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Parler website is back online after Amazon brought it offline

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Parler is back online.


Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

After Amazon, Google, and Apple forced Parler offline in the wake of the deadly insurrection of the US Capitol, the social networking company managed to make an online comeback on Sunday.

The social media website, which is popular with supporters of President Donald Trump, has not regained full operability, but Parler’s CEO John Matze is reportedly “confident” it will reappear in its entirety by the end of January. 

“Our return is inevitable due to hard work, and persistence against all odds,” reads a post by Matze on the Parler website. 

“Despite the threats and harassment not one Parler employee has quit. We are becoming closer and stronger as a team.”

The social networking site went dark when Amazon stopped providing it cloud hosting services after it was revealed the platform was used to help organize the Capitol Hill attack on Jan. 6, which left five people dead. Amazon’s actions followed moves by Apple and Google to ban the Parler mobile app from their respective stores. The Parler app, which is more popular with its user base, remains unavailable. 

The Parler social media app on Apple's App Store

The Parler social media app on Apple’s App Store is no longer available.


Stephen Shankland/CNET

Questions have been raised over how Parler returned online following its ejection from the internet. The Parler domain is registered with Epik, according to domain name database WHOIS. An Epik statement published Monday, however, says the company had “no contact or discussions with Parler in any form regarding our becoming their registrar or hosting provider.”

Citing an infrastructure expert, a Reuters report indicated the IP address Epic used is owned by DDos-Guard, which is “controlled by two Russian men and provides services including protection from distributed denial of service attacks.” The company that owns DDos-Guard is called Cognitive Cloud LP, according to the report. 

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A WHOIS search of Parler’s website shows it was registered with Epik.


Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Parler CEO John Matze didn’t immediately respond to a CNET request for comment.

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Best portable generators to keep the lights on

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Power outages are frustrating, and they’re becoming all too common for many of us. Going hours without power not only can lead to spoiled food and other headaches, but it can also result in uncomfortable, even unsafe temperatures.

Hurricane season is far from over, and fire season is still underway in some areas, which makes it a good time to consider purchasing a generator (and start thinking about other emergency protocols). Thankfully, there are plenty of portable generator options on the market that can step in and keep things running.


Sportsman

Things to consider

Fuel type

Some portable power generator models run on gasoline, while others run on liquid propane tanks. Deciding which fuel type to use for your portable generator likely depends on your available resources.

If you’re in a rural area with no nearby gas station, keeping a propane tank handy might be your best bet for emergency preparedness. If you do have quick access to gasoline, consider the smallest model for your home, so that you don’t burn more fuel than necessary. If you want both options, there are dual fuel portable generator models that run on either fuel type.

Power

You’ll want to make sure you choose a model that has enough power output to run everything you need in an emergency. Two terms are important here: starting watts and running watts

Also known as “peak watts,” starting watts are the highest possible wattage that a generator will produce in order to get an appliance motor running. Generators won’t sustain this wattage long-term. Think of it like the amount of power needed to jump start your fridge.

Running watts are the watts a generator can produce for hours on end while powering appliances. You’ll want a portable generator with at least as many running watts as watts used by your home appliances. 

To calculate just how much wattage you need, a general rule of thumb is to add up the wattage of all the appliances you want to power and multiply by 1.5. You can also look for the starting watts needed for your most power-hungry appliance and add those to the total to find your wattage.

This information will be on a sticker inside your appliance or in the manufacturer’s manual. If you appliance doesn’t list watts, but lists amps and volts, multiple the two to find the wattage. Whatever the sum of your needed watts is, that will be the minimum running wattage you need your generator to produce. 

For instance, in my home, I would need to power a 864-watt dishwasher, 1,440-watt refrigerator and 3,600-watt oven. That means my generator must produce at least 5,904 running watts.

Price

Of course price is a factor, and in general, you’re going to pay more for more power. You can find good generators from $300, or your can spend big for max power and end up with a $2,000 model.

To stay as frugal as possible, limit the number of large appliances you power with a generator. Consider a mini fridge and microwave instead of full size refrigerators and ovens. If the weather isn’t dangerously hot or cold, skip on powering your heating or cooling system. If all that sounds a bit overwhelming, there are several handy online calculators to help you tally things up. 

The generators below aren’t CNET reviewed, but they are the internet’s most popular and highest rated models. We’ve divided them into low, middle and high price ranges. You’ll also find specs for each generator’s starting power, run time on half power and the fuel type and capacity. 

Generators $550 or less

These generators all received high marks from consumers, and none of them will break the bank. If you have a small home or just a few appliances to power, you don’t have to spend big to get a good generator.

Read more: Best flashlights for 2020: Rayovac, ThruNite, Olight and more

Sportsman

The most affordable model on our list, the Sportsman GEN400DF has been on sale for just $300. This is a well-priced dual-fuel model that can operate with either a 3.6-gallon fuel tank or a standard propane tank.

With up to 10 hours of gasoline run time on a 50% load and 12 hours using propane, the Sportsman can keep things going while you get a full night’s sleep before needing more fuel. This emergency generator comes with four 120-volt outlets, one 120-volt RV outlet and one 12-volt DC outlet.

With 4,000 starting watts and 3,500 running watts, it isn’t the most powerful generator on our list. Still, if you’re running small household appliances or just one or two large ones, this model should get the job done.

Note: We’ve seen recent price spikes that put this generator above the $500 mark. We’ll keep an eye on these prices and update accordingly. 

Durostar

If you don’t need the propane tank option, this DuroStar $429 portable generator runs on a 3.9-gallon gasoline tank. It also offers a bit more power supply than the Sportsman with 4,400 starting watts and 3,500 running watts.

Run time on a 50% load is 8 hours, and it is equipped with two 120-volt household outlets and one 120/240-volt outlet. The DuroStar includes its wheels, something often sold separately in kits for generators.

DuroMax

Another solid dual fuel model, the $500 DuroMax XP4850EH has 4,850 starting watts and 3,850 running watts.

It can run off either the 3.96-gallon fuel tank or a 20-gallon liquid propane tank fuel source. Gasoline run time is about 11.5 hours at 50%, while propane will run 9.8 hours on 50%. There are two 120-volt outlets and one 120/240-volt outlet. 

Note: We’ve seen recent price spikes that put this generator above the $500 mark. We’ll keep an eye on these prices and update accordingly. 

Generators $500-$1,000

Up your budget, and you can double your wattage with these generators.  

Briggs & Stratton

This Briggs & Stratton model costs $799, and runs on an 8-gallon fuel tank. Of our midprice range tier, this portable generator model offers the most wattage for the least money with 8,500 starting watts and 6,250 running watts. 

You’ll get 11 hours of run time at 50% with the StormResponder from its 420cc engine. A digital screen Briggs & Stratton calls the “StatStation” displays the power load and provides maintenance reminders. A guide printed on the unit depicts which appliances can plug into which of the four onboard outlets. 

CAT

Of all the models listed here, this portable generator offers the highest run time for the least money. You’ll get 12 hours at 50% load for this $850 CAT model. That’s thanks to a hefty 7.9-gallon gasoline tank. The CAT RP6500 delivers 8,125 starting watts and 6,500 running watts from its 420cc engine.

