TV shows we're watching during the coronavirus lockdown
We've been watching a lot of TV and we have recommendations!
Mark SerrelsEditorial Director
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Don't know about you, but we're watching a lot more TV right now. If you're anything like us, you're probably stuck at home on lockdown, trying to distract yourself from... everything really.
TV is good. TV is helpful.
So we thought we'd ask everyone at CNET what they were watching during the coronavirus lockdown. If you're looking for something new to binge, look no further.
I'm a Terrace House addict and the latest drop of Terrace House 2019-2020 episodes couldn't have come at a better time.
Those in the know already understand: Terrace House is self care. It's mindfulness in TV form. A goldfish bowl for human beings. Imagine a Japanese Big Brother stripped of all the drama and nonsense, replaced with a focus on minutiae -- on everyday human actions drawn large.
If you haven't watched a single episode of this show I'm insanely jealous. You have so much quality TV to watch. Start with Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, then move on to Terrace House: Opening New Doors. You have so much to consume!
-- Mark Serrels
I've been watching Stateless, a show based on an insane true story of an Australian citizen who winds up trapped in an immigration detention centre in the Australian desert.
Cate Blanchett is one of the stars, along with Yvonne Strahovski from The Handmaid's Tale. It's such a good Australian production that shines a light on detention centres in Australia and all the controversy surrounding the conditions they let refugees live in. There's also a cult -- and brilliant, satisfying arcs for all the main characters.
picked up the international rights, which is awesome. It'll be available on the service later this year.
-- Jennifer Bisset
Spider-Man: The Animated Series
When Disney Plus launched in the UK shortly after I bunkered down at home, I came across this gem from the '90s. I've been watching one 20-minute episode each morning before work; turns out that ritual is exactly what I needed.
I watched this as a 7-year-old and assumed it aged terribly. Wrong, I've been overjoyed to find it's held up despite the occasional bit of janky animation. The stellar cast of voice actors is key: Christopher Daniel Barnes (whom you might remember as Eric in The Little Mermaid) plays Peter Parker and Spidey with delightful neuroticism, Sara Ballantine captures the depth of Mary Jane Watson and Ed Asner growls through every scene as J Jonah Jameson. And
dials down his Joker mania just a bit to play Hobgoblin.
With impeccable timing, I started watching Doctor Who from the beginning just a few weeks before the coronavirus arrived. The show originally ran from 1963 to 1989 so I'm optimistic it'll outlast whatever lockdown has to throw at us. I even made a spreadsheet listing all the episodes, so I know that if I watch one a day, I'll go from black-and-white to color by June and I'll finish in September 2021.
That's if I watch an episode a day... Yeeeah, I have not been watching an episode a day. But I can tell you that even creaky 1960s sci-fi is enormously entertaining and surprisingly thought-provoking. With even more uncanny timing, I've reached a 1966 episode in which the human race catches a mysterious infection. Fingers crossed for a happy ending. Doctor Who is available on Britbox in the US and UK and makes a great quarantine project*.
*This also applies to Star Trek. Or the Golden Girls. You can pick any show really -- but the spreadsheet is non-negotiable.
-- Richard Trenholm
Jane Austen miniseries and The Crown
I've been making my way through all the soothing Jane Austen BBC miniseries I can find on
. Started with the near-perfect six-episode Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Darcy. Moved on to the three-part Sense and Sensibility (which could have been twice as long) and then watched Persuasion. PBS's Northhanger Abbey is next. My family inexplicably binge-watched The Crown without me but offered to rewatch with me. We're now halfway through the first season, which my family says is just as good the second time.
Netflix is home to three glorious seasons of the best series you've never heard of. The less I tell you about Travelers' core conceit, the better, but I'll simply say it brings fresh twists to the sci-fi and time-travel genres. It's smart, funny, surprising and often heartbreaking, with characters you'll quickly grow to love. (Do you actually care about anybody on Westworld? Thought not.) Give it a couple episodes; I guarantee you'll be hooked. There's even a companion podcast to listen to along the way. (Nepotism alert: I know the host.)
-- Rick Broida
Schitt's Creek and Community
We've been bingeing Schitt's Creek to catch up and get ready for this week's finale. It was an amazingly sparkly and addictive show even before the coronavirus gloom settled over us. Now it's an even more welcome diversion. The show is a must-see for Catherine O'Hara alone, but every character has their own charms. It's a comic delight, but also a lovely tale of a fish-out-of-water family with well-earned moments of warmth and tenderness. Meanwhile, Community has just showed up on Netflix, and my teenagers devoured the first season within days. It's edgier than Schitt's Creek, for sure, and breathtakingly funny. Not to slight any of the other characters, but there really needs to be a Mount Rushmore for Troy and Abed.
