds seem to be stacked against them for the moment. Rhaenyra rips the symbol of the Hand of the King off his chest and calls him a traitor again, just for good measure. Rhaenyra is given a page from a book she ripped from Alicent’s book in episode one, which she has held onto. It seems as if Alicent held out hope that their friendship may still be mended. Rhaenyra says Otto and the Greens will have her answer tomorrow.

At the next meeting of the Blacks’ war council, Rhaenya reaffirms a desire for peace and to not turn the entire Realm to the torch via Dragonfire. Daemon seems hellbent on going to war and not even entertaining any notions of negotiations with the Hightowers, but Rhaenyra wants to exercise all options.

Rhaenyra brings up the fact that getting her on the throne is not just about her ruling; the Song of Ice and Fire (Aegon’s prophecy) is what’s most important. Daemon looks at her, confused, unsure of what she means, but before she gets a chance to elaborate, Daemon grabs her by the throat.

He believes Viserys was a “slave” to the omens put forth by his ancestors, “anything to give his feckless reign some purpose,” he says. “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.” Daemon lets her go, which is when she realizes that Viserys never told her of the prophecy. She laughs at him, and he leaves her.

At Driftmark, Corlys awakens with Rhaenys sitting at his bedside. He tries to joke with her, but she immediately shuts him down, scolding him for leaving her behind following the deaths of their children. She tells him that Vaemond is dead, causing him to finally realize that this quest for personal ambition is fruitless. “Heedless ambition has always been a Velaryon weakness,” he says. He admits Rhaenys was right and that they should declare for no one and retire to sit out the coming war.

Rhaenys, who always seems to be the most competent person in the room, tells him there will be neutral parties. Rhaenys admires that Rhaenyra is the only person still choosing peace and that she is someone worth following.

They head back to Dragonstone, with Corlys and Rhaenys meeting with Rhaenyra and the rest of the Blacks. Corlys asks about Daemon and likely wants to ask him a few questions about the fact that Daemon killed his brother. As he is nowhere to be found, they continue with more pressing matters and address the elephant in the room.

Corlys, Rhaenys, and the Velaryons declare for Rhaenyra, offering her their fleet and the forces at their command. He tells her that the Triarchy has been routed in the Stepstones, and a garrison has been placed there. Essentially, they control the Stepstones now, and he who controls the Stepstones controls the Narrow Sea.

An effective blockade of King’s Landing can now be created, with the Velaryon fleet patrolling the sea and Dragons guarding the skies. However, Rhaenyra reiterates that the first stroke of war will not come by her hand, and she still looks to garner the support of the Starks, Arryns, and Baratheons.

Rather than send slower ravens, Jace volunteers himself and Luke to ride to these houses via their dragons. Rhaenyra agrees, and Jace will go to the Starks and Arryns while Luke heads to deal with the Baratheons.

As she sees them off, she makes sure they remember that they head out as messengers, not as warriors. They must not start any fighting, simply treat with the leaders of the Houses.

Luke is clearly nervous, and Rhaenyra comforts him by saying that Borros Baratheon will be honored to host a prince of the Realm.

Surely nothing could go wrong!

An Act of War

We see Daemon walking through the caverns below Dragonstone, and he comes across another massive dragon who isn’t very excited to see him. While it’s not confirmed whose dragon this is, this is likely setting up that this beast will soon be entering the fray.

Luke arrives at Storm’s End, where he sees another dragon, the massive hulking beast Vhagar, parked in the courtyard. Aemond, on behalf of the Greens, has beaten him here, looking to secure Baratheon support as well.

In the Great Hall, Luke delivers his message to Borros Baratheon, who expresses some feigned confusion over whether Aegon is King or Rhaenyra is Queen. He summons a Maester to read Luke’s message and is insulted by its tone, which reads as if Rhaenyra is ordering him and not offering to deal with him. Aemond has been pledged to marry one of the Baratheon daughters, something Luke and the Blacks cannot match as Luke is already betrothed.

Borros dismisses Luke and tells him to return to Dragonstone, as the Baratheons will side with Aegon and the Greens.

Before Luke leaves, Aemond insults him by calling him Lord Strong, hoping to goad him into a fight. Luke reaffirms that he’s come as a messenger, not a warrior, and refuses. Aemond says that’s fine, as it wouldn’t be much of a fight anyway.

Demanding an eye for an eye (literally!) Aemond removes his eyepatch, showcasing that he now sports a sapphire in his empty eye socket. He tosses Luke a knife and gives him a chance to cut out his eye, a “request” he turns down.

Aemond calls him a traitor, and despite Borros saying that blood will not be shed under his roof, Aemond moves toward Luke. Borros shuts down the confrontation but Aemond, ever the psychopathic bully, knows this isn’t over.

Luke climbs his dragon in the middle of a massive storm and flies away but also sees that Vhagar has left the castle already. Through the rain and wind, he tries to spot where Vhagar is, but before he sees the massive beast, it sneaks up on him with Aemond on his back.

The dragon that Luke is riding, Arrax, is much smaller than Vhagar but is also quicker. He manages to elude Vhagar by flying into a canyon that forces Aemond to pull up, and Luke almost manages to lose him. As Aemond hunts him again, Luke loses control of his dragon, which hurls fire at Vhagar and Aemond, which does nothing but annoy the two of them. Despite Luke’s pleas, Arrax continues to betray Luke and rides high above the clouds. Similarly, Aemond loses control of Vhagar, who now wants blood.

Tragically, Vhagar appears out of the clouds and chomps down on Arrax, killing both the dragon and Luke. Aemond looks down at the falling corpses with an “oh shit, what did I do” look on his face.

He knows he fucked this one up.

Sometime later, Daemon informs Rhaenyra of Luke’s death. After nearly falling over, she turns to face the camera, a tear falling down her face. Peace is no longer an option, and war has begun. To quote a Roman general, she will have her vengeance in this life or the next.

“Then the storm broke, and the dragons danced.”

Final Thoughts

Amidst a massive pile of ash and pools of blood, the first season of House of the Dragon has come to a dramatic finish. Overall, I would say that the show’s first season was mostly strong, with plenty of great character moments, palace intrigue, and action set pieces that should keep any viewer invested.

Much like Game of ThronesHouse of the Dragon‘s performances from its leads were stellar; Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Millie Alcock, Olivia Cooke, Emily Carey, and Paddy Considine all stole every scene they were in. Considine’s acting in the eighth episode, “The Lord of the Tides,” was nothing short of extraordinary, and he most certainly has earned himself an Emmy nomination.

D’Arcy and Cooke taking over for fan favorites Alcock and Carey in the middle of the season had fans a little nervous, but they slipped effortlessly into those roles. Casting has always been a strength for House of the Dragons and Game of Thrones, but these four actors were perfect for the Rhaenyra and Alicent characters.

Season one was as much about politics and backstabbing as it was the action, of which there was not much. The writing was not as tight as in the earlier seasons of its parent show, Game of Thrones. Although, to be fair, those are regarded as some of the most well-written television episodes in history, so the bar is high.

House of the Dragon‘s first ten episodes made for a great watch and should quell viewers’ concerns about returning to the franchise after Game of Thrones‘ lackluster ending. If you haven’t watched it already, be sure to catch up before the second season drops. Unfortunately, that’s likely not to be until 2024 (pain.)

Until then, let our watch begin.

(Also, one last thing, I pledge my loyalty to Queen Rhaenyra and Team Black for life.)

Popular Culture

The ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy’s Biggest Bads: The 15 Most Powerful Sith Lords to Ever Exist

In the Star Wars galaxy and lore, wherever there exists Jedi, there must be those that oppose them. In most cases, those people are the Sith. The most powerful Jedi go up against the most powerful Sith in a seemingly never-ending battle for the fate of the Galaxy.

