We’ve spent most of this year talking about how ~unprecedented~ these times are, but now that Election Day has come and gone, it feels like the last seven months were just a fun appetizer for a totally hellish main course. While we still await results in many important races, it can be tempting to spend 14 hours a day watching CNN, but that’s honestly not wise (or necessary). Remember, your mental health is as important as ever, and you can be a responsible, informed citizen without refreshing Twitter every 10 seconds.
For that reason, I wanted to put together a list of some TV shows that might be just what you need to take a little mental break from the unbridled chaos that’s happening in the world right now. The shows on this list are a mix of new and old, reality and scripted, but for various reasons, they’re all better than the nightmare purgatory situation we’re currently facing. Put your phone on airplane mode, crack a new bottle of wine, and enjoy your binging.
If You’re Obsessively Checking The Results: ‘The West Wing’ (Netflix)
Okay, it might seem dumb to recommend a show about politics to escape the torment of real world politics, but it’s a better strategy than you might think. The West Wing was born out of a time when (most) politicians weren’t literally evil, and it’s a political drama with interesting storylines and characters you can actually root for. The writing is top-notch, and a West Wing binge will give you a few weeks to fantasize about what it would be like to live in a functioning democracy.
If You Need To Fully Turn Your Brain Off: ‘Selena + Chef’ (HBO Max)
Bear with me. When I heard that Selena Gomez was getting a cooking show, I rolled my eyes, but Selena + Chef is surprisingly great. Filmed during quarantine earlier this year, Selena gets a Zoom cooking lesson from a different professional chef each episode. It’s a ton of fun—Selena’s grandparents meander in and out of the kitchen giving unsolicited commentary, and she almost hurts herself at least once an episode. The food also looks incredible, if you’re getting back into a cooking phase for round two of lockdown.
If You Need To Laugh Through The Tears: ‘PEN15’ (Hulu)
PEN15 is definitely one of Hulu’s buzzier shows, and a ton of people have started watching since season 2 came out earlier this fall. If you haven’t watched yet, now is the time. The show stars two 30-something women playing their middle school selves, and it’s both hilarious and uncomfortable in a way that feels strangely cathartic. I think I can safely say that middle school was traumatic for most of us, and PEN15 is exactly what I needed to finally process that trauma.
If You’re Trying To Pretend Everything Isn’t A Mess: ‘Get Organized with The Home Edit’ (Netflix)
You’re either going to love or hate this show, but even though I fell firmly in the “hate” column, I still couldn’t stop watching it. These two women, Clea and Joanna, have a home organization business that’s huge on Instagram (they’re behind Khloé Kardashian’s famous cookie jars), and in the show they help out a mix of celebrities and normal people with their projects. This style of organization definitely isn’t for everyone—everything is in clear bins and categorized in rainbow order—but there’s something incredibly satisfying about watching them work. It’s basically the opposite philosophy of Marie Kondo, but with the same overall effect.
If You Want Chaos To Distract From The Chaos: ‘Dance Moms’ (Hulu/Lifetime)
I started rewatching Dance Moms last month, and I had forgotten how truly wild of a ride it is. Life might feel stressful right now, but nothing compares to the stress of 9-year-olds being yelled at by Abby Lee because they dropped their hat during the group dance. Dance Moms is over 200 episodes of pure reality chaos, and there’s also a Dance Moms corner of TikTok that is beyond hilarious. If you need me later today, I’ll probably be crying watching a compilation of Maddie’s solos.
If You Need To Be Transported To A Simpler Time: ‘The O.C.’ (HBO Max)
Personally, I feel like The O.C. hasn’t gotten the throwback boost it deserves, and it’s time we fix that. Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl are great, but Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper need our attention too. Especially now that winter is basically here, it seems like the perfect time to watch drama unfold against the sunny SoCal backdrop. Thankfully, all four seasons are available on HBO Max, so I don’t want to hear any complaints about not having anything to watch.
If You Find Murder Cases Oddly Comforting: ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Season 2 (Netflix)
I do realize the whole point of the show is they discuss an unsolved mysterious death, but the murder part is heavily implied. I’m not sure what it is about true crime content that can be at once so morbidly frightening and comforting, but if that’s what gets you going, Netflix recently dropped season 2 of its dark remake of Unsolved Mysteries just in time. Honestly, you might have better luck solving these cold cases than you would trying to make sense of the Electoral College map, so go nuts.