A CO Defense carbon monoxide automatic shutoff system keeps toxic fumes from building up near your home. There are six rubber-covered outlets, including four GFCI household outlets and two 120/240-volt twist lock outlets. 

Generators $1,000 and up

These high-end units might be overkill for smaller homes, but if you’re looking for high starting watts, this group is your best bet.

Generac

This $1,129 Generac model delivers 10,000 starting watts for easy power-ups.

You’ll get 8,000 running watts for up to 11 hours at 50% load. A 7.9-gallon fuel tank feeds the 420 cc engine. The Generac GP8000E backup power generator includes flat-free tires, a carbon monoxide auto shutoff and six GFCI outlets. 

Champion

Similar in price to the Generac model, this Champion generator offers a bit more power output.

You’ll have 11,500 starting watts and 9,200 running watts at your disposal, as well as a 7.7-gallon fuel tank and 459cc engine that can power your generator at 50% load for 10 hours. 

One 120/240-volt 30-amp locking outlet, one 120/240-volt 50-amp outlet and four 120-volt 20-amp GFCI protected household outlets are included. A digital display reads output and maintenance messages.

DuroMax

This heavy-duty portable generator delivers 10,500 running watts and 13,000 starting watts. A dual-fuel option provides 8.5 hours run time on gasoline and 6.5 hours run time on propane, based on a 50% load. 

Like other dual-fuel models, you can switch fuel types with an onboard button. Several power outlets are provided: two 120-volt GFCI household outlets, one 120-volt 30-amp twist-lock outlet, one 240-volt 30-amp outlet and one 240-volt 50-amp outlet.

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54 best TV shows to stream on Netflix

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Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.


Netflix

If you’re searching for good TV to spend a lot of time with on Netflix, welcome to another list of best shows you might have missed. Netflix periodically changes up its line-up of programs, but its excellent originals stick around. Hopefully you’ll find a hidden gem or two here to keep you entertained at home.

Read more: The Queen’s Gambit: That ending explained and all your questions answered

Bridgerton

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Bridgerton is practically a show designed to be addictive. Known as Jane Austen but with sex, the period piece has a tad more going for it: With lavish production design and colorful costumes, this is Regency London like you’ve rarely seen it. In the early 19th century dating scene, the Bridgerton siblings’ adventures in love are captured by a scandalous newsletter, written by Regency London’s version of Gossip Girl, voiced by none other than Julie Andrews. Settle in for this gorge-worthy viewing.

Cobra Kai

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Guy D’Alema/Netflix

Initially Cobra Kai, a series based on the Karate Kid films, might sound like a cynical money-making spinoff of the martial arts franchise. But it’s become one of Netflix’s most popular shows, thanks to well-written characters and a good measure of nostalgia. The series follows Johnny Lawrence, 34 years after he was jump-kicked in the face by Daniel LaRusso. Taking this subversive viewpoint, Cobra Kai is three seasons of self-aware, light-hearted and full of heart fun.

The Queen’s Gambit

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Netflix

How do you make chess the thrilling centerpiece of a coming-of-age tale? You shake it into a cocktail of stylish visuals, a rocking ’60s soundtrack and the magnetic Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, one of the youngest (and few female) chess players in the world. The fictional story in The Queen’s Gambit, named after a chess opening, follows her rise from an orphanage to toppling the best players in the world — as long as her drug addiction and bags of wine bottles don’t get in the way.

Kingdom

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Netflix

Netflix’s first original Korean series doesn’t pull any punches. A zombie horror with a Joseon period political backdrop to sprawl over, Kingdom is for those partial to a blood-pumping genre-meld with a gory imagination. Season 1 sees Crown Prince Lee Chang wrapped up in a political conspiracy, when he’s not investigating a mysterious plague. He’s swept up in a life or death thriller, with a dash of royal dynasty at stake.

The End of The F***ing World

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Netflix

If you like your dark British humor, look no further than The End of The F***ing World. Psychopath James (Alex Lawther) comes up with a plan to kill Alyssa (Jessica Barden) while on the run from their lousy parents. But as they soar across the open road and commit a couple of violent crimes, their callous hearts soften and they develop feelings for one another. Surprising, fast-paced and surreal, both seasons of this deadpan teenager of a show, with its headphones pumping the best sad ’50s, ’60s and ’70s doo-wop, will blow you away.

Crashing

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Netflix

Before she electrified everyone with the word-for-word perfect Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote a six-part comedy that showcased the early stages of her astonishing talent. Crashing follows six twenty-somethings living in a disused hospital, casually observing the strict rules in exchange for cheap rent. The oddball characters subvert expectations wherever hilariously possible, with Waller-Bridge dropping in as the ukulele-playing Lulu. Not only disrupting the Friends setup, she gets herself into occasionally jaw-droppingly dark situations (see the all-too-touchy Aunt Gladys).

Criminal

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Netflix

Criminal gives you four series of Line of Duty-channeling police procedural, with each episode centered on a suspect picked apart in an interrogation room. The twist: Each series takes place in a different country and language — Spanish, French, German and English — but they use the exact same concept and set. As well as the tightly-scripted, cat-and-mouse interrogations, featuring masterclass performances from the likes of David Tennant, Hayley Atwell — and in season 2, Kit Harington — it’s fascinating to see how the limited sets are used differently by different police teams.

Mindhunter

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Netflix

David Fincher directs a stash of episodes in this psychological crime thriller’s two-season run (the third is on indefinite hold), so meticulous visuals and captivating storylines are a given. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is a special agent in the FBI, sent to interview serial killers in prison to build a profile of what makes them tick. Cameron Britton as real-life serial killer Ed Kemper is absolutely chilling. Mindhunter is smarter and richer than your average crime show, somehow growing with its complex characters. It would be a shame if the third season didn’t happen (although that seems to be the case).

The OA

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Netflix

From the minds of Britt Marling and Zal Batmanglij, The OA has it all: mystery, sci-fi, the supernatural and even a dash of fantasy for good measure. We follow Prairie, a young woman who reappears after being missing for seven years. She used to be blind, but not anymore! Now she calls herself the OA and she sweeps a host of Midwestern locals of all ages and backgrounds into her dimension-hopping mission to save lives. Sadly, Netflix cancelled The OA after season 2, but this big, inventive and human sci-fi is still well worth taking a look at.

Sex Education

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Sam Taylor/Netflix

Binging Sex Education is a no-brainer: The self-aware, John Hughes-possessed mishmash of American and British high school culture is a joyful breeze to watch. We follow Otis (Asa Butterfield), the son of a sex therapist (Gillian Anderson), as he embarks on his sexual awakening. The explicit sex talk and scenes are addressed in refreshingly healthy and honest ways. Built around a diverse cast with pure charisma, Netflix understandably commissioned a third season.

The Haunting of Hill House

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Steve Dietl/Netflix

Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House, loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name, weaves its horror into a deeply affecting story about a broken family. Fractured after growing up in a haunted house, the Crains can’t ignore their past and must do what you never want to do: Go back down those dark corridors. The impressive set-pieces will please horror fans, but it’s the sad story of the Crains that will, yes, haunt you for days. Good news: The second chapter of the anthology, The Haunting of Bly Manor, is out for Halloween.