As a future Emperor would say, the Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. These 15 characters tapped into those abilities better than anyone else, leading them to become the most powerful Sith to ever exist.

15. Darth Sion
  • Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

A “living” embodiment of the “man literally too angry to die” meme, Darth Sion, also known as the Lord of Pain, fought for the Sith Lord Exar Kun until Kun’s death. Despite defeating numerous Jedi, he was eventually struck down in battle but found that if he called upon the power of the Dark Side and surrendered himself to a life of pain and agony, he would never die. By doing this, he would become one of the most powerful Sith of his era.

Sion survived the fall of Kun’s Sith Empire, eventually forming the Sith Triumvirate with Darth Traya and Darth Nihilus. After he and Nihilus stripped Traya of her Force powers, they searched for the Jedi Exile, Meetra Surik, to bring about the downfall of the Jedi and the Republic.

On the world of Malachor V, Sion would eventually meet his end during combat with Surik. After a conversation with Surik, he lost their duel and surrendered himself to death.

14. Darth Malak
  • Appears In: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

The primary villain of the first game in the Knights of the Old Republic series, Darth Malak, began as the apprentice of Darth Revan. As is tradition with the Sith, he eventually betrayed Revan and took the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith for himself.

He began his life as Alek, a Jedi who followed his friend and future Master Revan into battle during the Mandalorian Wars, a decision forbidden by the Jedi council. This decision ultimately corrupted both of them, with Revan being redeemed but Malak embracing the Dark Side fully. Malak would continue his quest to try and conquer the galaxy but was stopped by his former master Revan.

13. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku)
  • Appears In: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Despite all the chaos and destruction that he was ultimately responsible for, Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus, is a bit of a tragic figure. Corrupted by Palpatine to serve his own needs,

Dooku helped Darth Sidious orchestrate the Clone Wars, plunging the galaxy into chaos. Masquerading as the head of the Separatists, Dooku only worked to serve his master’s needs. However, Palpatine had no plans for Dooku post-Clone Wars, merely using him as a tool to corrupt Anakin Skywalker.

Despite all that, Dooku was an extremely powerful Sith, both in the Force and with a lightsaber. He defeated both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in combat and went toe to toe with Yoda, holding his own with the Jedi Master.

12. Exar Kun
  • Appears In: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (mentioned only)

Although he and many of the Sith’s stories on this list are no longer canon (they’ve since started to slowly be reintroduced due to fan interest,) Exar Kun’s tale is an interesting one.

Fighting thousands of years before A New Hope takes place, Kun was a fallen Jedi Knight who went on a long journey to the Sith homeworld of Korriban to become the most powerful Dark Side user in history. After conspiring with the spirit of another Sith Lord, Freedon Nadd, he established a base on Yavin 4 and enslaved the Massassi people, forcing them to build temples for him and the Dark Side. In fact, one of these temples would become the Rebel base we see in A New Hope.

In case you needed evidence as to how he was so powerful, I feel the need to reemphasize that he used the Force to enslave an entire species.

Oh, and did I mention he also created the double-bladed lightsaber? Not too shabby.

11. Darth Maul
  • Appears In: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels

I might take a little heat for ranking Darth Maul this low but let’s face facts—Maul’s entire life was one line of taking L after L.

First, it was Obi-Wan chopping him in half; then, it was being forced to live on a junkyard planet where he became half cyborg, getting betrayed by Palpatine again, and on and on.

However, much like Darth Sion, Maul is another great example of the “man too angry to die” meme. He used his anger and hatred of Obi-Wan to fuel his power, leading him to almost as many victories as losses. He was found by his brother Savage Oppress and brought back to full strength by the Witch Sisters of Dathomir. Eventually, he became powerful enough that he took control of the planet Mandalore before his overthrow at the hands of Ahsoka Tano.

His power over the force, lightsaber skills, and talent for manipulation were almost unparalleled during that era. He learned well from his Master, Darth Sidious.

After being cut in two by Obi-Wan, he dedicated his life to hunting down his former adversary and killing him. They would fight a few times again, but Obi-Wan defeated him in one final duel on Tatooine. By the end of his life, he could certainly be named amongst the most powerful Sith ever.

10. Darth Traya
  • Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

Another member of the Sith Triumvirate, Darth Traya, was Darth Sion’s Master, teaching him in the Dark Side along with Darth Nihilius. She began her life as a Jedi historian, but after becoming too radical and unorthodox for the Order, she was exiled. Following her ousting, she turned to the Sith teachings as a way of life.

After her betrayal at the hands of Sion and Nihilus, she turned away from the Sith entirely. She adopted the moniker of Kreia to exist outside the influence of both Jedi and Sith.

Due to this constant cycle of betrayals, she grew to hate The Force itself, attempting to literally destroy it by using the Jedi Exile, Meetra Surik. Kreia/Traya would fail, obviously, but put her full powers on display on her mission to do so.

She drained three Jedi Masters of their Force powers and severed their connection to it, killing them all. She also possessed an ability to see far into the future, predicting the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire, which would occur 3000 years after she was alive.

9. Darth Vitiate
  • Appears In: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Most Sith Lords and evildoers tend to start good or with good intentions and then turn evil; Not Vitiate.

Vitiate, who would eventually become the Emperor of the Old Sith Empire, massacred people by the thousands when he was ten years old. He was, as they say, not a great guy.

As his power grew, other Sith Lords began to see him as a threat, but he managed to lure them to a meeting on the planet Nathema to decide who would rule the Sith next. Instead of conferring, he drained their life essence and that of the entire world to increase his power.

Like many people on this list, Vitiate was as evil as it gets and desired nothing more than to dominate all life.

8. Darth Revan
LucasArts/Aspyr Studios/Sabre Interactive
  • Appears In: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Old Republic

The player-character of Knights of the Old Republic, Revan began as a Jedi Knight who went rogue to fight in the Mandalorian Wars alongside Malak. After the Wars, Revan fell to the Dark Side, embracing his new role as Dark Lord of the Sith. Malak betrayed him, and his memory was lost during the attack leading the Jedi to reprogram his mind as someone loyal to the Republic.

During the player’s journey as Revan, they learn to control their Force powers again, becoming an extremely powerful warrior that can destroy entire squads of troops at once and defeat even the most skilled of enemies. After vanquishing Malak and his forces during the events of Knights of the Old Republic, he journeyed into the Unknown Regions of the Galaxy. He would encounter the Sith Emperor and make it his mission to defeat him and the Sith Empire.

While Revan would return to the light side, there’s no questioning that he was one of the most powerful Sith ever to exist.

7. Marka Ragnos

Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (mentioned)

One of the most powerful Sith and among the most important, Marka Ragnos was a Sith (the species)-Human hybrid who wrestled control of the Sith from Darth Simus. He was able to manipulate his enemies into fighting each other rather than him, ensuring that their focus was always on the other.

He was so powerful that he could manifest himself as a Force ghost to attend his own funeral, where he would pit Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh against one another for the right to call themselves Dark Lord of the Sith.

As a force ghost on the planet Korriban, he would interact with future Sith Lords Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma, where he could ensure the Sith Empire was in good hands.

6. Darth Tenebrous
  • Appears In: Star Wars: Legends

Master to Darth Plagueis, Tenebrous was a Bith Sith warrior who sought the means to cheat death and worked with his apprentice to try and accomplish this goal. He was an extremely powerful warrior skilled in lightsaber combat and could generate red Force lightning, a rarity amongst the Sith.

His precognitive abilities were also unparalleled in power, as he developed the ability to determine the exact moment of his death.

