Here’s a little secret: January is one the best times of year to be here in Charleston. The beaches are deserted (just beware sandy wind), dinner reservations are easy to snag, and it gets just cold enough to light up the fireplace or firepit. But should your corner of the South be a little more frigid and you’re looking to hang indoors, you’re in luck: There are plenty of compelling new series, movies, and podcasts featuring real and fictional Southerners and Southern settings ready to stream.
Dog Gone, Netflix
Charlottesville, Virginia, native Rob Lowe and Nashville sweetheart Kimberly Williams-Paisley star in this Netflix original movie based on the true story of Gonker, a six-year-old golden retriever mix from McLean, Virginia, who got lost on the Appalachian Trail while hiking with owner Fielding Marshall back in 1998. Finding him became a matter of life and death: Gonker had Addison’s disease and required monthly shots to live. My husband won’t even watch an animated film if there’s a chance a (cartoon) dog might get hurt in it, so spoiler alert if you’re the same: Gonker lives. But how he does…well, see for yourself when the movie premieres January 13.
Well, Well, Well
For those of us of a certain age, “Baby Jessica” McClure falling down a well in her aunt’s Midland, Texas, backyard in 1987 became something of a cultural milestone, one that landed between the Challenger explosion and the fall of the Berlin Wall. For fifty-six hours, the world held its breath while local first responders and mining experts worked to free the eighteen-month-old girl. Once McClure emerged relatively unharmed, though, the accident devolved quickly into late-night punchlines and parody. You’re Wrong About, one of my favorite podcasts, often inspects these types of landmark events through microscopes wiped clean of the smudges left by time, rumor, and (in my case) imperfect memory. Host Sarah Marshall and her revolving cohosts also veer off onto fascinating detours (including, in this episode, about the unknown-to-me “Kentucky Cave Wars”).
Prime-Time Special (Agent)
Will Trent, ABC and Hulu
Crime-writing queen and Atlanta resident Karin Slaughter sees her creation Will Trent come to life in this new series featuring the fictional Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent, played by the Puerto Rico native Ramón Rodríguez. The first episode, which has garnered generally good reviews, aired at 10:00 p.m. on ABC on Tuesday, January 3, and is also available on Hulu to stream; new episodes will air and stream on subsequent Tuesdays. Can’t wait? Slaughter lists her books in the Will Trent series here (and takes Garden & Gun on a tour of her favorite getaway, Blue Ridge, Georgia, here).
The Way Home, Hallmark
Gaffney, South Carolina, is known for three things (four, if you count endless I-85 construction): the Peachoid, the yellow outlet mall, and curly-headed Hallmark Channel sweetheart Andie McDowell. This time McDowell stars for the network in The Way Home, a series chronicling the estranged relationship between a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. And while the show, which premieres January 15, takes place in Canada, the actors have a decidedly Southern connection: Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy, Supergirl), who plays McDowell’s daughter, was born just across the North Carolina border from Gaffney in Charlotte.
History in Motion
The 1619 Project, Hulu
Heavy-hitters including Oprah Winfrey and the Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams have joined with Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine to turn Hannah-Jones’s recentering of slavery’s effects on America history into this docuseries, which debuts January 26. Considering the project’s premise, the South is sure to loom large in the six episodes, all adapted from essays that appeared in the book that evolved from the original piece.
Dead Show Walking
The Walking Dead, Netflix
The final season of AMC’s epic zombie saga, filmed in and around Atlanta, makes its way to the streaming world on January 6. Star and Palmetto, Georgia, resident Norman Reedus gave us an inside look at finishing the series (and his motorcycle adventures in the South) in our April/May 2022 issue.