Dark

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Netflix

Germany’s answer to Stranger Things deliberately takes its time before stepping into completely compelling and original places. A sci-fi noir, Dark folds time travel, conspiracies and estranged families into a generation-spanning story kicked off by a child’s disappearance. If those kinds of meticulously-crafted layers are what you’re after in your storytelling, settle in. All three seasons of Dark’s meditative look at time travel and its effect on human nature are waiting to hit you at full force.

Black Mirror

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Laurie Sparham/Netflix

While Charlie Brooker’s bleak tech anthology series can be hit and miss, at its best, Black Mirror packs its mini-movies with an exploration of futuristic technological ideas through painfully human stories. One of those is San Junipero, following two women in the ’80s (cue banging soundtrack) as they fall for each other in ways they couldn’t do in their “real” lives outside the beach city. The tech aspect is revealed with genius timing and, in general, the show explores the consequences of our plugged-in lives in disturbing and occasionally uplifting ways.

GLOW

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Netflix

A show inspired by the true story of the first pro female wrestling syndicate in the ’80s? Starring Alison Brie? Produced by Jenji Kohan? Dreams do come true. GLOW’s purely fun comedy, packed with eccentric female characters, teams campiness with underdog triumph and soars. Season 3 progresses deeper into the lives of its diverse ensemble, with a fourth and final season on its way to cap off this delightful body slam into the ring.

The Crown

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Netflix

Sumptuous is one word to describe the production values of The Crown’s drama about the British monarchy. Following Queen Elizabeth II’s life, starting in her 20s with a powerhouse performance from Claire Foy, The Crown captures the grand workings of historical events from deep within Buckingham Palace. Figures like Winston Churchill, Princess Margaret, Margaret Thatcher and more are treated with the highest cinematic sophistication. A fifth and sixth season are on their way to round out your knowledge of the Queen’s reign into the early 21st century.

Russian Doll

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Netflix

Russian Doll takes its Groundhog Day premise and wrenches it apart in the most unpredictable ways. Natasha Lyonne is the crackling spark at the center of its time-looping mystery, playing Nadia, a game developer who repeatedly dies on the night of her 36th birthday party. The Amy Poehler co-created show uses time travel to explore self-reflection on a whole new level, making this a definite one-sitting appointment.

Unbelievable

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Netflix

This miniseries, based on a true story of rape, deftly navigates its disturbing and tricky subject matter with the help of a remarkable performance from Kaitlyn Dever. She plays Marie, a teenager who’s charged with lying about being raped, but of course it’s more complicated than that. Toni Collette and Merritt Wever team up as whip-smart detectives who see what others fail to, adding another layer to Unbelievable’s delicate, powerfully moving triumph.

Master of None

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Netflix

On the surface a comedy about a 30-year-old New Yorker who loves his pasta, Master of None casually throws in nuanced and moving episodes about immigrant families and their second-generation children. Then it drops an entire episode about Tinder. Dev’s relatable experiences bubble with creator and star Aziz Ansari’s wit and charm and, personal controversy aside, the romantic and cultural themes he explores are remarkably mature.

Unorthodox

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Netflix

This miniseries is based on a memoir and told primarily in Yiddish with painstaking detail. Almost a thriller, Unorthodox follows 19-year-old Esty Shapiro, who escapes her arranged marriage in an ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn. She ends up in Berlin, exploring a new life outside the strict beliefs she grew up in, but her community doesn’t let go that easily. Featuring a stunning performance from Shira Haas, Unorthodox lets you take a step into a relentlessly compelling world.

Never Have I Ever

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Netflix

Devi is your average high schooler who wants nothing more than to be cool and get a boyfriend. But it’s hard to stay chipper after your dad dies. Mindy Kaling’s coming-of-age story covers familiar territory and yet it stands out from the pack in multiple ways. Get this: Its narrator is John McEnroe. The sporting connection is just one layer of this surprising, charm-your-socks-off show, depicting an Indian family living in California. You’ve seen these stories before, but not with these unique characters.

Money Heist

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Netflix

This series is loved by many (and Netflix loves you for it), but in case you haven’t heard what all the fuss is about, Money Heist is, yep, about a heist. The mastermind doing Ocean’s Eleven-level prep work with equally satisfying reveals is The Professor. He’s got banks in his sights and we see how his intricate plans come together with slick flashbacks, time-jumps and even an unreliable narrator. This is captivating TV with a distinct Spanish identity — don’t let the subtitles put you off.

Dead To Me

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Netflix

If you’re looking for a female-led show with a dark sense of humor and a mystery, Dead To Me delivers all that in spades. This underrated series is all about the friendship between Linda Cardellini’s Judy and Christina Applegate’s Jen, total opposites who bond over wine, family and murder. The twists and reveals keep momentum going, while you enjoy spending time with these flawed but brilliant women.

Peaky Blinders

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Netflix

Netflix wisely snapped up the rights to Peaky Blinders and there are five seasons, with two more coming, to traverse the stunning rise of 1900s Birmingham ganger leader Thomas Shelby. Prepare yourself for a mesmerizing performance from Cillian Murphy in this family saga that has a fantastic amount of fun and flair showing Shelby’s dealings with other gangs, the police and the occasional lover.

After Life

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Netflix

After Life might not be a classic like Ricky Gervais’ The Office and Extras, but it’s a show you’ll want to settle in with. Set in the fictional sleepy town of Tambury, it follows newspaper journalist Tony, played by show creator Gervais in impressively dramatic territory. Tony’s grieving after the love of his life’s death from cancer. While the show’s steeped in melancholy, there are magic moments when Tony unleashes priceless brutal takedowns of the eccentric and annoying (to him) townsfolk. But you always know he’s on track to come to terms with his grief and form lovely relationships with the people around him.

Derry Girls

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Netflix

Another unmissable show, Derry Girls follows the mishaps of Erin and her friends in 1990s Derry, Ireland. Their teenage woes are paired with antics from their equally hilarious parents, set on a backdrop of the Northern Ireland conflict. While you can make comparisons with The Inbetweeners, Derry Girls draws from its own well of sweet charm and the historical context paves ground for surprisingly dark humor.

The Sinner

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Netflix

Three fascinating seasons of The Sinner await to be cracked open, each one focused on a murder committed by an unlikely offender in even stranger circumstances. Season 1 follows Jessica Biel’s Cora, who stabs a man to death on a beach in a sudden frenzy, but has no idea why. It’s up to Bill Pullman’s Detective Ambrose to unravel the shockingly disturbing events embedded in her psyche that lead to her being triggered.

Alias Grace

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Netflix

This miniseries is from a couple of years ago, but in case you missed it, it’s definitely worth checking out. In the vein of The Sinner, Alias Grace steps back into its young female protagonist’s past to figure out why she commits murder, of which she has no memory. An adaptation of a Margaret Atwood novel, the show stars a hypnotic Sarah Gadon as Irish immigrant Grace, navigating a turbulent life as a servant for a family in colonial Toronto. Partly based on a true story, this isn’t a straightforward mystery with straightforward answers and that’s what makes it all the more captivating.