5. Darth Plagueis

Appears In: Star Wars: Darth Plagueis (book), Revenge of the Sith (mentioned only)

“Have you ever heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?” Although the tragedy has become more of a meme than a Sith Legend at this point, Plagueis was nonetheless one of the most powerful Sith ever.

Plagueis was the master of Darth Sidious and taught the future Emperor everything he knew about the Dark Side. Like his apprentice would as well, Plagueis was obsessed with finding a means to immortality. He sought to combine science with the dark mysteries of the Sith to accomplish this, but before he got a chance to learn what he needed to, Sidious killed him and took the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

Plageuis was powerful enough to literally create life from the Force and prevent death. Sidious would also use these techniques to influence and corrupt Anakin Skywalker, his apprentice, and the Sith Lord Darth Vader.

4. Darth Bane

Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Darth Bane was not the most powerful Sith ever, but his influence over the future of the Sith order was undeniable.

One thousand years before the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Jedi-Sith fought their final war, which ended with a Jedi-Republic victory. Darth Bane was the lone Sith survivor of the final battle of that war, and he realized that there needed to change for the order to survive.

Bane established the “Rule of Two,” which stated that rather than massive armies of soldiers, the Sith would have no more than two members at any given time—a Master and an apprentice. The Master would teach the apprentice everything until they grew strong enough to defeat their Master.

This rule would continue for thousands of years, but some Sith definitely played fast and loose with it. For example, Count Dooku was Sidious’ apprentice, but Dooku also had Asajj Ventress as a learner. Ventress was a Sith in all but name, a powerful Dark Side user that went toe to toe with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker regularly during the Clone Wars.

3. Darth Vader

Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

This might be a bit of a controversial pick at just number three, but Darth Vader, perhaps the best-known Dark Side user, is not the most powerful Sith ever.

Born Anakin Skywalker, Vader became an extremely powerful Jedi Knight, one who was prophesized to be the “Chosen One” who would bring balance to the Force. Instead of destroying the Sith, he would join them, becoming Darth Sidious’ apprentice to save his wife, Padme Amidala, from death.

He became corrupted by the Dark Side, dueling his former Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated and nearly killed him. Vader was left without any limbs and with extensive burns across his body, leading Palpatine to fit him with cybernetics that would keep him alive, although in constant pain. Vader used his pain and anger to fuel his Dark Side powers, becoming one of the most powerful Sith ever and perhaps the most feared. He was the enforcer of the Empire, using his red lightsaber and black armor to strike fear into his enemies, becoming an instrument of terror to fight the Rebels.

Vader could take on entire companies of Rebels by himself, dispatching them with ease. For as powerful as he was, he was also a useful propaganda tool. The mere mention of his name being an effective weapon in and of itself.

2. Darth Nihilus

Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

The last member of the Sith Triumvirate, Darth Nihilus, was one of the survivors of the Battle of Malachor V, which saw the use of a Mass Shadow generator weapon (think something similar to a space nuke.) The weapon made him crave Force energy to such a point that it ravaged his body and turned him into a shadow and a wound in the Force.

Known as the Lord of Hunger, Nihilus worked with Darth Sion to overthrow Darth Traya. They then worked together to try and exterminate the Jedi, nearly destroying the Order entirely. He was defeated by the Jedi Exile, his former apprentice Visas Marr, and Mandalore the Preserver, who managed to sever his connection to the Force long enough for him to be slain.

What made Nihilus so powerful was that he lacked any sort of humanity that he once had, becoming a creature fueled by the Force and nothing else. After he and Sion began their purge, a large gathering of Jedi met on the planet Katarr where Nihilus drained the planet of its Force energy.

The. Entire. Planet.

It devastated the planet, killed nearly everyone on it, and cemented Nihilus’ place amongst Sith legend.

1. Darth Sidious

Appears In: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The one that towers above all the others and the villain of the entire Skywalker Saga, Darth Sidious was unparalleled in his strength in the Force, talents with a lightsaber, and skills with manipulation.

He was able to orchestrate the Clone Wars, secretly controlled both sides, and successfully created the first Galactic (essentially Sith) Empire in generations. Not only was he able to accomplish this, but he also managed to keep his plan hidden from the Jedi the entire time. It wasn’t until Anakin Skywalker discovered his true identity that things nearly came unraveled, but by then, it was too late.

The rule of the Galactic Empire started and ended with Palpatine brutally controlling everything and did not possess an ounce of humanity or compassion for those living under his direction. Palpatine’s only goal was to achieve more power and, through that, immortality.

Through the years, his abilities became so strong that he could not only generate Force Lightning but use it to destroy entire fleets, as seen in Rise of Skywalker. His power also grew to such a point that, as he alluded to in Revenge of the Sith, he was able to cheat death.

When Darth Vader threw his body into the Death Star reactor, he could transfer his consciousness into a clone body on Exegol, a planet across the galaxy. From there, he used his scheming skills again, orchestrating the rise of the First Order, the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke as a puppet, and the Final Order, nearly conquering the galaxy again.

His power was seemingly incalculable, and if he were to face off against any other Sith Lord, he would likely defeat them with ease.


New York Jets’ Cornerback Sauce Gardner Is a Gamer, Both On and Off the Field

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a lot of things: Rising NFL star, cheesehead enthusiast, and chicken wing sauce entrepreneur among them. Outside of those particular hobbies, he’s got one more to add to his résumé: avid gamer.

RELATED: Meet G.T., One of Detroit’s Premier Rappers

You might not know who Sauce Gardner is if you’re not a football fan. A star cornerback at the University of Cincinnati, Sauce was drafted by the New York Jets in April of this year. Since the beginning of the 2022 NFL season, Sauce has already proven himself to be a stud player and potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

He’s been a lockdown cornerback that has held some of the league’s best wide receivers—including Ja’Maar Chase, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle—in check. While not quite amongst the elite of the NFL just yet, Sauce has only played six games in his professional career, and the sky is the limit for him.

Sauce’s skillset of pure speed and ability to latch onto opposing players is where he is at his strongest. He’s smart and agile, allowing him to prevent even the best quarterbacks from making throws to their favorite targets.

Getty Images

Off the field, Sauce’s Twitch channel has a little over 17,000 followers, where people can watch him play games. He has mostly streamed Call of Duty: Warzone and NBA2K23, but he was also amongst the lucky number of then-NFL Draft prospects to get a sneak preview of the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which is set to drop on October 28th.

Needless to say, he liked what he saw.

Getty Images

Is he any good? He’s certainly got plenty of skills. Speaking as someone who is not good at Warzone or any other first-person shooters, Sauce would have no problem beating me in every game.

The videos on his Twitch channel show that his talents don’t end on the football field. All that speed and awareness translate perfectly to dominating Warzone as well. As his popularity around the league continues to heighten, his Twitch audience will undoubtedly grow as well.

It’s time to stop sleeping on Sauce Gardner the Gamer.

Popular Culture

‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 9 Recap and Review: “The Green Council”

If we’ve learned anything throughout House of the Dragon, the adage “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win, or you die” has been proven true over and over again. In Game of Thrones, there were various lords and a distant Queen squabbling over who would sit on the pointy chair. In House of the Dragon, it’s two sides of the same family, torn apart by ambition and a sense of duty.

Spoilers for House of the Dragon follow

Where In the World Is Aegon Targaryen?

This week’s House of the Dragon picks up in the immediate aftermath of King Viserys’ death. As Talia, Alicent’s Handmaiden and a spy on behalf of the “White Worm,” is made aware, Alicent awakens in a panic, realizing what this now means. As will become important later in the episode, Talia lights a candle in the window of her room, a signal to the White Worm that the King has passed.

Alicent tells Otto that she believes that Viserys wanted their son Aegon to be King and not Rhaenyra. “It’s the truth, out of his own lips,” she tells him. Being the conniving bastard he is, Otto naturally seizes upon the moment to, well, seize power. They gather the Small Council to inform them of Viserys’ death and what the plan for the future is.

