Thousands of Australians are choosing to self-isolate amid COVID-19. I’m doing it, if you’re reading this you’re probably either doing it or thinking about doing it. It’s all happening. It’s a bit anxiety-inducing thinking about isolating yourself from the outside world for a fortnight. That’s a lot of time to overthink yourself into oblivion. As a way to combat us all turning into Jack Nicholson in The Shining, we’ve put together a list of cracker TV shows to binge-watch whilst you’ve got nothing but time on your hands. Enjoy x
Twin Peaks (1991) and Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
My personal choice for this period of self-isolation. There is nothing I can say about the David Lynch masterpiece that hasn’t been said a thousand times over and a thousand times better. I’m just here to offer gentle encouragement to those who haven’t seen it, and have been putting off starting it, to seize this opportunity.
The pilot episode —although my favourite episode of any TV show, ever— is a little bizarre, and long, and hard to wrap your head around but be patient, you are in for one of the most revelatory, rewarding viewing experiences of your life.
Where to watch: Stan
The Sopranos (1999)
Very aware and exceedingly self-conscious that I’m listing perhaps the most well-known TV shows ever. I’m also aware that people tend to acknowledge things that are enormously popular and think “yeah, I know I’ll probably love it but I’ll get around to watching it some other day.” I’m guilty of it. I didn’t listen to Beyoncé’s Lemonade until last year.
The Sopranos completely redefined television drama. It is the small screen’s greatest ever achievement. To see something so grand be executed with such precision is life-altering. 86 episode series’ should probably lose the plot at some point but this stays pitch-perfect the entire way through.
In addition, it offers like literally the best food inspiration ever. I sincerely hope you were all able to snag yourself some pasta because you will literally be crying out for the stuff once you get a whiff of Carmella Soprano’s Baked Ziti.
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Where to watch: Foxtel Go
Freaks and Geeks (1999)
When isolated from human interaction and left in the company of your own thoughts, it’s easy to spiral into the unremorseful game of reflecting on every single embarrassing thing you have ever said or done in your life. This show is the antidote to that particular brand of suffering. Freaks and Geeks turns the cripplingly embarrassing, awkward and ugly parts of being alive into something beautiful.
The Judd Apatow and Paul Feig collaboration is side-splittingly funny, compassionate and goofy. It’s soul-nourishing stuff.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Youtube
Top Boy (2011)
Gritty, cutthroat and timely. The cult drama was revived by Netflix in 2019 after six years. It’s a gruelling, often bleak study of east London’s drug-based gang wars. The way it’s formatted on Netflix is confusing and I accidentally watched the third season first. Though excellent, I wish I had watched the original, Top Boy: Summerhouse, before the reboot.
Where to watch: Netflix
Peaky Blinders (2013)
If you end up powering through Top Boy in a day and are still hungry for more gang drama, Peaky Blinders will satiate those desires. Cillian Murphy is the don and gives one of the hardest cold stares willed into existence. The show may result in you making a questionable news cap purchase but we won’t acknowledge that.
Where to watch: Netflix
Killing Eve (2018)
If Killing Eve has proven anything, it’s that there is nothing hotter than an assassin in bubblegum-pink tulle Molly Goddard gown. The Phoebe Waller-Bridge directed espionage thriller appeals to all the senses. It’s darkly funny and deliciously violent. Good, good shit.
Where to watch: Stan, ABC iView
Another excellent show to watch if you often suffer from sharp pangs of embarrassment. Fleabag is the most insanely loveable, batshit, cringe-inducing character on television and it’s marvellous.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Peep Show (2003)
As comedian Rachel Sennott put it, “this is a time to smoke weed in the day time.” So if you’re heeding by that advise we staunchly recommend you get profoundly stoned and watch Peep Show with subtitles on. Your neighbours may start to think you’ve gone a little Arthur Fleck but it’s sweet, you’ll have the time of your life.
Where to watch: Netflix
My So–Called Life (1994)
Like Freaks and Geeks this show copped low-ratings in its time, but has since transcended to cult status. My So-Called Life had just one, nineteen-episode season before it was canned in 1995. It deserved so, so much more. It’s intelligent, empathetic and masterfully acted. Claire Danes has been the one since day one.
Where to watch: YouTube
Happy Valley (2014)
My Achilles heel is very British mini-dramas that involve police or detective work. Happy Valley is the cream of the crop in that department. Character-driven, empathetic, deliciously anxiety-inducing stuff.
Top of the Lake (2013)
In which our Scientology queen Elizabeth Moss does her best Sydney accent. If you’ve ever watched a Jane Campion film before you know that she has a way of getting the very best out of nature. If romanticism was a 21st-century movement they would nut over The Piano and Bright Star. In Top of the Lake, Campion truly does justice New Zealand and all its stupendous grandeur.
Don’t bother with Top of the Lake: China Girl — shit sucks — the first season, however, is totally superb. It marries the eerieness of Twin Peaks with the wackiness of, well, New Zealand.
Where to watch: ABC iView, Foxtel Go
The Stranger (2020)
I haven’t actually seen this. I’m writing this article from my self-isolation living room, makeshift-office and my housemate walked in and told me, to tell you, fine reader, to watch The Stranger. I don’t know anything about it and I don’t want to google anything because I’m deathly afraid of spoilers. I have it on my housemate’s good authority that it slaps so if it tanks don’t blame me.
Tales of the City (1993)
The Netflix reboot of Tales of the City was hot garbage with good intentions. It was all a bit too gaudy and on the nose. The 1993 series, however, pure camp glory. Beautiful, nuanced, mystical storytelling that’ll have you wishing you lived on Barbary Lane.