My friend Sharon recently asked me what she should watch during the pandemic. “Can you just give me a list of good shows?” she asked. Since I’m unabashedly in love with TV, my answer was a resounding yes. And, in case anyone else needs ideas, here are 28 amazing series to watch…
If you’re in the mood to laugh…
PEN15 (Hulu, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this adult comedy, thirty-something comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play themselves as 13-year-old bffs in the year 2000.
Catastrophe (Amazon, four seasons)
One-sentence description: When American advertising exec Rob (Rob Delaney) travels to London for work, he has a whirlwind one-week stand with Irish schoolteacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan); she winds up pregnant, he moves to England to help figure things out, and the rest is history.
Side note: Sharon’s eclectic style is another star of the show.
Master of None (Netflix, two seasons)
One-sentence description: Dev (Aziz Ansari), a single guy in Brooklyn, tries to succeed in both acting and dating, along with his funny group of friends.
Side note: Dev’s parents are played by Aziz’s actual parents!
Search Party (HBO, three seasons)
One-sentence description: In this dark comedy, twenty-something Dory (Alia Shawkat) becomes obsessed with finding a missing college acquaintance — and drags her three self-involved friends along for the ride.
If you want a million episodes of a comedy…
The Mindy Project (Hulu, six seasons)
One-sentence description: Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), an OB-GYN obsessed with romantic comedies, spars with her cantankerous but cute co-worker Danny Castellano.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO, 10 seasons)
One-sentence description: Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays himself living and working in Los Angeles, consistently getting into trouble because of his crotchety, no-nonsense approach to life.
New Girl (Netflix, seven seasons)
One-sentence description: After a breakup, quirky teacher Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moves into an L.A. loft with three male roommates, and we follow their hilariously messy romantic and professional lives.
Veep (HBO, seven seasons)
One-sentence description: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (the best!) stars as the Vice President of the United States, who, along with her incompetent team, never fails to mess things up.
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix, six seasons)
One-sentence description: When they lose their fortune, the Rose family has to move to a run-down motel in a small town they once bought as a joke.
Broad City (Hulu, five seasons)
One-sentence description: Best friends Ilana and Abbi bring us on their funny adventures — weird roommates! bad dates! all the weed! — in New York City.
If you want to feel smart and sexy…
Normal People (Hulu, one season)
One-sentence description: Based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel, the series follows Marianne and Connell, teenagers from a small town in Ireland, as they come in and out of each other’s lives.
Side note: The actors’ sexual chemistry was off the charts, and I still want that black dress.
Fleabag (Amazon, two seasons)
One-sentence description: The brilliant, hilarious, sexual Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) grieves her best friend, argues with her older sister, and looks for lasting love in London.
Side note: Watch both seasons and be forever changed. (We also interviewed the costume designer, if you’d like to read.)
Insecure (HBO, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Best friends Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) navigate dating, work and the Black female experience in Los Angeles.
Side note: I love that the sex scenes are all about the female gaze.
If you’re watching with slightly older kids…
Never Have I Ever (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: In this coming-of-age comedy, Indian-American teenager Devi navigates the ups and downs and high school life, along with her two best friends.
Side note: The series is inspired by Mindy Kaling’s childhood.
Babysitters Club (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: Based on the beloved book series, the show centers on four middle-school friends who launch a babysitting club in their Connecticut suburb.
Side note: The characters are smart and kind, and Toby says, “I’d want them to be my friends.”
If you want to think deeply:
I May Destroy You (HBO, one season)
One-sentence description: After a night out with friends, London-based writer Arabella has frightening flashbacks, and she begins to piece together that she was raped.
Side note: The show is amazing but may be a hard watch. The show deftly explores issues of consent throughout its 12 episodes.
If you want to feel a little scared…
Barry (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this black comedy, a hit man (Bill Hader) tries to start over and become an actor, but keeps getting pulled back into a life of crime.
Big Little Lies (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, this series, set in Monterey, California, reveals that three mothers’ lives aren’t as perfect as they seem.
Better Call Saul (Netflix, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill wants to be above board, but can’t help falling into increasingly shady dealings.
If you want to feel very scared…
Fargo (Hulu, four seasons)
One-sentence description: Each season of this crime drama/black comedy series tells a different chilling tale. (The first season was based on the 1996 Coen brothers thriller.)
Breaking Bad (Netflix, five seasons)
One-sentence description: When gentle chemistry teacher Walter White finds out he has terminal cancer, he turns to making meth to support his family — then slowly gets drawn deeper into the illicit drug trade.
Side note: This brilliant series won 16 Emmys.
Homeland (Showtime, eight seasons)
One-sentence description: In this psychological thriller, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) — a top CIA officer battling bipolar disorder — tackles dangerous assignments with help from her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin).
If you want all the feelings…
This Way Up (Hulu, one season)
Two-sentence description: In this sharp comedy, Aine, an Irish twenty-something, checks out of a rehab center, where she went after “a teeny little nervous breakdown,” and leans on her sister as she tries to get back on her feet.
Side note: This show meant a lot to me, personally.
Olive Kitteridge (HBO, one season)
One-sentence description: Olive, an irascible retired schoolteacher, touches more lives than she realizes in her small Maine town.
Side note: The miniseries was based on my favorite book of all time. I would name a daughter Olive!
If your heart needs warming…
Say I Do (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: From the creators of Queer Eye, Say I Do features couples who haven’t been able to get married for various reasons; the charming hosts — Jeremiah Brent, Thai Nguyen and Gabriele Bertaccini — surprise each twosome with the wedding of their dreams, pulled off within a week.
If you want something luxe…
The Crown (Netflix, three seasons; season four premiering on November 15, 2020)
One-sentence description: The Crown is reportedly one of the most expensive series ever made — season one cost $130 million — and you can tell; glorious sets glitter around the royal family, as we follow the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
Side note: Season four is all about Diana!
Succession (HBO, two seasons)
One-sentence description: In this award-winning series, the filthy rich Roy family battles for control when their father begins to step back from his media empire.
Side note: Give this show a few episodes. Alex and I hated it at first (who ARE these awful people?!) but grew to love the dark humor.
If you want to feel inspired…
The Last Dance (Netflix, one season)
One-sentence description: This 2020 sports documentary series chronicles the incredible career of Michael Jordan, especially his last season with the Chicago Bulls.
Side note: I don’t know (or care) much about basketball, but this documentary was done so well, I was completely sucked in.
What about you? What did I miss? What would you recommend?
P.S. Nine couples with the best on-screen chemistry.