Unsurprisingly, they were ready for this, and everyone on the Council, except Lord Beesbury and Alicent, was ready to get Aegon on the Throne. He might have been a bit of an oddball in his life, but Lord Beesbury says what we are all thinking: It’s wrong, treasonous, and is theft.

What does he get for his honor? His face bashed into the table by Alicent’s resident goon, Ser Criston Cole. It wasn’t intentional, given the Queen’s reaction, but this causes the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Lord Westerling, to pull his sword on Criston. Westerling demands that Criston take off his cloak and surrender for his crime. Criston backs down, but Lord Westerling, much like Beesbury, sees this as an act of treason.

Alicent asks what they will do about Rhaenyra, and she knows that both she and Daemon will not surrender or bend the knee. If they aren’t imprisoned or exiled, the Council agrees they must be killed. After Otto orders Westerling to take his knights to Dragonstone, he throws down his cloak and leaves in disgust.

Alicent tells her children, Helaena and Aemond, that their father is dead. 

Helaena, being ever the strange woman that she is, utters an incredibly mysterious phrase: “There is a beast beneath the boards” in response. So cryptic, but it’ll make sense a little later.

Ser Erryk, one of the Kingsguard assigned to Prince Aegon, is assigned by Otto to find Aegon, who has left the Keep and gone into the city. Otto tells him to take his brother, Arryk, with him and go in disguise.

Rhaenys finds herself locked in her chambers, a prisoner of the Hightowers for the moment. Larys has also rounded up all of the servants who know of Viserys’ death and locked them in the dungeons.

Alicent assigns Criston to find Aegon for her own aims, and Aemond volunteers to go with him. The two duos look for Aegon, one more conspicuously than the other, with no success so far.

Otto gathers some of the various lords and ladies of the Realm to tell them of Viserys’ death, Aegon is the rightful heir, and they must swear allegiance to him. Some kneel immediately, but the Lord of House Fell tries to leave to “confer with his house,” as well as Lord Caswell, who eventually bends the knee albeit reluctantly.

Caswell later attempts to escape King’s Landing to warn Rhaenyra of what is to come and gets hanged, with his body left in the courtyard for all to see.

Cold-blooded, Otto.

Conspiracies, Conspiracies, and More Conspiracies

Erryk and Arryk (please, can we work on these names, House of the Dragon writers) find themselves in a children’s fight club. A far cry away from the “dignity” of the Red Keep. They spot one of Aegon’s bastards, whom Erryk knows about since he usually’s at his side.

Aemond, believing he is more deserving of the Throne, vents his frustration to Criston. He doesn’t outright say it, but you can tell he doesn’t care if his brother is ever found.

The dynamic duo, Erryk and Arryk, are approached by an aide of the White Worm. The White Worm turns out to be Daemon’s old flame, Mysaria, and claims to know where Aegon is. She will only negotiate with Otto, whom she has a working relationship with, as we saw in “King of the Narrow Sea.”

Alicent meets with Rhaenys and tells her of Viserys’ “wishes.” Rhaenys, not easily fooled, doesn’t believe her, seeing through her veiled attempts at winning Rhaenys over to her side.

Otto meets with Mysaria, who knows about Viserys’ death, much to Otto’s surprise. Mysaria found Aegon and has hidden him away, anticipating this meeting. Other than gold, she demands that Otto work on actually fixing the problems in the slums of King’s Landing instead of ignoring them like they always have. She reminds Otto: “There is no power but what the people allow you to take.”

Erryk and Arryk find Aegon hiding in a Sept and, despite his protests, manage to drag him outside, where Aemond and Criston confront them. Criston and Erryk begin dueling while Aemond gives chase to Aegon. Erryk yells for his brother’s aid, but Arryk refuses and leaves his brother behind.

Eventually, Aegon and Erryk are subdued, with Aegon asking his brother to let him go, and he’ll go into exile, allowing Aemond to become the King. Aemond looks to consider it, but Criston takes him away before Aemond can give an answer.

Meeting with her father, Alicent tells Otto that she has finally had enough of his scheming. They’ve found themselves on opposite sides of this debate over Rhaenyra, and it looks as if there’s no going back. Alicent tells Otto that Aegon will be crowned by her terms and that Rhaenyra will not be touched. Otto, in a way, admires her for this and seems to agree to her terms begrudgingly.

If ever there was a person that embodied the “oh this fuckin guy!” scene from Uncut Gems, it’s Larys Strong. The King of creepiness surprises Alicent in her chambers and tells her that Talia is a spy for the White Worm. In addition, Otto knows this and utilizes that spy network to his advantage.

As he explains this, he holds back a bit, getting Alicent to remove her shoes and stockings, showcasing her feet to Larys. He tells her that Mysaria should be killed to secure her secrecy. She basically gives him the green light as he looks at her feet and, well, pulls his pud, so to speak.

Eventually, we see that a hooded figure has set fire to Mysaria’s home in an attempt to assassinate her. However, as we all know, no one is dead if there is no body.

Arryk attempts to sneak Rhaenys out of the castle, knowing that she’s likely in a ton of danger. He tries to get her to the harbor, but they are split up in the city as the people are gathered by soldiers, forcibly being sent to the Dragon Pit to witness Aegon’s coronation.

The Beast Beneath the Boards

As the preparations are made for the crowning of Aegon, he is taken to the Dragon pit with Alicent. He still laments that he doesn’t want the crown (okay, Jon Snow), but Alicent tries to remind him of all the effort that went into getting him here. Aegon, like so many, doesn’t believe her when tells him that Viserys wanted this, “He had 20 years to name me heir and never did.”

Alicent gives him Viserys’ dagger, the weapon with the “Song of Ice and Fire” prophecy on it, and Aegon begins to believe his mother. He asks her if she, unlike his father, loves him. “You imbecile,” she responds.

He reallllllllly fails to grasp the gravity of this situation, doesn’t he?

The citizens of King’s Landing gather in the Dragon pit to witness the coronation, something Alicent insisted on. Rhaenys is among them, having been unable to link back up with Arryk.

Otto announces Viserys’ death and that Aegon will be the one succeeding him. A quiet pause falls over the crowd, followed by eventual applause, leading to Aegon’s entrance into the pit surrounded by Targaryen soldiers.

As Aegon is blessed by a priest of the Seven, Rhaenys sneaks away from the crowd and down into where the dragons are kept. Ser Criston, now the Lord of the Kingsguard, places the crown on Aegon’s head, with Aemond ominously looking on in envy.

The Royal Court bows to him, and the crowd slowly begins to clap in confusion but eventually erupts in applause. He unsheathes his sword triumphantly, with Otto looking upon his work in triumph. He made this day happen, and it’s gone perfect-

Whoops, spoke too soon.

Suddenly, a massive dragon, Meleys, comes crashing through the ground. The poor citizens of King’s Landing are caught in the middle of this, with hundreds of them killed or injured. As is tradition in both House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, no one seems to care about them.

Meleys is ridden by Rhaenys, who, clad in some fresh armor, turns the dragon toward Alicent and the Royals. Alicent closes her eyes, anticipating to be burned by Meleys but Rhaenys holds back and the dragon just roars instead.

As the dragon prepares to fly out of the pit, causing a bunch of destruction along the way, the gold cloaks try to shut the doors on the people fleeing, despite Otto ordering them to open them. Meleys and Rhaenys manage to escape the pit and flee King’s Landing, heading to Dragonstone to inform Rhaenyra and Daemon of what the hell just happened.

