Bored at Home? Watch These Shows and Movies. Now.
One silver lining of our current global situation: You can finally binge watch all those shows you keep hearing about. We’ve divvied them up into categories to help you figure out what you’re getting yourself into.
Listen, everything is incredibly strange right now. Our entire American way of life has shifted in a matter of weeks, and if you are lucky enough to be healthy, you are likely trying to manage a new socially distanced lifestyle.
Hopefully, you’re taking some breaks from the news (and from your kids if you’ve also had to suddenly morph yourself into a teacher). If you’re anything like me, you might take comfort in fictional characters (or real-life ones you couldn’t make up if you tried) during troubled times. If that’s the case, the choices available in the age of streaming are pretty endless — and while that’s not a bad thing (seriously, thank god for all of this technology!), it can be a bit daunting.
Enter our handy guide to binge watchable shows during a pandemic for you and your fam.
When you want to be low-key educational
If you have kids, all the time is family time, so you’re going to need some options to watch together that everyone can enjoy. Hey, you all might even be able to learn something in the process.
- Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix): Madam C.J. Walker (Octavia Spencer) is America’s first self-made female millionaire and the story of how she built her empire of hair products for black women is fascinating.
- Emma (VOD): The studio behind the latest remake of Jane Austen’s famous novel made the film available for rent or purchase sooner than expected due to the shutdown of movie theaters. Viewing counts as an English class, right?
Bingeable shows for teens and tweens
- Elite (Netflix): Working class kids enroll at an, ahem, elite boarding school in Spain — a classic trope that never gets old. Also, there’s a murder.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (Netflix): Nothing of late has captured the exquisite angst of first love better than these two films (a third is on its way), based on Jenny Han’s books. The cast is utterly charming, and you may even find yourself wanting to rewatch them again and again — just like a teen.
- Anything with Pete Davidson: Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really understand the appeal of Pete and his comedy, but people younger than I am love him. Maybe after watching his Netflix standup special and his Hulu movie, Big Time Adolescence, you’ll be able to explain it to me.
- The Goldbergs (ABC): This long-running show is everything that’s good about network family sitcoms with sharp writing and well-drawn characters. Plus, it’s set in the ‘80s, which will totally take you back and give you a chance to school your kids on all the pop culture we consumed as kids.
Bingeable shows for adults
You’re going to need some time for yourself and shows to fill the void after you finish virtual cocktail time with your friends on Zoom.
- Friends from College (Netflix): There are only two seasons, but the nostalgia for anyone who went to college in the ‘90s is strong as you spend time with a group of pals trying to sort out middle age.
- Fleabag (Amazon Prime): Not only is Phoebe Waller Bridge’s show a masterclass in writing and storytelling, it’s only two seasons long and so easily digestible if your attention span is (rightfully) a bit lacking right now.
- The Affair (Showtime): Sure, it’s about the breakdown of a marriage, but the first two seasons are especially innovative as the story is told from different characters’ perspective. Watch with your partner — if you dare.
- Mrs. Fletcher (HBO): Kathryn Hahn is so fantastic in this show about a divorced woman rediscovering herself (and her sexuality) once her only child goes off to college.
- Succession (HBO): Loosely modeled after the Murdochs, there aren’t many likable characters in the fictional Roy family, but that doesn’t mean they’re not utterly fascinating to watch! It’s a slow burn for the first four episodes, but once it starts firing on all cylinders, this show just doesn’t quit.
The world is off the rails … and so are these bingeable dramas
Why not just lean into the weirdness of our current situation with some incredibly loopy (and sometimes dark) fare?
- Tiger King (Netflix): This docuseries is all anyone’s talking about online right now — and it’s just as bonkers as they say. Who knew the world of big cat parks would be filled with so many “you could not make this up” twists, turns, and characters? Once you meet Joe Exotic, your world will never be the same.
- The Stranger (Netflix): One of my favorite genres to explore on Netflix is batsh*t British dramas that seem sort of normal before they spin wildly out of control. Take The Stranger, which centers around a woman suddenly appearing in people’s lives and telling them a secret that blows up the reality they thought they knew. I don’t want to give too much away, but the paths it takes from there are unexpected to say the least.
- Doctor Foster (Netflix): The same can be said for this drama about a woman (the titular Doctor Foster) who’s obsessed with figuring out if her husband is cheating on her. I did not expect season two to end up the way it did.
- The OA (Netflix): How to even describe this one? Brit Marling created this project and stars as a woman who spent years in captivity after being kidnapped (or so we are led to believe) who might actually be an angel. It’s oddly compelling.
Humor is more necessary than ever when you’re stuck in your house for an indefinite amount of time.
Bingeable sitcoms and comedies
Humor is more necessary than ever when you’re stuck in your house for an indefinite amount of time. These shows are great for the whole family, unless your kiddos are super little.
- American Vandal (Netflix): There are two perfect seasons of this mockumentary-style, scripted true crime series. In the first season, the kids are trying to figure out who “drew the dicks” on the cars in the faculty parking lot and I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed harder.
- John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (Netflix): I will watch anything Mulaney puts out into the world. His standup shows are amazing, but his modern take on the wacked-out children’s shows from our ‘70s and ‘80s youth is both hilarious and heartwarming.
- Stand-up on Netflix: The streaming giant basically owns the comedy corner right now. Some recent favorites you’ll want to check out include the aforementioned John Mulaney, Seth Meyer’s Lobby Baby, anything from Iliza Shleshinger or Ali Wong, and Taylor Tomlinson’s Quarter-Life Crisis.
- Schitt’s Creek (Netflix): Created by Eugene and Dan Levy, the story of the Rose family losing their fortune and being forced to move to a town they once bought on a lark is so insanely joke-packed. But it’s also got a lot of heart — and you really don’t want to miss the amazing character study that is Catherine O’Hara’s portrayal of Moira Rose.
- The Good Place (Netflix): Nothing will restore your faith in humanity (or make you giggle) like Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, and their crew navigating the afterlife and what it really means to be a good person.
- Happy Endings (Hulu): Some people like to binge Friends on a loop, I prefer the three seasons about this group of pals in Chicago. It’s endlessly rewatchable and packed with hilarious running bits. The characters might not be as well-known as Rachel and Ross, but, frankly, the jokes are better.