A TV Guide to Social Distancing

by Nicole Aboodi | 4/6/20 3:30am

Whether you’re in a mandated quarantine or simply practicing social distancing, we can all agree that there isn’t much to do in the confines of your home. Sure, you’re attending classes from the comfort of your bed and appreciating how light your workload is now that everything is credit/no credit, but you’re getting restless and bored and in desperate need of a distraction. Welcome to a comprehensive list of shows worth your laughs, tears and time, for whatever mood you’re in.

If you want something lighthearted:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)

As Midge Maisel’s Jewish Upper West Side life is turned upside down, she makes the logical move to change her position from housewife to stand-up comic. While watching this show, you’ll become enveloped in an entirely new, fashionable world that makes the 1950s look like a lot of fun. Midge’s comedy routines, which are dispersed throughout the series, make a hilarious highlight, while her relationships with her parents, husband and manager give the show its heart. Season one gave us a dazzling introduction into Midge’s whimsical personality and world. While season two felt less fresh, the show picked back up in season three, where the humor, adventures and relationships are funnier, sharper and more personal.

Modern Love (Amazon Prime)

For people that love love, this is the show for you. “Modern Love” adapts The New York Times column of the same name into an anthology series, in which each episode presents a different modern love story — whether it be romantic love, familial love or self-love. Each episode produces an uplifting message that, although the world can be a dark place, it’s also a place overflowing with love. The must-watch episodes of this series are “When Cupid is a Prying Journalist” (episode two) and “Hers Was a World of One” (episode seven), where the beauty of the show — telling uplifting stories about the different aspects of love — really shined. Personally, I enjoyed the short episodes that felt like fully-formed stories, reading the articles that inspired them and then moving onto the next one. As a bonus, this show comes along with great reading material and, possibly, your new favorite column.

Sex Education (Netflix)

While teen dramas are entertaining, many portray a bunch of teenagers running around without any consequences, all while maintaining an air of sophistication that’s difficult to believe. “Sex Education” doesn’t stick to any of these unrealistic falsehoods. Otis, an awkward, gangly teenager whose mother is a sex therapist, decides to open a business of his own: giving sex advice to his fellow classmates, even if he’s the least experienced of any of them. You’ll definitely laugh at the ridiculous situations Otis gets himself into, but you’ll also empathize with the students and fall in love with the odd band of characters Otis befriends. Also, the show’s cast of British teenagers is a fun twist!

Other suggestions: Entourage (Amazon Prime, HBO), Gilmore Girls (Netflix), Sex and the City (Amazon Prime, HBO).

If you want to be enveloped in the drama:

Euphoria (HBO)

Zendaya has come a long way since her days as a teen Disney star. In “Euphoria,” she plays the teenager Rue, a recovering addict who has no intention of staying clean. While “Euphoria” involves teenagers and falls into the genre of drama, it’s so much more than the average teen drama. Following Rue, as well as a myriad of other multi-dimensional characters, “Euphoria” aptly comments on issues facing teens in today’s world, including addiction, mental health and self-esteem. The most special thing about this show is that it threads together profound storylines without ever seeming like an after-school special. Just like the show itself, each character has such a unique, well thought-out sense of style. “Euphoria” is bound to achieve icon status, and you don’t want to miss out.   

Succession (HBO) 

Despite boasting a cast of only morally bankrupt characters, this show is addicting to watch. There’s no one to root for, there’s no ethical payoff and yet the show is compulsively exciting due to its strong characters, their sharp tongues and their witty comebacks. Centered around the Roy family and their media empire, the show follows the patriarch, Logan, and his four adult children as they battle it out for the throne of their kingdom. Think “Game of Thrones,” but in a boardroom. Season one was fantastic and laid a solid foundation for the Roys, their personas and their world, but season two dove deeper into their complex family dynamics and personal agendas. 

You (Netflix)

Hello, you. Thus starts the unsettling relationship between Joe, an apparently handsome and charming stalker, and Beck, a writer and graduate student. Unbeknownst to Beck, Joe stalks her and sneakily infiltrates her life because he believes that they are meant to be together. What differentiates this show is that it’s told from Joe’s perspective. The viewer lives in Joe’s twisted mind, and pretty soon, his warped logic starts to make sense. Dealing with themes of toxic masculinity and how far one will go to excuse an attractive white man (hello, Ted Bundy), “You” creates a blood-pumping viewing experience, where you might have to stop yourself and think, “Wait, why am I rooting for Joe?”

Other suggestions: Scandal (Netflix), White Collar (Hulu, Amazon Prime), This is Us (Hulu).