Final Thoughts

It’s such a silly thing to get held up on, but the fact that Criston Cole murdered one of the members of the Small Council and nothing happened bothered me throughout my watch of this episode. The murder of Lord Beesbury might come back to haunt Criston, but for now, he is basically free to do whatever the hell he wants.

Also, I hope all the bad things happen to Criston Cole. Dude STINKS.

The biggest point of discussion at the end of this week’s House of the Dragon is a logical one: Why the hell didn’t Rhaenys just blow her enemies away? End the war before it starts? These are fair questions; I mean, it does make sense.

However, Rhaenys has never struck me as someone who was willing to kill members of her family to further her own goals. Other people in House of the Dragon (cough, cough, Aemond) certainly would, but Rhaenys has some sense of honor, at least as much as one can have when you’re responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.

Rhaenyra and Daemon are about to learn of everything that has happened in King’s Landing. With the war to follow, given that the crown has been stolen from her, one things’s for sure: It’s about to get ugly. 

Ugly and very bloody.

Culture News

The 20 Most Valuable Happy Meal Toys From McDonald’s

When you were much younger, did you drive your parents crazy for a McDonald’s Happy Meal? Are you still buying Happy Meals? Maybe the recent Cactus Plant Flea Market collaboration has you feeling nostalgic! If you’re like me, you were always asking for them when your parents drove you places.

Related: Cactus Plant Flea Market Nike collaboration

Either way, this is a great time to look back at the 20 most valuable Happy Meal toys of all time! Let’s see if you owned or still own any of these Happy Meal grails.

20. Potato Head Kids (1987) – $30.05

Ah, the Mr. Potato Head Kids. These toys were from the animated Potato Head Kids show that aired from 1986 to 1987. The Happy Meal Miniature Mr. Potato Head toys are difficult to find sealed copies; meanwhile, the loose ones are relatively cheap, with a set of 11 selling for $30.05 on eBay in June. 

19. Despicable Me 2 (2013) July – $35.00

Despicable Me Minions took over the Happy Meal craze in 2013. The toys were made available at the same time as the movie release, which ended up the 2nd highest-grossing animated movie at the time. The Minions came in a set of 8, and recent sales are around $35.00.

18. Fraggle Rock (1987) – $60.00

Fraggle Rock was a part of the Muppet Universe and was immensely popular in the late 1980s. Surprisingly, you can complete this set on eBay for less than $60.00. 

17. Furby (2000) March 24 – April 13 – $69.00

Furby! The 1998 toy line was a massive success that led to two separate McDonald’s Happy Meal toy lines. The 2nd Furby toy line, the 2000 set of 12 Furby key chains, is the more valuable of the two today. The most recent complete sealed set sold was for $69.00.   

16. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990) August- September – $69.95

The most popular video game character had to make his way to Happy Meals, right? Absolutely! Super Mario made his first appearance in 1990 as a set of 4, including Luigi, Little Goomba & Koopa Paratroopa. The most recent set sold was in April for $69.95. There are still complete sets available near that price.  

15. Inspector Gadget (1999) July 16 – August 12 – $70.00

The Inspector Gadget set is unique. This is the first set on the list that is built into one character. You would have to have all 8 pieces to make the full Inspector Gadget, which is currently available around $50.00-$70.00 on eBay. 

14. Star Trek Meal (1979-1980) December 1979 – February 1980 – $90.00

This is certainly one of the more unique Happy Meal promotions. There were 5 custom Happy Meal boxes for Star Trek, which included games & comics for the Movie. One of the notable scenes on the boxes was the death of 2 crewmembers. Imagine that being on a happy meal box today.

The toys available with the Happy Meals were a Star Trek Video Communicator, Star Trek Rings, which snapped together & a board game where you go through outer space on the Enterprise. A sealed Bracelet recently sold for $90.00 in June, and the Star Trek Communicator recently sold for $25.00 in July. Meanwhile, a case of the Happy Meal boxes recently sold for $121.73 on eBay.

13. 101 Dalmatians (1997-1998) December 26 – January 29 – $96.00

This is probably the coolest set McDonald’s ever released as part of Happy Meals. The 101 Dalmatians were available in happy meals, but there was also the caveat that you could win the whole collection as part of a McDonald’s program that promoted the movie 101 Dalmatians. Recently a complete set with authentication sold for $96.00 at auction on eBay.

12. 1993 Barbie Set – $105

This set is interesting in that the concept would never fly today. McDonalds and Mattel did this collaboration at the same time they were handing out Hot Wheels toys in the Happy Meal boxes. Children were asked to choose between a “boys toy” and a “girls toy”.

This set sold for $105 on eBay, but with them all looking pristine in their original boxes, I wonder if the buyer got a steal!

11. Changeables – Transforming Food (1987 & 1989) – $100.00

When I mentioned the most valuable Happy Meal Toys, my father immediately picked the Changeables. These toys would change into dinosaurs and robots from items on the menu. Recently a sealed set of 8 Changeables from 1989 sold for $100.00. 

10. Clone Wars Happy Meal Box (2008) August 15 – September 11, 2008 – $135.00

Star Wars finally makes the list! This set is based on the animated Clone Wars show that aired from 2008-09. The Clone Wars complete set of 18 is quite reasonable despite being 13 years old. You can complete the set for under $60.00 if you can find a lot available. There is also a 9 piece collectible box available that recently sold for $135.00 in May. The cardboard boxes that the Happy Meal came in are also desirable, selling for $15.00 recently. 

9. Pokémon 25th Anniversary Pikachu holo #25 PSA 10 – $150

To end this countdown, we have to go with the Pokémon 25th Anniversary Packs that were available in the Happy Meals. Why? The craze for packs and cases of packs was ridiculous; people were making offers to store managers and doing their best to buy cases and flip them for insane markups.

Simply put, these cards/packs are #1 on the list because a PSA 10 graded Holographic Pikachu sold for $445 on eBay in July. However, they are currently selling for around $150. While that’s certainly trending in the wrong direction, it’s still not a bad return on what was supposed to just be a fun Happy Meal giveaway.

Regardless, of whether this card is worth $100 or $400 (if graded a pristine PSA 10) today, it’s still more than most other single item on this list.

Over 42 years, McDonald’s has included toys in Happy Meals, and yet one of their most valuable is a Pikachu Card that’s just over a year old, which illustrates just how powerful and collectible the Pokémon brand is.

8. 2013 NFL Rush Zone (Complete Set) $225

NFL Rush Zone was an animated show on Nickelodeon that only ran for three seasons and focused on an 11-year-old San Diego Chargers fan (Ish) that protected a power source which was hidden in all 32 NFL stadiums. NFL stars and head coaches such as Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Mike Tomlin made guest appearances on the show, and every NFL team was represented by one of the “Rusherz”, a race of humanoid aliens that in some way resembled the logo or the city.

As weird as that concept sounds, this set going for $225 is proof that you can pretty much sell anything with an NFL logo on it.

7. Snoopy (1998-1999) – $350.00

The Snoopy World Tour came with 28 figures and was available as a complete set in a case designed as Snoopy’s house. Each toy represented a different country. The 2nd set of Snoopy toys was also available individually in 1999, and recently 27 sealed copies sold for $52.28. There is one complete set in the case listed currently on eBay for over $350.00.

6. Power Rangers (1995) – $350.00

The Power Rangers Mania was real, with demand causing shelves to be empty and families calling Bandai direct demanding toys. The demand wasn’t nearly that great for the Happy Meal toys, but they were popular. I remember having each one and enjoying a lot of happy meals when these were released. Recently a loose set sold for $85.04 in May, while a sealed set is valued at over $350.00.

5. Underwater Monsters By Diener Keshi (1979) – $400.00
Diener Keshi

The first two sets of toys made available in Happy Meals were from Diener Keshi. Both were also multi-purposed as toys & erasers. Loose sets fetch over $80.00, and sealed sets, which are very rare, are valued at over $400.00. 

