Everyone asks what to watch, even more than what to read. It’s curious how now that we have to stay inside, it is more difficult to decide what to watch while stuck there. There are so many choices, and ways to get at them. You have probably seen all of these recommendations already. But here goes.
At first, I lamented the last episode I had watched of the Great British Bake Off, but then remembered how much I didn’t like Prue, Mary Berry’s replacement as foil to the overly aggressive, negative Paul Hollywood.
Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding, Prue Leith
Much prefer this cast, with Mel Giedroyc, Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and Sue Perkins
When I read that Prue had left the show, I realized it was wishful thinking, and Sandi Toksvig, the female side of the comedian duo, is the one who has called it a day. No announcements of when a new season might air. But we have gone back and watched the early seasons, labeled on my Netflix account as “The Beginnings,” and I highly recommend them. The baking show gives the contestants almost enough time (as opposed to cooking contests like Chopped where they have to run just to get the ingredients sorted) and a spirit of camaraderie rules over not just those competing for “star baker” but with the comedians who crack wise throughout.
Other shows I have been watching on Netflix:
Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings
Lovesick, 2016-2018, three seasons.
When Dylan learns he has chlamydia, he seeks previous sex partners to tell them, and in the process, a narrative of his romantic life, along with that of his roommates — Evie and Luke– unfolds. I have been watching this because of my crush on Johnny Flynn, who played Knightley in the recent adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. It is a very silly show, but it is warm-hearted.
Kim’s Convenience 2016-present. With Paul Sun Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang. The Korean-Canadian Kim family runs a convenience store in Toronto, headed by Appa and Amma. Janet (Bang) is an aspiring photographer who helps out her parents, but Jung, an estranged son, works at a car rental where some amusing supporting characters add to the humor.
Shows already finished, but that I enjoyed:
Derry Girls, with Saoirse Monica Jackson, created by Lisa McGee, two seasons beginning in 2018. Catholic school girls in Derry Ireland try not to be outdone by a very witty nun in charge. Somehow they are able to admit a male cousin in the all girls school. This show mixes teen humor with the Troubles. I grew up a Catholic school girl, even if not in North Ireland in the 1990s, and love its treatment of the nuns.
The Good Place, 2016-2020, created by Michael Schur, with Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and Ted Danson.
When mistakes are made concerning the afterlife, some less than good people are sent to the Good Place, and have to reckon with the consequences. I especially enjoyed the early seasons when metaphysical questions were explored with Chidi, a philosophy professor. Whenever Maya Rudolph shows up, things improve as well.
Schitts Creek, 2016-2020. With Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, parents of adult children David and Alexis played by Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy. The Roses are down on their luck, having been bilked by their accountants in Los Angeles, and left with nothing but the deed to a motel in the middle of nowhere. The four of them move in, and learn to adapt to the ways of normal people, even though Moira, the mother, has a wardrobe and wigs enough to fill an airplane hangar. The dialog, supporting cast (including Bob Elliott as the mayor, Schitt) twist what could have been a smarmy tonally deaf satire into something almost sweet. Eugene Levy and his son Daniel are the brains behind the show and that they can act out their roles seamlessly is part of the fun of watching. But Catherine O’Hara’s accent and attitudes are what keep the laughs coming.
On Amazon Prime
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, 2017- present. Brought to you by Amy Sherman-Palladino’s team, the one that made The Gilmore Girls such a hit, with the same sly wit and female centered stories. A newly divorced woman comedian ala Joan Rivers (Rachel Brosnahan) breaks through in the early 1960s– with the help of her dogged agent, and a occasional boost from Lenny Bruce. This show has amazing production values, and sometimes wants to become an all American musical. With solid work from Tony Shaloub as Mrs. Maisel’s father.
Fleabag, created and starring Phoebe Waller Bridge who makes a pact with the viewer and dares you not to look away. Two series, from 2016 and 2019. A young woman living in London tries to keep up the coffee shop begun by her and her best friend who is no longer among the living. The humor is dark and serious, and features the rivalry that can occur between sisters. The cast includes Olivia Colman as Fleabag’s father’s new wife.
Through PBS Masterpiece
Seaside Hotel (1920s-1930s series set in a hotel on the North Sea with regularly returning guests from the upper classes, whose problems are those of the rich, but there is an upstairs downstairs feel to it with the maid service and kitchen staff having more complex lives than the guests– the reason we got addicted is the photography of the sea, the northern light that hits the sea in that part of the world during summer). In Danish.
Also try this:
The New York Times is hosting something called weekend watch where viewers are invited to post comments on an old movie worth re-watching. They began with Top Gun, followed by His Gal Friday, and last Friday it was Groundhog Day‘s turn. One thing I learned from the movie critic, Manohla Dargis, is that all streaming services are not carrying the same quality film. Criterion Collection‘s (which provides historically significant films in mint condition) copy of His Gal Friday is far superior to that available on Amazon Prime.
Click on link to read comments on Groundhog Day.