Sir Isaac Newton did his greatest work while stuck at home during the Great Plague of London in the 1600s. That’s inspiring. Maybe a few Americans will reach similar heights in the coming weeks as we all practice social distancing for the Wuhan coronavirus. But let’s be honest, most of us are going to be doing a lot of binge-watching.
Many of the top shows and movies around today are in the post-apocalyptic genre, meaning their plots center on a huge disaster, such as a disease, alien invasion, nuclear war, or zombie attack, that ends life as we know it. May I suggest you avoid all such shows and movies for the duration of this pandemic? Real life is scary enough right now. I suspect we find the images on the news even more frightening because they resemble scenes from post-apocalyptic shows and movies.
Here are five shows that are great to binge-watch but have no post-apocalyptic themes. They will entertain you without reinforcing your fears.
1. ‘The Mandalorian’
The Walt Disney Company bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas and quickly started hosing us with all sorts of content set in the Star Wars universe. The results have been mixed, for sure. But at least with “The Mandalorian,” they got it right. It’s a fun, uncomplicated adventure story about a bounty hunter with a heart of gold — exactly the kind of entertainment we could use right now.
2. ‘O.J. Made in America’
This lengthy documentary about the O.J. Simpson murder trial watches like a scripted drama. Americans who lived through the trial will be interested to revisit all the details. For younger people, this is a great way to learn about such an important cultural milestone.
You might also find it oddly reassuring to watch a documentary about racial tensions in America. At least that problem is familiar to us, unlike all the unknowns with the coronavirus.
3. ‘The Widow’
A British woman (Kate Beckinsale) believes her husband died two years before in a plane crash in Africa. But then something happens that makes her suspect he is still alive. In her quest to find the truth, she unravels a tangled web of corrupt politicians, nonprofit organizations, big business, and warlords. You will get sucked in by the plot tension and forget your real-life tension.
4. ‘Howard’s End’
What could be less post-apocalyptic than a luscious British costume drama? This is a new adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel about two sisters in Edwardian London who make very different life choices. The costumes are beautiful, and the acting is wonderful. It’s the binge-watching equivalent of eating a box of chocolates.
Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is an LAPD detective who solves murders while battling his own demons. Formulaic? Absolutely. But what sets this show apart is the quality of the acting. Welliver is amazing, but so are the supporting cast members, each of whom probably deserves his own spin-off.
Bonus Post-Apocalyptic Show: ‘Jericho’
If you insist on watching a post-apocalyptic show, you can’t do better than “Jericho.” In this show, all of America’s major cities are destroyed by nuclear bombs. Survivors in the small town of Jericho struggle to cope.
This show is encouraging because it depicts a community that comes together, with everyone helping each other out. “Jericho” provides an uplifting vision of a post-apocalyptic future. If things get worse with the coronavirus, this is how we hope people will behave.
Enjoy binge-watching these great shows while you are stuck indoors in the coming days. Let’s hope that by the time you get through them, the worst of this crisis will have passed.