4. Robots By Diener Keshi (1979) – $400.00
Diener Keshi

Like the Underwater Monsters, Diener Keshi also made the Robots. These are the first toys available for Happy Meals and the first Keshi toys shipped to the USA. The set contains 14 figures, and some are still available loose on eBay. A sealed set would also fetch north of $400.00, like the Underwater Monsters.

3. “Cactus Plant Flea Market” Adult Happy Meal Toys – $551

Adult Happy Meals might seem ridiculous to some people, but I disagree. You’re never too old for a Happy Meal!

McDonald’s linked up with Cactus Plant Flea Market for this collaboration that features four figures, Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie and Cactus Buddy. There is also a website where you can purchase some gear that celebrates the collab!

“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that’s hyper-relevant for our adult fans,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA’s chief marketing and customer experience officer, in a statement.

This set of all four figures sold for $551, which is quite a return on the tasty investment.

2. Hot Wheels (1983) -$875.00

The McDonald’s Hot Wheels are the most underrated of all the toys listed. Sealed vintage hot wheels have been climbing in value steadily, and the 1983 McDonald’s set is no different. A complete 15 car sealed set was recently sold with the original sheet for $875.00 in May. Of all the items on this list, these are likely to be the most valuable moving forward.  

1. TY’s Teenie Beanie Baby Boos (1999) April 11, 1997 – May 15, 1997 – $1,000.00

If you weren’t around for the Beanie Baby craze, let me just say it was worse than the Pokémon Packs being sold earlier this year. Parents were buying out all the Teenie Beanie Babies at McDonald’s, and with limited supply, there were multiple incidents that led to injuries and arrests. One McDonald’s employee was charged with theft after being caught stealing $6,000.00 worth of them.

The Teenie Beanie Babies were smaller versions of the Beanie Babies and were available in Happy Meals or individually for sale at $2.00 each. Sealed versions of the original Teenie Beanie Babies fetch over $50.00, and as a set, they are worth over $1,000.00. Not bad for 22-year-old Happy Meal Toys. 

Movies/TV Popular Culture

50 Hidden Gems on Netflix You Should Watch Immediately

At this point in the pandemic, we’ve probably all exhausted our Netflix watch lists a few times over.  It gets dark early, nights are long, and there’s nothing to do but be bored in the house. How many rewatches of Stranger Things can one person truly handle?

Luckily, Netflix’s expansive offerings go beyond reruns of mediocre sitcoms: the streaming service actually seems to have a near-endless amount of content despite much of it being hidden by the company’s algorithm.

We’ve picked out 50 films and TV shows that might not pop up on your “recommended” list if you haven’t been searching specifically for them. From unexpected reality competitions to obscure anime to underground LGBTQ+ cinema, here’s our (unranked) list of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix.

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1. ‘Ip Man’ (2008)

Who’s in It: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Dennis To

An impeccably-choreographed martial arts tetralogy that traces the legendary career of Bruce Lee’s master as he defeats Westerners and Japanese foes alike. Sure, the whole series is not-so-subtle Chinese propaganda, but it’s worth watching for the exciting action sequences.

Watch now on Netflix
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2. ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Taron Egerton, Mark Hamill, Lena Headey, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sigourney Weaver, Anya Taylor-Joy

Forget Game of Thrones. Dark Crystal is the high fantasy series worth watching. The Jim Henson Company’s high-concept puppet show is a dazzling example of a dying medium. The content is more adult than you’d expect from literal muppets, and the Tolkienesque world’s lore is both dense and allegorical.

Watch now on Netflix
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3. ‘Love, Death + Robots’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Madeleine Knight, Topher Grace, Emily O’Brien

Black Mirror became a viral hit with its prescient predictions about the panoptic power of social media. The short animated film collection Love, Death + Robots covers a lot of the same territory as Charlie Booker’s infamous sci-fi series, but with a bit more humor. Although it’s occasionally juvenile and sometimes overtly sexist, each episode takes on a different aspect of our nightmarish future with a totally different visual aesthetic.

Watch now on Netflix
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4. ‘Lady Dynamite’ (2016)

Who’s in It: Maria Bamford, Fred Melamed, Mary Kay Place, Ana Gasteyer

Comedian Maria Bamford uses surreal humor to explore a recent nervous breakdown in this honest, creative, and self-reflexive series about living with bipolar disorder. Your average comedy aficionado might find Bamford’s aesthetic too off-beat, but there are a lot of smart commentaries and earnest emotionality in this show.

Watch now on Netflix
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5. ‘Cuties’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Maïmouna Gueye

Cuties faced a bizarre media cycle after receiving backlash from American conservative critics who objected to the sexual content of the film, and then it faded into semi-obscurity. That being said, it’s easily one of the best films of 2020—dealing with the complex emotional lives of teenage girls navigating a deeply misogynistic world.

Watch now on Netflix
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6. ‘Little Miss Sumo’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Hiyori Kon

A beautifully shot short documentary film about female Sumo wrestlers and their commitment to their sport. It’s only about 20 minutes long, but it’s impossible not to form an immediate attachment to the impossibly strong and impossibly adorable protagonist.

Watch now on Netflix
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7. ‘Shot in the Dark’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Zak Holman, Howard Raishbrook, Austin Raishbrook

Although the content is extremely disturbing, Shot in the Dark is a fascinating delve into the lives of stringers: videographers who capture footage of car crashes and violent crimes to sell to news stations at frighteningly high prices. The rogues gallery of people featured are patently deplorable, yet absurdly compelling.

Watch now on Netflix
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8. ‘Disclosure’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Laverne Cox, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, Chaz Bono

Laverne Cox is a heavily featured talking head in this exhaustive and insightful exploration of the history of transgender people in Western cinema. The movie traces specific tropes of anti-trans violence and how they developed within a culture that is largely intolerant of sexual difference—but it also shows how there’s hope for the future as more trans people take to the big screen.

Watch now on Netflix
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9. ‘The Platform’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Iván Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale

This ultra-violent, dystopian thriller serves as a poignant metaphor for the inhumanity of capitalism. A student voluntarily enters a near-future disciplinary complex, but it seems likely he won’t survive the impossible cruelty of this system. It’s a frightening allegory and a warning about the power of unchecked greed.

Watch now on Netflix
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10. ‘Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Joan Didion, Griffin Dunne

Directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold focuses on the eponymous journalist and author in her decades-long career in writing. It weaves together her early days in Sacramento with her ultimate breakthrough in journalism at Vogue, while also having Didion candidly speak about specific moments and read through passages of her work. The sheer act of getting to hear her thoughts about writing easily cements this documentary as one of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix.

Watch now on Netflix
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11. ‘Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Walter Mercado

The ebullient and colorful Walter Mercado was the most beloved astrologer in Latin America before disappearing from the public eye. This earnest documentary traces his career with deep love and respect, positioning the fortune-teller as a queer legend and a beacon of kindness.

Watch now on Netflix
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12. ‘Circus of Books’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Jeff Stryker, Larry Flynt

How, exactly, did a married heterosexual couple come to own one of the most infamous gay porn shops in the entire United States? Circus of Books tells the story of unlikely homosexual icons, Barry and Karen Mason, at the final moments of the eponymous adult shop’s closing. The story shows the conflicted morality of the Masons and is directed by the duo’s daughter as she explores the psychology of her parents who stunningly rejected their own gay child before seeing the error of their ways.

Watch now on Netflix
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13. ‘Blown Away’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Katherine Gray, Nick Uhas

It would be easy to dismiss glass sculpture as a kind of decorative kitsch, but Blown Away, a competition reality show about glass blowing, showcases the artistry, talent, and intellectual thought put into this misunderstood art form. For how mesmerizing it is alone, Blown Away is by far one of the most underrated, best hidden gems on Netflix.