Or, if all else fails, you can always watch Friends or Parks & Rec for the 100th time. Trust me, no one is judging. Whatever happens, it’s going to be okay, just make sure you take care of yourself.
Images: Erica Parise/Hulu; Giphy (6)
Did anyone else think quarantine was going to be right up their alley for the first few weeks, but now they’ve finished all of Netflix* and there’s nothing to do except alternate between staring hopelessly at the ceiling for hours on end and watching TikTok compilations? No one else? Just me?
Well, fear not either way, because even as you reach your final episode on your final show on Netflix, there are still half a dozen other streaming platforms out there waiting for you to give them a whirl. And why not! There are so many hours in the day in quarantine. You are never required to wear pants. You can be on Slack and watch TV in the background. The only rule of quarantine is to never leave your house. The real world has become a place of madness and fiction, and the only solace we can now find is going to be in the fabricated stress of television.
So, without further ado, here are the best shows available on Amazon Prime during this quarantine. Disclaimer: I haven’t spent as many hours on Amazon Prime as Netflix, mostly because it makes me weirdly uneasy to see my recent orders for lamps and cleaning supplies while I also browse for shows, so it goes without saying that I have probably missed a few of them.
*By all of Netflix, I mean the shows worth watching.
The first season of Hunters recently started airing on Prime, and because I’m trying to avoid high-stress situations, I haven’t started it. However, executive producer Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) is an absolute genius storyteller, so it’s gotta be super good. It also stars Al Pacino and Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson movies, whom I completely forgot about, and now I need to watch. The show is set in New York City in 1977 and follows a group of Nazi hunters as they try to dismantle a secret group of Nazi officers that are trying to implement a fourth Reich in America.
‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that maybe you were meant to live a different life and that life is specifically to be a Jewish mother living on the Upper West Side in the 1950s with an undiscovered talent for stand-up comedy, then this show is for you. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, of Gilmore Girls fame, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows Midge Maisel’s journey through the New York stand-up scene after her husband leaves her for his secretary (schmuck). Would Midge have worked for Betches if it was around back then? Almost certainly, and that’s all you need to know.
Didn’t we all already watch Girls? Personally, I stopped around Season 5 because every character became as annoying as humanly possible and I couldn’t watch Hannah make another terrible decision or listen to Marnie try to launch her singing career for another second. That being said, I did like some of the characters and the incredibly dysfunctional family they created. At least Girls is a really easy binge because the episodes are short and the storylines are engaging and easy to follow. Just don’t watch too much in a row, or you will go through what I did and never finish (but that’s okay, too).
I haven’t watched Fleabag yet, but it won like, all the awards, and I see it everywhere on TL so I think I might just have to start. Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes the show and stars as the titular character, Fleabag. From the season 1 trailer, it seems kind of like a British and more updated version of Girls? As in, the main character kind of self-sabotages everything for herself but you still keep watching to see if maybe she’ll turn it around one day. What seems more unique and interesting about it, though, is that Fleabag breaks the fourth wall often to explain to her viewers what’s going through her brain, so maybe we have some more perspective and empathy for her questionable choices.
Modern Love is a miniseries that brings the New York Times essay column of the same name to life. Whoever was the casting agent really knew what they were doing. They’ve got Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and Dev Patel in their own 30-minute episodes, appearing casually as if they were normal people. The first episode made me cry, and the rest were definitely worth watching. With only eight episodes, this is a great show to watch if you don’t want to commit to a whole series. And then you will become addicted to the stories and read 20 essays in one night and convince yourself you can write your own about the guy that has been delivering your groceries for the last week, if only you could come up with a catchy title.
‘Sex and the City’
Since we have nothing else to do in quarantine, let’s all sit around the kitchen table and discuss with our fellow quarantine inmates which character every person in our friend group most identifies with. Luckily, Sex and the City is on Prime to help you out. The one who is still making you do her Ship matches, just to f*ck with the guys? Samantha. The one who began planning a Zoom wedding immediately and already had a stockpile of hand sanitizer? Charlotte. The one who actually knows the facts of what’s going on, but is over talking about it? Miranda. The one who thinks the pandemic is the just the thing to spice up her forthcoming-but-still-unwritten memoir? Carrie.
Psych is a detective sitcom that is the exact show to watch if you want to get really invested in/binge something for like, a minute, but don’t want to be thinking about 24/7. Shawn Spencer is a police crime consultant who has convinced the police that he solves cases using psychic abilities, but was really just trained as a child by his dad to have heightened awareness and photographic memory, which is shown in flashbacks. Shawn works with his friend and partner Gus, at his psychic detective agency, Psych.
