Back in the day when social discourse was limited dinner parties and gatherings around the watercooler, keeping up with the latest TV shows was easy.
We received four stations on rabbit-eared TV, and a staticky fifth when the weather was just right. And even though my dad swore he’d never pay to watch TV, he finally purchased cable for $6 a month, wondering how on earth anybody had time to watch 12 channels.
I bring up this memory – one shared by Baby Boomers and ridiculed by Millennials – to point out a Netflix series you may have overlooked even though it deserves to be dominating the Twitterverse.
Wait, before you hit the “Back” button because the last thing you need is another random TV opinion, know that I have some sturdy Netflix cred: I binge-watched “Making a Murderer” way before social media made it mandatory.
Go right now to Netflix and add “Wild Wild Country” to your list.
The six-episode documentary takes us back to the early 1980s when members of an Indian cult descended upon, and eventually took over, tiny Antelope, Ore.
If the clash between maroon-clad followers and tobacco-spitting ranchers doesn’t hook you, the subterfuge and open sex will.
Yes, this is one of the shows for your “What to watch after the kids are in bed” list.
The series revolves around Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a cult leader whose collection of Rolls Royces proved he was more Jim Bakker than the Dalai Lama, and his strong-willed secretary Ma Anand Sheela.
Sheela set up the compound in Antelope, soon showing that with great power comes a great talent for manipulation.
As the cult takes over homes and businesses in the small town, the villagers attempt to fight back with torches and pitchforks (metaphorically, anyway, as they actually rely on the kinds of ineffective ordinances demanded by a civilized society).
It’s not just the compelling story, but the way it’s told.
In following the timeline, directors (and brothers) Maclain and Chapman Way seem to drop in meaningless details. Yet the crucial nature of those details are revealed in time, and in stunning fashion. There’s so much going on, yet the Ways make it easy to follow.
The series masterfully weaves period TV footage with current interviews of major players.
When it’s over, Baby Boomers will say, “How come I don’t remember all of this?” while Millennials will say, “Baby Boomers are messed up way more than I thought.”
Just do yourself one favor – don’t Google Bhagwan Ragneesh or Ma Anand Sheela or Antelope, Ore. Let “Wild Wild Country” play out in the darkness of unfamiliarity.
Then be the first on your Twitter feed to recommend it, like back in the ‘80s when the cool guy filled his paper cup at the watercooler and said, “So anyone see that new cop show last night? Telling you right now, ‘Hills Street Blues’ is going to be huge.”
Like All the Moms?