Brandon’s Pandemic TV Binge Guide
It’s no secret that a lot of us have been bored in the house (and in the house bored) during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many are constantly looking for things to do that won’t jeopardize their health or that of their loved ones. Aside from music and exercise, streaming television has been helpful. While I’ve talked/tweeted ad nauseum about My Hero Academia, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, or Cowboy Bebop, here’s my list of other recommended shows to watch while social distancing and/or self-quarantined and where you can watch them!
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Netflix)
As a martial artist and fan of animation (and, to an extent, fantasy), nothing quite captivated my young imagination like Airbender. In a world where people could control one of the elements of water, earth, fire, and air, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko gave Nickelodeon an Emmy award-winning series about a 12-year-old boy destined to end a century-old war. It probably didn’t hurt that he could control all four elements, but what makes this show shine even 15 years later is the character arcs for everyone — heroes and villains alike. On top of stunning action and cinematography, Avatar had a surprising level of wisdom, wit, and maturity in the delivery of themes and values for a children’s TV show.
Based on the popular video game franchise, Netflix’s Castlevania is a dark series steeped in action, mysticism, and Gothic horror. After his human wife is falsely accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, Count Dracula vows revenge on the people of Wallachia. As his armies wage war, he is confronted by his son Alucard (James Callis), monster hunter Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), and magician Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). Created and written by the legendary comic writer Warren Ellis, Castlevania is a highly recommended series.
Hollywood might be on pause right now, but HBO’s Entourage gave us an inside look at how it works (with some exaggeration, of course). The misadventures of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his crew as he climbs the ladder of the Hollywood elite is a fun ride full of comedy, drama, and celebrity cameos. Also, this show predicted the massive success of an Aquaman movie 15 years before it happened!
Harley Quinn (DC Universe)
Harley Quinn has had a bit of a renaissance since her debut in Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series. She’s been accepted into the comic book canon, given her own comics, and even had a live action movie recently! But her most fun adaptation so far has been her TV series. After finally breaking up with the Joker (Alan Tudyk), Harley (Kaley Cuoco) begins to make her mark on Gotham City with Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale), King Shark (Ron Funches), and Clayface (Alan Tudyk) along for the ride.
Sex Education (Netflix)
Do you remember high school? Was it as sex-crazed as popular culture liked to portray? More? Less? How comfortable would you be talking to your mom about it? Welcome to the world of Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), whose sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) has instilled in him the ability to talk to his peers about their frustrations and insecurities — an ability he and his classmate, Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey), soon look to profit from. This British dramedy is an excellent display of the awkwardness of high school and being a teenager in the modern day, complete with the eccentricities of British culture.
The Last Dance (ESPN)
The Last Dance is one of those lightning in a bottle documentary series that can captivate people by pulling back the curtain on iconic athletes and dissecting what made them tick. While Chris has written extensively on this miniseries, The Last Dance focuses on the rise and fall of Michael Jordan’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls and demonstrates how great teams come together, as well as MJ’s legendary pettiness. Turns out that and some highlight reels can fill out ten hours and makes for very engaging content!
Wolverine and the X-Men (Disney+)
When you ask most people about their favorite X-Men TV series, you usually get one of two answers: The ’90s one or X-Men: Evolution. Truthfully, they’re both great series in their own right, but I have a soft spot for the short-lived Wolverine and the X-Men. This 26-episode series was produced by Marvel Studios just before the first Avengers film was released, but only lasted a single season in which audiences were shown Mister Sinister, the Hellfire Club, Genosha and the Sentinels, on top of adaptations of “Days of Future Past” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga”. While I’m normally not a fan of Wolverine stealing the spotlight, this series is a quality comic book adaptation and features top tier voice talent such as Steve Blum (Wolverine), Nolan North (Cyclops), and Yuri Lowenthal (Iceman), as well as Tom Baker (Magneto) and Jennifer Hale (Jean Grey).
The Wire (HBO)
Arguably the greatest American television show of all time, The Wire is a classic crime drama that shows the life of police and criminals in early 2000s Baltimore. Showrunner David Simon, a former police reporter, produced a resonant series that featured the likes of Wendell Pierce, Dominic West, and Michael K. Williams and broke actors like Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan to the masses. The Wire has long been a highly praised production, to the point that former President Barack Obama interviewed David Simon to discuss its influences.
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