The world will never get enough American-Italian mobster drama (@The Irishman), and that’s all there is to say about that. The Sopranos is regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time, and luckily it’s on Prime for you to decide for yourself (although I’m sure everyone has seen at least one episode at some point or another). Tony Soprano is the show’s protagonist (if you will), who must balance his family life and role as crime boss of his New Jersey-based crime family—he delves into this narrative through talking to his therapist, Dr. Melfi.
Some of us think we are quirky and talented enough to be writing for Saturday Night Live, but just haven’t had our big break yet. While we wait for that dream to manifest itself, we can watch 30 Rock. The popular sitcom, created by and starring Tina Fey, is available on Prime, and is based loosely her days as a head writer at SNL (although the live-sketch show depicted in 30 Rock is fictional). 30 Rock is right up there with The Office and Parks and Rec; it’s just a super easy sitcom that you can throw on at any time of day and for whatever mood you’re in.
Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows ever, and I’m so glad it’s on Prime. Downton Abbey takes place in England and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants from 1912-1926. There is so much drama both upstairs and downstairs, and while there are some people that try to cause tension, mostly everyone gets along and has adorable British accents. It’s so easy to watch and get obsessed with, and I promise it’s worth it.
Honestly, who let Dance Moms air in the first place? Every Tuesday night in middle school for me featured a Dance Moms and Pretty Little Liars marathon, and looking back, that lineup feels like a bizarre fever dream. The antics of Miss Abby Lee Miller honestly haunt me, and the fact that she went to jail for a minute really doesn’t help the whole situation. How did she choreograph those dances every single week? What is the rival studio, the inglorious Candy Apples, up to now? Will Maddie ever not be at the top of the pyramid?
Mostly just putting this on the list because I think it might be fun to watch Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (wait do we still call her that, or no?) during her life before Harry. Suits is set at a New York City law firm, opening when Harvey Specter hires Mike Ross, a genius college dropout, to help him solve and close cases, despite Mike never attending or graduating from law school at all.
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld and hilarious Bernie impersonator on SNL, plays a version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm. The 10th season just started, and luckily Prime has all the prior seasons so you can catch up. In the show, David faces the many annoyances of daily life, and basically just calls everyone out on their bullsh*t. TBH the show stresses me out because I am not a confrontational person at all, but it’s really funny. I would love to see an episode of David coughing on someone and/or being coughed on during this pandemic. Maybe they’re already working on it.
‘Law & Order: SVU’
Over the last 20 years, Law & Order: SVU has seemingly gotten away with any and every plotline they could ever think up. My jaw immediately hits the floor every time I watch this show, and it stays there the whole episode. I love how they only seem to get the perp like half the time and then the rest of the time it’s a therapy session. I love how they make up mid-season storylines for the main characters, and when you question them, diehard fans comment, “oh yeah, they mentioned that offhandedly 10 seasons ago,” as if you should’ve remembered. I love how Finn seems to improvise all of his lines and no one ever reacts to them. This show is a great watch because you really don’t need to watch it any particular order, and after one episode you’ll be done with TV for a while.
‘American Horror Story’
Eight seasons of AHS are on Prime, and I know everyone has a personal favorite. I only tried to watch this show once, when I was in ninth grade. I remember it so clearly, sitting in my friend’s basement in the dark. It was season four: Freak Show. She didn’t warn me at all. Enter: the scariest clown I have ever seen. Cue: me not sleeping for a week. That was the last time I ever even thought about watching this show. However, I’m older now, and wiser, and the world is as scary as it’s going to get, so I’m considering giving it another try. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Let me be the first to say I would GLADLY elect Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President and/or President of the United States right now, which is her role as the protagonist in Veep. Veep is about the personal and political careers of Selina Meyer, the Vice President, and her wacky but reliable staff as they try to make their mark and advance themselves politically. Does it seem like something like this will ever be allowed to happen in our country? Maybe not, but it’s still fun to watch nonetheless.
Hopefully, by this point, you have found some sort of routine for your quarantine, and are not just watching TV for 9 hours a day as you maybe did at the beginning. (And if you are doing that, literally no shame at all.) However, we’re in it for the long haul, and we’ll need some entertainment to help us through it. If you can’t stand staring at the screen any longer, try an audiobook. One show at a time, this quarantine is going to get a little more bearable.
