What to quaran-stream if you're staying in to avoid coronavirus
Trying to avoid public places and coronavirus? Stay home and binge these TV shows and movies.
Several movie theater chains have closed. Large events including Coachella, Stagecoach, SXSW, and Miami's Ultra Music Festival, have been canceled or postponed, as have several conventions and conferences. Bond film No Time to Die, A Quiet Place II, Fast & Furious 9, Mulan, and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, and more have been pushed. Music tours and concerts have been put on hold. The NBA, NCAA, NFL, and MLB have all called a timeout. Disney's theme parks, Universal Studios, Six Flags parks, and more have temporarily closed. COVID-19, a.k.a. coronavirus has forced city and state authorities to order restaurants, bars, and other businesses closed, and advise residents to isolate, work from home where possible, and practice social distancing. The virus, which has caused nearly 11,000 deaths (the number of those who've recovered is much larger, over 91,000), is expected to continue spreading.
So what to do while spending all that time at home while in isolation/quarantine? Sure, you can always Marie Kondo your home, but you may also wonder what TV shows or movies are worth watching. Maybe it's time to get to that list of things you want/need to binge. If you wanna fill that sports void in your life, EW has you covered there, along with the below list of things to quaran-stream, as we're calling it.
Solar Opposites (available to stream on Hulu)
If you’ve been afraid to jump in the Rick and Morty deep end because of internet bros praying at the alter of Pickle Rick, Solar Opposites on Hulu is giving you the same biting comedy without the baggage. The animated series from the Rick and Morty creator follows a dysfunctional family of four aliens who crash land on Earth and is instantly obsessed with our pop culture. The voice cast features Thomas Middleditch as Terry, Tiffany Haddish as Aisha the supercomputer, Jason Mantzoukas as Vanbo, and Christina Hendricks as Cherie. Did we mention there’s a cute pet alien that may rival Baby Yoda called the Pupa? Get your Funko orders in now! —Omar Sanchez
Blood & Water (available to stream on Netflix)
Teenager Puleng Khumalo (Ama Qamata) attempts to infiltrate the popular crowd at her new private school, Parkhurst, for one reason: figure out if It Girl Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema) is actually her sister, who was kidnapped at birth. Mystery series Blood & Water follows Puleng as she navigates these new surroundings and the wealthy world of her fellow students to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance. Netflix’s second African original series is vibrant, messy, and wild, all excellent components for high-grade teen drama. —Alamin Yohannes
Better Things (available to stream on Hulu)
On the surface, it’s a series about Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon), a single mother and her three daughters, but a simple scratch reveals yin and yang, equal parts comedy and drama, with belly-aching humor in the darker moments and surprising emotional heft in the lighter ones. The insightful writing is bested only by the ensemble’s pitch-perfect delivery. Nothing in this series holds back: The shitty truth about colonoscopy prep? Check. Peeing into your friend’s kid’s diaper because you’re stuck in traffic and your 50-year-old bladder can’t wait? Check. Dead dad ghost? Check. The death of your youngest child’s pet mouse named Mandy Patinkin? Check. Admitting after a tough moment that you suck as a mom and a daughter? Check and check. While blessedly unconventional, to call any of the characters and relationships dysfunctional misses the point entirely, because just like our own families and friendships, the function is in the messiness. Life isn’t neat; it doesn’t pontificate its lessons at the end of a half-hour. Neither does Better Things, which makes it not only better than most, it makes it one of the best. —Lacey Vorrasi-Banis
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)
There's NYSNC vs. Backstreet Boys. Cardi B vs. Nicki Minaj. Ryan Gosling vs his cereal. This is the pantheon of pop culture rivalries, and we are now proud to induct Carole Baskin vs. Joe Exotic from the hit sensation of a docuseries, Tiger King. The series starts as a goofy look inside the life of an Oklahoma zookeeper — with 200 plus tigers —who has been arrested in a murder for hire plot. He makes country music videos in his free time. He even ran for president once, and John Oliver had a laugh. But just like the tiger lounging in the hotel room in The Hangover, there is way more to how we got here, because everyone is in some pretty deep s—t with tattoos they probably regret (see: One of Joe’s husband’s pelvic tattoo). —Omar Sanchez
