Living in a global pandemic leaves you with little to do to keep yourself entertained. To help combat impending boredom, Prospect has launched a series in which our staff recommend content and creative outlets to keep you occupied while you’re stuck in your home. This week, our writers and editors watched a variety of awesome shows on multiple streaming services. Here’s what we recommend you watch during quarantine.
“Big Mouth” (2017–ongoing)
Recommended by Prospect Editor Paige Allen ’21
What better way to spend time cooped up in your childhood (read: hasn’t been redecorated since middle school) bedroom than by reliving the awkwardness of puberty? Hilarious and heartfelt, “Big Mouth” is an Emmy-nominated animated show created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. The show follows a group of kids (voiced by Kroll, John Mulaney, Jordan Peele, Jenny Slate, Maya Rudolph, and other big names in film and comedy) navigating the drama of middle school and their own changing bodies as they are guided — or, more often than not, misguided — by their personal Hormone Monsters.
Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, “Big Mouth” tackles subjects like menstruation, masturbation, and mental illness through crass jokes and unflinching depictions. But “Big Mouth” is much more than dick jokes; its writers consistently balance the adult humor and larger-than-life elements of the show with a sincere desire to educate and empower its audience about sexual, mental, physical, and emotional health. Even as I laugh, gasp, or cringe at the antics in the episodes, I wish I had something like “Big Mouth” when I was in middle school or high school to tell me I wasn’t alone — and to provide better sex education than the outdated, school-sanctioned videos I watched in fifth grade ever did without resorting to preaching.
A regular episode of “Big Mouth” clocks in at just under 30 minutes, the perfect length for watching individually as a study break or binging back to back. Each of the three available seasons consists of ten episodes, so you have plenty of time to work your way through them before the yet-unannounced release of Season 4.
“Big Mouth” is available to stream on Netflix.
Recommended by Prospect Editor Lauren Fromkin ’23
Although getting sent home mid-semester in the midst of the impending U.S. coronavirus outbreak definitely felt like a worst-case scenario, “Containment” offers some perspective that things could be worse. In this 13-episode show (read: quick binge), Atlanta is hit by an extremely contagious and deadly virus, prompting a portion of the city to be placed under quarantine and prevented from leaving the area. The show follows the lives of families and friends split by the barrier, as well as doctors, CDC officials, and police officers. Outside the barrier is policeman Lex Carnahan, but both his girlfriend Jana Mayfield and best friend Jake Riley are trapped inside. Other quarantined characters include pregnant 17-year-old Teresa Keaton, elementary school teacher Katie Frank and her son Quentin, and CDC researcher Dr. Victor Cannerts. Lex must balance his dedication to his loved ones inside the barrier with his duty as a police officer as he helps CDC official Dr. Sabine Lommers contain the outbreak. The show follows multiple plot lines as they intertwine and complement each other. Containment touches on all ends of the humanity spectrum, from inhumane criminals looting groceries and pharmacies to selfless citizens willing to aid strangers. During the coronavirus pandemic this show offers a disturbing reminder that our society will survive, since we are nowhere near the level of the outbreak in “Containment.”
“Containment” is available to stream on Netflix.
“The OA” (2016–2019)
Recommended by Prospect Writer Caroline Hana ’23
I think I got into this show ironically by recommendation from some other online recommendation page a year ago in search of new content, and let me say I was not disappointed. I would not take myself as the typical viewer for sci-fi fantasy shows — I am very happy within my bubble of mind numbing sitcoms and dramas — but “The OA” is something of an enticing mind-bend I couldn’t stop watching. Prairie Johnson (played by Brit Marling) is a previously blind woman who returns home after her seven-year disappearance with restored eyesight. She assembles a team of high schoolers (and a teacher) to help her find her missing friends while also explaining to them her life story.
The show is a strange mixture of mysticism, time travel, and imaginative stories that also include scientific concepts of multiverses, but “The OA” still has enough thriller and dramatic aspects to make the show more palatable. Visually and conceptually the story is sometimes supernatural but does not come off as cheesy; all the imagery in this show is very intriguing paired with the driving narrative. At times you will find yourself confused by (and just in awe of) some of the plot lines involving altering dimensions and jarring flashbacks/plot twists, so this would not be something to watch during the pset grind. Don’t let this prevent you from watching, though; if you're in need of a series that will completely distract you from everything going on and that doesn’t have your typical predictable storytelling, this might be it.
Each episode of “The OA” is about an hour long, and you can watch two eight-episode seasons. I wouldn't suggest putting the time investment into a marathon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened anyway. “The OA” is a show I should have hated, yet it completely exceeded my expectations. Hopefully you feel the same so we can talk about it!
“The OA” is available to stream on Netflix.
“Parks and Recreation” (2009–2015)
Recommended by Prospect Writer Annabelle Duval ’23
“Parks and Recreation” is a delightful, light, and hilarious show to get you through quarantine. It follows the ridiculous but inspiring daily life of Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, Indiana. From office camping trips to the creation of new parks and inter-town rivalries, each project of this Parks and Rec Department becomes an adventure filled with comedy, romance, and occasionally some good life lessons. Every character in the department has unique quirks, and the inter-office banter will have you laughing out loud. Fans of “The Office” will likely love “Parks and Rec” for its similar office setting, relatable characters, and great lines. If you’re feeling down or can’t seem to get homework done, this is the perfect show. Leslie’s never-ceasing energy and dedication to each part of her job will motivate you to check items off your to-do list and make the most of your time inside. The twenty-minute episodes are also the perfect length for a study break to brighten up your day. The first season is a bit slow, so skipping to the second season is a good idea.
