Due to unprecedented events taking place in the United States and around the world, a lot of us are finding ourselves staying home more than usual these days. And we'll be needing things to watch — not just movies, which kill maybe two hours or so, but multiseason TV shows in which we can happily get lost.
In between washing our hands and monitoring the latest public health news, here are 10 binge-worthy TV shows available for streaming.
"TUCA & BERTIE" (Netflix)
This Netflix series is about a friendship between anxious, perfectionist song thrush Bertie (voiced by Ali Wong) and Tuca, a big-hearted, extroverted toucan in recovery for substance-use issues (Tiffany Haddish). It's an animated show about 30-something bird-women that somehow manages to take on serious content — trauma, mental health, sobriety, workplace sexism — in a cartoon atmosphere that's fun and bubbly.
"CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM" (HBO Now)
I want to hear Larry David's take on coronavirus because a quarantine sounds like his dream come true. The fictionalized take on the "Seinfeld" creator's life is wrapping up its 10th season now on HBO, so it's the perfect time to wind back across the bridges David has burned in his tireless quest to be right, no matter the argument (usually one he started).
"MONK" (USA Network; available on Amazon Prime Video)
It's a jungle out there, all right. Tony Shalhoub won three Emmys for his role as Adrian Monk, the titular sleuth bent by the unsolved murder of his wife and the obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias that intensified after her death. "Monk" is easy to start and easy to love, and the protagonist's paranoia over germs has never been more relatable.
"NATHAN FOR YOU" (Comedy Central; available on Hulu)
Nathan Fielder graduated from one of Canada's top business schools with really good grades. He says so at the top of every "Nathan For You" episode before offering businesses ideas that the owners inevitably realize are ludicrous. The fun is in watching them eventually tell Nathan his ideas are terrible and that they don't want to hang out after taping ends. (He often asks.)
Over four seasons, Fielder envisions initiatives like a gas-station rebate that requires customers camp overnight on a mountain, a cleaning service that deploys 40 housekeepers at once, a bar that circumvents smoking laws by rebranding as a hyper-realistic play — the list goes on.
"GREY'S ANATOMY" (ABC; available on ABC, Netflix, Hulu)
If this hospital were real and I actually worked there, I would run screaming out the nearest exit because it is cursed with the worst luck of any building in America. "Grey's" has always been about relationships — the medicine is just a vehicle to advance the drama — and how the people around us get us through life's challenges. Also, it's set in a hospital full of fictional world-class doctors who somehow always pull out miraculous answers for the most confounding viruses, tumors and medical mysteries. So if it's hope you need in a time of pandemic, pull up "Grey's" and get acquainted with the doctors of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.
"FOR ALL MANKIND" (Apple TV)
I'm a sucker for space-related TV shows and alternate history, so this new Apple TV series hooked me from the get-go. The premise: What if the global space race had never ended? What if the Russians had beaten the U.S. to the moon? How would that have affected NASA's space program?
Set in the '60s, the show doesn't shy away from the societal issues of its time (Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement) and deftly incorporates elements of history into a fast-moving narrative. It's fascinating to see historical NASA figures come to life, too. You'll meet John Glenn and a very disappointed Neil Armstrong; and one of the female astronauts (Molly Cobb, played by Sonya Walger) is based loosely on real-life pioneer Jerrie Cobb, a trailblazing pilot who was the first woman to pass all the preflight tests that NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts took. The show just completed a 10-episode debut season on Apple TV.
"SIX FEET UNDER" (HBO; available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now)
Beginning in 2001 and ending in 2005, this HBO drama was, quite literally about life and death: It centered on the Fishers, a Los Angeles family who owned a funeral home, and every episode began with someone's life ending. The characters, not always lovable but having the messy imperfections and annoyances of real life, were always surprising; the message of how those we have lost linger among us was unexpectedly lyrical. Special bonus: one of the greatest finale episodes of all of television, wrapping things up in a perfectly bittersweet bow.
"BROOKLYN NINE-NINE" (NBC; available on Hulu)
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" has a wonderfully diverse cast and is standing proof that you can be funny without being offensive.
"CALL THE MIDWIFE" (PBS; available on Netflix)
Well, there's only so many times a person can rewatch "Downton Abbey" (and if you haven't, for heaven's sake, get on that; it's on Amazon Prime and PBS Passport). A friend recommended this one, set in midcentury and centering on a group of midwife/nurses living in a convent in the working-class London district of Poplar. This show is based on the real-life memoirs of nurse Jennifer Worth, and it's sort of the spiritual opposite of "Six Feet Under" — in every episode, a baby is born. "Call the Midwife" has explored some unexpectedly gritty territory; this show is far more modern than it appears at first glance, and it has a female energy that's both empowering and irresistible.
"ORPHAN BLACK" (BBC America; available on Amazon Prime Video)
This series — which starts grippingly when a woman sees someone who looks exactly like herself step into the path of an oncoming train — becomes increasingly silly. But the show always remains compelling, thanks to its sense of humor and the warmhearted sisterhood that develops among a group of women who discover they are all clones. The main reason to watch it, though, is for star Tatiana Maslany, who earned a well-deserved Lead Actress Emmy for playing more than a dozen clones, including a street-smart single mother to a book-smart bohemian scientist to a suburban soccer mom.