Cozy at Home

10 TV Shows & Movies to Watch 6 Feet Away From Your Roommate

Or partner, sibling, parent, pet, friend—whomever.

March 26, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.


It feels very strange to be stuck in place—a house, an apartment—while so much is changing out in the world. And for those of you who have already begun to feel murderous toward your roommates (or significant others, siblings, parents, cousins—all of which by now have become, in all but name, your roommates), it's important to cultivate what Seamus Heaney called "moments of lift, of joy." Whatever you’re going through right now, here are ten shows and movies, all available on streaming services, to distract and delight.

1. Grace & Frankie (Netflix)

With a solid first three seasons, and then a few seasons in homage to the first three seasons, this is a show that’ll have you—and your roommates—Googling Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin interviews for weeks or months or however long social-distancing lasts.

2. Sex Education (Netflix)

It is almost impossible to imagine Gillian Anderson more stunning and affecting than she was in The Fall, playing Detective Superintendent Gibson (opposite her fluffy, very handsome serial killer co-star, Jamie Dornan). But here we are. In Sex Education, Gillian transforms into the wry, lavish, perfectly-disheveled sex therapist single mother of the show’s awkward high schooler protagonist, Otis. When Otis realizes he has inherited some of his mother’s gifts, he teams up with gutsy but troubled heartthrob, Maeve, to run a sex advice consulting business for their classmates. An utter delight.

3. Billy on the Street (Netflix)

You’re Inside. You’re probably tired of being inside (I am). Good news: Billy Eichner is not using his inside voice. You’ll feel like you’re on the streets again, life full of wonder.

4. Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix + Hulu)

It’s all here, all for you: 15 seasons of the classic show that Netflix describes as “romantic, emotional.” Life-shaping, they forgot to add. Listen, there are two scenarios. Either you’ve watched or you haven’t. Either you know why Izzie won’t cash Denny’s million-dollar check or you don’t. Join us.

5. The Parent Trap (Disney+)

Back when we were all Lindsay Lohan. Watch it for the soundtrack.

6. Dark (Netflix)

This is the German gothic time-traveling sci-fi thriller soap opera you didn’t know you needed. And all of the actors are as beautiful and sleep-deprived as you will be after binging on both seasons straight through the night. Essential information: sub, not dub.

7. Survivor (Hulu)

34 seasons of bandanas, B.O., clashing personalities, Jeff Probst not aging, bug bites, and torches snuffed to satisfying gasps of smoke. The early seasons are especially interesting—the soon-to-be-infamous Reality Star Type didn’t really exist yet, so contestants were playing to win, not to become famous. All this to say: Watching (or re-watching!) is an exercise in anthropology as much as entertainment.

8. Fleabag (Prime Video)

This show is delicious and smart in every way. But be prepared, one of your roommates is bound to say something about how “unconventionally pretty” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s nose is. Fortunately for them, they are safe from the violence you will be tempted to perpetrate, because they are 6 feet away.

9. Tiger King (Netflix)

What is a snow leopard doing in the back of this guy’s van? Why do we emotionally identify with the wind-blown lion yawning in the back seat of that speeding convertible? Who are these people and where do they grocery shop? These and other questions remain mostly unanswered. They are, however, dramatized toward some kind of genius in this wonky, very binge-able docuseries.

10. Chicago (Hulu)

Scurrying from the couch to the snack drawer and back again may begin to feel like your own kind of “Cell Block Tango.” But we’re not watching this movie for the sake of a joke hinging on some small but growing sense of existential peril… We’re watching because Roxie Hart has got a vaudeville career to build, and this tiny little thing called murder isn’t going to get in her way. Plus, we all need something gritty and fun to sing in the shower.

What are you watching during this quarantine? Tell us in the comments!

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Max McDonough grew up on the Jersey Shore. His writing has appeared in T Magazine, Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. When he's not working, you can find him in the plant section of the Home Depot.

7 Comments

Smaug March 27, 2020
I've made several attempts at "Fleabag", but mostly it just makes me feel like, virus or no, I NEVER want to come within six feet of another human being. Mrs. Mazel, is good, but so few episodes.
 
pepina March 27, 2020
Dark is so good! I'm impatiently waiting for the 3rd season. If it's available in your country, watch "Bad Banks" on Netflix - a really great, suspenseful German show as well. Also, we just finished watching "Pose" and loved it - so definitely would recommend that as well.
 
Author Comment
Max M. March 27, 2020
DARK is just, I, guh. Definitely will check out Bad Banks - thanks for the rec!
 
AntoniaJames March 26, 2020
We're watching the masterful Swedish series, "The Restaurant." So many kitchen scenes! So much food! Beautiful script, interesting and well-developed characters, considered the best series from Sweden ever. It takes place in Stockholm, starting at the very end of WW II and through the 50's (maybe beyond - I'm halfway through Season 2, and there's a 3rd season as well).

Also watched "Beecham House" on PBS, set in India in the 18th century. Lovely Masterpiece Theatre period drama. Nicely done.

Mostly been reading though . . . essays, short stories and short novels, currently/recently on my night table are Balzac, Hemingway, Wharton, Gretel Ehrlich, and from the "Best Essays of the [20th] Century," edited by Joyce Carol Oates - highly recommend the latter. Escaping from time and place, quite thoroughly - when not cycling, of course (still allowed even under stay-at-home rules). ;o)
 
Alex E. March 26, 2020
Fleabag!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Ella Q. March 26, 2020
The list I needed. Laughed: "Listen, there are two scenarios. Either you’ve watched or you haven’t. Either you know why Izzie won’t cash Denny’s million-dollar check or you don’t. Join us."
 
Author Comment
Max M. March 27, 2020
The joy of going through iconic Grey's scenes to choose which one to feature here, so distinct from other joys, I get emotional.