Images: Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images, Amazon (16)
Guys, I have a very pressing matter to discuss, and no, it’s not how I’ll watch Noah Centineo’s new Netflix movie today while at work. I’m going to stream it on my phone, duh. I’m talking about the budding friendship that’s happening between JoJo Siwa and North West because, y’all, I’m alarmed.
For those of you who don’t spend their time IG stalking the famous friendships of celebrity spawn and therefore have no idea what I’m talking about, congratulations. You’re not better than me. For those of you who do know what I’m talking about, then you know that North West, coming off the high of her first magazine cover, recently did a collab with YouTube personality, and the human embodiment of a Limited Too explosion, JoJo Siwa. Well, it was less of a collaboration and more of just JoJo showing North her room, which includes a bedazzled slide and a giant furry sign that reads “JoJo’s Juice,” and me weighing the pros and cons of calling child protective services. I guess the two of them really hit it off though, because North AND her cousin Penelope both attended JoJo’s sweet 16 on Tuesday, and honestly we have a lot of questions.
Before we start speculating as to why a sixteen-year-old would invite a horde of kindergarteners to her birthday party, I think we need to analyze this photo from said party:
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Omg jojo was on @dailymail! But the article says Kardashians stars of her party?!?! Umm definelty not jojo is the star of EVERYTHING!!!! @itsjojosiwa @itsjojosiwa @jaydensiwa @jessalynnsiwa @itstomsiwa #jojosiwa #jojoscloset #kardashian #northwest #penelopedisick #birthday #party #special #nickelodeon
First of all, Penelope is looking at the camera like she thinks she’s better than this, and she is right. North, take note. Second of all, why do the girls who don’t even have their grown-up teeth yet look more mature than the one who is turning 16? Hmm? ANSWER ME THAT. Overall, I find this picture very unsettling, and not just because JoJo is dressed like an extra on the set of The Wiggles. On your 16th birthday you should be sneaking cigarettes in a Wawa parking lot, not entertaining six-year-olds! It’s just not right! Like, does anyone else feel like something a little dark is happening behind the scenes here? There were far too many children at that party for an almost-adult to invite, and I was getting some distinct Leaving Neverland vibes from this whole thing.
This became increasingly apparent when I saw a photo of JoJo Siwa with her former cast-mates of Dance Moms. Fun fact: back when JoJo was an actual child, she was one of Abby Lee Miller’s elite dancers on Dance Moms. Post-show, most of those girls have tried to shed their child-star images by testing Instagram’s nudity policy one thirst trap at a time, and I know this because I follow each and every one of them (and am an active member in Chloe’s virtual book club). This is not so for JoJo Siwa! While her friends, who, I remind you, are the same age as her, are literally dressed like Merriam Webster’s definition of “jailbait,” JoJo is posing next to them like their clown-obsessed acquaintance they were forced to hang out with because their moms still think they’re friends.
Holly, you are proving my point for me.
I just sincerely hope that this entire persona was crafted by her mother as a marketing ploy for her to stay relevant. That is the only excuse I’m willing to accept for why she would behave this way, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been binge watching The Act, and now want to call the police on every overbearing mother I see. I, mean, are we truly to believe that JoJo’s aesthetic is a Lisa Frank wet dream? That instead of trying to guilt her mother into letting her get her belly button pierced like normal girls her age, she’d rather guilt her mother into letting her invite one more five-year-old to her party so they can turn up together on the dance floor? Nah. I’m not buying it.
Also, North, let’s take a page out of P’s book and start evaluating who your true friends are here before I write a VERY strongly worded DM to your mother. You might think it’s cool now to say you have older friends, but when those friends are 16 and still playing with slime, I think it’s time to have a stern conversation with your publicist to see if there are any cooler friends she can dig up for you. And that’s your one piece of free advice from me, kid! The next time, I’m charging.
However alarmed I am by the party itself, I gotta hand it to Little Miss ‘I Wish I Was 13,’ because JoJo Siwa turned that freak show into a lucrative business deal. Footage from the party will air as a Nickelodeon special called JoJo’s Dream Birthday on May 18th. Stay tuned for more updates on my
rage blackouts thoughts and feelings, as I will certainly be having more of those as more disturbing footage from this party drops.
Images: @dancemomholly /Instagram (1); @aliyah_minisiwanator /Instagram (1)