-- Jon Skillings
I started watching season 2 of Ugly Delicious thinking it'd be comfort food. Especially because at the end of the day, when my kid is at last asleep, I often find myself hunting for new recipes, which soothes me for a while. Food -- and all its complications -- has always been top of my mind. Even more so than usual these days.
Viewed against the backdrop of the pandemic, Ugly Delicious feels both comforting and bittersweet. Hosted by chef David Chang, who owns the Momofuku restaurants, season 2 of the food and travel series opens by delving into the difficulties of juggling work and kids. For Chang, it's personal: He's about to become a dad. One of the chefs featured this season is Floyd Cardoz, who died of COVID-19 last month.
I'm only halfway through the season but it's what I need right now -- to see people express themselves doing something they love, have frank discussions and try to make it work amid all the challenges. Sometimes you want to escape for a little while, but sometimes you want to celebrate life's possibilities and mourn what's lost. For me, Ugly Delicious provides all of that.
-- Anne Dujmovic
Little Fires Everywhere
I've been watching Little Fires Everywhere on
. It's a Big Little Lies-esque drama starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, based on a book by the same name. It has compelling character dynamics and every episode keeps me on the edge of my chair. The cinematography is also fantastic.
-- Caroline Roberts
30 Rock and This is Us
I'm about 15 years behind on this, but I finally started watching (bingeing) 30 Rock and it's been such a great reprieve. The sharp, witty humor in each episode helps me forget about everything going on in the world and provides much-needed laughter.
On a completely different note, I've been rewatching episodes of This is Us because I've found that being absorbed in the turmoil and emotion of fictional characters' lives is a surprisingly effective way to forget about the issues we face. I welcome all the ugly crying with open arms.
-- Abrar Al Heeti
Schitt's Creek, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Witcher and Outlander
I'm a huge fan of all these shows and have leaned on them like a crutch during the lockdown.
My 16-year-old and I have rewatched all the seasons of Schitt's Creek and Sabrina. Schitt's Creek is a delight, and I'm crushed that it's ending. The main characters are snobs but in a charming, hilarious way. And they actually start to grow as human beings through their years of misadventure, which is also satisfying.
Sabrina's dark twists and turns keep surprising us. Somehow the show finds the most captivating twenty-somethings in Hollywood to populate the cast.
The Witcher and Outlander play out fantastical storylines based on books that I've read and adored. But honestly, it's the casting of the leading men that brings me back to these two shows again and again. And I don't watch them with my kids.
-- Natalie Weinstein
Money Heist and Ozark
I've actually been watching a lot of stuff. I've come back to Westworld thanks to Aaron Paul, have enjoyed Reese Witherspoon in the '90s version of Big Little Lies called Little Fires Everywhere. I've also been compulsively hate-watching the last season of Homeland.
But I've been bingeing Ozark and Money Heist the hardest. By far.
The first I recommend to fans of Breaking Bad who want to see Laura Linney and Jason Bateman showing off their acting chops. The second is for heist movie enthusiasts who like TV and aren't afraid of subtitles. Both shows are highly addictive and will keep you engaged (meaning you can forget what's happening out there) without demanding too much of you as a viewer.
-- Patricia Puentes
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Babylon Berlin
I didn't get a chance to watch season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when it was released in December. So I've used my time to rewatch the series from the beginning and marvel at the dialogue, jokes, the sets, the costumes and how well thought-out all the characters are (Susie in Season 2 was a revelation.) Fun, fun, fun.
On the recommendation of many friends, I've dived into the German TV noir detective series Babylon Berlin, which is set in 1929 Berlin -- a few years before the rise of Hitler. Like many new series, you need to make it through to the third episode to understand what's going on because it's complicated (but worthwhile). The series is based on a series of best-selling detective by German author Volker Kutscher, and I recommend watching it in German with English subtitles. The dubbed English version really loses things in translation. This is another series where the sets and costumes can transport you to another time. As the New Yorker noted in its 2018 review, Babylon Berlin was "the most expensive non-English-language [TV series] to date, with a budget of $47 million." It shows.
-- Connie Guglielmo
I was late to jump on this train. I'd heard about it, but only watched the first episode late last year after the earwormy theme music had become such a meme. My husband works away from home during the week so we were slow to get through the first season. But when California's shelter in place order put us both in the house each night, we were able to plow through Season 2 in the first couple of weeks. The show was everything I'd heard about -- powerful performances from the whole cast, wonderfully scripted and beautifully shot. With it's not-so-subtle references to the Murdochs and Fox News, it's also sharply and uncomfortably relevant. It was also was a strange show to watch as the world went into quarantine. Each time I saw characters travel beyond the New York setting, I had to wonder, "will we ever see such a world again?"