LaQuifa is HALLELOOSIN' IT! Comedy Show
As her infamous fight with Mimi Imfurst proved, Shangela is what? Sickening. But not in like, the very very very bad corona kind of way. In the “I want to watch her first comedy special so I can gag in quarantine” kind of way! To help you get through your isolation blues, the RuPaul’s Drag Race icon and A Star Is Born actor has made her stand-up concert available for free on YouTube (above), so you don’t even need to borrow the credit card of your (pretend) Sugar Daddy (that Mimi Imfurst thinks you have) in order to watch! —Joey Nolfi
The Society (Netflix)
You think the current state of empty grocery store shelves is bad? At least they get restocked every so often. For the teens who find themselves banished to a strange, empty copy of their hometown West Ham, Conn. in The Society, whatever is left on the grocery store shelves is all they have. Our self-quarantine doesn’t sound so bad now, huh? Netflix’s YA modern take on Lord of the Flies begins when West Ham High’s senior class returns from a canceled field trip only to find that everyone else in their town has disappeared. What starts as a party with no rules quickly turns into a fight for survival as they discover that there’s nothing outside of their town except for woods as far as the eye can see. What happened to them, where they are, and what they do next poses questions both scientific, governmental, classist, moral, and philosophical in nature. Think the complete opposite of Riverdale. The sci-fi elements are compelling, but how the series attacks real-world issues like healthcare, pros and cons of different types of societies, and capital punishment (seriously), all through the lens of teens trying to survive, is truly where it shines. There are no easy answers when building a new community from scratch, and the show never shies away from that or takes shortcuts. The Society debuted its fantastic, dark, and gripping first season almost a year ago, and the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic series has already been renewed for a second season. That means all this free time you’ve got to stream TV while in quarantine gives you the perfect excuse to finally catch up and be ready for when The Society drops new episodes. —Sydney Bucksbaum
In the technology-driven world that we now live in, I, like most people, find it hard to not glance down at my phone while I’m watching television. But there’s one show that I can’t look away from: Narcos. Yes, it’s partly because I need to read the English subtitles, but it’s also because of how gripping the show is. What originally started as “the Pablo Escobar story” has evolved into so much more as Narcos: Mexico enters its second season and the fifth overall in the Narcos franchise. You want great actors? Wagner Moura, Pedro Pascal, Michael Pena, Diego Luna, and Scott McNairy are here for you. You want violence? Oh, there’s plenty of that. You want to learn? The narration often provides as much education as a history book could. And with the MCU currently on hiatus, the DC Extended Universe is here for you. Well, DC as in Drug Cartel (sorry, Batman). “I had this Narcos expanded universe fantasy,” Narcos: Mexico showrunner Eric Newman told EW of bringing Narcos lead character Pablo Escobar (Moura) to Mexico for a cameo. “I looked at Marvel like, ‘Why can’t our drug dealers make appearances in the franchise vehicles of other characters?’ It speaks to the interconnected nature of the narcotics trade; we all touch each other in this game.” And you’ll be addicted to this show. —Derek Lawrence
Tales From the Loop (Amazon Prime Video)
Books. Plays. Songs. All common source material for TV and movie adaptations. Paintings, not so much. But such is the case with this Nathaniel Halpern-created/written (Legion) series, which draws its inspiration from the work of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag. Starring Rebecca Hall, Jonathan Pryce, Paul Schneider, and more, they portray residents of a town above “The Loop,” where things of sci-fi lore are actually possible because of a machine that unlocks mysteries of the universe. But don’t shy away because of the genre — this series is much more, unexpectedly stirring emotions in you as it draws you into its, well, tales of love, lost family, alternate worlds, and more. —Gerrad Hall