Lovesick

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Netflix

Lovesick is easy, enjoyable viewing with a premise ripe for embarrassment humor we can all relate to. Helpless-in-love Dylan discovers he has chlamydia and must track down past flings and inform them that they might have it too. A flashback narrative keeps things interesting, especially when the focus turns to Dylan and best friend Evie’s feelings for each other. It never goes into soapy territory, with an eccentric but loveable supporting cast playing English flatmates in a Glasgow setting.

Bodyguard

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Netflix

Bodyguard broke records when it first aired in Britain, climbing from cliffhanger to cliffhanger at a relentless pace. This might be the definition of the unstoppable binge, not surprising given it comes from the mind of Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio. Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden plays the titular bodyguard, who suffers from PTSD after serving in the Afghanistan war. On top of that, he’s assigned to protect the Home Secretary (Keeley Hawes), whose politics he despises. Taking provocative turns, and crafting one of the best-ever 20-minute opening scenes, Bodyguard is an expert tension-building balancing act.

Stranger Things

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Netflix

It wouldn’t be a best list without Stranger Things. If somehow you’ve missed the Duffer Brothers’ ode to ’80s horror and Steven Spielberg, things are about to get tubular. We follow El, a near-mute girl who was the subject of scientific experiments. She develops telekinetic powers, which she uses to fend off monsters who invade from a frightening alternative dimension. The world of Indiana, Hawkins, is lovingly detailed for anyone in need of an ’80s nostalgia hit and the misfit characters, played by a stellar young cast, are part of everything that makes this show a tour de force.

House of Cards

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Netflix

While Kevin Spacey’s sexual harassment allegations ended up marring this slick, fourth-wall breaking slice of politics’ dark side, it’s still worth watching if you dig power games and the occasional backstabbing. Initially following Spacey’s Frank Underwood, House of Cards’ sixth and final season pivots to follow his wife Claire (Robin Wright) as she takes on more and more power in the Oval Office.

Ozark

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Touted as the next Breaking Bad, Ozark only gets better and better as you watch the Byrde family’s life spiral out of control. Beginning with a bang, Ozark sees financial advisor Marty’s (Jason Bateman) money laundering scheme for a Mexican drug cartel go wrong. His solution? Move his family to the Lake of the Ozarks, where he’ll set up a bigger laundering operation. Building on all that potential, Ozark crafts a smart, but most importantly, entertaining story, with a superb stand-out turn from Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde. Great news: Ozark was just renewed for a fourth and final season.

Travelers

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Netflix

Full disclosure: Netflix sadly canceled Travelers after its third season, but this tightly-plotted sci-fi out of Canada does manage to end with an ambitious bang. We start with Marcy, a disabled woman who’s beaten up after helping a friend escape thugs. She dies — then comes back to life. This strong character-driven sci-fi reveals its secrets in clever ways, following operatives from the future tasked with preventing the collapse of society, but also navigating the tricky territory of living a double life.

Love

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Netflix

Love is a Judd Apatow creation that draws the best out of the talented Gillian Jacobs (Britta in Community) and Paul Rust. They play Mickey and Gus respectively, an opposites-attract couple, who go to messy, frustrating and endearingly down-to-earth places that make this an honest look at a relationship being built over time. Iris Apatow is a standout as the unhappy child actress Gus tutors who gets away with just about anything.

Orange Is the New Black

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Netflix

One of the first ever Netflix originals broke ground in more ways than one. The seven seasons, initially drawn from a memoir about a real-life women’s prison, span the lives of women from multiple backgrounds and nationalities, who all end up in orange jumpsuits. Drug money smuggler Piper kicks off the first season as our Alice going down the rabbit hole in this wild, raw, hilarious and powerful show, taking on tough issues not often explored on screen.

When They See Us

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Netflix

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us comes under the tough but essential viewing banner. It depicts the real-life events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case, involving five male suspects of color who were falsely accused of rape and assault. Not only sensitively drawing the humanity of the boys into focus, When They See Us demands outrage at the injustice of systemic racism.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Netflix

Tina Fey’s post-30 Rock sitcom is as weird and wonderful as it gets. Kimmy Schmidt is a 29-year-old who finally emerges after 15 years spent in the bunker of a doomsday cult. Naive but relentlessly enthusiastic, she does her best to adjust to life in New York, taking on odd jobs, finding love and making friends with equally odd people. The show is impressively peppered with a joke a second. Its rewatch value is through the roof and Ellie Kemper ensures Kimmy is a heroine to root for.

Daredevil

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Netflix

The show that paved the way for Marvel’s Netflix TV series came to an end after its third season, a casualty in the cut ties between the streamer and the superhero juggernaut. This understandably outraged fans, given its quality wasn’t slowing down. Not just any superhero show, Daredevil goes to dark and surprisingly existential places, dealing with Matt Murdock’s faith as he leads a double life as a blind lawyer and the Daredevil vigilante. Becoming famous for its one-take hand-to-hand combat sequences, with a villain just as good as its hero — Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin — Daredevil shone bright while it lasted.

Jessica Jones

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Netflix

While the latter two seasons drop the ball a little in terms of complex themes, season 1 of Jessica Jones is a force to be reckoned with. Somehow managing to be a superhero detective noir, the series entwines subject matter like rape, assault and PTSD into its many facets. Krysten Ritter was the perfect choice to take on the dry, sarcastic, rough-around-the-edges hero who could also be the occasional asshole. With a mind-controling villain like David Tennant’s Kilgrave, who can literally tell people to kill themselves, the wall our hero must scale to save the day is absolutely staggering.

Chef’s Table

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Chef’s Table is for foodies who want not only food porn, but the soaring feeling of seeing what great chefs overcame to get that food to the plate. From the documentary maker who served up the acclaimed Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Chef’s Table tells the story of a different professional chef each episode, hailing from restaurants in the far corners of the world (Lima, Peru, anyone?). All to the tune of original symphonic music, this series is a moving, cinematic opera fueled by the power of food, culture and inspiring stories.

Queer Eye

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

The reboot of the 2003 makeover show is much more than a reality TV series. As the Queer Eye team travel around the US and occasionally other parts of the world, stepping into the homes of those put forward by friends and family, they use their charm and pure willingness to help to nudge their new friends toward a transformative shift in their lives. As you watch, you might pick up cooking, fashion and home decorating skills yourself, all on the path to notching up confidence and happiness.

Collateral

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Carey Mulligan playing a detective inspector is a stroke of genius, leading an investigation into the murder of a pizza delivery guy shot in a London suburb. Mulligan’s astute and, er, ex-Olympic pole vaulter Kip Gillespie delves deeper into the mystery that of course isn’t what it seems. Collateral pushes against its police procedural boundaries into murky moral territory, wrapped up in a hot blanket of politics and social commentary.

