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TV Viewing Recommendations for Your Coronavirus Isolation!

March 18th, 2020

Hi everyone!  Earlier this week I posted a number of movie recommendations that I hope are helpful for people looking for entertainment suggestions for their coronavirus isolation.

Today, let’s look at some TV show ideas…!

The Good Place – This is the show I have been most evangelical about recently.  I adore The Good Place.  It’s so funny and also so clever, with lots of deep stuff to say about ethics and morality.  The show’s cast likes to describe it as the smartest dumb show on TV, and I agree.  I HIGHLY recommend this show!!!!  Click here for my review of season one — but don’t read it until after you’ve seen the season, because you don’t want to be spoiled!  Where to watch: Netflix.

Fleabag This very clever (and – beware! – very raunchy!) comedy won a ton of Emmys this year, and they were well-deserved.  Phoebe Waller Bridge created and stars in this show about a messed-up young woman whose best friend and confidant is you, the person watching her show.  It’s only two short seasons of six half-hour episodes each; you’ll blaze through them and wish there was more!  Click here for my review.  Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video.

Catastrophe This amazing, hilarious show was written by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, who also star as Sharon and Rob.  Rob is American and Sharon is British — their brief fling turns into a relationship when Sharon gets pregnant, and these two hot messes decide to try to make a go of it together.  This show is insanely funny and also staggeringly, shockingly profane.  It’s not for the easily-offended but wow do I love it a lot.  Click here for my review of season one.  Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video.

Atlanta – Donald Glover’s amazing show about a group of young African Americans is super funny and heartbreaking and weird and unique.  I was so intrigued by every single episode.  This is masterful filmmaking.  Click here for my review of season one.  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Black Mirror – I love this very dark anthology show about the dangers of technology.  Each episode is its own stand-alone story.  I suggest starting with “The Entire History of You” from season one.  I think it’s the show’s best episode.  If you like that episode, then dig into the rest.  Click here for my review of the original six British episodes.  Where to watch: Netflix.

Brockmire – Hank Azaria plays the greatest role of his career as disgraced former baseball announcer Jim Brockmire.  The show is incredibly raunchy and fall on the floor funny; it’s also a compelling drama with rich arcs for all of the characters.  I love that this crazy and weird show exists!  Click here for my review of season one.  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Better Things – This show is, at times, as funny as the greatest TV comedy… and at other times, it’s as deep and soulful as the best drama.  Pamela Adlon is the mastermind of the show — she writes and directs many of the episodes, and she also stars as Sam Fox, a working but not super-famous actress raising three girls on her own (very similar to the real Ms. Adlon).  The show is incredibly rich, focusing deeply on exploring the lives of the fascinating and complicated group of women in Sam’s family.  It’s a marvelously heartfelt, idiosyncratic show that is truly unlike anything else on TV these days.  Click here for my review.  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Freaks and Geeks – Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s one-season show about high school kids, set in the eighties, is so funny and so emotionally rich, and pretty much everyone involved in the show went on to become famous.  I absolutely treasure this one near-perfect season of TV.  It’s hilarious and heartbreaking.  (If you’ve seen Freaks and Geeks, I also highly recommend Judd Apatow’s follow-up series Undeclared, which is set in college and serves as a sort of alternate-universe pseudo-sequel.)  Where to watch: Good question!!  This might not be available to stream…

The Wire – The greatest TV show ever made.  The only down-side is it will ruin all other TV for you because nothing else will ever be as good.  It’s a very heavy, serious,  adult drama… and wow is it powerful.  I’ll tell you what my friend told me when he got me to watch it, years and years ago, which is that you’ll watch the first episode and think, OK, that was good, but it’s not the best TV show ever made.  But give it three episodes and you’ll be into it, and by the end of that first ten-episode season you’ll understand its greatness.  (If you’ve seen The Wire, I highly recommend David Simon’s follow-up series Treme, set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  It’s magnificent.)  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Arrested Development (the first three original seasons, NOT the made-for-Netflix seasons 4 and 5) The greatest TV comedy ever made. Full stop.  So funny and brilliant.  I have rewatched those first three seasons so many times and they always delight me.  Where to watch: Netflix.

Parks and Recreation – Super-funny and super-joyful.  Skip the first six-episode season (they hadn’t figured out the show yet – that first season was a much weirder, darker, less funny show) and jump right into season two.  Where to watch: Netflix.

The West Wing (seasons 1 through 4) One of my very favorite shows.  This fantastic, super-smart, inspiringly idealistic show about American politics is a sheer delight.  I love the characters.  I love the banter.  I love this show.  (I’m recommending seasons 1-4 because Aaron Sorkin left after season four, and the show took a huge dip in quality after that point.)  (If you’ve seen The West Wing, I also highly recommend Sports Night, the two-season half-hour show about a TV sports show that Mr. Sorkin made prior to The West Wing.)  Where to watch: Netflix.

Firefly – Joss Whedon’s magnificent one-season space western is pure bliss from start to finish.  Brutally cut down before its time by the idiots at Fox, this abbreviated first season stands as one of the greatest shows ever made.  You don’t need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this.  You will fall in love with these characters and this world, I guarantee it.  (The terrific feature film Serenity gives closure to the cancelled series’ storylines.)  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Battlestar Galactica (the Ron Moore re-imagined version) One of the greatest sci-fi series ever made, Battlestar Galactica is a super-fun hard sci-fi show that is also a riveting character drama and an exploration of our post-9/11 world.  Insanely gripping and stomach-churningly intense, this show is an incredible achievement.  As with Firefly, you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this compelling show, I promise.  Where to watch: Syfy.com or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

Party Down – This amazing, little-seen two-season comedy focuses on the employees of Party Down, a low-quality Hollywood catering company staffed primarily by out-of-work actors and actresses.  The ensemble cast is amazing (Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, and more), and I adore the narrative hook that each episode is built around a different Party Down-catered event, set in a different location with a different group of only-in-that-episode supporting characters.  Click here for my review of season one.  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

The Larry Sanders Show – The late, great Garry Shandling’s show about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at a late-night TV talk-show still stands as one of the greatest TV shows ever made.  This pioneering show created so many of the trends that are so common across great TV of the last two decades.  This endlessly quotable show is super-funny, while also laser-focused on exploring the very flawed humanity of its core cast.  Mr. Shandling often described the show as being about a group of people who love each other, but the business of Hollywood gets in the way.  If you’ve never seen it, now is the time!  Where to watch: Hulu, or available for rent/purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

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