Watch now on Netflix
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14. ‘Friends From College’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Billy Eichner, Jae Suh Park, Nat Faxon

While it only ended up getting two seasons, Friends From College might be one of the most slept-on series to ever hit Netflix. The show tracks a friend group who reunites in New York City after having been apart for many years after graduating from Harvard.

Watch now on Netflix
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15. ‘What Did Jack Do?’ (2017)

Who’s in It: David Lynch

David Lynch interviews a very creepy monkey in this 17-minute, black-and-white, non-narrative short. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the beloved auteur, whose noir-influenced surreal works have spawned a cult following amongst arthouse cinephiles. Don’t expect a coherent story, just spooky vibes.

For just how absurd and odd this film is, it’s well-deserving of being among some of the best hidden gems on Netflix of all time.

Watch now on Netflix
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16. ‘The Perfection’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman

A twist-filled horror-thriller, The Perfection is a very strange revenge story filled with deeply unexpected moments and extremely bizarre celebrations of bloodshed. It somehow feels like eight movies are packed tightly into this 90-minute nightmare, and the ending is sure to leave you both nauseated and satisfied.

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17. ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Rene Russo

What begins as an extremely caustic critique of the high art world devolves into an unsettling supernatural thriller. Starring an inexplicably buff Jake Gyllenhaal as a bisexual art dealer haunted by murderous painting, Velvet Buzzsaw combines smart satire with campy thrills.

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18. ‘Hollywood’ (2020)

Who’s in It: David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Dylan McDermott, Holland Taylor, Jeremy Pope, Jim Parsons, Laura Harrier, Rob Reiner, Maude Apatow

Tracking the nature of show business from quite a few different angles in the late 1940s, Hollywood is a limited series that ended up flying a bit under the radar when it first premiered in 2020. In one sense, we’re following an aspiring actor, Jack Castello (Corenswet), an aspiring Black screenwriter, Archie Coleman (Pope), and a veteran studio executive, Ellen Kincaid (Taylor). On top of that, we see the more gritty side of things and how actors have to both support themselves and hide who they really are.

Given that this one flew a bit under the radar, it’s definitely one of the most hidden gems on Netflix.

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19. ‘Cheer’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Monica Aldama, Morgan Simianer, Lexi Brumback, Gabi Butler

Cheer tracks Navarro College’s cheerleading squad in the months leading up to the NCA National Championships competition, which pits them against some of the greatest cheerleading programs in the country. Helmed by the staunch and formidable Monica Aldama, we get an unvarnished look into both the personal and professional lives of Aldama and her team through the early days of training, the emotional final roster reveal, and their ultimate performance at the NCA National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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20. ‘A Secret Love’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Terry Donahue, Pat Henschel

Directed by Chris Bolan and produced by Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum, A Secret Love is an in-depth documentary about Terry Donahue, who was a player in the All-American Girls Professional League, and her relationship with Pat Henschel that she was forced to keep a secret from their families and friends.

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21. ‘Cam’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Madeline Brewer, Melora Walters

A young sex worker’s life begins to unravel when she spots her doppelganger gaining popularity on cam shows. Is she losing or mind, or is someone trying to destroy her life? Both erotic and extremely frightening, Cam is intelligent feminist horror for the 21st century.

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22. ‘Derry Girls’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell

Derry Girls has been a bit of a sleeper hit among fans, following a group teenage girls in Derry, Ireland during the Troubles in the mid-to-late 1990s. The show plays into the overall political conflict while mixing in absolutely hilarious dialogue and situations for the group of girls attending Catholic school.

If you haven’t watched Derry Girls yet, you absolutely need to—it’s one of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix by far.

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23. ‘Ares’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Jade Olieberg, Tobias Kersloot, Lisa Smit and Robin Boissevain

When a struggling student accidentally finds herself accepted into a secret society, she begins unfurling a series of mysteries about the cult’s practices and her own lineage. This Dutch horror series is masterfully suspenseful and beautifully shot. You don’t need to pick up on the social criticism pertaining to the villainies of colonialism to be enthralled by the show’s dark story.

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24. ‘The Politician’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Jessica Lange, Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judith Light, Theo Germaine, Zoey Deutch, David Corenswet, Julia Schlaepfer, Rahne Jones

The Politician takes big stakes to the small stage of an affluent high school in California as Payton Hobart (Platt) is running for class president against the more popular favorite, River Barkley. However, the running mates they choose end up becoming major conflicts in the entire story.

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25. ‘The Big Flower Fight’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Natasia Demetriou, Vic Reeves, Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht

It’s hard to imagine that the frivolous world of flower arranging could be even remotely exciting, but The Big Flower Fight uses the formula of The Great British Baking Show to display the immense skills and aesthetic power of landscaping and floristry. The diverse cast are imminently lovable and you’ll absolutely have a favorite by the finale—even if you don’t care about plants at all.

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26. ‘Gerald’s Game’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Carla Gugino, Chiara Aurelia, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken

One of Stephen King’s lesser-known works was transformed into a deeply eerie horror movie by director Mike Flanagan in 2017. In it, a married couple’s experiments in BDSM are interrupted when the husband suddenly dies, leaving the wife handcuffed to her bed. As she struggles to escape, she is visited in the night by wolves and giants: Is she going insane or is she being stalked?

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27. ‘The Great British Baking Show: Holidays’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas, Noel Fielding

The Great British Baking Show became a viral sensation in the USA: the kind and gentle approach to reality competition was so starkly different from the bitchy, drama-filled spectacles we have on this side of the pond. Beloved contestants return for one-off Holiday-themed episodes in this spinoff showcase. Even viewers who vehemently oppose Christmas cheer can’t help but be charmed.

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28. ‘Casting JonBenet’ (2017)

Who’s in It: John and Patsy Ramsey, Burke Ramsey, John Mark Karr

The true crime genre is often mind-numbingly violent and thoughtlessly sensationalist, but Casting JonBenet provides a sensitive and intelligent, postmodern twist on the standard formula. This documentary about the actors who play victims and murderers in true crime reenactments hits on the human element of crime stories in ways few other movies really can manage.

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29. ‘Pee-wee’s Big Holiday’ (2016)

Who’s in It: Paul Reubens

We all remember the cultural shunning of Paul Reubens following a series of overblown non-scandals, but Pee-Wee gets the last laugh with this triumphant return. The wacky world of perpetual childhood remains heartwarmingly innocent even decades after the eponymous hero’s Big Adventure.

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30. ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant, Richard Ellis

Blending supernatural themes, comedy, and coming-of-age, I Am Not Okay With This follows Sydney Novak (Lillis), who has started to notice something a little different about herself: she has telekinetic powers. Equally weighing on her brain is the confusing relationships she has with her neighbor, Stan (Oleff), and her best friend, Dina (Bryant).

Although the series didn’t get a second season, it’s still one of the most underrated hidden gems on Netflix to date.

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31. ‘Pretend It’s a City’ (2021)

Who’s in It: Fran Lebowitz, Martin Scorsese

Basically, the entire premise of Pretend It’s a City is just listening to Fran Lebowitz go off on anything and everything that she perceives is wrong with the world and New York City. We follow alongside her as she struts around the city, answers audience questions at live events, and is interviewed by people including Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Olivia Wilde.

Given that Fran Lebowitz herself is a hidden gem, Pretend It’s a City is one of the most hilarious hidden gems on Netflix.

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32. ‘Tallulah’ (2016)

Who’s in It: Elliot Page, Allison Janney, Uzo Aduba, Tammy Blanchard

Starring Elliot Page in the namesake role of Tallulah, the film revolves around Tallulah as she finds herself as a slightly-accidental mother when she takes the child of a random woman, Carolyn, from a local hotel as she had irresponsibly passed out. The rest of the film follows Tallulah and the child as they head over to Margo, Tallulah’s mother’s, place.