Narcos

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Drug kingpin Pablo Escobar is the subject of this, yes, addictive series that races through his rise to becoming the infamous cocaine distributer and billionaire. A true-to-life account that blends in archival footage, Narcos manages to present a sympathetic side to Escobar without undermining the gravity of its material. Plus, the DEA’s hunt to bring Escobar down ratchets up the suspense. After you finish the three series, head to Narcos: Mexico, a companion series that focuses on the illegal drug trade in Mexico.

The Last Dance

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Even if you’re not into sports or documentaries, The Last Dance plays out like the most pulsating drama, detailing the Chicago Bulls rise to greatness, with rare footage of their magnetic and intense leader Michael Jordan. A fascinating look into the basketball world, The Last Dance is as entertaining and thrilling as a match on the court.

13 Reasons Why

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

The first season of this YA show stuck most closely to its source material, a novel by Jay Asher that revolves around a teenage girl’s suicide. Hannah Baker leaves behind a box of cassettes, which her thoughtful friend Clay Jensen listens to to find out why she chose to take her life. This is deep stuff, dealt with in confronting ways (at one time deemed too confronting), but the social issues like suicide, sexual assault and mental health are handled maturely. A high school drama through fragile, lost young adults draws you in and doesn’t let go.

BoJack Horseman

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

When it comes to cartoons that lower your guard before gut-punching you with reflections on mental health, BoJack Horseman takes the cake. Set in an LA filled with anthropomorphic animals, it follows a washed-up ex-sitcom star who tries to climb back to his former celebrity by releasing an autobiography. While at first it might take you some time to digest this unconventional cocktail, BoJack Horseman soon astounds you with its truths about struggling with depression and addiction on the path to getting your life back on track.

Dear White People

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

This provocatively titled show delivers a timely look at modern race relations through the eyes of a different character each episode. Following several black students at Winchester, an Ivy League institution, Dear White People manages to blend its social commentary with a sharp sense of humor. The fourth and final season is set to arrive this year, capping off this powerful eye-opener.

The Kominsky Method

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

A comedy starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin? Yep, it’s as good as it sounds. Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, an ex-actor in Hollywood who’s now an acting coach, going through all that comes with growing older. Arkin plays his pal and agent Norman Newlander. The two leads, along with side characters played by the likes of Emily Osment, are what elevate this show into poignant, warm-your-heart territory.

Godless

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

This miniseries carves itself firmly into the Western genre, with a female-led cast boasting Merritt Weaver and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery. With its 1880s New Mexico vistas swirling around it, Godless draws up the violence in a tale that sees an outlaw on the run from his boss seek refuge with an outcast widower. Oh, Jeff Daniels is in this too, if the show wasn’t enticing enough.

Crazyhead

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

If you were a fan of Howard Overman’s insanely entertaining Misfits, Crazyhead might be where you want to head next. Overman’s follow-up show, which first aired in the UK in 2016, is a comedy-horror starring Cara Theobold (the voice of Tracer in Overwatch) and Susan Wokoma as unlikely friends who bond over being able to see demons gallivanting about in normal society. Their brilliant double-act is at the heart of this disturbingly entertaining series, featuring exorcisms, accidental roommate killings and demon fathers. Yeah, you need to watch this for yourself.

Easy

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Joe Swanberg brings his endlessly watchable, laidback brand of improvisational storytelling to multiple tales exploring the many variations of love. One of them involves a married couple testing the waters of an open relationship. There are a host of different characters and relationships to flip through in Easy’s episodic anthology set in Chicago, with surprisingly realistic and meaningful resolutions.

Tiger King

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Even if you’ve gleaned a lot of the details of Tiger King’s insanity from when it took over the internet, you still stand a good chance of being sucked into the documentary series that goes to seemingly unbelievable places. There really is nothing like watching Joe Exotic’s rise and fall as he builds his private tiger zoo in Oklahoma. Things get even more bizarre when his bitter feud with Carole Baskin, a cat rescuer in Florida, leads to harassment, threats and unsolved murder mysteries. You really do have to watch it to believe it.

Cheer

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Another documentary series that captivated more than just sports fans, Cheer delves into the lives of young, highly competitive athletes at Navarro College in Texas. Starting in 2000, coach Monica Aldama builds the cheerleading program from the ground up to become the best in the country. The anxiety they deal with heightens across the six episodes as their big competition nears, but always, at its core, the show is resoundingly uplifting.

Feel Good

Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton.

Netflix

Comedian Mae Martin’s Feel Good really does try to do what it says on the tin. It follows the repressed George (Charlotte Ritchie) as she falls for Martin’s Mae after seeing her stand-up show. Their London-based romance sees George grappling with coming out to her middle-class friends and family, while Canadian Mae has a drug problem that makes their love even more difficult. A confidently told story with its sense of humor nailed on from the start, Feel Good exudes sweetness and grace.

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Bridgerton Season 2 News, Release Date, Cast, Spoilers

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I made a delightful discovery this week: There might be no better way to close the door on 2020 than by stuffing your face with Christmas cookies and bingeing eight straight episodes of a period drama by Shonda Rhimes. The steamy, lavish Regency-set Bridgerton—Rhimes’s first new scripted series as part of her massive deal with Netflix—is not my typical Netflix fodder; I usually find period pieces tired and overstretched.

But Bridgerton moves along with the captivating clip of one of those fancy horses the leading ladies ride side-saddle. The story of Daphne Bridgerton’s scheme to avoid a loveless marriage with the doltish Lord Berbrooke—by stirring up a fake romance with the Duke of Hastings—might seem shallow on the surface, but Bridgerton does a delightful job of manifesting real intimacy between the two leads. The result is a fun bit of escapism that still manages to feel significant and special.

So, the question on everyone’s lips is, of course, if there’s more. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on official news from Lady Whistledown, but there are a few things we know so far.

Season 2 seems quite likely.

Although Netflix has yet to announce an official return for Bridgerton, we have two reasons to suspect it’ll happen anyway: 1) The series has been a huge hit since its debut on December 25, and 2) Reports from production schedules seem to imply season 2 is already slated for 2021. In particular, a recent listing from Production Weekly shows the season is set to start filming in Uxbridge, England, in March 2021. We’ll see if that pans out with the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s a promising sign for future episodes!

LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

But things might be on hold for a while.

Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne, said in an interview with Deadline that COVID-19 might manage to delay things for a while.

“I can’t imagine how it would be possible to film under these circumstances,” she said in the interview published January 15. “There are so many extras and so many crew members, and it’s a very intimate show. It just baffles me how we would film it under Covid rules unless there was a vaccine beforehand.”

The vaccine rollout in the U.K. is happening steadily, though, so that could mean good news for the Bridgerton cast and crew. The show is filmed in Bath, England.

The cast wants to return.

Although excitement from the cast doesn’t necessarily mean a show will return, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Dynevor told ELLE.com she would love to come back to the show, so long as she gets to have a little fun with Jonathan Bailey’s character, Anthony. “I want to see Daphne get involved in Anthony’s love life a bit, as he sort of meddled with hers quite a lot,” she joked. “I think that will be fun.”

regÉ jean page as simon basset and phoebe dynevor as daphne bridgerton in episode 108 of bridgerton

LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

On the other hand, Regé-Jean Page, who plays Daphne’s suave beau Simon Basset, would like to see more of their relationship in the next series. “As far as continuing to explore characters, I think that love is an evolving thing,” he told TV Guide. “It’s a living, breathing thing that needs tending, that needs looking after, that needs mending when it gets worn or torn. They get married very young. They still have a lot of growing to do. They have a lot to do, and I think it’ll always be fun to watch them do that together.”