If you want something quick:

Dead to Me (Netflix) 

Meet Jen, a sarcastic, recently widowed realtor who screams to heavy metal music to release her anger. When she meets hippie-ish Judy in her grief group, the two form an unlikely friendship and lean on each other through the difficulties they both face. While there are twists that will make you click eagerly to the next episode, the foundation of this series lies in its strong female friendship and darkly comic tone. The show is also thought provoking, toying with the idea of what makes a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” If you like darker humor, dry sarcasm and crime, but in a lighter context, this is the perfect binge watch. With Netflix renewing this series for another season, the first season certainly warrants a watch.

Fleabag (Amazon Prime) 

If you don’t know who Phoebe Waller-Bridge is, then you’re probably the only one. She’s the mastermind behind this brilliant smash hit, which she wrote, produced and starred in. Fleabag is a foul-mouthed, angry woman who finds humor in her grief and strenuous relationships. It will make you laugh out loud, revel in Waller-Bridge’s sharp wit and yearn for a “hot priest” (sacrilegious, I know, but just let it happen). Arguably one of the best episodes of television ever is the first episode of season two, as it’s fast-moving, cleverly written and perfectly encapsulates Fleabag’s character. It didn’t win all those Emmys or gain a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes for nothing. Due to its addicting, laughter-inducing writing and the fact that the show spans only two seasons with six episodes each, you’ll binge this very quickly. 

The People v. O.J. Simpson (Netflix) 

The first installation of Ryan Murphy’s anthological “American Crime Story” is a snapshot of an infamous court case: the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. Though many of us know the general story, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” weaves the details of the trial, the political climate and the personal stories of those involved together. Through this 10-episode season, you’ll learn plenty about the specifics of the case and be able to make a judgement for yourself. Each episode offers fascinating truths and builds the main players into fleshed-out human beings. A particularly interesting glimpse can be had in “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” (episode six), which showcases a character who you wouldn’t have thought would be so personally affected by the trial and aptly demonstrates the sexism Marcia Clark had to endure. And if the monumental history or political implications don’t interest you, there’s always the fact that the media circus around the Simpson trial helped spark the Kardashian empire — Robert Kardashian was one of Simpson’s lawyers. 

Other suggestions: Unbelievable (Netflix), When They See Us (Netflix), Dirty John (Netflix) 

If you want something that’ll last you the whole term:

Game of Thrones (HBO) 

You might feel like you don’t really need to watch this one because the craze has died down, but you’re wrong. This is one of those shows that will maintain its social relevance, even if the conversation around it might simmer from time to time. And for good reason. The series blends together every genre into one concoction through intense action, salacious gossip, scandalous sex and a constant battle for power. “Game of Thrones” has several plots, including the fight for the  “Iron Throne” of the Seven Kingdoms and the interactions within a complex web of noble dynasties. The fact that viewers were famously disappointed with the eighth and final season doesn’t detract from the first seven compelling seasons, which will keep you enthralled through all of your time in social isolation.   

Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix, Season 16 on Hulu) 

Show your Dartmouth pride and support one of our alums, Shonda Rhimes ’91! “Grey’s Anatomy” is one of those shows that, if you have the time, is an amazing binge. Known for its endless tragedies and being the longest-running medical show in history, “Grey’s Anatomy” spotlights Meredith Grey, a surgical intern in Seattle, and the personal lives and medical cases of a group of surgeons. The first eight seasons are when the show thrives — the excitement of each medical case, the attachment you’ll feel to each patient and doctor and the development of long-lasting relationships all feel fresh. After the first eight seasons, however, the tragedies feel like ploys for viewership. While the show is currently 16 seasons long and still hasn’t ended, it’s not like you’re doing much else. Bonus: if you’re desperately searching for a career path and are totally lost, there’s a good chance watching this will inspire you to declare yourself pre-med.  

Curb Your Enthusiasm (Seasons 1-8 on Amazon Prime, Entire Series HBO) 

If you want persistent laughs with a series that’ll stick with you through quarantine, here’s the show for you. Larry David plays … well, Larry David. He constantly meets life’s small inconveniences and makes them larger for himself in a hilarious, angry manner. If you needed to get your mind off of the larger issues in life right now and want to complain about the little things, like how your coffee isn’t hot enough, you’re in good company. Fans of shows like “Seinfeld” and “Veep” will greatly appreciate the humor. By the time you catch up, you’ll be just in time for the tenth and brand new season.   

Other suggestions: Jane the Virgin (Netflix), Shameless (Netflix, Amazon Prime), The Wire (Amazon Prime, HBO)