March 21, 2020 — This is an extraordinary time – a significant number of Americans have been ordered to stay in their homes. While painful and anxiety producing, at least with the Internet and TV we actually have it better than when we were kids and claimed to be “sick”. Our mother, if she felt we weren’t that ill, would make us lick green stamps and put them in the redemption book. If we were lucky, we got to watch Jack Bailey on “Queen for a Day”. As for “Secret Storm” or “Search for Tomorrow”, we had no idea why anyone would want to watch those soaps. Now at least, there are things worth watching. Today we have more high quality shows than we will ever have the time to view on Netflix, cable TV, HBO, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sling – and more.
So in the spirit of trying to have some fun and chase away the gloom, here are some TV show recommendations. Hopefully you will get some new ideas, watch the shows and movies you have always wanted to see (maybe again), and share in a discussion here. We would really like to hear from you: what shows do you love? This is also a great time to read a book. We would love to hear your favorite reads as well. One suggestion we enjoyed recently: “Educated” by Tara Westover.
New shows your editor has seen:
HBO just launched the third season of Westworld, a sci-fi western which some critics like a lot better than the first two seasons.
My “Most Brilliant Friend” (Season 2 just launched on HBO) is a little girly but very good. Based on the book by Elena Ferrante.
The best thing your editor has watched lately is “Escape from Dannemora“, based on the amazing real-life NY prison escape from a few years ago. The actors, including Patricia Arquette, are excellent. It is a Hulu show but you can get it on Amazon Prime Video.
“Unforgotten” (many seasons on Amazon), and “The Stranger” (Netflix) are also pretty good.
The Crown. The wonderful series chronicling the life and times of Queen Elizabeth 2. Netflix
Big Little Lies – All star cast on HBO headed up by Reese Witherspoon.
Watchmen – Dystopian show on HBO that makes for good TV.
Chernobyl – The nuclear disaster, with parallels to today, at HBO. Excellent acting.
These shows were recommended by some male friends:
Godfather of Harlem on Epix (on demand)
Narcos on Netflix
Homeland on Showtime
Curb your Enthusiasm on HBO
Better Call Saul on Netflix
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime
Ozark on Netflix
Peaky Blinders on Netflix
Fauda on Netflix
Formula One, Drive to Survive on Netflix (2 seasons)
ZeroZeroZero on Amazon. Brutal but good.
Sex Education on Netflix is very funny.
The Tunnel is on Amazon.
Best Modern Era Classics
We would be curious to see what modern era TV shows Topretirements members believe are the best ever. Let us know your top picks. Here are some contenders that are definitely worth rewatching:
Sopranos – HBO
Breaking Bad – Netflix
The Wire – HBO. Note for watching: There is a lot of inner city dialog which is hard for baby boomer ears to catch. Turn on subtitles and you will get a lot more out of this. Same approach works for British shows.
Atlanta. This is one of the most original shows ever with Donald Glover. 2 seasons, with more on the way. FX and Hulu
The Americans. One of the best premises ever: Russian spies embedded for decades in America end up pals with their next door neighbor, a senior FBI counter espionage agent. Brilliant. FX
British and other foreign country shows:
Prime Suspect – Helen Mirren struggles as a detective on Amazon (multiple seasons).
Line of Duty – Amazon
Hanna – Amazon
Secret City – Australian show on Netflix
Spiral – French woman leads an elite group of detectives in Paris. Very gritty and very good. Hulu and Amazon
Happy Valley. Edgar winner and a great series set in England. Netflix.
These suggestions are just a start of the many great TV shows.
Bottom line. Everyone is entitled to their own tastes. As opposed to the choices here, you might prefer comedies, documentaries, real life shows, or nature programs. Whatever you prefer, please share the shows you think might chase away the coronavirus blues.
For further reading:
Boomers’ Favorite TV Shows from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. (lots of great reader suggestions and memories!)
Your suggestions! Please share your favorite TV shows – current and of all time. What would your top 3 be? Let us know in the Comments section below.