Nicola Coughlan, who plays the darling Penelope Featherington, has her own plans: She told Radio Times she, too, would come back for more—especially if Penelope gets more screen time. “I’d love to go on that journey with [Penelope], to see how she’s changed,” she said. “I’d really love to come back, because I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface. And because there’s such a huge cast in this show, there’s so much more of all the characters.”

The creator is already gunning for, well…seven more seasons.

In an interview with Collider, Bridgerton creator Chris Van Dusen said he has big plans for the future. In keeping with the eight books that make up the Bridgerton series, he’s hoping for eight total seasons of the Netflix show as well.

“This being a family of eight children and there being eight books, I would love to be able to focus and really tell stories and love stories for all the Bridgerton siblings. For each character, for sure,” he said. When Collider asked to confirm if that meant he wanted eight seasons, he responded, “I would love that. In success, I would love that.”

If all goes well, we can expect more of those delicious “married ladies” parties.

In season 1, Lady Danbury (a delightful Adjoa Andoh) hosts a party for married women to gamble, drink, and generally get into trouble. Even the picture-perfect Daphne gets involved! Andoh says she wants to see much more of this.

“I would love to really develop those female friendships, for Lady Danbury to be a sort of conduit for doing that. For making things happen. For making space for these women to develop,” she told Decider. “I would love to see some development of the friendships between the older women, particularly, and also more of that bohemian, artistic scene.”

Lady Whistledown might reveal herself…at least to one character.

We learn at the end of the series that Lady Whistledown is not, in fact, the modiste (Genevieve Delacroix)—she’s the seemingly innocent Penelope. Says Claudia Jessie, who plays Penelope’s best friend Eloise, that revelation might finally be spilled to the people of the ton…and it could change everything.

“Eloise and Penelope’s relationship is gonna change!” she told Decider. “Obviously they’re best mates, but there’s a lot that Penelope hasn’t shared with Eloise. And I’m sure there are loads of secret love and romantic desires that Eloise has had that she hasn’t been brave enough to share.”

“I’d hate to think of the fallout that’s gonna happen with Eloise,” Coughlan added. “That like, makes me feel like ill inside.”

We have a good idea of what season 2 would focus on.

Speaking of a large cast of characters, the Bridgerton book series on which the show is based has eight different books, which means the wizards over at Netflix have no shortage of material to work with. If the series continues to draw from Julia Quinn’s creations, next season should focus not on Daphne and Simon but on Daphne’s brother Anthony and his own quest for love—or, uh, something like it.

You see, Anthony—scorned by his former lover—is convinced he should marry for duty, not love, and so he refuses to marry someone he actually cares for. In the book, titled The Viscount Who Loved Me, he chooses a Sheffield daughter as his wife, but Kate Sheffield steps in to protect her younger sister from marriage to London’s most famous bachelor. Then Kate realizes her own heart might be at stake. Sounds delectable.

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Can Face Yoga Really Transform Your Skin?

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Photography via instagram.com/@allyoucanface

Between the emergence of “maskne” (a word we’d never heard of a year ago but is now a part of our daily vocabulary) and more time spent in front of screens than ever before, not to mention the sleepless nights spent doom-scrolling, you may have noticed some skin dullness and puffiness that wasn’t there before. And while endless hours staring at our own faces on Zoom has resulted in an uptick in cosmetic procedures to address newfound imperfections, not everyone wants to go that route. Enter: face yoga and facial massage.

Launched in 2016 in the UK, “gym for your face” studio FaceGym made its North American debut in 2018, and currently has studio locations in Manchester, London, New York and Los Angeles. The premise of the facial (that’s way more than a facial) is to provide your face — and the 40+ muscles that exist from the neck up that we rarely think about — with a good ol’ fashioned workout, beginning with a warm up, then moving onto cardio and sculpting, before finishing with a cool down. The result? A non-invasive face lift, a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall brighter, more plump-looking complexion.

Meghan Markle’s facialist, Nichola Joss, is also a huge proponent of facial massage and even has her own signature face massage method (which includes going inside your mouth (!) — you can watch a demo here). TikTok user @allyoucanface discovered face yoga after struggling with acne and getting drawn into facial anatomy as an alternative to invasive cosmetic procedures and harsh treatments. Today, she has almost half a million followers on TikTok, where she shares facial massage tips and tricks, as well as before and after shots. She also has a virtual face yoga course that involves a daily 10-minute facial exercise routine.

Anastasia Burdog of @anyclass.faceonline, boasts 2 million followers on Instagram and offers similar virtual classes based on her 10 years of “face gymnastics” experience, which she claims can help with facial asymmetry, puffiness, dullness, wrinkles and more.

@allyoucanface##faceexercise ##basics ⭐️ ##allyoucanface ##facesculpting ##faceyoga ##facegym

♬ Original Sound – Unknown

Face yoga techniques vary from rapid, light slaps (to wake up the skin) to holding certain poses (to strengthen muscles) and the benefits, like regular yoga, range from toning muscles to easing tension and activating muscles that are rarely used.

Still not convinced? Before you write off face yoga as too goop-y, a 2018 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that “facial exercise resulted in improved […] upper cheek and lower cheek fullness” and the participants’ estimated ages were decreased after completing the exercise program. The women, aged 40 to 65, practiced 30 minutes of face yoga every day for two months, then every other day for three months, and at the end of the study, they looked about three years younger, according to a panel of dermatologists.

Lastly, as far as tools go, your hands are all you really need to practice face yoga. In fact, they’re an excellent way to get well-acquainted with your facial structure, especially if you’re new to facial massage. But if you’re a fan of jade rollers, gua sha stones, or anything else, there’s certainly no reason you can’t incorporate them into your face yoga routine.

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Barack Obama Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

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On Instagram today, Barack Obama honored Martin Luther King Jr. in a heartfelt tribute. In his post, he honored King for “the seeds of his courage, his discipline, his vision, and the resilience of all who joined with him took years to bear fruit. But they gave us the Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act. And an American tradition of nonviolent resistance that has rung through the generations, as we saw this summer when Americans of all races echoed his example in standing up to declare that Black Lives Matter—no more but also no less.”

He also pointed to the challenges that the U.S. is up against right now. It’s been less than two weeks since a mob breached the Capitol, less than a week since Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s inauguration is in two days.

“We’re in the middle of a tough chapter for our country, but #MLKDay should serve as a reminder that we have been through tough times before—and emerged from them stronger. But only because we never stopped believing in our democracy,” he said, in part. “Only because we never stopped working to perfect it.”

