25 Things To Watch On Netflix Over 4th Of July Weekend

There’s nothing more patriotic than staying in and staring at your computer screen for four days. Here are some suitable suggestions from the Netflix Instant library.

1. Captain America: The First Avenger

Paramount Pictures

Who needs a hero like Superman when we already have all-American awesomeness in the form of Captain America? Before he joined forces with other Marvel superheroes in The Avengers, Captain America got his own big-screen treatment in a film about a hero who makes wearing stars and stripes look good.

Watch it here.

2. Top Gun

Paramount Pictures

Take my breath away, 1986 Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. Top Gun has action, drama, and romance — not to mention a killer score. It might not make you wish you were in the Navy (especially if you’re a Goose fan), but it will still give you some of that late ’80s pride in your country and the fighter pilots who serve it.

Watch it here.

3. Stephen Fry in America

BBC One

Get to know the country through the eyes of a foreigner — in this case, the hilarious Stephen Fry, who has a unique perspective on all things American. There are six episodes of this series, which has Fry traveling to different destinations across the country and interacting with locals along the way.

Watch it here.

4. The Birth of a Nation

If you’re looking for more controversial fare, you could try the infamous 1915 silent film that charts the history of the country before and after the Civil War. It’s also about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and it’s notorious for its portrayal of African Americans. Still interesting to watch, albeit critically.

Watch it here.

5. Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Paramount Pictures

When we talk about American icons, we often return to Beavis and Butt-head. That might not be true for everyone, but Beavis and Butt-are an integral part of American culture. Join these foul-mouthed idiots on their travels as they try to replace their TV. You haven’t seen the sights until you’ve seen the sights crudely animated.

Watch it here.

6. Ken Burns: Baseball

PBS

Aside from apple pie, there’s nothing more American than baseball. And you’re not going to get a more extensive look at the sport than from master documentarian Ken Burns. It’s more than worth the 18 and a half hours it will take you to watch it, especially if you make time for snack breaks.

Watch it here.

7. Wet Hot American Summer

USA Films

The year is 1981. The place is Maine. The feeling is American. This 2001 cult classic comedy is absurd and wonderful, but beneath all the ridiculousness it captures a real cultural moment. You can almost smell the barbecue sauce smeared across Elizabeth Banks’ face. (“You taste like burger. I don’t like you anymore.”)

Watch it here.

8. The Last of the Mohicans

20th Century Fox

If you want to jump way back in time — the French and Indian War of 1757, to be exact — you should watch The Last of the Mohicans. It’ll give you some sense of what life was like before the Revolutionary War, and you’ll start to feel extra terrible about the treatment of American Indians. As well you should.

Watch it here.

9. American Teacher

The Teacher Salary Project

The state of education in this country isn’t something to be proud of, but 4th of July is as good a time as any to celebrate this noble profession. You’ll have a newfound respect for the teachers who guided you through school, as you wonder why they’re so consistently underpaid.

Watch it here.

10. The Grapes of Wrath

20th Century Fox

Here it is: the Great American Film based on the Great American Novel. The struggle of the Joad family comes to life with Henry Fonda’s iconic performance. And yes, you should read the classic Steinbeck novel, too, but if you only have two hours to spare, this is a reasonable substitute.

Watch it here.

11. Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl

PBS

For those who want a more comprehensive view of the time period, here’s another worthwhile Ken Burns documentary. It’s longer than Grapes of Wrath but this two-part miniseries covers more terrain. It’s also great background for understanding why the Joads had to escape to California.

Watch it here.

12. American Dad

FOX

What does the modern American family look like? Here’s one take: ultraconservative patriarch, rebellious hippie daughter, live-in alien. OK, it’s not exactly conventional, but American Dad is an underrated satire on the country’s divided politics. Pick one of the 247 episodes available and dive in.

Watch it here.

