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What to Watch while Social Distancing

TL;DR: A friend of mine recently asked "What's good on Netflix right now? What are y'all watching?"

Image credit: Thibault Penin

AKA: Pandemic Television

A friend of mine recently asked on Slack: "What's good on Netflix right now? What are y'all watching?"

After answering I realized that I watch a lot of television, and I thought I'd share our replies for anyone else looking for recommendations.

  • The Witcher is very good if you like some stoic grim fantasy.
  • BBC’s Dracula is by the creative team behind Sherlock. I can’t say anything without spoilers, but if you dig Sherlock, you’ll probably like Dracula too.
  • Bojack Horseman is one of those shows that brilliantly threads the line between deeply depressing and sometimes hilarious. The final season just got added.
  • Tuca & Bertie is another animated show by the creator of Bojack, about two bird women trying to figure out their lives, starring Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish.
  • Derry Girls is so goddamn funny I’m mad I didn’t start the list with it. It’s about teenage girls in Troubles-era Ireland.
  • Samurai Gourmet is one of my favorite shows of all time, about a retired Japanese salaryman who doesn’t know what to do with his time. It’s like a love letter to lunch.
  • Altered Carbon is excellent science fiction. Season two just aired and is even better than the first.
  • The Umbrella Academy is deeply weird science-fiction-y super-hero-y series, based on a comic book by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance.
  • Grand Designs is a lovely British show that brings the same relaxing energy of Great British Bake-Off, but brings it to a show about people building their own homes. Strongly recommended for when you’re up late and need something calming.
  • Russian Doll is basically Groundhog Day with Natasha Lyonne, and if that hasn’t already sold you I’m not sure what else to say.
  • Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a new series made by the Henson creature shop, set in the same world as the movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve heard if you dug the movie, you’ll like this.
  • If you have Amazon Prime, you absolutely must watch Fleabag, it is incredible.
  • If you have Disney Plus, the Madalorian is the best Star Wars content made in decades. The elevator pitch is “What if we made Lone Wolf and Cub with Boba Fett?”
  • I dunno where you can stream it, but Wynonna Earp is delicious trash. Annie and I eat it up. Very True Blood vibes. Wynonna is the descendant of Wyatt Earp, and must hunt demons with a ferociously gay crew of characters.
  • Similarly, the Magicians is a lot of fun. They take themselves a bit too seriously at times, but the show is worth watching for Margo alone.
  • And, of course, if you haven’t watched the Good Place, pump that to the top of your queue.

Jenn chimed in with a few recommendations:

  • Merlin, which is about young Merlin meeting up with young Prince Arthur and shenanigans ensue.
  • Locke and Key (another show based on a comic) about kids in a sort of haunted house, has also been fun.

Steve endorsed the Spanish TV show Money Heist, which is on Netflix:

(Please watch the subtitled version; the dubbing is dreadful.) Miniseries-length bank robbery/hostage drama about a group of robbers taking over the Royal Mint in Madrid. My friend Ben correctly identified the mastermind (El Profesore!) as Batman. Like, plans within plans, and then a bunch of frenetic genius improvisation when the backup plans go wrong.

Then someone asked about anime recommendations.

  • I said Gurren Lagan and Kill la Kill are bonkers, and My Hero Academia is very good.
  • Jenn suggested FLCL, Soul Eater, Samurai Champloo, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, both Sword Art Onlines, Gurren Lagan, Death Note, Noragami, and Ouran High School Host Club.
  • Steve mentioned his 10-year-old is a big fan of both Full Metal Alchemist and Yuri On Ice. And also that he enjoys One Punch Man.

Jarrod chimed in with a few recommendations:

  • Hunter x Hunter is a pretty great anime. Like 13+ age range, but a good coming-of-age story about a boy searching for his father. A couple of legitimately scary characters, but mostly very positive theme.
  • Cowboy Bebop for serious 90s anime vibe.
  • Sword Art Online seemed so incredibly lame when someone first pitched it to me, but when I finally watched it I was blown away.

And then Vicki came in with a big list:

  • Horror Anime: Another (12 episodes), When Cicada’s Cry (26 episodes for set-up, 24 episodes for explanation)
  • Magical Schoolgirl subversion: Puella Magi Madoka Magicka (12 episodes)
  • Sci-fi: Steins;Gate (24? episodes)
  • Fantasy Adventure with Historical references: Fate/Stay Night (26 episodes) + Fate/Zero (25 episodes), don’t remember which order you’re supposed to watch them in
  • Would last through the year: No one going to mention Naruto, Bleach or One Piece? (No comment on quality, only length)
  • Obligatory: Ghost in the Shell + movies, they also have a prequel now but haven’t seen it?