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33. ‘The River Runner’ (2021)

Who’s in It: Scott Lindgren

In Tibet’s Mount Kailash, Scott Lindgren kayaks away in the hopes of becoming the first person to make it through the four major rivers that flow from the mountain. The River Runner is not only a profile of the man behind this massive mission, but always shines a spotlight on the trials and tribulations that come along with the sport.

Given how pure his mission is, The River Runner is well-deserving of being among the best hidden gems on Netflix.

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34. ‘The Chair’ (2021)

Who’s in It: Sandra Oh, Holland Taylor, Jay Duplass, Bob Balaban

In The Chair, Ji-Yoon Kim (Oh) portrays a younger professor who has just been promoted to chair of the English Department at a fairly prestigious fictionalized college, Pembroke University. While there, she faces a slew of ups and downs stemming from a publicized scandal involving one of the professors at the college.

If this isn’t one of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix, then I don’t know what is.

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35. ‘The Babysitter’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne

In this wild horror-comedy, a sexy babysitter is revealed as the leader of a Satan-worshipping crew of ghouls. The only hope for their defeat is a pre-teen boy who must outsmart the demonic gang—but can he overcome his crush on his governess to thwart the devil? Director McG’s penchant for eye-popping visuals and Tarantino-esque hyper-stylization help uplift the movie’s extremely silly story.

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36. ‘Ainori: Love Wagon’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Becky, Mayuko Kawakita, Toshiaki Kasuga

Japanese reality dating shows are far quirkier than the endless slog of Western romantic travesties like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. In Love Wagon, singles have their phones taken away during weeks of international travel. The socially awkward men and women navigate competing crushes while visiting tourist attractions, complete with over-the-top narration and absurd commentary.

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37. ‘Fantastic Fungi’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Brie Larson, Andrew Weil, Giuliana Furci

This documentary is probably exactly what it sounds like in your head: it’s about fantastic fungi. Zooming in close to various mushrooms and other types of fungi, Fantastic Fungi paints an extraordinary picture of a fairly overlooked eukaryotic organism.

While this is technically just a film about mushrooms, the simplistic beauty of the organisms makes this documentary one of the most underrated hidden gems on Netflix.

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38. ‘The Alpinist’ (2021)

Who’s in It: Marc-André Leclerc, Brette Harrington

We’ve all heard of climbers like Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell, but the more introverted Canadian climber and alpinist, Marc-André Leclerc, made incredible first ascents and solos without practically anyone realizing it. The Alpinist is the first (and last) time we get to see Leclerc up close, oftentimes not letting producers and directors know what he has planned until the climb is over, taking a more purist approach to the sport.

Not only is the one of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix, but it’s one of the best hidden gems, period.

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39. ‘Dorohedoro’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Wataru Takagi, Reina Kondou

Anime purists might balk at the 3D CG animation of this science fantasy series but the fight scenes and endearing characters make a few questionable stylistic decisions forgivable. It’d be impossible to explain the show’s absurd and whimsical story in this summary. Suffice it to say, the main plot point is a magical battle between high-class sorcerers and the slums.

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40. ‘The Speed Cubers’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Max Park, Feliks Zemdegs, Schwan Park, Philipp Weyer

These guys can beat a Rubik’s Cube—and fast. The Speed Cubers documents the people behind the cube who make the sport what it is, from deep rivalries and complicated friendships to the championships in Australia.

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41. ‘Chasing Coral’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Andrew Ackerman, Neal Cantin, Pim Bongaerts

Documenting the beauty and sadness that comes with coral reefs, Chasing Coral is raw look into the real dangers that our coral reefs face due to climate change. We track a large group of scientists, photographers, and divers whose goal is to both shed a light on what’s happening and deliver a breathtaking snapshot of coral reefs.

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42. ‘GLOW’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young

Having had a nice three-season run, GLOW is a dramedy that is a fictionalized take on women’s professional wrestling in the 1980s. Specifically, we hone in on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), and the various tactics used to promote the wrestling circuit.

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43. ‘Oprah + Viola: A Netflix Special Event’ (2022)

Who’s in It: Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis

In classic Oprah-sit-down-interview-fashion, Oprah Winfrey interviews Viola Davis about her memoir, Finding Me. Davis talks in depth about her childhood and growing up, the trauma she went through and the shame that has still stuck with her today.

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44. ‘The Kominsky Method’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, Sarah Baker, Paul Reiser, Lisa Edelstein

With three seasons under its belt, The Kominsky Method pairs up Michael Douglas with Alan Arkin as two aging best friends; Douglas is Sandy Kominsky, a semi-successful actor who owns and teaches at his own acting school, and Arkin plays Norman Newlander, who serves as Kominsky’s agent. The two get into various conflicts and antics both between one another and separately with their respective family and friends.

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45. ‘Keith Richards: Under the Influence’ (2015)

Who’s in It: Keith Richards

Mick Jagger might be the frontman of The Rolling Stones, but Keith Richards is not to be forgotten. Getting into the psyche of Richards, Keith Richards: Under the Influence unveils a much-different man than the one we’ve heard about and seen on stage. Sure, he’s got all the grittiness that we’ve seen, but there’s a much softer side to him than he leads on.

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46. ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ (2018)

Who’s in It: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Michelle Gomez, Mirando Otto, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Jaz Sinclair, Lachlan Watson, Tati Gabrielle, Richard Coyle, Gavin Leatherwood

Based on the comic book series of the same name published by Archie Comics, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes (most) everything that went down in the comics and gives it a completely new life, perfectly bending comedy, drama, and spooky vibes into one. The main focus of the series is the eponymous Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), a half-human, half-witch who has to make a major decision about which side of the genealogy she’ll be sticking to. Her thoughts on the subject: why can’t she have both?

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47. ‘Russian Doll’ (2019)

Who’s in It: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Elizabeth Ashley, Charlie Barnett, Yul Vazquez, Chloë Sevigny

An instant hit, Russian Doll stars Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, a woman who inexplicably gets herself entangled in an infinite time loop after dying on the day of her 36th birthday. Melding sci-fi, drama, and comedy together, the series tracks Vulvokov as she attempts to piece together how she ended up in her current situation.

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48. ‘Ratched’ (2020)

Who’s in It: Sarah Paulson, Judy Davis, Finn Wittrock, Cynthia Nixon, Jon Jon Briones, Charlie Carver, Sharon Stone

Sarah Paulson takes on the infamous role of Nurse Mildred Ratched, a major character in both the novel and film iterations of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ratched focuses on the namesake nurse herself, giving us a deeper look into her past and how she became the person she was depicted as in Ken Kesey’s novel.

The sheer acting force that is Sarah Paulson and Judy Davis makes Ratched one of the greatest hidden gems on Netflix of all time.

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49. ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ (2017)

Who’s in It: Timothy Olyphant, Drew Barrymore, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo

Mixing horror and comedy into one, Santa Clarita Diet is all about the real estate team of Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore), who also happen to be married to each other. While things seem to be going swimmingly as usual for them and their family, everything takes a major turn when Sheila begins to transform into a zombie, changing both her diet and her usual disposition.

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50. ‘The Watcher’ (2022)

Who’s in It: Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Coolidge, Mia Farrow, Richard Kind, Margo Martindale

New to Netflix, The Watcher is actually based on the real story of a house in Westfield, New Jersey that was home to a steady stream of threatening letters, all sent from someone named “The Watcher.” Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts star as the newly-married couple who move into the house and begin to receive these letters, which later opens up a wider investigation into who’s behind it.

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