While we’re all stuck in quarantine as the economy is flushed down the toilet, let’s face it, we’re watching a lot of TV. Of course, there’s no live sports to watch, so you’re undoubtedly looking for something to stream. I’ve got you covered.
While Netflix doesn’t have everything it used to because of the siloing of streaming rights, there’s still a lot to chew on during the plague.
The most serious show on this list, “Narcos: Mexico” is a startling portrayal of how the drug trade across America’s southern border came to be a megabillion-dollar business. In the show’s first season, we saw how Diego Luna’s character Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo came to consolidate all the disparate drug gangs in Mexico into one giant federation of drug kingpins.
This season, the show’s second, illustrates how that all fell apart. It also explains how the now-notorious “El Chapo” was born, and sets up next season as the story of El Chapo’s rise to power, fame, and cult status in Mexico. This year, we see how the Mexican drug lords stole a presidential election at gunpoint so their preferred candidate could win, then burned the evidence of their crime.
We also see the struggles they had getting Colombian-made cocaine into the states, and the lengths to which they went to achieve that goal. Hint: They had a private airline of cargo jets, full to the brim with drugs, flying nearly nonstop to feed America’s cocaine habit in the ’80s and early ’90s.
Luna’s portrayal of a crime boss whose empire is crumbling around him, as Scoot McNairy’s Drug Enforcement Administration agents seek to take him down and get revenge for the death of their co-worker, is riveting. You won’t be able to peel your eyeballs away from this show’s 10 roughly hour-long episodes. If it takes you more than two days to watch this, you’re doing quarantine wrong.
‘I Am Not Okay With This’
This seven-part series is the story of Sydney, a girl in rural Pennsylvania (where they probably don’t have a lot of coronavirus right now), who is slowly realizing two things: She’s developing strange superpowers, and she’s falling in love with her best friend. This show is perfect for binge-watching in these troubled times because it’s fun and light, and some of the episodes are less than 20 minutes long.
Directed by a Netflix veteran, and produced by the team from “Stranger Things,” “I Am Not Okay With This” is like “Carrie” meets modern life. It honors ’80s classics like “The Breakfast Club,” mocks modern comic book movies, and has a killer soundtrack.
This show also has the king of all cliffhanger endings that leaves you begging for a second season. I can’t recommend this show highly enough. It’s a ton of fun!
One of the many good food shows on Netflix right now, “Ugly Delicious” is the brain child of Momofuku’s Dave Chang. The new second season sees Chang grappling with becoming a father, the death of friend and mentor Anthony Bourdain, and the social exclusivity of dry-aged steak.
Longer than “The Chef Show,” another great Netflix find, Chang’s “Ugly Delicious” has always been a great show that sometimes runs a tad long, but this season, the New York City chef really shines as he struggles with big changes in his life. This is well worth your time in quarantine. Just be warned: It will make you hungry.
If you’re a parent, your kids are probably glued to Disney+ during these shelter-in-place shenanigans, but don’t miss out on things you can watch there too.
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’
The first Star Wars TV series, “Clone Wars” used to run on Cartoon Network before it was abruptly canceled after Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012. Co-creator Dave Filoni never got to finish the series like he wanted. Thanks to never-ending fan support for the series and Filoni’s later success with shows such as “Star Wars: Rebels” and “The Mandalorian,” he’s now getting the chance to finish the series the way it should have ended.
The good news is, you can tell Filoni has learned a lot since he last worked on “Clone Wars.” Each episode is tighter, the dialogue is better, and the action scenes are absolutely incredible. The man’s turn behind the camera in live action on “The Mandalorian” is particularly evident in how he structures these newer episodes of “Clone Wars.”
This is Star Wars at its best and should not be missed, particularly because we’ve learned that several of the show’s best characters, including fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, are potentially headed to “The Mandalorian” next season.
Undoubtedly the most fun Marvel movie, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a great quarantine movie. It’s hilarious, puts some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best characters in new and unfamiliar situations, and is perhaps the best written and directed movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In “Ragnarok,” Thor, Hulk, and Loki find themselves trapped on the alien planet Sakaar ruled by Jeff Goldblum in the most Jeff Goldblum role he’s ever inhabited. They’re trying to get back to Asgard, the home of Thor and Loki, where their evil older sister (played devilishly by Cate Blanchett) has taken over the throne.
Along the way, they meet some great new characters played by Tessa Thompson and writer/director Taika Waititi. You can enjoy this fun film by yourself for all its meta references or with your kids. It’s the closest Marvel has come to making a Pixar movie, and worth your time.
‘The World According to Jeff Goldblum’
Speaking of the one and only Jeff Goldblum, under the banner of Disney’s National Geographic division is “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” a show where Goldblum investigates everything from the sneakerhead craze, to the history of denim, to LARPing.
Goldblum has a personality you either love or hate, so if you’re not a fan of his eccentric speaking style and odd approach to, well, everything, this might not be the show for you. But if you’re a Goldblum fan like I am, you’ll love getting his take on the strange things we humans do.
If you’re still watching regular TV, and you’re sick of the doomsday news cycle, here are a few things you can watch while waiting for sports to come back and for life to return to normal.
Bravo’s “Top Chef” is the only TV cooking competition that still matters. Trust me, no one in the food industry cares who wins a cupcake challenge on the Food Network. This show still provides high drama and culinary creativity, and it’s packed with the most amazing cheftestants and guest judges.
This season of “Top Chef” is an all-star format based in Los Angeles, and was presumably filmed long before we were all banished to our homes for the foreseeable future. It’s the best substitute for March Madness you’ll find on TV right now: a group of chefs all at the top of their game, all having done this show before, and all dying to win the largest cash prize this show has ever doled out.
We’re only a couple episodes into the season, but we’ve already seen appearances by culinary marvel Jeremiah Hightower, and an episode honoring legendary Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold. This is a show you don’t want to miss right now, and probably the only reason to watch cable on a Thursday night.
Because it’s not stupid, NBC Universal is running the Harry Potter movie series ad nauseam right now on SyFy, USA Network, and just about every other cable channel it owns. You’ve undoubtedly seen these movies a million times already, but nothing is better for an escape from the modern-day terror like the made-up struggles of our titular young wizard.
If you turn on your TV to a random channel right now, you’re likely to find one of these movies playing. It’s a great excuse to tell your kids the stories about yourself waiting in line, dressed as a wizard, at these places called bookstores with hundreds of other people at midnight just so you could be the first to buy the latest book in this series way back in the early 2000s, when gathering in public was still a thing. Or was that just me?
One of the greatest dramas of all time, “House” ran from 2004 to 2012 and featured British legend Hugh Laurie in perhaps the finest role of his illustrious career. A drug-addicted misanthrope genius doctor inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Laurie’s Dr. House is far and away one of my favorite television characters of all time.
Each week, the show provided a genuine medical mystery, which was never what it seemed at the start. The stellar supporting cast featured Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, Lisa Edelstein, Olivia Wilde, and more. Even if you’ve watched this show a hundred times, it’s always worth watching again.
It currently runs on at least two or three channels, often in long marathons so you can get in half a season or so per day. No matter how bad the drumbeat for COVID-19 gets, it can never beat some of the bizarre maladies that inflict the poor patients on “House.”