“Parks and Recreation” is available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Philo, and Amazon Prime Video.
“Pushing Daisies” (2007–2009)
Recommended by Prospect Writer Monique Legaspi ’22
In the multitude of free time with which I find myself after most of my extracurriculars have been rendered un-attend-able, I should be scouring the depths of Netflix, combing through Hulu’s untamed brush, or perhaps even restraining myself from purchasing a Crunchyroll subscription. Surely, I grow tired of the shows I’ve watched time and time again, the shows that ended long ago and have lost their flavor of possibility. Surely, I am hungry, ravenous even, for New Content. But returning home — the front lawn, the tiny bedroom, and the non-Wucox chicken — makes me nostalgic for a simpler time. Actually, in an age in which we shy away from one another’s touch for fear of physical harm or even death, one of my favorite shows has suddenly become relevant.
“Pushing Daisies” revolves around a man named Ned, who, at a very young age, discovers that he can bring the dead back to life with a single touch. However, if he touches them again, they die once more — and this time, for good. If the undead creature stays alive for more than 60 seconds, something (or someone!) of equal value must die in its place. Wary of the imbalance he imposes upon the universe, Ned retreats to a quiet life as a humble pie baker, until a hardy detective, persuasive and strapped for cash, discovers his powers. So, the new routine: Revive the murder victim. Find out the killer. Re-kill the murder victim. Pocket the reward. Pretty easy — until one day, when Ned finds that the latest murder victim is his childhood crush …
I really love this show. It’s absurdly hilarious, but it has its touching moments. The cast is nearly all women, and each one is so unique and lovable, from the twin aunts who retired from synchronized mermaid dancing to the musically inclined and hopelessly romantic pie shop waitress. The evolution of the love story between Ned and Chuck is a joy to watch, especially with all the ways they try to connect without touching each other. There’s so much yearning, it’s almost like watching a period drama, but way funnier.
“Pushing Daisies” is available to stream for free on CW Seed or available for purchase on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.
“Tiger King” (2020)
Recommended by Prospect Writer Sreesha Ghosh ’23
2020 has been a year of absolute absurdity; from the assassination of an Iranian general inspiring several high quality memes about the impending doom of a Third World War, to the naked philanthropist who raised over a million dollars in donations for Australian bushfire relief, to the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown, there is very little visual entertainment that actually supersedes the crazy we already live in. But the good news is that the little does exist, and it goes by the name “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness,” Netflix’s newest docuseries about a gun-toting, mullet-sporting tiger handler and his recent arrest.
Netflix’s synopsis describes the show as such: “a rivalry between big cat eccentrics takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot.” If that doesn’t sound like a show you want to watch, that’s great — because that synopsis has nothing on “Tiger King.” The three central protagonists are fascinating: there’s Exotic, a gay, former presidential candidate who somehow managed to get two straight men to marry him; Carole Baskin, who may or may not have fed her multimillionaire husband to a tiger (she absolutely did, in my opinion); and Doc Antle, another big cat handler whose several animal trainers also double as his girlfriend-wives. You can’t make this up. It is 2020 escapism at its finest — each 45-minute episode in this seven-episode series is ludicrous from start to finish, with every ending more thrilling than the last and an absolutely unbelievable amount of original country music (catchy!).
That is not to say that “Tiger King” is only notable for its absurdity. At the end of the day, it’s also an incredibly thoughtful series that forces you to confront the reality of rampant animal (and employee) abuse that goes on in private zoos like Exotic’s and “sanctuaries” like those of Baskin’s — and the fact that crimes like this are perpetrated by everyone involved — volunteers, paying customers, and the zookeepers. Yes, “Tiger King” is crazy, but it’s also important — so if you don’t need the escapism right now, you should watch it for its takeaway.
Ultimately, in a time of pandemic and chaos, it’s much needed relief to sit down and know that no matter how crazy this gets, there is always something crazier going on. And if it seems hard to believe that a documentary about tigers in captivity can do that, let it be a testament to how entertaining and compelling “Tiger King” really is.
“Tiger King” is available to stream on Netflix.
“The West Wing” (1999–2004)
Recommended by Prospect Writer José Pablo Fernández García ’22
I first watched an episode of “The West Wing” when I watched the season four finale during my AP U.S. Government class, since we were learning about the amendments to the Constitution. I was immediately hooked thanks to its exciting story and exquisite production. I have since watched “The West Wing” in its entirety twice now: first by myself and then with my family.
A White House drama created by Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing” is considered one of the best and most influential TV shows of all time. Unfortunately, Sorkin left the series after the fourth season, resulting in the final three seasons never quite reaching the same level as the first four; season two is particularly strong with many of the series’s best episodes. However, the final three seasons are still worth the watch, as they take care of some plot lines that slowly build throughout the length of the series, especially for my two favorite characters: C.J. Cregg and Donna Moss.
While some people have critiqued the show for being too idealistic or a poor representation of American democracy and government, the show has held up through the years as a result of how thought-provoking and inspiring it can be in its depiction of the day-to-day work being accomplished from the West Wing during a fictional, liberal administration. Isn’t that something art can and should be — something that inspires its viewers through the values it embodies?
Lastly, “The West Wing” also provides some comfort in its depiction of a political climate less fraught, less polarized, and less vicious than the one we currently live in. This may just so happen to be why I was also considering “Parks and Recreation” as my recommendation and why I have been wanting to watch “Veep” for a while now.
“The West Wing” is available to stream on Netflix and is available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.
All graphics by Paige Allen of The Daily Princetonian.