Netflix summer camp series a hilarious romp

Netflix, the very inexpensive cable and online movie channel, is increasingly making its own exclusive hit series. I’m hooked on “House of Cards,” and now I’m enjoying “Wet Hot American Summer.” Netflix is breaking the TV viewing mold with original content at a very cheap price

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

I am beginning to appreciate Netflix more and more.

At first, Netflix used to be a DVD-by-mail delivery service that later broke up into two companies, one delivering DVDs and the other providing access to rehashed, old movies that couldn’t easily be found on the mainstream cable TV systems like Comcast.

It was a backup place that cost less than $8 a month so it was hard to just cancel. If you saw one movie a month, you didn’t feel like you were wasting your money. But if you saw, you felt like you got to kick Comcast Cable TV, the cheapskates that charged you for everything, from the new movies to the old and ancient cult classics, like “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But over the years, Netflix has proven to better a better system than Comcast Cable TV, which costs me more than $230 a month. And the only think keeping me at Comcast is that I need it to get HBO and Showtime, where I used to have to go to see some of the best new series on television like the Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Episodes, Shameless, Silicon Valley and a few more.

But Netflix got wise and started to offer their own, exclusive series. One of the best on TV today is House of Cards, with Kevin Spacey. This show is probably the most compelling and shocking program on television. Predictability went out the studio window and unexpected surprises kept me cycling through the series during its two seasons.

And I can’t wait for more.

Although I binge watched the series over a two-day period, I’ve binged watched it three times. It’s that good.

Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer

To mix it up, Netflix released another series on the other end of the entertainment spectrum. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is a hilarious star-packed comedic event. Imagine, if you will, putting together two dozen of Hollywood’s funniest comedian actors/actresses together in one sitcom series, and giving them just one instruction: “Go and have fun.”

That’s exactly what they did. There are so many great actors and actresses, all comedians, in Wet Hot American Summer, that it’s the season’s must view for the baby boomer generation, America’s largest TV audience. Only a mature baby boomer would appreciate slapstick humor and comedy that looks, successfully, improvised.

But look at the cast. It’s phenomenal.

Amy Poehler. Janeane Garofalo. Paul Rudd. Michael Ian Black. Molly Shannon.Lake Bell. Bradley Cooper. There are literally 104 top Hollywood actors and actresses who come together to make the eight series episodes the funniest thing on TV I’ve seen in a long time.

Sometimes the humor is goofy, but it’s a hilarious concept, like National Lampoon’s Vacation series. It’s summer time and the graduates of summer camp come back as the camp counselors and student directors in a mix of sex, ridiculously funny entertainment, and all of the things you expect in summer camp from Camp Granada to Dirty Dancing which starred Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Rhodes in the all-time summer drama.

There’s not a lot of great music in Wet Hot American Summer, but there is a lot of satire mocking the iconic fads of the baby boomer generation.

There are so many subtle jokes you won’t be able to process them all at one time. You’ll want to watch this several times, just for the fun.

I love it. And I’ve binge watched it twice.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania Chicago political beats and Chicago City Hall at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published the The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]
Ray Hanania

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