America's Funniest Home Videos (available on ABC.com)
There are scores of striking nature documentaries and quirky character studies worthy of your attention (transport yourself to Blue Planet 2 before heading back to Albuquerque for Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul), but sometimes the brain simply needs to be powered down and the funny bone needs to be activated. Look no further than YouTube forefather America’s Funniest Home Videos. Boasting more staying power than the pottery project that your aunt once sent you as a Christmas gift and still asks for occasional photographic evidence of its placement in your home, ABC’s non-partisan ode to our very dumb, highly silly, and incredibly painful fails provides more guaranteed low-hanging laughs than most sitcoms, via simple slips of the wig and slips on ice. And if you need even just a 90-second respite from these trying times, each episode contains at least two music-set montages that honor the best in water wipeouts, animal attacks, stair stumbles, and plenty of other involuntary activities that don’t alliterate. For just a minute or three, AFV will make everything A-OK.—Dan Snierson
Spirited Away (available via various digital platforms)
By this point, you’d probably love the chance to escape into any world besides ours, so we recommend spending some time in the fantastical universe of Hayao Miyazaki. Therein you’ll meet friendly (and less friendly) forest spirits, the Catbus (yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like), a flying ace who happens to be a pig, and more colorful characters inhabiting lush, gorgeously hand-drawn landscapes. If you’re unsure of where to start, EW recommends Miyazaki’s most widely acclaimed masterpiece, Spirited Away, the story of a 10-year-old girl’s adventure through the spirit world to save her parents. But you really can’t go wrong — from the whimsical coming-of-age story Kiki’s Delivery Service to the fierce, Kurosawa-esque epic Princess Mononoke, each film presents delights, wonders, and beauty all its own, all masterfully realized by Miyazaki’s team of artists at Studio Ghibli. —Tyler Aquilina
For the current coronavirus pandemic, the CDC recommends many around the world practice social distancing. Three years ago, YouTube creator Michael Stevens conducted an experiment that pushed social distancing to the extreme in his Youtube Original series Mind Field. The premiere episode involved Michael putting himself in socially-isolated quarantine for three full days. No technology. No clocks. Just food, a bed, and a toilet. Dominic Monaghan (Lost) stops by during Michael’s preparation process to give him a taste of the ultimate form of loneliness in an isolation tank. Once the real experiment begins, we witness a true test of mental endurance as Michael slowly starts losing touch of what must be going on in the outside world. —O.S.
Love Is Blind (available on Netflix)
When it gets to day three of your self-imposed quarantine and talking to the walls starts to become an appealing option, take comfort in knowing that some people have found love doing the exact same thing! Netflix's Love Is Blind is the perfect isolation binge because — beyond being aggressively addictive — it’s also quarantine relatable: On the show, people spend time alone in a pod without physical contact with others… See? Doesn’t it sound like your current situation? If relatability isn’t enough to draw you in, here’s the gist: Guys and girls talk to one another through a wall of frosted glass, then (insanely!) decide that because of the “emotional connection” they’ve made (without ever seeing one another!!), the logical next step is to propose, then meet face-to-face and — of course — get married just four weeks later. So do those relationships last and in doing so prove love really is blind? Take a break from wall talking and watch to see. —Ruth Kinane
The Circle (available on Netflix)
It’s almost a little too on the nose — you’re stuck at home, so you’re going to have to watch reality show contestants cloistered in their tiny apartments only interact with others through social media via a platform dubbed “The Circle." But don’t feel too bad for our (voluntary) quarantinees, because there’s 100k waiting for the one person who doesn’t get “blocked” by their fellow players at the end.
