It seems like now more than ever small talk is all about what we're watching on TV.
I mean, we can't go anywhere, or do anything, so it's all about what's on Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime. And the appealing selections are beginning to run a bit thin.
If you're looking for some viewing recs that aren't horrifying, disturbing, upsetting, violent or gross, here's what I've been watching.
Grace & Frankie (Netflix) - Grace is so my middle-aged style icon. You may find you're more of a Frankie. Personally, I'd watch just for the beach house. Never mind the excellent writing and that women over 50 have this exceptional venue for their talents.
Dead to Me (Netflix) - If you're looking for a show with strong female leads and multiple WTF moments, this is the show for you. I heard Netflix didn't renew it though so they are Dead to Me now. (I am so Jen)
Unorthodox (Netflix) - Man, I loved this show. A Hasidic Jewish woman in Brooklyn flees to Berlin from an arranged marriage. I'm anxiously awaiting S2.
One Mississippi (Amazon Prime) - TBH, I'd watch anything with Tig Notaro, and this one takes place in Pass Christian, Miss., where she's from. Which is the next town over from my hometown, Long Beach.
Friends from College (Netflix) - This is a fun show with a lot of good talent, including Kegan Michael Key, Cobie Smulder
and Fred Savage & Billy Eichner playing a gay couple.
Russian Doll (Netflix) - Natasha Lyonne as a women who keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday deserves an Emmy for this surreal and amazing performance.
Bloodline (Netflix) - okay, this one has a bit of violence but what southern gothic doesn't? And there's Coach! Chloe Sevigny! Sissy Spacek as the matriarch! Norbert Leo Butz (for the Broadway audience)! And an award-winning performance by Ben Mendelsohn! (I'm not 100% sure he actually won an award for this but he 100% should have because he knocks it out of the park)
The Politician (Netflix) - As much as j'adore Ben Platt, I was only about 50% in on the first season, but this got good in S2 when they brought in Judith Light (an American treasure!) and Bette Midler, who is truly at her best in this role.
Self-Made (Netflix) - Come for the story of the first African-American self-made millionaire, stay for the soapy rivalry story!
Sweetbitter (Starz) - If you ever worked in a restaurant, you're going to relate to this show. I loved the characters. Sadly, Starz cancelled after the second season. I would've watched more.
One Day at a Time (Netflix/Pop TV) - Netflix actually cancelled this show, but it was so popular that Pop TV picked it up. This is a remake with a Cuban-American family and it is some of the best TV available. Rita Moreno stars as the abuela and she is seriously the best thing ever.
The Ranch (Netflix) - This isn't something you'd expect me to recommend. I don't do a lot of comedies because my bar is set really high. But I must admit, I have a big crush on Sam Elliot. And Debra Winger is pretty damn great in this too. This was just a very comfortable show to watch.
Fleabag (Amazon Prime) - I confess: I'd heard a lot of great things about this show so I tried to watch it. The first episode was so cringey to me that I turned if off. But someone online suggested that I stick with it, so I did. Turned out to be two of the best, most creative, most well-thought out seasons of television I've ever had the privilege of watching. This show won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress, and Golden Globes for Best Television Series and Best Actress.
Shrill (Hulu) - SNL's Aidy Bryant in the role from the best-selling book by Lindy West. She takes on a toxic relationship, an abusive boos and internet trolls, all while dealing with body image issues.
Some Old Shows to Rewatch
Big Bang Theory (HBO Max) - my favorite sitcom. I love that it started under a rather tired pretense and ended up with three really strong female characters. Also, the casting for the main characters' extended families is nothing short of brilliant.
Parks & Rec (Netflix) - second-favorite sitcom
Veronica Mars (Hulu) - Kristen Bell is kind of perfect all the way around. Also, there's a kick-starter-funded feature film.
The West Wing (Netflix) - my all-time favorite show ever
Friday Night Lights (Hulu) - my other all-time favorite
Firefly (Hulu) - Gone way too soon, R.I.P.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Hulu) - in case you need more fake monsters in your kick-ass female-led shows
Beverly Hills 90210 (Hulu) - Sorry, not sorry. For its time, t's hard not to love
Gilmore Girls (Netflix) - my #3 favorite show
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) - still really funny if you haven't seen it.
Marc Maron End Times Fun (Netflix) - So if you're not listening to Marc's WTF podcast, you are totally missing out. He does amazing interviews. He also stars as that creepy guy on G.L.O.W. (which I have not watched). Lots of offensive material here, especially towards the end so don't @ me.
Hannah Gadsby Douglas (Netflix) - Mad respect for this woman and every single word that comes from her mouth. I 100% believe her special Nanette should be required viewing in every high school in America. This was a terrific and entertaining follow up.
Trevor Noah Son of Patricia (Netflix) - This show had me LOL'ing SO MUCH. I can also recommend his book - it's hilarious, too. Between the two, I bought tickets for his show in New Orleans as soon as they were on pre-sale. Unfortunately, the covid cancelled it.
The Big Sick (Amazon Prime) - The name sounds gross, but the movie is not. Written by the married team of Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (and based on their story), it stars Kumail and Zoe Kazan. My favorite scene is in the hospital cafeteria with Ray Romano, when her dad, judging Kumail by his brown skin, asks him his thoughts on 9/11 and Kumail says, "It was horrific. We lost some of our best guys that day." I literally LOL'ed.
Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Prime) - this award-winning film isn't going to perk you up out of your quarantine funk, but if you need a good excuse to cry, just wait for that scene where Michelle Williams runs into Casey Affleck by the river. Oh man.
Roma (Netflix) - If you didn't see this Oscar-nominated Spanish-language film, you have missed something truly brilliant and beautiful. Let's be honest, foreign-language films are never nominated for Best Picture. It did win for Best Director.
Always Be My Maybe (Netflix) - This just reminded me that I should probably add some Ali Wong stand-ups to the list. This movie is wonderfully charming and family-centric. It will make your heart sing. And remind you that you should rewatch Crazy Rich Asians, which was so good I watched it twice.
Hamilton (Disney+) - I mean, duh.
Just Mercy (Amazon Prime) - I've loved MBJ since he was Vince on FNL. This was a really powerful and important movie based on a true story.
Little Women (Amazon Prime) - I ordinarily don't like films where the story is told out of chronological order. IDK what that says about me but I have a hard time following them. Don't even get me started on time travel - I can't follow that at all. And a lot of people didn't like how this story was told. And yet, I did.
Parasite (Amazon Prime) - the buzz for this started before the Oscars and just built from there. I waited a long time for it to get to streaming. It was worth the wait. A powerful take on class discrimination.
The Hate U Give (Amazon Prime) - I read this book and loved it. Then I watched the film and was blown away. Very timely for the moment we're living.