So, yeah... we’re all going through this rollercoaster of emotions that the Corona-virus train has brought along with it. I sure am. Some days are up, some are anxiety-ridden. But most days I try to stay sane by somewhat socializing with others, on zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp… or doing some meditation when I have enough of a zen attitude about it all, and some potato-chip binging and Netflix & chill when I just, well, DON’T.
Keeping myself calm and off the news as much as possible has been my saving grace. And daily check-ins with my mom, of course. That is always medicine for my troubles.
But this time around, it seems like my mom has been feeling more of the troubles than I do. Fortunately, she is in good health, but she has been isolated at her home for over a month now, so she is feeling quite bored and lonely. I figured it was time for her to get acquainted with her television. Easier said than done… See, my mom is an intellectual thinker, a reader of books - the long literary masterful ones that authors win Pulitzer prizes for, and she’s not necessarily a ‘TV person’. If there IS such a thing. Watching more than an episode of whatever would be a stretch for my mom, but since all ‘her friends are doing it now’, she asked for some recommendations. I thought a little and whipped up a couple of suggestions for a ‘complex character type dramas’ for my intellectual thinking mama, and then my dad showed up on my WhatsApp declaring he could use some TV recommendations too, and since I’m a TV junkie as all us millennials are - I should be able to help him out a bit, no? Well, other suggestions started piling up in my head as my dad’s taste is far different than my mom’s - He can handle some action, fast pace and thrilling type of dramas, and maybe a pinch of absurd comedy too… and I found myself with a full list of suggestions for my folks.
For clarity’s sake (we could all use some more of that nowadays, sigh) my parents are divorced, and neither has ever remarried, so here they are, each at their own home, looking for some quality binge escapism. And since there is not much I can physically do to help them in their isolated days, turning them into TV watching zombies like the rest of us - is my newfound goal. So here is my TV guide for the mom and dad who never got into the ‘TV thing’, but have plenty of time to catch up to the rest of the world now.
The guide is of my favorite BINGE worthy TV shows (and a few documentaries that I couldn’t resist) in no particular order:
Breaking Bad (crime drama, 5 seasons)
-This neo-western tale of a chemistry teacher who turns into a drug lord is an incredible masterclass in TV writing by Vince Gilligan and masterful acting by Bryan Cranston. It's quality escapism y'all!
Mad Men (period drama, 7 seasons)
-With excessive consumer-mentality coming to a halt these days, why not delve into the world of the advertisement industry in the 1960s, and be reminded of our own naivety as Don Draper sells us another cigarette, another jaguar, another American dream? Yes, it’s slow paced and has a TON of episodes, but it’s excellently done and is comforting like your favorite ice cream on a rainy day.
Halt And Catch Fire (period drama, 4 seasons)
-This underrated drama is seemingly about the computer and tech boom of the 1980s, but it’s really about failure- an inspiring theme to explore on TV and the team of creators behind this series did exceptionally well. How come no one has watched this brilliant show?! This forever will be a mystery to me. This, and well...the invention of the internet. (Really now, how the fuck does this thing work?! Asking for a friend.)
Six Feet Under (family drama, 5 seasons)
-A charming, family drama that explores death and family in deep and light ways both at once. A true ensemble of giant actors who shine in their roles in the Fisher family. As sentimental as puzzling your first puzzle. Plus - the finale episode is the best finale ever. EVER. Get your tissues ready and binge away.
The Wire (crime/action drama, 5 seasons)
-A social commentary about society, the justice system, what’s good or bad, etc. Intense, tense and exceptionally written. Ahead of its time. Definitely NOT a guilty pleasure type of watching.
The Sopranos (crime drama, 6 seasons)
-Does this one really need an explanation??! Obviously this is a classic. THE classic for our TV era. Must watch. It's a bit embarrassing for me to even have to note this one here. Come on mom and day! Watch it already, like, yesterYEARS.
FleaBag (dark comedy, 2 seasons)
-A NEW classic from the queen Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Nobody breaks the fourth wall as she does. All hail the queen. (P.S. Phebe, will you marry me?)
Killing Eve (drama/crime/comedy - mixed genre, 2 seasons)
-The queen continues with this sexy strange and witty crime-drama-comedy-fusion. I don’t know WHAT type of genre this show is, but I don’t really care. It’s a great female-driven cat & mouse story that is witty and unpredictable. Plus Jody Comer is EVERYTHING.
Money Heist (La Casa De Papel in Spanish) (crime/action/tele-novella, 4 seasons)
-Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled bank heist like nothing else. It will give you sweaty palms guys!!! Seriously, this show is fantastic and VERY binge-worthy with its action, suspense, humor, good ‘ole melodrama and an idealistic commentary on capitalism, community and other themes that are VERY relevant right now as we see our economic system crumble like a house of paper.
Fauda (drama/action, 3 seasons)
-Loads of suspense, high stakes in the vain of 24 and Homeland (yes, they both deserve honorable mentions here also, scroll below for that), terror groups and the Israeli Mossad?! Why, yes, please.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (comedy, 10 seasons)
-Comedy classic from the brilliant mind of Larry David. Need I say more? (P.S Larry, are we related!?)
