The year is ending and we couldn’t be happier. And while I wish we could all press a refresh button to reboot our lives, it’s not that easy — getting a fresh start takes motivation and dedication. Here are some television shows and movies to help with just that, as we get inspired to take our first steps toward a new year.
For a healthy new year
The Game Changers
Eating plant-based might feel like another popular fad diet — I’ve watched family members be partially vegan for years but love steak, so I was never fully sold myself — but watching the Tennessee Titans football team “go vegan” and make it to the playoffs made me a believer. The documentary The Game Changers features MMA fighters, strongman competition winners, and other athletes who only eat plant-based foods, and will give you the motivation you need if you’re looking to eat less meat in 2021.
Instead of a resolution to lose 9 kg, you may want to be more specific about how you want to be more active in the new year, like learning Muay Thai or Krav Maga. Captain America: Winter Soldier star Frank Grillo hosts the documentary Fightworld about global fighting styles, and puts unique fighting styles into perspective, like calling the martial art of “Laamb” in Senegal “Greco-Roman wrestling with punches.” Grillo goes through physically demanding training regimens, so it’s like watching a Captain America villain being put in his place. (Because, basically, it is.)
In Defence of Food
Eating healthy requires a lot of thought these days — my own nutritionist tells me that if there are more than five ingredients I can’t pronounce, that I probably shouldn’t eat it. Based on Michael Pollan’s book, the 2015 documentary In Defence of Food helps people understand what they eat. His guideline can be summarised simply: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan breaks down those seven words to help you make better informed choices on what to eat.
For cleaning up your life
Christina on the Coast
Christina Anstead is an HGTV star who’s gone through a few fresh starts: After a public split with her husband and Flip or Flop co-host Tarek El Moussa, Christina went from flipping with her ex to remodeling high-end LA homes. In Christina on the Coast, she’s selling her own home, taking the leap into co-parenting, and refreshing her career all at once. It’s fun to watch the drama, but also motivation to make the new life that you want.
In Making It, Amy Poehler and co-star Nick Offerman challenge crafting contestants to a DIY competition. Artists and makers are brought together to handcraft everything from small items like piggy banks, to large designs like entire sheds. It’s like watching The Great British Baking Show, but for crafting. During the pandemic, hosts Poehler and Offerman have challenged watchers to Make It at Home, including a recent clip where they challenged viewers to make something from their “junk draw” and someone made a clutch out of ketchup packets. The possibilities of repurposing your household items are indeed endless.
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is famous for her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and uses the “KonMari Method” of organising by category. The method is brought to life in her Netflix series Tidying up with Marie Kondo, and centres on keeping only what brings you joy.
The show helps declutter clients’ homes and create a sustainable method for organising, but some episodes turn into therapy. One couple revealed their communication had deteriorated over the years, as the dad was tired of needing to clean the house after a long day at work and the mum was frustrated with keeping the household together on her own. Kondo helped them open up and work together to build a new system that worked for both of them.
For personal development
I consider Queer Eye like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: you can use it for everything. The Fab Five travel across the country giving head to toe (and home) makeovers, and well-deserving people break out of their shells and become an upgraded version of their most authentic selves. Queer Eye is here to change lives, and it’ll definitely inspire you to change yours as the new year begins.
Defining Moments With Ozy
Origin stories get me motivated, and on Hulu, Defining Moments With Ozy features detailed interviews with celebrities as they share their intimate life stories. In the first episode, Pose star Dominique Jackson tells her story of triumph, which is not far off her portrayal of the house mother on Pose as a trans woman on her own and having ballroom culture save her life. You can’t help but feel motivated after that.
For diving back into dating
Dating: No Filter
The E! comedy dating show Dating: No Filter films two blind daters as comedians look on and roast them. The daters and comedians keep an open mind as the dates begin, but there’s no holding back when the dates go south — like when two women get their undercarriage steamed on a first date. But whether the date is rough or runs smoothly, you actually learn a bit about how to approach dating with a sense of humour and an open mind.
Are You The One
Are You the One is trashy enough that it deserves a disclaimer before each episode, but at its core the show is about breaking from bad habits and making smarter decisions in your love life. The premise is that twenty singles are sent to a tropical location to find love, and based on some supposed precise expert matching technology (think Tinder or Bumble) their perfect matches have been found. The participants then live together for ten weeks, attempting to find their “perfect match,” and finding all ten matches means the group splits the cash prize of one million dollars. It’s The Real World with higher stakes and outlandish ruckus, but the drama might actually inspire you to evaluate your past behaviour if you want to change.
For going back to school
The NBC sitcom now on Netflix, Community follows an unlikely band of characters in a community college study group. The group studies a little, but spends most of their time engaging in paintball wars and fake morning shows. It’s a comedic representation of community college, but an entertaining form of motivation to pursue higher education.
The popular film Legally Blonde follows Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a sorority girl who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law to win him back. Elle seems like a ditz, but gets into Harvard, pursues a law degree on a whim, and succeeds, transforming her life by studying hard and caring about her hairdresser’s well being. By the end, you’ll feel reminded that anyone can achieve their dreams. Now on Hulu, Legally Blonde continued with the sequel Legally Blonde Two and as a hit musical on Broadway.
For the philosophically minded
In Lucifer, the devil is on earth and is a consultant for a homicide detective unit in Los Angeles. It’s based on a graphic novel by the same name, where you see a new side of the devil you might not expect — having feelings for his partner and solving crimes as opposed to a more typical depiction of Satan. The show is currently on Netflix, and is a charming look at the devil’s fresh start with humanity.
A rich stockbroker and a homeless man switch lives, and each receives a fresh start: The homeless man (Eddie Murphy) wakes up to silk sheets and a butler, while the stockbroker (Dan Aykroyd) loses his identity, home, and country club membership. Once the two figure out what’s going on, they make their own future in the classic switcheroo comedy that begs the question of the relationship between money and happiness. You can buy or rent Trading Places on Prime Video.
The Netflix docuseries Dirty Money follows some of the most destructive cons in recent history, and includes familiar family names like the Kushners and Trumps, as well as fake loan schemes that took advantage of Native American reservations. The show reveals entire countries whose money was conned away and resulted in personal jets and movie deals. It’ll make you question what you do for money, and think about how to combat the negativity associated with your own greed.
For getting into mindfulness
Headspace Guide to Meditation
The meditation app Headspace comes to Netflix with a guide on meditation, which is something I desperately need as someone who tends to stay in constant motion. Each episode of Headspace Guide To Meditation will feature exercises and tips for building a healthy meditation routine, and I feel better already. Even the trailer helped me focus.
Explained: The Mind
Aside from achieving a rested state of mind, it’s important to understand how the mind works and why a calm state is useful. Netflix’s Explained collection offers a series focused on the mind, explaining things like how memory works and why sleep is so important. It even touches on the effects of psychedelics. Learn the science behind clearing your mind to help facilitate your own fresh start.