Shelter-in-Place Binging: Quarantine-Worthy TV Shows

TV shows we’re watching during the Pandemic.

At Picturelab, we’re always striving to improve our craft as a creative production company. We need to keep tabs on all the different techniques and content out there, and a good way to do that is binge watching TV shows and movies. When our spouses see us sprawled out on the couch with popcorn and remote, they often think we’re just wasting time. But to us, it’s legitimate research and career development.

Yep, it definitely is….

So, especially during times of pandemics and quarantines, when projects are postponed and we’re forced to work from home, we make the most of the opportunity to get caught up on our shows.

Undoubtedly you’re dying to know what our team is watching. Great, here’s the list.

Kingdom (Netflix)

If subtitles are still holding you back, get over it. This is the year of Parasite, and another kickass fight-for-your-right-to-survive thriller from South Korea is Kingdom. And speaking of parasites and pandemics, behind the zombies that are terrorizing 17th century Korea are worms that spread like bacteria from person-to-person through bites, and of course, infected human-meat stew. Imagine seeing that in a wet market!

As much as I love The Walking Dead and the George Romero “strollers”, the Korean adrenaline zombies seen in both Kingdom and Train to Busan are far superior palm-sweaters. And those muskets are the greatest things to happen in zombie films since cars with ignition problems. Fire, add gunpowder, drop bullet, light fuse…oh crap, zombie!

Not only are the zombies fast, but so is the incubation period. From a bite to a full-grown worm takes minutes, not days or weeks. There’s also a lot of other made-up science and history interwoven into the story – some of which takes a rewind or two to follow along, but it’s well worth the ride. And the show’s definitely relevant during times of pandemics and quarantines.

In fact, the last two episodes of season 2 is a textbook on what to do in an outbreak. Seal off the gates to keep it from spreading, aggressively attack the disease, isolate what’s left, and then cure!

The Outsider (HBO)

I enjoy work based on Stephen King novels, so I figured The Outsider would be quarantine-worthy. Plus it stars Ben Mendelsohn, who played one of my favorite Star Wars characters in Rogue One, and Academy Award-nominated Cynthia Erivo. Even though there is a major supernatural element, the ten-episode miniseries is more crime mystery than horror.

If you’re looking to be scared, this isn’t it. It’s often more of a character study: see Ben deal with loss, denial, and then see Ben finally accept what everyone has already accepted five episodes ago. But the journey is worth watching. And even though the audience has already solved the mystery at about episode three, it’s still interesting to see Cynthia’s character engage in her unorthodox methods to reach the same conclusion like five episodes later.

It’s definitely a little drawn out – it could’ve probably worked as a 2-hour movie rather than a 10-hour series, but it’s still an engaging show.

But the real reason why this is quarantine-worthy: the evil spreads and survives via a scratch – human contact. So a little social distancing would starve this madness back to whatever hell it came from.

Altered Carbon (Netflix)

A gratuitously violent science fiction detective series set in a breathtaking futureworld. The dystopian nature of this world needs unraveling and that’s the joy of it. Amazing production design and cinematography.

The Expanse (Amazon Prime)

Very detailed and scientifically accurate-ish portrayal of human colonization of the solar system with a brutal mix of political intrigue, film noir detective story, class struggle, cold war anxiety, and alien invasion all grounded in core characters desperately struggling to retain their own humanity.

Another Life (Netflix)

A new meaning to the title can be found in every episode. The series is a pastiche of sci-fi tropes and cliches mixed with a healthy loathing of youth that makes for a slightly guilty pleasure. It’s probably not much more than a light snack in the sci-fi genre but when you got the munchies it really hits the spot.

Lost in Space (Netflix)

Clever retelling of the old series that, somewhere between fighting killer robots and solving scientific riddles, is actually a serious meditation on the meaning and complexity of family.

The entire Marvel catalog (Disney+)

In addition to watching the characters and relationships develop, it’s fun to revisit these films to find the threads that will either be pulled or wrapped in a bow in the Avengers Endgame finale. Every film is an episode in the larger story.

Okay, hope that’s enough on your plate for now. Enjoy and stay healthy!

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