Read his full tribute below:

If anyone had a right to question whether our democracy was worth redeeming, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because in the face of billy clubs and lynchings, poll taxes and literacy tests, he never gave in to violence, never waved a traitorous flag, never gave up on the country he called home, despite all of the injustices and indignities it brought upon him. Instead, he set out to realize his dream the most effective—and the most radical—way he knew how, by working with others to march, boycott, and sit in, recognizing that, as he said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The seeds of his courage, his discipline, his vision, and the resilience of all who joined with him took years to bear fruit. But they gave us the Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act. And an American tradition of nonviolent resistance that has rung through the generations, as we saw this summer when Americans of all races echoed his example in standing up to declare that Black Lives Matter—no more but also no less.
On #MLKDay, we celebrate his life but we’re also called to live out his values through service of our own. Here are some ways you can get involved in your community: bideninaugural.org/day-of-service/. We’re in the middle of a tough chapter for our country, but #MLKDay should serve as a reminder that we have been through tough times before—and emerged from them stronger. But only because we never stopped believing in our democracy. Only because we never stopped working to perfect it. And only because, even in the face of intimidation, discrimination, and unimaginable suffering, we never stopped dreaming of a better day—and never stopped doing the long, hard, essential work of ushering it in.

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Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will join the Bush and Clinton families at the inauguration Wednesday.

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Those WandaVision retro commercials hint at dark things to come

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Don’t skip over the fake ads in WandaVision.


Marvel/Disney Plus

WandaVision, Marvel’s new DisneyPlus show, starts in black and white, with canned laughter as a backdrop and a look like that of a familiar couple comedy along the lines of I Love Lucy. So it’s fitting each episode includes one retro commercial. Those spoof ads aren’t just funny, they play off Marvel’s history.

Possible WandaVision spoilers ahead.

In the first episode, the commercial airs just about 10 minutes in, and begins with burned toast smoking in a retro toaster. It unfolds as an ad for the “new and improved ToastMate 2000,” which supposedly can toast even pie and meatloaf. As the toaster works busily away, it beeps eerily like a bomb, with its red light the only splash of color in the black-and-white ad. It turns out the toaster is a product of Iron Man Tony Stark’s family company, Stark Industries, and it features the ominous slogan “Forget the past, this is your future.”

But a Stark device beeping like a bomb has a frightening connection to Wanda. In 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda and her twin brother, Pietro, reveal they were just 10 when they lost their parents in a bombing, and sat terrified for two days staring at the word “Stark” on an unexploded shell that landed nearby.

“We wait for two days for Tony Stark to kill us,” Wanda says in the film. It seems clear an ad for a toaster made by Stark that beeps like a bomb is no coincidence. While most of the episode is light and slapstick-ey and reminiscent of a fluffy sitcom, the commercial drops in with a reminder: There’s a darker past here, and the show could explore it.

In the second episode, the commercial comes at about 6:40 in, and appears to feature the same two actors as the first mock ad did. (CNET’s critic has some speculation about who the man and woman may be.)

The second ad shows an elegant couple heading for a night out and hawks the man’s Strücker watch. Not familiar with Strücker? Baron Wolfgang von Strücker is the Marvel villain who controls the evil organization Hydra in Avengers; Age of Ulton, and he’s the one who experimented on Wanda and her twin. So it’s especially chilling that the watch says “Hydra” right on its face, and has a menacing slogan — “Strücker: He’ll make time for you.”

Wanda and Vision may be attempting to live a sitcom-perfect suburban life, but the ads are a reminder that things may get serious before the full nine episodes are up. Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige even acknowledges the commercials are important.

“How (are) other truths of the show beginning to leak out?” Feige said, according to SlashFilm. “It’s just a strange version of the ’50s commercial or ’60s commercial … you’ll have to keep watching the series and understand. If you have been watching all the movies, you might be able to start connecting what those things mean to the past.”

The ads aren’t the only Easter eggs that reward close watching by Marvel fans. Check out our roundup of other noteworthy moments, including Vision’s gum, and that unnerving beekeeper.

A new WandaVision episode — and presumably, a new commercial — will premiere on Disney Plus on Jan. 22.

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Millennial Brand Guru Erin Kleinberg Launches Sidia

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Sidia Set in Smoke Tree (Olive), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.

“No one wants to wear jeans in their own home.”

If you need to build a millennial brand, you call Erin Kleinberg. The Canadian marketer/designer/creative visionary has advised everyone from established luxury houses to Instagram-famous start-ups on how to navigate the finicky consumer group. (The client page of her Toronto and New York-based creative advertising agency, Métier Creative, reads like a twenty-something’s Pinterest board named “dream shopping wish list.”) Kleinberg’s latest project, Sidia, is a brand of her own.

Originally an off-shoot of Métier’s corporate gifting program called Out of Office, the tightly edited line of “effortless uniforms” was rebranded in early March 2020 after the passing of Kleinberg’s grandmother, Sidia. “We were hit with the first COVID lockdown the same week that my grandmother lost her battle with cancer,” recalls Kleinberg. “It was a crushing, very challenging time. It was one of those moments where you’re like, Holy, what’s happening here? Who am I? What is my purpose?” 

Kleinberg wanted to combine the knowledge she had amassed as co-founder of the Coveteur (during which she raised funds from the 6ix god himself, Drake), running the fashion line (sold to big-name retailers like Barneys and Lane Crawford) she started at age 21, and building brands from scratch at her creative agency. She found herself grounded in the principles of legacy, honour and respect – the things her grandmother stood for.  “All of the past life experiences I’ve had with my grandmother, my mother and my career, I’ve incorporated into this brand,” says Kleinberg of Sidia. “We want to create products that make you feel liberated and like a million bucks, and surround you with a community rooted in this idea of multi-generational storytelling.”

Sidia, the brand, has found its niche selling matching sets (something beloved by Sidia, the woman) that look work appropriate, thanks to smart design choices like a wide-leg Palazzo pants, deep V-neck cardigans and lightweight ribbed fabrics, but have the chill comfort of a caftan (which, by the way, the brand also sells).

“Our minds are so bogged down with what’s going on in myriad ways in 2021, so we wanted something that was simple, refined, lounge-y and leisurely, but not schleppy,” says Kleinberg of the sets. “People are jonesing for this; no one wants to wear jeans in their own home, but they also don’t always want to be in this heavy Gildan sweatsuit moment.”

Sidia Sets in new colour ways, from top: Spring Gate (camel), Karl Crt (charcoal), Smoke Tree (deep olive) and Searle (heather grey), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.

The first drop of Sidia Sets, which are made in Toronto, launched earlier this year and sold out in two hours. The second drop will feature four new shades: a rich charcoal grey (“quintessential for people who live in a cold climate,” says Kleinberg), a light oatmeal-y heather grey (“the colour looks a bit like socks you’d wear at camp, which reminds me of my past”), a deep green (“olive green is just as as universal as black”) and camel (“it hints that spring is coming eventually”).

The sets are currently available up to a size 18, with even more inclusive sizing on the horizon. “I’m here to create products that people can love and enjoy and just live their best life in,” says Kleinberg. “That’s something that’s been really exciting.”

Get a first-look at the Sidia Sets in the four new colour ways, available for pre-order on January 26th and set to ship in February, below. The drop will also reprise the original Sidia Sets in Cosmic Blvd (black), Acton (a light blue) and Sierra Madre (moss green). Mark your calendars now.

