To Quarantine is to Binge: What to Watch in the Wake of COVID-19

By Olivia Montes

Elm Staff Writer

While you are most likely grateful for the opportunity to wear nothing but cozy pajamas all day, you are consistently becoming more frustrated with each day you spend cooped up within your respective homes, feeling as though, in these uncertain times, there is absolutely nothing to do.

 But there is another bright side to being self-quarantined: the unlimited amount of TV shows you now have the chance to binge watch since you, due to enforced social restrictions, have nothing else going on that could prevent you from kicking back, relaxing, and escaping into a world full of drama, laughs, and romance.

“Few mediums match the escapist wonders of television, which allows you to immerse yourself in a different world for hours on end, [and] as our current, surreal doomsday scenario continues to play out, we’re all going to need to check out and recharge every now and again,” said Laura Bradley of The Daily Beast.

So, without further ado, grab your remote and a tub of popcorn, boot up your Netflixaccount, melt back into the comforts of your sofa, and find the strength to feel again through this unique roster of golden-standard television.

     Documentary Now!

When you think of the classic mockumentary series, your mind most likely traces back to one with recurring characters, conflicts, and settings, a la The Office or Parks and Recreation. But this series, written by Saturday Night Live alums Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyer, goes back and forth between a variety of different subjects that could be mistaken for an actual documentary, even going as far as imitating the actual footage found recording an actual event in human history, allowing the audience to travel anywhere all while getting a good laugh in.

“The show is made by super fans, who can imitate these films’ characters and quote every line while also understanding what makes them special,” said Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times.


While the last thing you want to do is challenge your brain, the classic game show Jeopardy! proves that we are never too old to learn something new, nor to hone our competitive side shouting out answers from the other side of the small screen. “[The show itself] is a hushed, calm, serious space in which knowledge [is] celebrated and rewarded,” said Sam Anderson of The New York Times in 2019.

Though you might become slightly frustrated with the answers by the time the second round comes along, contrary to its age, this show demonstrates no signs of slowing down—especially  in terms of answering in the form of a question—and is always a good outlet to educationally recharge. 

“Although the original version of the quiz show…debuted over 55 years ago, the series has lately become more popular than ever,” Rabin said.

The Office

While harking back on the subject of the short-lived mockumentary genre, this series has been a game changer in terms of popular culture. From unforgettably hilarious cold opens (Dwight Schrute’s fire drill, anyone?) to genuinely sweet moments (looking at you, Jim and Pam), The Office reminds you to find the extravagance in the mundane aspects of everyday life, all while granting us the much-needed office space experience we kind of miss.

“[The American version] softens some of the original’s bite, but is still a funny and at-times harrowing look at the everyday miseries of white-collar work,” Rabin said.


If you are the kind of person who a) wants to see some new characters with new stories for a change; b) is always enthralled with beautiful, unique fashion; and/or c) loves a good, well-structured comeback, especially from the one and only Billy Porter, look no further than Pose, whose second season will soon premiere on Netflix in May.

“The series deals with serious issues — including the devastation of AIDS and the way the city’s economic boom of the ’80s bypassed the marginalized — but it is surprisingly optimistic, emphasizing the community fostered by these underground fashion and dance competitions,” Rabin said.

Stranger Things

We have all heard of the #JusticeforBarb craze back when Stranger Things first came into the mainstream, but when did you actually have the time to watch the show to find out why, or to figure out any of the other references everyone seems to make at least once since its premiere? Well, now you do, especially to prepare for the dark twist coming up in Season four.

“This story of geeky Indiana teenagers fighting off an invasion of extra-dimensional creatures from ‘the Upside-Down’ has the look and feel of a big summer blockbuster [with] its pastiche of John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Hughes—all scored to ’80s pop,” Rabin said.            

Of course, there are still plenty of Netflix originals and classic binges to watch; whichever list you choose to make for yourself to make you either laugh, smile, or think during a time of great uncertainty, you watch it—there’s nothing else getting in your way.

“In the face of a spreading sickness, thousands of deaths, and economic damage around the globe, the question of what to put on TV while riding out the pandemic isn’t as trivial as it may seem,” John Jurgensen of The Wall Street Journal said.

“[Viewers] aren’t just looking for something to pass the time—they’re looking to quell feelings of isolation, anxiety and uncertainty…[through] rosters of movies and TV shows to help cope—and finding new virtual ways to watch with family and friends,” he said.

At the end of it all, we don’t know what lies ahead in our confinements, nor what can and cannot be controlled in this new, all-too familiar environment we have confined ourselves into; what we know we can control is how we make the most of our situation, including how we use the power to escape from it when necessary.

Whatever your likes are when it comes to standard Netflix binges, do them now, and go forth into another world and prosper.

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