You’re stuck at home, I’m stuck at home, we’re all stuck at home. But it’s for the best, and thanks to the endless number of streaming services, we’ve still got access to more TV shows than anyone could get through. To help you sort through the possibilities, we’ve collated some of our favorite TV shows currently available to stream. Hopefully this gives you something to fill the hours with, because what else are you going to do besides watch TV? House chores? Gross!
Tynan Yanaga – Community (2009-2015)
For a three-year span Community was one of the most creatively hilarious shows on network television and a truly preeminent half-hour sitcom. Acknowledging his faults and the show’s rough patches, Dan Harmon anchored a program that revitalized the often hackneyed form and made it feel extraordinary again with its refreshing melange of invention, cultural reflexivity, and genuine heart.
True, Abed Nadir, the walking fourth wall, instantly made every episode into a trope or an extended movie reference. It birthed so many marvelous spoofs of genres and traditions, from bottle episodes to Ken Burns war documentaries and Scorsese gangster movies. But it wasn’t just pop culture for pop culture’s sake. It fit into the fabric of the show and the arcs of these characters.
Greendale Community College became this remarkable conduit where these kinds of surreal scenarios would spring to life, and yet they were all grounded in this study group of disparate individuals. That was the key. Sure, there were paintball fights and alternate timelines, but at the end of the day, it comes back to the relationships of Jeff, Britta, Annie, Shirley, Pierce, and of course, Troy & Abed. The show also helped originate some of the most indelible catchphrases, supporting spots, and in-jokes from recent memory, catering to faithful viewership.
Granted, I discovered Community at the perfect time in my life. I was in college myself and surrounded by some of the best friends I’ve ever been blessed to know. And in a way, this was at the core of the show (even its title). It mirrored our experience while still breaking with sitcom convention. Only time will tell if the show will be granted its #sixseasonsandamovie, but if you’re looking for a new favorite during quarantine, you might just want to give Community a try. It’s streets ahead.
All seasons are available on Netflix in the US.
Emily Wheeler – The OA (2016-2019)
If you enjoy a twisty, mysterious story, then there’s a hidden gem on Netflix just for you. The OA is a show that’s interested in breaking expectations and delivering absolutely insane moments (wait till you find out who Old Knight is), making it the kind of engrossing program that’ll get your mind off of everything that’s going on.
The first season is about a blind woman returning home after being missing for years, and even weirder, she’s returned with her sight restored. She chooses to tell what’s happened to a select few, weaving over the course of the first season a story involving kidnapping, death, and interpretive dance that you’ll either believe or not. And that’s the question of the series, really, in what and why do you choose to believe.
The series gets even stranger and more elaborate in its second season, and while it looks like that’s all we’re getting of this oddly hopeful show from co-creators Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, it’s still an investment well worth making.
All seasons are available on Netflix worldwide.
Linsey Satterthwaite – Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
If there is anything the world needs right now, it is the sense of human spirit carrying on in the face of myriad challenges and trying to make things better for everyone – step forward Leslie Knope and her team of public officials in Parks and Recreation. If you haven’t seen this show, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the parks team of Pawnee, Indiana, for it is a ray of sunshine filled with quotable dialogue, running gags, and a multitude of great characters that makes it tough to pick an out and out favourite.
The beauty of Parks and Recreation is that at first, they feel like almost slight, amusing but throwaway twenty minute episodes, but as the seasons continue it deepens and blossoms to the point it becomes part of your life. Every time I wonder whether I actually need another pin badge in my life I hear the echoes of Donna and Tom reminding me to ‘Treat Yo Self’. Every time my partner and I go for food at a pizza place, we joke about ordering a ‘Low Cal Calzone’ ala Ben Wyatt. And every time I think that I may love Halloween too much, I think about April Ludgate and how loving the dark things in life is never wrong. It is when a show becomes ingrained into the fabric of the everyday that you know you love it and that the characters begin to feel more like family than fiction.
So now is the perfect time for Parks, for fresh eyes and for repeat offenders, for it is a virtual hug of a show (which we all need) and one of the best American comedy series of our times. In the words of Ron Swanson ‘please and thank you’.
