Binge, binge baby: Best shows to watch during COVID-19 self-quarantine

9 mins read

COVID-19 has taken over not only our physical world, but our virtual one. 

I go to the grocery store and see shelves empty. I drive past my university’s campus and see the once packed parking lots now full of available spaces. I pass houses with college students moving out and moving back home to their families. 

We live in the world of online schooling. And now, with each passing hour I spend on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, more and more posts have become infected by the virus during my self-quarantine and social distancing. 

I look on social media and almost every post is either an update on COVID-19, warning signs, a meme about quarantine or people’s best ways to get through the isolation and stress.

Almost everywhere we look these days we see the consequences of this pandemic. While it’s great to stay informed on updates—we have a section right here on the Daily Planet keeping you folks in the know—sometimes it’s best for our mental health to check out every once in a while. One of my favorites ways to escape? Watching TV shows.

So, if you’re self-quarantining or practicing some good ol’ social distancing and want a break, here are my top 10 shows to binge watch.

1. “The 100”

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Drama

A show about an apocalypse in a time like this? Maybe it’s too much to handle for you right now, or maybe it’s a great way to avoid thinking of our own world crisis. Also, there’s six seasons out with the seventh and final season premiering in May. If you ever thought about giving this show a chance, now’s the time. I can’t help but say this is definitely my favorite show out there. Stay tuned for a story I’ve written about my seven predictions for the final season.

This post apocalyptic drama starts about 100 years after Earth was destroyed by nuclear bombs. The remaining human race has survived by living in a spaceship called the Ark. With oxygen running low, they send 100 delinquents down to a possibly radiated Earth to see if it’s habitable. With a life spent solely in space, how will these kids forge a path of their own and what dangers lay around the corner?

Current number of episodes: 84

Network: the CW

Available on: Netflix

2. “Broadchurch”

Genre: Crime Drama

A British murder mystery drama may be the perfect way to distract yourself from any worries of COVID-19, especially for any Doctor Who fans out there (David Tenant, Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvill star in this). The sweeping cinematography of blunt cliffs, great acting and subtle humor mixes well with the driving plot to solve a tragedy. Honestly, this show is highly addicting and I couldn’t stop predicting who was involved in the murder; it’s a must watch. 

In a small, English coastal town 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found dead. Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (Tenant) and Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) works to solve the case and bring justice to Danny and his family. Is this “perfect” small town as great as it looks on the outside or are there secrets even his family is trying to keep buried?

Current number of episodes: 24

Network: ITV, BBC America

Available on: Netflix

3. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”

Genre: Musical Comedy-Drama

This new show has it all, and you’re bound to find a character you relate to. There’s comedy, drama, romance and classic/iconic songs — it’s not called “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” for nothing. I’ve found it so easy to get into this show and root for characters. It also gives lessons for understanding the mess of life, and I think we could all use some advice on how to cope with our new normal right now. It’s also just super fun to watch. I love waiting to hear what song will come up next, how it relates to the storyline and when the next one-liner will be. I recommend giving this show a chance for all those reasons, and it’s also new this year (currently airing its first season!), so you’ll get to be super hipster and say you’ve liked this show since the beginning. Who doesn’t like to do that?! Also, Skylar Astin is in it so be prepared to hear his angelic voice. The show’s creator explains more.

In this “dramedy,” a young woman finds out she can hear people’s most inner thoughts and feelings through songs and musical numbers. As you can probably expect, this creates the foundation for some funky, funny and confusing situations as she tries to help them with what they’re going through.

Current number of episodes: 8 as of March 30, 2020 (new episodes come out every Sunday)

Network: NBC

Available on: Hulu

4. “The Bold Type”

Genre: Drama

I don’t think I’ve ever related to a show more than I have with “The Bold Type.” This show about three young women taking on New York City by working at a fashion/lifestyle magazine gives me all the happy feelings while still dealing with real-life issues almost every younger person can identify with. Topics include finding yourself, looking to be confident as you embark on your new career, dealing with racism, homophobia and sexism. Every single character on this show has a story to tell and a lesson to learn and I would be lying if I didn’t say every single episode of this show has made me cry. Now is the time to seek inspiration in your everyday life and “The Bold Type” may just be able to help with that.

Three young women and best friends—Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy)—take on political issues and search for their identities while trying to put together a Cosmopolitan-esque magazine in New York City. Along the way they manage the stress of everyday life, love and create friendships.

Number of episodes: 40

Network: Freeform

Available on: Hulu

5. “Great British Bake-Off”

Genre: Food

I’ve heard and seen so many memes taking over the Internet about self-quarantine and social distancing. One that stood out to me was a tweet saying, “Half of us are gonna come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks and the other half is gonna come out with a drinking problem. There is no in between.”

Well, now that we have all this free time on our hands, we can finally learn how to bake all those amazing goods we normally get at restaurants. Or, if that’s too much work, we can at least watch people make those amazing goods. What makes “Great British Bake-Off” different from other cooking and baking shows? The British accents, the cute way all the contestants support each other, the puns the hosts make and the stress of wondering who will get that esteemed Paul Hollywood handshake.

“Great British Bake-Off” (or “Great British Baking Show” as it’s called in the U.S.) is a baking show where 12 amateur bakers compete to be named the best baker in Great Britain. Each episode per season has a different theme, whether that be Cake Week, Pastry Week or Bread Week, where one person is crowned Star Baker and another is eliminated from the competition.

Number of episodes: 70 (not including the other spin-offs also available on Netflix in the U.S.)