The competitors are fun and easy to root for (like my man Shooby!) and it’s genuinely fascinating watching Netflix’s digital answer to Big Brother show how social media can affect — and warp — peoples’ perceptions of likability, friendship, trust, and more. I binged the 12 hilarious and enthralling episodes at home in about two nights, so for those relegated to their couch for a week, you’ll feel like you’re actually competing in The Circle, and therefore avoiding real-world problems. —Rachel Yang
The Hour (Acorn TV on Amazon Prime)
Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) won an Emmy for writing this BBC drama about a fictional news program in Cold-War era England. Bursting with British prestige talent including Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Dominic West, Anna Chancellor, Andrew Scott, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Capaldi, and more, the two-season show combined the righteous defenses of journalism of shows like The Newsroom with the slick period piece vibes of Mad Men. Season 1 plays like a cold-war thriller à la John Le Carre, while season 2 is slicker and packaged with a Goodfellas gangster vibe. At the heart of the series is the yearning between best friends Bel (Garai) and Freddie (Whishaw), a swoony star-crossed romance that hits you right in the feels. Add in an impassioned defense of great journalism/a free press, gripping mysteries, a takedown of capitalistic greed, and to-die-for period-accurate sets and costumes, and the show is practically perfect. Its only shortcoming is that it was abruptly canceled by the BBC and ends on a cliffhanger. Regardless, the fictional program that shares its name with the series boasts, “It’s The Hour you can’t miss,” and we couldn’t agree more. —Maureen Lee Lenker
Person of Interest (available on Netflix)
I firmly believe the key to a good hibernation — whether during a public health crisis or over a cold holiday weekend — is a solid procedural. Usually, you can count on USA Network to help with that because there’s always either a Law & Order: SVU or NCIS marathon on, but you deserve and can do better. That’s where CBS’ twisty, smart, and excellent Person of Interest comes in [*smashes Upgrade button*].
Sure, everyone is obsessed with Jonathan Nolan’s current technology-focused drama Westworld, but his previous series is far more entertaining and gripping. The five-season show followed Harold Finch, a reclusive billionaire-genius (Michael Emerson) who created an artificially intelligent surveillance system (a.k.a. the Machine) and teamed up with an ex-CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) and NYPD detective (Taraji P. Henson) to stop crimes before they happened. At first, this was your typical CBS procedural, but eventually it took on a sci-fi bent and became one of the most prescient shows about (and critical of) our surveillance state and even predicted Snowden! With the addition of Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi to the cast, and a second and less benevolent A.I., the series reached new heights as it effortlessly balanced its A.I. vs. A.I. story with another about police corruption. What makes it so thrilling is that you have to watch every episode because the cases of the week almost always ended up tying into the two larger arcs in surprising ways. By the end, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve come to care for the Machine. —Chancellor Agard
Stargate SG-1 (available on Hulu and Amazon Prime)
Need a break from the woes of Planet Earth? Focus on the woes of other planets instead while you binge the sometimes cheesy but always heartfelt sci-fi classic, Stargate SG-1. With enough seasons to produce a bedsore if you’re not careful, SG-1 follows a motley team of explorers who travel across the galaxy using a wormhole device called a Stargate. Scrapes, japes, and high-stakes adventures are never in short supply, but like all the best science fiction, what makes SG-1 special is its heart. Found families, scrappy underdogs beating the odds, aliens adopting cats — if you want wholesome, this show delivers. And, more poignantly now than ever, SG-1 always manages to look at the future of humanity with an unshakeable optimism. —Meg Smitherman
MORE BINGE PICKS
Opting to stay in this weekend because of coronavirus? Looking for some binge-worthy recommendations? Here are some recent and popular titles available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+ that maybe you missed, maybe you didn't previously have time to watch, or maybe you've never heard of.
AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Debbie Reynolds was nominated for her only Oscar for her portrayal of real-life plucky Molly Brown in this 1964 adaptation of the 1960 stage musical of the same name. From the Colorado floods of her birth to the Titanic, Molly earns her unsinkable nickname both literally and figuratively as she navigates the Colorado Gold Rush and a romance with prospector ‘Leadville’ Johnny J. Brown (Harve Presnell). With a score by Meredith Willson (The Music Man), The Unsinkable Molly Brown is truly one of the last great, Golden Age musicals with rousing, eye-popping production numbers. Reynolds fought hard for the role after Shirley MacLaine lost it to a contract conflict, and every bit of her vim and sunny vigor shines off the screen. She always said it was her personal favorite of her films, and it’s not hard to see why when watching. —M.L.L.