Schitt’s Creek (comedy, 6 seasons)
-I finally started watching this during the ‘Quarantine season’ (God please make this 'New Normal' ONLY a season? pretty please?) and got hooked quickly. It’s a quirky family comedy portraying a story of riches to rags and featuring the flawless Catherine O’Hara- I’d watch her in anything, any day.
Broadchurch (crime drama, 3 seasons)
-A UK classic crime drama that is done so well and revealed to me the greatness that is OLIVIA COLEMAN.
The Bridge (original Scandinavian version, crime drama, 4 seasons)
-Flawed characters to psychoanalyze for hours, a murder mystery to solve, border politics to be intrigued by… what’s not to like?
The Crown (period history drama 3 seasons)
-Although I’m not into these types of stories usually (historical drama about privilege, royalty and the likes, yawn!), the nuanced layered characters kept me HOOKED and re-think this genre.
The Handmaid’s Tale (drama, 3 seasons)
-I found it a bit challenging to watch this dystopian drama but that’s exactly why it’s BRILLIANT. It examines the limits and surpasses them, another master class in writing. Also strangely and hauntingly appropriate for the current state of impending doom.
Stranger Things (period/sci-fi, 3 seasons)
-kids, 80s, Winona Ryder, strange things. Love it!
Game Of Thrones (action/fantasy, 8 seasons)
Lost (Sci-fi/suspense drama, 6 seasons)
-“Lost is like crack: It may not always be quality, but it does its job.”
The Good Wife (courtroom drama, 7 seasons)
-Seemingly a conventional network show - and mostly is - but I couldn’t stop binging it. Something in it just WORKS almost like a good ‘ole formulaic episode of Law & Order, but binge-worthy.
Succession (drama, 2 seasons)
-A new favorite of mine, slow to start but GROWS on you like a beast! The second season is wow. Just wow. WOW. Shakespeare wow. Yes, I really said it.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (sci-fi, teen, 7 seasons)
-Yeah, I’m on the Buffy train. And maybe the feeling of an apocalypse, fearful expressions on people’s faces at the grocery store and the general feeling of age-regressing into my teen years that made me think of it...but anyhow- this show is addictive, and you can get sucked into the Buffy world even more if you watch Angel simultaneously- there are a lot of cross-references between the two shows. Sorry NOT sorry.
*Honorable mentions that deserve a nod: Law & Order, Law& Order SVU, Seinfeld, 24, Homeland, Ozark, River, Top Of The Lake, The Killing, Outlander, Unorthodox, This Is Us
* Recent documentaries for some ‘escape into realism':
Wild Wild Country (series)
-Everything you didn’t know you needed to know about Osho. Astounding people, astounding story, astounding series about them all. Must watch.
-Woah this Oscar Winning film is the magic of documentary filmmaking- you never know how it’s gonna go… the less I tell you the better actually.
Making A Murderer (series)
-This series started the docu-series recent trend and a clear formula that Netflix has followed again and again because it works. The formula is: ‘Did he do it? Did he not? Oh, he DID do it! Oh, what a twist, he DIDN’T do it. Oh, he did. Wait… what? So he’s innocent? I knew it. Wait… he did it after all? Oh, SHE did it? Who is she!? Help! Hello????? Gimme more!’
Tiger King (series)
-The latest controversial craze on Netflix. It’s absurd and kinda unbelievable that these people and situations are totally real, but if we have learned anything lately is that reality is stranger than fiction….right? Oh, and please STOP abusing animals people! Like, COME ON. (Sighs heavily)
The Imposter (film)
-A really great documentary I found on Netflix one day. The less you know, the better. (That mantra is very soothing in general these days).
The Keepers (series)
-Nuns and murder. Fascinating story.
The Jinx (series)
-The famed Netflix formula (read ‘Making a Murderer’ above) strikes again with this one. Right up to the very last frame.
Don’t Fuck With Cats (series)
-A fascinating documentary about the internet, community, psychosis and more. And PLEASE leave cats alone people! Sincerely, a cat person.
The Devil Next Door (series)
-Years after WW2, ‘Ivan The Terrible’, a SS Nazi officer, was allegedly found living his best life as a family man in suburbia USA…what followed was shocking and compelling. I LOVED this doc series.
The Confession Killer (series)
- A fascinating and disturbing look into confession killer Henry Lee Lucas.
Three Identical Strangers (film)
-Ooohhh this one is great. Again - the less you know….
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (film)
-Those of us who are privileged to have food on our plates right now, are all becoming chefs during this quarantine (or excellent at ordering deliveries) so this inspiring doc about one of the best chefs out there is a good one to indulge in. No pun intended…
There you have it mom and dad - your ultimate TV guide that will suck up your time, but hopefully will also fill you with stories that are heartwarming, gut-wrenching, inspiring, stimulating and a whole lot of fun.
Stay healthy & stay home,
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman