She is back from Italy and brought a new friend home, Henny…the Coronavirus! Ok maybe you didn’t go to Italy, maybe you went to Seattle, or maybe you attended a Dartmouth business event on February 28, or maybe you cheated on your spouse at the Marriott Long Wharf (how very Gwyneth in Contagion of you). Maybe you’re fibbing about symptoms so you don’t have to go into work, whatever it is, you’re quarantined baby, and now you’ve got a heck of a lot of time on your hands. And what better to do with your time than watch the old boob tube? As resident art, entertainment, and couch sitting expert I put together a list of my picks for what to watch while you’re quarantined or practicing social distancing. So here are my ten picks for what to watch, and one bonus pick. Eleven for the price of ten, what a deal!
ER (Hulu Amazon Prime)
ER was on for fifteen years, that’s a lot of medical emergencies! While there are no coronavirus episodes, there are outbreaks and lock-downs, meningococcemia and smallpox respectively, and there had to be a couple of cases of influenza sprinkled over their 331 episodes. If you weren’t old enough to watch a primetime medical drama in the mid to late 1990s you might not know how great the first few season of ER were, or even if you did watch it back in 1994 you may have forgotten. ER had some downright iconic moments, Dr. Ross and the storm drain! The blizzard! The live episode! Carter and Lucy! And did you know Michael Crichton created the series, and he wrote and directed Westworld the movie? Watch them both and then read Jurassic Park if you want to complete the Crichton trifecta.
Contagion (Hulu Amazon Prime)
Like I’m going to make a list of stuff to watch while quarantined and not include Contagion? I mean if nothing else you need to watch it to get my joke in the first paragraph. In addition to showing you just how bad a global pandemic can get (I just hope I go in the first wave because I am not built to fight for medicine and dented cans of green beans), Contagion also gives us the dreamiest conspiracy theorist to ever appear on celluloid, Jude Law.
The Young Pope/The New Pope (HBO)
Speaking of Jude Law, and I’m almost always speaking of Jude Law, just ask my coworkers, you’ll probably want more of him after getting a little Contagion taste. The Young Pope, and then The New Pope are beautiful, surreal, and sexy, like the best of fever dreams. And if Jude Law in a Speedo doesn’t make you feel better I’m afraid nothing will, RIP to you.
Capturing The Friedmans (HBO Hulu)
I could talk about Capturing The Friedmans forever, but unfortunately only like two people in my life have watched it, so I can’t talk about it forever. Please watch it so we can talk about the brother who was New York’s most successful birthday clown and was running around with underwear on his head. Thank you.
Westworld…TV Show, Not Movie…No Offense Yul Brynner (HBO)
I’m nearing the end of my own personal Westworld rewatch in preparation for the upcoming season three premiere…no I’m not quarantined, I just have no life so busting out 20-ish hours of a complicated television show is no problem. Anyhoo, it’s is back March 15th and whether you’ve been a faithful viewer since 2016 or you’ve never watched an episode, quarantine time is the perfect time to watch Westworld, and maybe read some recaps because holy moly it’s a lot to keep track of. Also, I don’t want to be a spoiler but someone is kind of quarantined in season 2, I think its S2, the timeline jumps a lot! Oh and do the hosts maybe have a virus? I don’t know because I get easily confused but there are theories.
Law And Order (On Demand and literally like 5600 channels)
You’ve got at least a couple weeks of quarantine, there are 20 seasons of Law And Order. That’s 456 episodes of ripped from the headlines, hour long drama. If we expand the universe to include SVU that’s another 20 seasons and 470 episodes. Wanna add Criminal Intent? That will give you 10 more season and 195 episodes. That’s a grand total of 1121 episodes of hour long-ish television, and we didn’t even get into the Trial By Jury of it all. You’ve got a lot of hours to fill, it’s a numbers game.
Clue (On Demand Amazon Prime)
Have you seen Clue? More importantly, have you seen Clue as an adult? Clue is one of my favorite movies, and in my opinion does not get the fanfare it deserves, 1985 just wasn’t ready! When Clue was released in theaters there were three possible endings of the movie/murderers, and different showings/theaters got different endings, so if I saw the movie at the Seaport Icon, and you saw it in Dedham we would see different endings, isn’t that amazing! 1985 audiences just did not appreciate a stunt queen like we do today. As if you need more convincing, Clue has an all-star cast including Martin Mull, Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn, Lesley Ann Warren, Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, AND Tim Curry, we have no choice but to stan! Clue is great, you will like it, and that’s that.
Gerald’s Game (Netflix)
There are a lot worse ways to spend your time than with shirtless Bruce Greenwood! Gerald’s Game is based on the Stephen King novel, Gerald’s Game. I don’t want to give too much away, but Gerald’s Game teaches us how to deal with your hallucinations, something that might be very beneficial to those of us with a high fever.
The Act (Hulu)
The perfect show to get your mind off your own sickness? A show about Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy! The Act tells the sordid tale of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and it is WILD. It’s also pretty excellent, there was a reason stars Patricia Arquette and Joey King got nominated for all the awards. And just to prove to yourself this is a mostly true story, follow The Act up with the HBO documentary about the Blanchards, Mommy Dead And Dearest. Or watch Mommy Dead And Dearest first, there is no wrong order!
The Staircase (Netflix)
The Staircase premiered on Netflix a few summers ago and it took my social circle by storm. We had impressions of Michael Peterson and his first wife! We discussed the owl theory! We did a deep dive on the less attractive son who was hardly in the series at all and learned it was probably because he was arrested for trying to firebomb the Duke University Administration building in 1994 (he wanted to steal the office’s laminating machine so he could make a fake id for an upcoming Myrtle Beach trip, as one does) and did four years in federal prison. Memories of chatting with friends will sustain us all while we’re quarantined and lonely.
Watchmen is start to finish a perfect season of television and you need to watch it immediately. That’s it, that’s all you need to know.