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Ten things to watch while you’re stuck in self-isolation

If you’re going to be stuck in self-isolation for a short while, you might as well be productive and get something done, right?

Between what’s on telly at the moment, everything on Netflix, and all those other streaming services, there’s a bit of everything out there.

As the days go by, it seems inevitable that you’re going to get the sniffles at some point. So what do you do then, when your friends and family won’t touch you with a ten-foot pole? Do the sensible thing: get some snacks delivered, hunker down, and make a list of things to get done.

Of course, if you’re the kind of person who gets bored pretty easily, this is your lucky day because we’ve just put together a collection of ten things that you can binge-watch right now. Whether you prefer long dramas with seven seasons or fast-paced movie trilogies, there’ll be something here for you.

  1. Narcos: Mexico
Diego Luna portrays real-life Mexican drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Credit: Netflix.

It’s a testament to the realism and brutality of the Narcos world that a location scout for the Mexican spin-off fell victim to the same violence that the show demonstrates. It’s a gritty take on real events with just a dash of creative license – the kind that makes you want to keep watching.

Although the first show focuses on the Colombian drug trade and the spin-off is set in Mexico, the general idea is the same. You know how the story ends if you know the history at all, but it’s the long, at times devastating journey that proves optimism isn’t always misplaced during hard times.

  1. Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk (right) is joined by a host of familiar characters and usually end up getting roped into criminal activities. Credit: Netflix.

The hallmark of a good spin-off is that it can be enjoyed even if you haven’t necessarily seen the original material. In this sense, Better Call Saul is a great achievement and a lot lighter in humour than its big brother, Breaking Bad, a legendary drama that builds its story around real, nuanced characters.

Better Call Saul continues this tradition by focusing on one of the strongest, most beloved characters from the original series. It delves in deeper, asking hard questions about how he got to be the person he is. The show is everything fans could want, as well as being accessible to newcomers too.

  1. Thor: Ragnarok
It takes a team of unlikley superheroes to take on Thor’s greatest enemy yet, including newcomer Tessa Thompson. Credit: Marvel.

If you’re unsure whether it’s worth splashing out on Disney+, ask yourself this. Do you like cute Disney movies or cool superhero flicks? If the answer to either of those is yes, you could probably do worse. When it comes to hero movies, the third Thor film can easily be enjoyed on its own.

Due in part to the influence of director Taika Waititi, known for What We Do in the Shadows and Jojo Rabbit, Ragnarok is arguably the funniest film Marvel has ever made. This rip-roaring comedy is achieved through a combo of improvised dialogue and the incredible chemistry between the cast.

  1. Spirited Away
Average girl Chihiro finds herself lost in a strange, supernatural world and her parents are turned into pigs as punishment for their greed. Credit: Netflix.

As animation goes, it’s worth saying that some cartoons are much better than others. Every film put out by the award-winning Studio Ghibli sports luscious animation, yet Spirited Away consistently takes the cake. If you want something light-hearted with a proven reputation, look no further.

As well as the story and animation, Spirited Away won its Oscar for Best Animated Feature in part because of its talented voice cast. The voice of Lilo from Lilo and Stitch plays a young girl in a coming-of-age story who enters a strange world on the way to her new home. It’s perfect, storybook fiction.

  1. You
Joe and Beck are in the perfect, loving relationship, but how real is it? Credit: Netflix.

It’s hard to write up a summary of You because the show is so unlike anything that has come before. If you like the first couple of episodes, you’ll like the rest of it. The show is an obsessive, explicit, and disgustingly honest trip through the relationship of an equally obsessive and dangerous narrator.

Perhaps the most impressive thing is how the show makes its creepy protagonist so likeable and relatable. Although he’s a bad person who does bad things from the get-go, there’s no way to avoid taking his side. He cracks jokes and makes sarcastic comments, giving life to an otherwise dull world.

  1. Matilda
Matilda is a child prodigy who seems to be unappreciated by everyone around her, until one day she finally gets to go to school.

This is a childhood favourite for a lot of people, myself included. Undoubtedly, there’s a real challenge to be had in adapting any work of Roald Dahl’s, but Matilda does it perfectly. The film never takes itself seriously, though it occasionally touches upon serious subjects. Regardless, it never treats its younger audience as though they’re stupid or cannot understand what’s going on.

Perhaps a lot of children (and people in general) can see themselves in Matilda’s shoes, stuck in a bad place because of bad people. Still, the heart of the show is in seeing Matilda triumph over her oppressors and subvert their expectations of her. I’d recommend this to anyone with a heart.

  1. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina presents a darker spin on the beloved story, though you really have to be able to love its faults. Credit: Netflix.

I’m wary about putting this on my list, because for me it falls into the category of ‘so bad that it’s good’. Compared to the 90s sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart, this Sabrina is straight-up black humour, filled with Satanic worship, murder, and bodily possession. Not for the faint-hearted.

Sabrina also balances out the darker moments with jokes and gags, though sometimes it’s just hard to take the over-the-top acting seriously. That said, the general vibe is a breath of fresh air, even if the audience will end up yelling at the cast that maybe going to look for Satan is a bad idea.

  1. The Good Place
Despite dealing with some heavy themes, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel in The Good Place. Credit: Netflix.

The Good Place is everything that Sabrina isn’t. While it may poke fun at bad things happening in-universe, there is always an optimistic, loving atmosphere to the events of the show. And once it really gets going, it’s impossible not to love the main characters and their unbreakable friendship.

The most interesting about the show is the way it builds lore, beginning with just the most basic concept of an afterlife and gradually adding more details to the mix. As the cast discover things about the world around them, so do we. Also, they’re dead. That’s important to remember.

  1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
With an ensemble cast that truly bounce off each other, it’s no wonder Brooklyn Nine-Nine was brought back after being cancelled. Credit: Netflix.

This one falls into the same category as The Good Place, both being feelgood stories with episodic progression and gradual character development. While The Good Place places more emphasis on the overall story arc, Nine-Nine usually introduces a new plot point for each individual episode, though recurring characters and gags are aplenty.

Although the loveable, messy protagonist is the strongest single character, the show is made by the interactions between the precinct’s members. They’re good, idealistic people in a police force that is shown to have its share of bad eggs. They never waver in their beliefs and always get the bad guy.

  1. Black Mirror
Black Mirror explores bizarre, often thrilling ‘what if’ scenarios underpinned by technology. Credit: Netflix.

If you haven’t seen Black Mirror yet, then you’re one of maybe seventeen people worldwide. Each episode is a self-contained story that explores the possibilities of the future, almost always grim and caused by technology. As bad as things are, at least we’re not in an evil version of The X Factor.

There’s a real variety to the kind of content that Black Mirror provides. Some of it is darker, some is much lighter in tone, but it’s all following the same general idea. What if virtual reality gaming became too realistic? What if some guy liked Star Trek so much, he decided to trap his mates in it?

San Junipero is easily a fan favourite when it comes to Black Mirror, showcasing character interactions at their finest and the show’s trademark plot twists. Credit: Netflix.

To be honest, it’s hard to know exactly what the future will bring at this point. But regardless of whether you prefer your distractions warm and fuzzy or dark and twisted, there’s a lot of stuff to be binged-watched out there, both in film and television. The choice is completely up to you.

But between you and me, I’m gonna be playing Animal Crossing.

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