Series to watch during a pandemic

Recently my friend Dave asked me to recommend him some series to watch while he is housebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So! Here are my suggestions… (For reference, here is the rating system I use).

Series I recommend watching right now in March 2020
True Detective Season One 4.5 stars
Mr Robot 4 stars
Mad Men 4 stars (Full disclosure: I have only watched the first two seasons and they were great)
Boardwalk Empire 3.5 stars (I recently finished watching this. First three seasons are the best ones)
Ozark 3.5 stars
Westworld Seasons One and Two 3.5 stars
Atlanta 3.5 stars
Mindhunter 3 stars

Classic series
The Wire 5 stars
The Thick of It 5 stars
Deadwood 5 Stars

Documentary series
The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick 5 stars

True Crime documentary series
The Staircase 4 stars
The Jinx 4 stars

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10 Responses to Series to watch during a pandemic

  1. did you ever watch season 2 of true detective? It is amazing, but you must work for the amazing parts by suffering through awful ones.

    am also enjoying Marc Maron comedy specials on hbo 👍

    • Dave says:

      Man, it’s funny you say that. I have just started watching True Detective Season Two, and I was wondering if it was going to be worth sticking with. Cheers man, I will persist!

      I also second you on the Marc Maron comedy specials 👍 The lizard portal is open!

      • The trick to season 2 is that it’s ok to skip all of the conflicted closeted homosexual cop guys scenes, and honestly quite a bit of Vince Vaughn’s frustration and existentialism too

      • One more thing that may or may not color this for you, but Rachel mcadams character in this in my favorite female character in anything

      • Dave says:

        I liked Season Two. I give it 3.5 stars on the DORS. For me Colin Farrell did the best job and after him I found Vince Vaughn the next most interesting. McAdams has more acting range than I had given her credit for, but I still felt like her and the closeted cop actor were the weakest of the four main roles.

        I will say this though, the treatment of McAdams’ character, both in terms of the Bechdel test and the way that she walks away stronger at the end, that was encouraging.

        This season just wasn’t consistently great, And it had some seriously patchy acting and screenwriting. Some of the dialogue was George Lucas-level bad at times.

        Personally I felt as a casting choice McAdams was too stereotypically pretty. For me this meant a part of my brain was always going “She’s too pretty to be a cop. And it doesn’t feel like she has the ruggedness and durableness an experienced cop would have”.

  2. Interesting thoughts about Rachel McAdams; I liked how she was allowed to take on a lot of male characteristics without being forced to console them with femininity…
    For me this season is several disconnected scenes I think about a lot:
    – Vince and Colin just sitting there looking at each other while the “this is my least favorite life plays”
    – The scene where Colin rejects Rachel’s aggressiveness
    – Colins frustration when he realizes he only has about a couple of hours left to live
    – Rachel mcAdams talking about dicks
    – Gassing the cabin
    – Vince’s death
    Really, this season was more about the art direction and atmosphere.

    • Dave says:

      Vince’s death and McAdams talking about dicks were great scenes. And Vince & Colin’s scenes were the best scenes in the series in my opinion.

      I see what you’re saying about the male characteristics. But I have to say that I felt like that was heavy-handed, and in that sense it didn’t move or impress me that much. What I’m getting at is, if it was reversed, a male character allowed to take on a lot of female characteristics without being forced to console them with masculinity, that in and of itself wouldn’t move or impress me that much either. Am I being too tough?

      To ask it another way, what is it about McAdams’ character that makes her different from Sarah Connor in The Terminator? Which is, essentially, a man inside a woman’s body?

  3. I think the difference is that Sarah Connor is an action hero. Ani was just an angry, damaged person. I don’t agree that she’s a man in a woman’s body. I only really think about her in terms of how rare a character like that is; a woman who is angry and tough, and rejects all representations of being a woman. She just feels to me like a completely original character so far as mainstream tv goes, and feels like someone I might believably know. Another good female character is Amy Adams in sharp objects, but for much different reasons. I recommend it 👍

  4. Dave says:

    Yeah, that’s a good point about Ani being a rare character as far as mainstream TV goes, I can’t think of another example. Jessica Jones? Although she is a superhero/action hero…

    I haven’t seen Sharp Objects, so thanks for the recommendation man 👍 I thought Amy Adams was good in the film Nocturnal Animals if you haven’t seen that.

  5. Dave says:

    Thoughts on True Detective Season Three:

    I give it a 3 on the DORS (https://daveunderwood.wordpress.com/2020/03/28/daves-overall-rating-system/). It takes less risks than Season Two, but the overall acting performance of the three (four?) leads is stronger than Season Two.

    The season is about a missing girl and the lives of three people investigating her disappearance. We see the characters at three different points in time: 1980, 1990, and 2015. So the season has a focus on memory and time.

    I think Season Three is more of a return to the formula of Season One and this is partly signalled by the fact Season Three references the main characters from Season One. I think Season Three will probably be pleasing to fans of the series, but is ultimately the least interesting of the three seasons so far.

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