Network: Channel 4, BBC One, BBC Two, PBS (American version)

Available on: Netflix

6. “Sex Education”

Genre: Coming-of-Age Drama

I honestly cannot think of a more fun, quirky show to binge watch during this time than “Sex Education.” The cast of characters make this show addicting while they’re all trying to navigate their teen years with family and relationships. This British show does more than just deal with getting educated on sex, however. It tackles subjects like abortion, homophobia, sexual harassment and the socioeconomic gap making each character complex and multi-dimensional. I laugh and cry every time I watch it.

High school student Otis is socially awkward and doesn’t have much experience with sex other than learning in his sex-ed class and overhearing his mom, a sex therapist, helping her patients. However, after paying close attention in his classes and what he overhears at home, he starts a business with fellow student Maeve to give sex advice to his peers at school. This helps his social status, but what problems could possibly arise from interfering in other people’s relationships? Watch to find out.

Number of episodes: 16

Network: Netflix Original

Available on: Netflix

7. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Genre: Musical Comedy-Drama

This is a wacky story with so many fun original songs and choreography. Don’t let the title fool you though. While this show doesn’t always take itself too seriously, the acting and production of the musical numbers are high quality. The production is so high quality, in fact, that it’s won many awards: Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (2016), Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography (2016),  Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing (2016) and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming (2019). 

It’s a highly self-aware show that knows what it is, makes fun of itself and occasionally breaks the fourth wall. It doesn’t do what’s expected of it, which may just be the fun, smart show you’re in need of right now. The songs in it always get stuck in my head, so if you need new music to listen to this show will also be a plus.

Successful lawyer in Manhattan, Rebecca Bunch seems to have life under control. But, after a panic attack due to receiving an offer for a promotion, she runs into her ex-boyfriend and realizes her time with him was one of the only times she was truly happy. As a way to seek and chase after that happiness she quits her prestigious job and follows him across the country to West Covina, California, in hopes of rekindling their relationship. Musical numbers ensue.

Number of episodes: 62

Network: The CW

Available on: Netflix

8. “Greenhouse Academy”

Genre: Teen Drama

Sometimes we just need a teen/kid show where we watch high school drama and scream over love triangles. “Greenhouse Academy” has all of that, along with taking place at a boarding school where technological advances reign supreme. Honestly, it feels like a cross between “House of Anubis” and a techy “Harry Potter.” Students even get divided into two groups: the Ravens (the brains) and the Eagles (the brawns). The characters are fun and the plot can sometimes feel like one taken straight out of soap opera. Is it cheesy at times? Yes. But, is that always a bad thing? Not at all (especially when you have some wine. Wine compliments cheese perfectly). If you’re looking for teen/kid show to get your mind off this wild time, this show might just do the trick.

Students at an elite boarding school, the Greenhouse Academy, in Southern California have to overcome their differences in order to uncover an evil plot.

Number of episodes: 40

Network: Netflix Original

Available on: Netflix

9. “Anne with an E”

Genre: Historical Fiction/Drama

This show resonates with so many people, and I’ve never witnessed a fandom like I have with “Anne with an E”, and there are reasons for that. This show empowers girls, addresses racism, teaches us to accept ourselves for being different and gives us the tools and confidence to question traditions. When I started this show, I was 21 years old and never thought I would be able to relate so much to a 13-year-old orphan from the 1800s, but here I am shouting from the rooftops that everyone should watch it (not really, but I did write an article on why it should be renewed). Unfortunately, I will warn you it did get cancelled after season three. However, the story is still there and should be given a chance. You won’t regret it.

This reimagining of the “Anne of Green Gables” book series centers around Anne Shirley, a 13-year-old girl who has lived a life in abusive homes and orphanages in the late 1800s. Life takes a positive turn for her though when she finds herself living with aging siblings, Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert. Anne’s creative, optimistic spirit brings her closer to them and they all end up changing each other’s lives for the better.

Number of episodes: 27

Network: CBC, Netflix

Available on: CBC streaming service (Canada only), Netflix

10. “Love Island UK”

Genre: Reality TV

Sometimes we just need a good ol’ guilty pleasure, and this reality British TV show about finding love (or lust) at a tropical villa may just be an equivalent to your favorite chocolate or glass of wine. Attractive British people with accents you’ve probably never heard partake in 24/7 camera coverage, challenges, “recouplings” and all the drama you never knew you needed. Reality TV has become more and more popular due to this self-quarantine. If you’re being holed up at home and miss your regular routine, watching the drama unfold between people you’ve never met while at the comfort of your own couch may be the escape you need. Also, if you want another activity to do, try doing impressions of their thick accents. Heck, maybe turn it into a game with your friends or family living at home with you!

Five single women and five single men enter a villa where they’re each coupled up with someone right away. As new islanders enter the villa “recouplings” take place leaving some of them uncoupled up and dumped from the island. This isn’t any ordinary reality show, however. The public gets a role in deciding the fate of the islanders and which couple they want to win the £50,000 in the end. The UK version (the original one) has a total of six seasons on Hulu and has inspired one season in the U.S. and another season in Australia.

Number of episodes: 271

Network: ITV2

Available on: Hulu

Featured photo: Meghann Fehy, Aisha Dee and Katie Stevens in The Bold Type season three finale. Photo courtesy of Freeform

Brianna Taggart

Brianna Taggart gets way too emotionally invested in TV shows and loves to bring her love of stories and writing to her work in journalism. She has two degrees in journalism and communication from the University of Minnesota Duluth and works full time at a weekly newspaper in Minnesota. When she’s not covering community news, she’s covering entertainment for Bri’s Binge right here on the Daily Planet.

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