13. Super 8

Paramount Pictures

Nostalgia runs deep in this sci-fi thriller: it was made in 2011, takes place in 1979, and feels very much like an ’80s Spielberg movie. While the aliens are obviously not of this world, the town and its inhabitants are classic Americana. It’s E.T. for a new generation.

Watch it here.

14. American Grindhouse

Lorber Films

For a deeper look at American film history — particularly its sleazier elements — check out the documentary American Grindhouse. It’s a fascinating look at the history of onscreen exploitation in this country, from the very earliest films to recent releases. And it’s full of sex and gore, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Watch it here.

15. Valley of the Dolls

20th Century Fox

The pursuit of fame is a major part of the American dream, and it’s on full display in Valley of the Dolls, which should be required viewing for anyone trying to break into showbusiness. Yes, it’s dated and campy, but that’s part of the fun. And beneath the candy-colored picture, there’s a real message about the price of success.

Watch it here.

16. CSA: Confederate States of America

IFC Films

If the Confederates had won the Civil War, America would look a lot different. That’s what this mockumentary offers in its alternate reality depiction of the U.S. At times, it’s hard to watch, but there’s something fascinating about seeing just how wrong things could have ended up if history had gone the other way.

Watch it here.

17. True Grit

Paramount Pictures

Forget the remake: this is the 1969 original starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. This is one of the most iconic westerns, and while that’s a genre that’s fallen out of favor, it’s perhaps the most quintessentially American. True Grit is especially worthwhile for the plucky 14-year-old heroine.

Watch it here.

18. Scandal

ABC

The President is a philanderer whose staff cheated the American people in order to get him in office. On the other hand, he’s so dreamy. If you haven’t watched Scandal yet, this is a good time to get started with the first season — it’s a late-night soap, but it’s smart, and the political elements make it a good 4th of July fit.

Watch it here.

19. House of Cards

Netflix

For an even darker look at the political process, try Netflix’s original series House of Cards, which you can easily down in one (very long) sitting. It might not inspire much faith in how things work in Washington D.C., but try to remember that it’s fiction. Well, for the most part.

Watch it here.

20. Clear and Present Danger

Paramount Pictures

Why not one more political thriller for the road? As a bonus, this one has military involvement, too! Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan is what America’s all about. (He’s even draped in an American flag on the poster.) Of course, this is another movie in which secrets are being kept from the American people.

Watch it here.

21. The Truman Show

Paramount Pictures

Truman’s existence is sort of the idyllic American life we’ve all fantasized about — and that makes sense, because it’s been carefully constructed to look like that. On a larger scale, The Truman Show also speaks to this country’s media culture, and the way reality TV has warped us. It was eerily prescient in 1998.

Watch it here.

22. Coming to America

Paramount Pictures

The ultimate culture shock comedy, Coming to America still holds up 25 years after its release. It’s always fun to see the U.S. through a foreigner’s eyes — even if that foreigner comes from the fictional country of Zamunda. If you think their customs are strange, imagine how we look to them.

Watch it here.

23. Our Town

United Artists

Thornton Wilder’s play is a classic for a reason: it’s a stunning portrait of small-town life with an important message about the shortness of life. Alas, the film adaptation got rid of the death, which greatly reduces the emotional impact. But still: small-town American life. (Do yourself a favor and read the play, too.)

Watch it here.

24. The Queen of Versailles

Magnolia Pictures

Want to see the real victims of the financial crisis? Then don’t watch The Queen of Versailles, which is about very rich people losing some of their fortune. On the other hand, it’s a captivating story about greed, opulence, and knowing when to downsize. Think of it as a modern-day fairy tale.

Watch it here.

25. Far From Heaven

Focus Features

It’s a classic American story with a modern twist. Done in the style of Douglas Sirk, Far From Heaven is a melodrama that’s been updated a bit — now we get a closeted husband and a wife’s interracial affair. Even with the contemporary changes, it perfectly captures the repression of ’50s suburbia.

Watch it here.

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