"No one wants to wear jeans in their own home."
Sidia Set in Spring Gate (Camel), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.
Sidia Set in Charcoal
Sidia Set in Karl Crt (Charcoal), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.
"No one wants to wear jeans in their own home."
Sidia Set in Searle (Heather Grey), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.
"No one wants to wear jeans in their own home."
Sidia Set in Smoke Tree (Olive), price upon request, sidiathebrand.com.

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Controlling VR with my mind: NextMind’s dev kit shows me a strange new world

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The NextMind band, or what it looks like from the side that rests against the back of your head.


Scott Stein/CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

In my Oculus Quest VR headset, I was in a room surrounded by large-brained aliens. Their heads flashed, white and black. I turned to one, staring at it. Soon enough, its head exploded. I looked at the others, making their heads explode. Then I looked at a flashing portal marker across the room and was gone. I did this without eye tracking. A band on the back of my head was sensing my visual cortex with electrodes.

I felt like I was living some sort of real-life virtual version of the David Cronenberg film, Scanners. But in reality, I was trying a neural input device made by NextMind.

The NextMind band, or what it looks like from the side that rests against the back of your head.


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Before holiday break, I received a large black box with a small package inside. A black disc, with a headband. The disc was covered in small rubber-footed pads. NextMind’s $399 developer kit, announced a year ago at CES 2020, aims at something many companies are striving for: neural inputs. NextMind aims to read a brain’s signals to track attention, control objects and maybe even more.

It’s hard to understand the real potential and possibilities of neural input technology. Also, many of the startups in this space are doing different things. CTRL-Labs, a neurotechnology company acquired by Facebook in 2019, developed an armband that could send hand and finger inputs. Another company, Mudra, is making a wristband for Apple Watch later this year that also senses neural inputs on the wrist.

I wore an early version of the Mudra Band a year ago, and experienced how it could interpret my finger’s movements, and even roughly measure how much pressure I was applying when I squeezed my fingers. Even more weirdly, Mudra’s tech can work when you aren’t moving your fingers at all. The applications could include assisting people who don’t even have hands, like a prosthetic wearable.

NextMind’s ambitions look to follow a similar assistive-tech path, while also aiming for a world where neural devices could possibly help improve accuracy with physical inputs — or combine with a world of other peripherals. Facebook’s AR/VR head, Andrew Bosworth, sees neural input tech emerging at Facebook within three to five years, where it could end up being combined with wearable devices like smart glasses.

nextmind-vr

Attaching the NextMind device onto an Oculus Quest 2 headband.


Scott Stein/CNET

My NextMind experience has been rough, but also mesmerizing. The dev kit has its own tutorial and included demos that can run on Windows or Mac, plus a Steam VR demo that I played back on the Oculus Quest with a USB-C cable. The compact Bluetooth plastic puck has a headband but can also unclip from that and attach directly onto the back of a VR headset strap with a little effort.

All of NextMind’s experiences involve looking at large, subtly flashing areas of your screen, which can be “clicked” by focusing. Or staring. It was hard to tell how to make something activate, and I found myself trying to open my eyes more, or breathe, or concentrate. Eventually, sooner or later, the thing I was looking at would click. Out of a field of five or so on-screen flashing “buttons,” this really did know what I was looking at. And again, there was no eye tracking involved at all, this just rested on the back of my head.

Did it make me feel uncomfortable? Uncertain? Oh, yes. And as my kid came in and saw me doing this, and I showed him what I was doing, he was as astonished as if I had performed a magic trick.

NextMind’s dev kit isn’t meant for consumer devices yet. The Mudra Band, while launching as an Apple Watch accessory via crowdfunding site Indiegogo, is also experimental. I have no doubt we’ll see more technology like this. At this year’s virtual CES, there was even a “neural mouse” glove that aimed to improve reaction times by sensing click inputs a hair faster than even the physical mouse could receive. I didn’t try that glove, but the idea doesn’t sound far off from what companies like NextMind are imagining, either.

Right now, neural inputs feel like an imperfect attempt at creating an input, like algorithms searching for a way to do something I’d probably just do with a keyboard, a mouse or touchscreen instead. But, that was how voice recognition felt, once. And hand tracking. Right now, NextMind’s demos really do work. I’m just trying to imagine what happens next. Whatever it is, I hope more exploding heads won’t be a part of it.

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The best indoor home security cameras to buy for 2021

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Today’s security cameras come in a number of styles, including video doorbells and outdoor cameras. Many of them have specialty options like facial recognition, free cloud storage and person alerts. When you’re looking to keep an eye on everything when you’re not at home, consider an indoor security camera. These range in price from $20 to several hundreds of dollars. I’ve highlighted a few of my contenders for the best indoor home security camera below to help guide your decision. 

Wyze

In a sea of costly security cameras, the $20 Wyze Cam v3 offers killer value. Couple that with its straightforward app, easy installation and solid performance, and this excellent home security camera is our favorite indoor cam (and it’s weatherproof so you can use it outside too). 

What sets this security camera apart even more are its free two-week cloud storage and built-in microSD card slot for local storage. You have to buy a microSD card separately, but that’s standard for most cams with local storage. This smart camera supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands and has a motion detection zone feature.

Read our Wyze Cam review.

Read more: Top cheap home security devices

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The $200 Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera, previously called the Netatmo Welcome, is one of the few indoor security cameras that works with HomeKit Secure Video. HomeKit Secure Video is a service that works with the iOS-only Home app. It offers 10 days of free event-based video history, stored in iCloud.

Few security camera companies offer free cloud storage anymore (ahem, Arlo) — and even fewer offer 10 full days of free cloud storage. Wyze is an exception with this indoor security camera’s two weeks of free storage, which is one reason why it’s my current favorite indoor cam.

The Smart Indoor Camera from Netatmo has 1080p HD livestreaming, a 130-degree field of view, night vision and local storage with an included microSD card. This security camera also has facial recognition capabilities when you create a database of friends and family members. In addition to working with HomeKit, the Smart Indoor Camera also supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.

Read more from CNET.

Chris Monroe/CNET

At $299, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor is definitely pricey for a security camera. But it also happens to have a ton of high-end features with a lot of appeal. First, it has 1080p HD livestreaming, free person alerts and a 4K image sensor. That 4K image sensor permits a feature called Supersight that zooms in on a person and tracks them within the camera’s field of view. 

If you pay for a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $5 per month, you get access to the facial recognition feature. With facial recognition, you can create a database of friends and family in the app and then receive custom alerts when the camera recognizes “Dave” or “Molly.” 

The Nest Cam IQ Indoor also has a built-in Google Assistant speaker for general or smart-home-specific voice commands.

Read more from CNET.

More smart home and security

Today's security cameras come in a number of styles, including video doorbells and outdoor cameras. Many of them have specialty options like facial recognition, free cloud storage and person alerts. When you're looking to keep an eye on everything when you're not at home, consider an indoor security camera. These range in price from $20 to several hundreds of dollars. I've highlighted a few of my contenders for the best indoor home security camera below to help guide your decision. 


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