Smith Brain Trust / December 13, 2019

What To Binge Watch Over Winter Break

Looking for something to stream? Our experts have suggestions

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – Ready to get cozy and catch up on some of the movies and TV shows you've missed? Maryland Smith faculty have some suggestions for the must-see TV series, movies and documentaries – some you've no doubt been hearing buzz about, others you may have missed, and some you'll want to watch again.


Billions (drama, four seasons, Showtime)

"Billions is on the love-hate relationship between Wall Street and politics, both national and state-wise, that leads to different types of shenanigans by the characters for money and power. These broken men and women also have uncommon and sometimes abnormal relationships with their spouses and co-workers, and these play a central role in the outcomes of their professional lives."

– G. "Anand" Anandalingam, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Management Science in decisions, operations and information technologies at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Succession (drama, two seasons, HBO)

"Succession is modeled after the Rupert Murdoch family (my understanding) and shows the intrigue and viciousness of sibling rivalries to take over a media empire from the father who himself is quite diabolical."

– Anandalingam

"There is always a host of issues plaguing any family-run business, especially when it is time to choose a successor from the next generation. The dysfunctional behavior among siblings is on full display as CEO Logan Roy of a global media empire (brilliantly played by Brian Cox) must cultivate and then handpick his trusted heir. The eerie parallels of this drama to Shakespeare's King Lear are almost impossible to miss."

Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor of marketing

The Crown (drama, three seasons, Netflix)

"Peter Morgan has done a remarkable job of exposing the inner workings of Buckingham Palace during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. In Season 1 and Season 2, Claire Foy renders a bravura performance as the young Elizabeth who must learn how to lead quietly and calmly. Her ultimate transformation into sovereign is no easy task for it requires a firm understanding of her role "which means that you are answerable to God in your duty, not the public." In Season 3, Olivia Colman takes over the lead role as the Royal family must deal with the tumult of the 60s and 70s."

– Boyd

The Good Place (comedy, four seasons, NBC)

"This is a fun series starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell that has interesting debates around ethics and ethical trade-offs sprinkled throughout the show. But mostly, I watch it because it's a light and funny show."

Wendy W. Moe, Associate Dean of Master's Programs and Dean's Professor of Marketing

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (news satire, six seasons, HBO)

"I think Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is quite clever in getting in-depth in serious issues ranging from payday loans to the strategic use of litigation."

Joseph P. Bailey, associate research professor, decisions, operations and information technology, and executive director of QUEST honors program

The Mandalorian (drama, one season, Disney+)

Trailer 2 | The Mandalorian on Disney Video

"We started watching the Mandalorian on Disney+ and it is really great. There has been a lot of discussion of certain characters on social media (no spoilers!) that has overshadowed just how great the show is. We watch it as a family, and I love that there are several strong female characters in the series. A must-watch! Plus if you subscribe to Disney+ you can indulge your Star Wars addiction the way we do."

Nicole M. Coomber, associate clinical professor, management & organization

Newhart (comedy, eight seasons, available on Hulu, YouTube TV)

"I have just gone back and for the second time, I'm running through the old Newhart show. Why? Because as an accounting lecturer I am quite cognizant that at one point in his early career Bob Newhart was a practicing accountant. So I am fascinated that one of my kind could ever become funny, and as a wannabe funny guy, he gives me hope! Also, on the show, he runs a B&B and is a freelance author, all good fodder for an accountant to watch. Even though the show dates back to the 1980s, the comedy routines are still fresh. If you don't have this on your list, at least watch the book interview seen on the 'Book Beat' episode (season 2, episode 14).

Samuel Handwerger, lecturer, accounting

Silicon Valley (comedy, six seasons, HBO)

"Although crude and hyperbolic, Silicon Valley helps explore some of the forces that are shaping the tech industry including the role of startups vs. incumbents, the value of data and platforms, and the larger-than-life personalities."

– Bailey


The Edge of Democracy (documentary, 2019, Netflix)

"Brazil is going through hard times lately. This documentary helps us understand some challenges the country is facing."

Paulo Prochno, assistant dean, Part-Time MBA and Online Programs and clinical professor, management & organization

Parasite (drama, 2019)

"A hot topic: inequality, seen through the lenses of a great filmmaker (Bong Joon Ho). This is fiction. Scarily, it could also be a documentary."


Transit (drama, 2018)

"A story about World War II or a story about today? Watch it and get to your own conclusions."


The Irishman (crime drama, 2019, Netflix)

"Throughout his illustrious career, Martin Scorsese has carved out his place as one of the quintessential directors of the gangster genre. With his latest contribution - The Irishman - Scorsese delivers his magnum opus of the criminal world. Of course, he wisely calls back to the screen the trifecta of Hollywood royalty, namely Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. Yes, the movie is quite long clocking in at 3 hours and 30 minutes; but every minute is pure entertainment."

– Boyd


It's A Wonderful Life (drama, 1946)

"I show excerpts from the scene about the impact of the Great Depression on banking in my banking classes. Students who have watched the entire movie are amazed at how good a 'black-and-white movie' can be."

Elinda F. Kiss, associate clinical professor, finance

Trading Places (comedy, 1983)

"Trading Places (with Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd) is about the commodities futures business, and even had a scene on the floor of the New York futures exchange (when it was in Six World Trade Center, and trading took place in person in the 'pits')."

Kiss. She says the movie's plot even inspired insider-trading regulations, nearly 30 years later, known as the "Eddie Murphy Rule" as part of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. More picks from Kiss: The Big Short (drama, 2015): "About the financial crisis of 2007-2009."Wall Street" (drama, 1987): "About insider trading."

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