The Best Shows To Watch On Netflix In January 2021

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Premise: This is a revival of the 1984 coming-of-age action movie “The Karate Kid” and the subsequent film franchise. Netflix acquired the rights to the first two seasons (which debuted on YouTube) and added those seasons to the service in August 2020. This is the first season to debut on Netflix, where it has been at the top of the platform’s public popularity ranking since joining last week.

The show focuses on the two central rivals of “The Karate Kid” as adults, both washed up in different ways. They each revive dojos and mentor teenagers on the martial art of karate. The rivalry gets out of hand, and kids get hurt. This season features the longtime rivals teaming up together against a bigger foe.

Netflix descriptors: “Heartfelt,” “exciting” and “feel-good”

The opening for the third season of “Cobra Kai” on Netflix.

How it starts: The camera starts near the ground, focusing on feet bouncing up and down on a karate mat. The camera pedestals up while an announcer explains it’s Miguel Diaz, returning to defend his title. After the camera lingers on Miguel’s face, the camera cuts to a referee.

“Get ready, it’s karate time,” the announcer says.

Notable cast: Ralph Macchio and William Zabka

Runtime: 10 episodes of roughly 35 minutes

Bonus: Here’s a jokey clip of a fake commercial in the show that features Macchio’s character promoting his dealership.

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Premise: Martin Scorsese directs this multipart series about author and critic Fran Lebowitz’s views on New York City. Both Scorsese and Lebowitz are longtime New Yorkers. This series is about both the grandeur and the inane frustrations of living in the already much-discussed city.

Netflix descriptors: “Provocative,” “witty” and “cerebral”

The opening of "Pretend It's a City" on Netflix.

The opening of “Pretend It’s a City” on Netflix.

How it starts: An orchestra begins playing in a big room flanked by grand columns. Orchestral music plays over some title cards and an establishing shot of the Empire Hotel in New York City. The camera cuts to a room inside the Empire, where Lebowitz is answering questions from a dais. Lebowitz launches into a diatribe that includes the phrase from which the docuseries gets its name, saying she wants to tell annoying tourists to “pretend it’s a city.”

Notable cast: Fran Lebowitz

Runtime: Seven episodes of roughly 30 minutes

Bonus: Lebowitz went on Jimmy Fallon’s show back in July 2019 and hinted that this project was happening. The world has changed quite a bit since then, but the mysterious project finally debuted.

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“History of Swear Words” (Netflix Original)

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Premise: Nicolas Cage hosts this jokey docuseries about the etymology and linguistics of swear words. The series pairs interviews with people in academia who have studied these histories and comedians who weigh in on the words.

The series is definitely more “entertainment” than “educational,” but it’s also an intriguing experiment in blending high and low culture.

Netflix descriptors: “Irreverent”

The opening of "History of Swear Words" on Netflix.

The opening of “History of Swear Words” on Netflix.

How it starts: Cage stands next to a fireplace staring intensely at the camera. The camera dollies toward his face over multiple seconds. When the camera gets real close, Cage says, “Fuck are you looking at?”

Notable cast: Nicolas Cage hosts, while comedians such as Joel Kim Booster, Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman also make appearances.

Runtime: Six episodes of roughly 20 minutes

Bonus: Netflix put an extended clip from the show onto YouTube as a teaser.

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All the shows that have joined Netflix this month so far:

Jan. 1

  • “Abby Hatcher” (Season 1)
  • “Cobra Kai” (Season 3, Netflix Original)
  • “Dream Home Makeover” (Season 2, Netflix Original)
  • “The Haunted Hathaways” (Seasons 1-2)
  • “Headspace Guide to Meditation” (Netflix Original)
  • “Monarca” (Season 2, Netflix Original)

Jan. 5

  • “History of Swear Words” (Netflix Original)
  • “LA’s Finest” (Season 1)
  • ″¡Nailed It! México” (Season 3, Netflix Original)

Jan. 6

  • “Surviving Death” (Netflix Documentary)

Jan. 8

  • “The Idhun Chronicles” (Part 2, Netflix Anime)
  • “Inside World’s Toughest Prisons” (Season 5, Netflix Original)
  • “Lupin” (Netflix Original)
  • “Pretend It’s a City” (Netflix Documentary)

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