The Philadelphia Story (Stream on DirecTV; rent/buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Fandango, more)
Based on the Broadway play of the same name, The Philadelphia Story proved Katharine Hepburn’s ticket back to Hollywood after being branded “box office poison.” Hepburn brought the play, which was written specifically for her, to Hollywood after Howard Hughes purchased the film rights and gifted them to her. She stars as Tracy Lord, a seemingly untouchable and proud socialite. When her wedding brings both ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (a divine Cary Grant) and reporter Mike Connor (Jimmy Stewart in an Oscar-winning role) to her home, she finds herself in a love triangle with two men who aren’t her fiancé. It’s a timeless rom-com, one that indulges all the best beats of the second-chance romance trope. We dare you not to swoon at Tracy’s drunken moonlight swim with Mike and his glorious ode to champagne. The Philadelphia Story is as good as classic Hollywood gets, starring three of its most luminous stars in roles that are hilarious, touching, and vulnerable. My, she was yar. —M.L.L.
Bachelor Mother (available to rent or buy on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Google Play)
While millions know Ginger Rogers best for her divine dancing duos with Fred Astaire, she was also a fantastic comedic and dramatic actress as evidenced by films like 1939's Bachelor Mother. In it, Rogers is Polly, a salesgirl freshly let go from her department store job. When she picks up a baby left on the steps of the orphanage, she’s wrongly mistaken for the mother, prompting the playboy son of the department store’s owner, David (David Niven), to help her get her job back – perhaps the most awkward meet-cute ever for what becomes a hilarious rom-com. Niven and Rogers are firing on all cylinders in this underappreciated gem. Right now, we could all use something uplifting and funny – why not try this picture-perfect slice of Old Hollywood screwball comedy? —M.L.L.
The Quiet Man (Available to stream on Watch TCM; Rent/Buy: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Redbox and more)
Did social distancing practices leave you yearning for a roaring St. Patrick’s Day party? If you’re feeling mean without some green, check out this definitive Irish-American film, 1952's The Quiet Man. From legendary director John Ford, it stars John Wayne as Sean Thornton, an American boxer who retreats to his birthplace in Ireland after accidentally killing an opponent in a fight. Upon arrival in Innisfree, he falls almost immediately in love with Maureen O’Hara’s Mary Kate Danaher, a fiery young woman whose marriage prospects are dimmed by her domineering brother, Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). But things look up when the town conspires to foster their romance. Filmed on location in Ireland, The Quiet Man offers some of the most lushly romantic moments and sweeping vistas ever put to Technicolor. If you’re yearning for a natural getaway right now, the rolling green hills of the Emerald Isle will at least offer a visual reprieve. Most of the cast and crew were Irish as well, making the production a family affair with everyone from Ford to O’Hara to Wayne’s relatives appearing in small roles. We could all use a bit of the luck of the Irish and some soothing vistas to boot, so lose yourself in The Quiet Man. —M.L.L.
STREAM FOR FREE
Various streaming services and networks are offering or extending their free trial periods, some as many as 30 days.
Have a library card or university login? Then you should be taking full advantage of Kanopy, where you have free access to a plethora of movies (including documentaries, foreign film, classics, and indies), educational videos, plus children's movies and TV shows via Kanopy Kids. Content can be streamed on your TV, mobile phone, tablets, and online, and can be watched on your TV via Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and more. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, it's all ad-free.
Dozens of titles are waiting to be watched for free via the PBS Video App, and PBS Passport, which is available as a PBS member benefit (within the PBS Video App. Among the options on the Video App: American Experience, American Master, Antiques Roadshow. Series available to binge via Passport: Masterpiece (Downton Abbey, Sanditon, Poldark, more); Finding Your Roots; The Great British Baking Show (seasons 1-5).