The Best TV Shows I've Watched During the Pandemic

Saturday, January 23, 2021


So.... whatcha watchin'? The pandemic, now nearly a year old, has sent me into a tailspin of TV-watching, as, without any out-in-the-world plans to make, I've turned to bingeing whatever seems like it might be good enough to keep me from focusing on the state of the world.

Below is just a bit of the TV I've made my way through in the past year, from a comedy about an Indian-American teenager to the most classic mafia show in American history... & basically everything in between.

Best Nostalgia Quotient: The Baby-Sitters Club

While I'm disappointed that this modern-day reboot of every girl's 1980s fave didn't include the iconic "Say Hello to Your Friends" theme song, I'm willing to give it a pass for being such a charming, clever, adaptation of the original, updated with slightly modernized characters tackling slightly modernized versions of the same babysitting adventures as ever. (Netflix)

Best Edge-of-My-Seat Thriller: The Flight Attendant

This was easily one of the best shows I binged in 2020, staying up until as late as 4 a.m. to try to finish it. Kaley Cuoco plays a party-girl flight attendant who hooks up with a passenger after landing in Bangkok... & wakes up next to his dead body. Did she do it? She isn't sure, so she goes on the run & tries to solve the case on her own in this dark comedy I couldn't get enough of. (HBO)

Best "WTF Is Happening Here?" Vibes: The Undoing

All my coworkers were talking about this HBO show, so I couldn't resist giving it a watch. Was it worth it? Honestly, I... still don't know. A young mother is found bludgeoned to death at the same time that Hugh Grant's character disappears, leaving Nicole Kidman's Dr. Grace Fraser to try to figure out how the two events are related. The ending was somehow both shocking and shockingly anti-climatic. (HBO)

Best Classic Show I'm Finally Getting Around to: The Sopranos 

Mike & I just started making our way through The Sopranos, the TV show that set the tone for TV shows to be just as good as (if not better than) movies. I was 14 when it started, & my family didn't have HBO, so I didn't watch it at the time, but I'm loving it now, feeling the conflict of loving the affable but temperamental crime boss Tony Soprano & his entire crew. (HBO)

Best True Crime Docuseries: Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult

I first watched The Vow, a docuseries that I thought went crazy-deep into the NXIVM cult, but then a coworker recommended this Starz series, directed by former cult member India Oxenberg. It goes much deeper, it much more appalling, & much more accurately & egregiously depicts the true evil that is Keith Raniere, the cult leader recently sentenced to 120 years in prison. (Starz on Hulu)

Best Spinoff of a Show I Already Loved: Fear the Walking Dead

I started watching The Walking Dead when it first aired way-back-when, but I'd fallen off the wagon when it got kind of bad. During the pandemic, I've returned to it, catching up on the original as well as all five & a half currently available seasons of its first spinoff, FTWD, which I've got to be honest, I absolutely love. I can't wait for it to come back! (Hulu)

Best New Medical Drama: Transplant

I discovered this new Canadian hospital drama at the start of the pandemic & was immediately hooked. It follows Dr. Bashir Hamed, a Syrian refugee who hasn't been able to practice medicine in Canada because his educational records are inaccessible back in Syria. Following an explosion at the restaurant where we works, he saves the life of a big name in town... who helps him land a hospital job. (Hulu)

Best Return of an Actor I Loved in Something Else: S.W.A.T.

I was devastated when Derek Morgan, ak.a. Shemar Moore, left my favorite crime series Criminal Minds. Now that the show has ended, it seemed like the right time to take up the show he left for, CBS's S.W.A.T., which features him as L.A. S.W.A.T. Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, leading a crew of attractive, likeable officers trying to save the city over & over again. (Hulu)

Best Cheesy Drama I Probably Won't Stick With: Big Sky

Come for Ryan Phillipe, stay for... not Ryan Phillipe. Spoiler: He's murdered at the end of the first episode, leaving me to decide whether I want to stick with this small-town Montana detective thriller about human trafficking. His character's ex-wife & girlfriend team up to try to find him & the two kidnapped girls he went looking for. (Hulu)

Best Flashbacks to High School: Never Have I Ever 

If you set aside the fact that the first episode of this Mindy Kaling-directed comedy includes an alarmingly ableist story line for no discernible reason whatsoever, the rest of it is actually really enjoyable. Devi Vishwakumar is an overachieving high school sophomore whose dad recently died & whose mom wants to move her to India. Meanwhile, she's just trying to get laid. Maybe? (Netflix)

Best Show I Shouldn't Watch Right Now: Designated Survivor

I got about half a season into this one when it first aired, & then I caught up to it in real-time & didn't keep up with it. Now that it's been canceled, I'm bingeing all three seasons: An explosion at the Capitol kills the president, most of Congress, & all nine Supreme Court justices, leaving "designated survivor" Tom Kirkman, head of HUD, as commander-in-chief in the midst of a global crisis. (Netflix)

What have you been watching lately? I have no idea what to watch next, so I'm all ears for your recommendations!

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