Staff picks worth binge watching

What to watch while we ride out the coronavirus.

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“The Morning Show”

When my wife said we should watch Apple TV’s “The Morning Show,” let’s just say I was suspect. I’m not a big fan of “Good Morning America” or “The Today Show” beyond the opening minutes of news. And a show about those? I thought, YAWN! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The series stars two sitcom superstars — Jennifer Aniston (Friends) and Steve Carrell (The Office) in very different roles. And they’re amazing. Reese Witherspoon is also terrific in her role as a southern gal who is suddenly in the morning host spotlight. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say you’ll be thinking a lot about disgraced Today Show host Matt Lauer and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as you watch this amazing series of shows.

My colleague Jamie says she watches them two at a time. I gobbled these up way too quickly and might even watch them again. They’re that good. 

If you don’t have Apple TV, it may be free if you’ve made a recent iPhone or Mac purchase. If not, it’s $4.99 a month. Well worth it. –George Brennan (editor)

“Forensic Files”

There’s nothing that is more fascinating to me than the mind of a killer. But one thing that might be equally as intriguing is how the law catches some of these killers. I have watched more hours of “Forensic Files” than I care to admit, and with each episode being only 20 minutes long, that’s saying something. Not only does the narrator of the show have an incredibly unique voice that fits too well with the content of the show, but you learn a lot about the methods that forensic entomologists, crash reconstructionists, and other investigators use to catch their perp. For some reason, the show can be equally as immersive and attention-sucking as it can be relaxing and background noise-ish. You wouldn’t expect the details of a triple homicide to lull you to sleep necessarily, but somehow I always end up drifting off to the catchy theme song and that over-the-top voice filled with inordinate suspense. If you are looking for a show to willingly lose literal days of your life over, this is the one. –Lucas Thors (reporter)

Stream some winners

Here’s a list of lesser known (at least to me) Academy Award-nominated movies you can stream while you’re in the cooler. I’ve watched most of them but the two that I can’t stop thinking about are “For Sama” and “Honeyland,” both documentaries. “For Sama” is shot by a female filmmaker in Aleppo, Syria, who marries the head of a hospital, and has a child (Sama) all while the hospital is under siege.

“Honeyland” is about a woman beekeeper who lives in the mountains of Northern Macedonia, and the conflict that arises when a nomadic family moves in beside her. There are scenes that look like they were shot in medieval days. –Geoff Currier (associate editor, writer)

“The Missing Link” (On Demand)
“For Sama” (PBS)
“Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
“Harriet” (Amazon)
“Judy” (Amazon)
“Honeyland” (On Demand)
“I Lost My Body” (Netflix)
“Pain and Glory” (Amazon)
“Marriage Story” (Netflix)
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Amazon)

“Last Tango in Halifax” 

Last year on the recommendation of my friend Nancy Wood, I started watching the BBC award-winning show “Last Tango in Halifax” on Netflix, and I couldn’t stop watching. I ran through every episode, including the special Christmas episode that ended it all. 

The scenery of the English countryside, along with the convincing and accomplished actors — including one of my favorites, Derek Jacobi — kept me enthralled for weeks. Jacobi’s character, widower Alan, reunites through social media with a woman he knew from high school, Celia, who also lost her spouse. The show portrays a couple in their 70s as they fall in love and encounter various complications along the way. 

Alan and Celia each have a daughter, and that adds to the comedy and drama. “Last Tango in Halifax” takes an ordinary premise and makes it extraordinary by the modern and realistic way the characters are handled — Celia’s daughter Caroline finally accepts and acts on her same-sex attraction as her traditional marriage falls apart, while Alan’s daughter Gillian uses casual sex as a sort of self-punishment. It all makes for a binge-worthy series. 

And, to make it even more interesting, as I was looking up information on the series, I found that they’ve filmed more episodes set to air on BBC in February and March. You’ve guessed it — I am currently figuring out how to stream these newest episodes asap. 

Note: If you are a Derek Jacobi fan, you must look up the ITV sitcom “Vicious,” where he stars alongside Ian McKellen. –Connie Berry (features editor)

“POSE” 

While I realize this show may not be for everyone (especially if you have young viewers), the show “POSE” airing on Netflix has enthralled me. Taking place in early 90s New York City, it focuses on the largely gay and transgender “Ball culture” world, where groups of dancers and performers, grouped into “houses,” challenge each other to compete in various themed categories and are judged on their attitude, dance moves, and overall presentation. (It’s a lot to explain — it all comes together in the show.) The main character, a trans woman named Bianca (Mj Rodriguez), splits from her longtime house to create a house of her own, creating drama in the Ball scene. The show has the perfect balance of stylish, late 80s nostalgia, amazing dance moves, and juicy drama. Another plus for me was that the show has great minority representaiton — all of the main characters are transgender women of color, and are actually played by trans actresses. It’s refreshing to see such different faces and ways of life on TV. – Lexi Pline (photo editor) 

“The Crown”

I’m not a huge TV person. I had a progressive mother who didn’t let my brother and me watch any television on school nights unless it was a National Geographic special. Weekend watching was also rationed (though we all sat down as a family to watch Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.” Now you all know how old I really am). By the time my two younger brothers came along, she’d eased this restriction somewhat, but the result was that we all became voracious readers (fighting over the morning and afternoon newspapers when they were delivered), and were effectively rendered incapable of having dinner party conversations during the recent (and ongoing) “Golden Era of Television.”

My friend Louisa is a former managing editor of the Boston Globe, and whenever she recommends a book to me, I read it and love it. So when she advised me I needed to get with it and start watching television, I listened. She told me to start with “The Crown,” so I did. As George mentioned, I don’t “binge” so much as watch every now and then. But I have occasionally watched two in a row, so I guess that’s a binge to me. 

I’ll admit I just had to Google where you can watch “The Crown,” which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to the present. It’s on Netflix! While I was finding that out, I also discovered it has won a Golden Globe award for Best Drama, and Emmys for actors Claire Foy (who plays a young Queen Elizabeth) and John Lithgow (Winston Churchill).

What do I love about “The Crown”? Let’s start with the opening credits, with haunting, almost discordant music accompanying film of liquid gold pouring in slow-motion arcs, which somehow manages to perfectly convey the sense of immense wealth and privilege of England’s royal family, along with a consistent undercurrent of menace, a la John Williams’ “Jaws” theme. You know that one. 

Beyond the credits, I love the regular family struggles of this not-so-regular family. I love the cars, the dresses, and the jewels. I hated the fact that the other night I sat down to watch a couple and after the first one, there were no more. Wait, what? I was unprepared for that, and now have to wait who knows how long to find out when Charles marries Diana and all the rest. 

Fun tip: Did you know you can use your iPhone as a remote? –Jamie Kageleiry, associate publisher