All seasons are available on Netflix in the US.
Carmen Paddock – Letterkenny (2016-present)
If Shakespeare were writing today, his stories would likely not be far off from Jared Keeso’s and Jacob Tierney’s Canadian sitcom following the everyday lives of rural Ontarians. Letterkenny is both whip-smart and extraordinarily silly as it builds gut-busting laughs from fast-paced wordplay, bawdy puns, mistaken meanings, and a commedia dell’arte roster of stock types.
The show derives much of its enjoyment from new and familiar combinations of these hicks, skids, and hockey players, driving the plot not through character growth and change but rather through their insertion in increasingly withering comebacks, absurd scenarios, and repetitive gags. At the same time, the show subverts the worst stereotypes that each character could represent: the jocks are obscene but also incredibly affectionate, the hicks engage in lengthy conversations about feminist theory, and the women are never shamed for their sexuality. Through this groundwork, Letterkenny ensures that genuine fondness for each ridiculous character carries through this sharp yet stupid construct. The result is clever, warm, and unendingly entertaining.
There are currently eight seasons of six half-hour episodes, as well as several between-seasons holiday specials (St Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Valentine’s Day are standouts). The opening premise sees Keeso’s Wayne recovering from a bad breakup with the help of his buddies while trying to maintain the small town’s fraught social order, but beyond the first series this premise is largely irrelevant as the show follows the whims and strength of its diverse players.
All seasons are available on Hulu in the US.
Amanda Mazzillo – Kidding (2018 – present)
A few days before my birthday, that I had to spend distanced from my loved ones, my friend recommended the Showtime series Kidding. When my birthday hit, I decided to spend it with this delightful yet emotionally dark and challenging show. That was the best TV watching decision I had made in a long time.
With only two seasons, this is not necessarily a long binge, but it is worth it nonetheless. The show follows Jeff Piccirillo (Jim Carrey), aka Mr. Pickles—an homage to Mr. Rogers—and host of his own children’s show filled with puppets and songs. Throughout the series, he tries to cope with the death of his son, Phil (Cole Allen, who does double duty as twin brother Will). The series dives deep on family issues, while still maintaining a hopeful tone.
When I wasn’t laughing, or even when I was, Kidding would pull me in another direction and make me feel like releasing all my tears, in the most cathartic way possible. The entire cast brings this show to life, especially every puppeteer giving voice and movement to these characters who, even though we’ve never seen them before, feel beloved already. Stellar performances from Jim Carrey, Judy Greer, Frank Langella, Catherine Keener, and Cole Allen among many many others pepper this experimental and daring show with the perfect amount of bittersweet heart. With its perfect blend of comedy, drama, and children’s music, Kidding captured my heart in its first season and made me feel so much more in its wonderful, melancholic second season. Kidding is a show that aims to show the hardships of life, while also remaining a hopeful and bright spot in the world.
All seasons are available on Showtime in the US.
Holly Edwards – Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016)
It’s hard to talk about the most binge-worthy TV shows without thinking of Gilmore Girls. It’s one of those shows that I always knew existed, and it was even recommended to me by several people before I decided to give it a shot. Since I finished my first watch-through a couple of years ago I have revisited it several times, and it has quickly become one of my favourites of all time.
Filled with quirky lovable characters, fast-paced dialogue that leaves you in stitches, and a warmth that isn’t easily replicated, there’s really never a dull moment. First airing back in 2000, Gilmore Girls follows the life of single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Set in the small, almost other-worldly Connecticut town of Stars Hollow and spanning seven seasons (plus a 2016 Netflix reboot), it’s the perfect comfort show for these uncertain times of isolation.
Though the first five seasons are generally deemed as superior by the fandom, it’s worth noting that the show’s popularity and resonance with audiences is still relevant today, with a second Netflix reboot not out of the question. Writer Amy Sherman-Palladino certainly created something special back in 2000, and I would highly recommend checking it out on Netflix if you haven’t already.
All seasons are available on Netflix in the US.
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