Originally posted Tuesday, March 17, 2020 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
With concerts, plays and festivals shut down for the time being, entertainment options during this pandemic have shrunken considerably. TV is one of the few safe refuges.
The good news is it’s not 1975 anymore and options are close to endless, courtesy of hundreds of TV networks and dozens of streaming services. So if you are seeking program options beyond “Friends” re-runs on Nick at Night or “The Office” on Netflix, here are a few less-than-obvious options from the past five years:
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” new episodes on NBC, streaming on Hulu - Zoey, while getting an MRI, ends up with a special talent: hearing people’s innermost thoughts in song. It’s preposterous but charming. New episodes airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
“Survivor’s Remorse” Starz streaming - A poor Boston basketball player signs a huge contract with the Atlanta team and moves his family into a mansion. The show is full of quick-witted, ribald humor and character interplay with zero actual basketball seen.
“Brockmire” streaming on Hulu, with season 4 debuted March 19 on IFC - Hank Azaria plays a drunken, non-stop talking baseball announcer who tries to resurrect his career after blowing it up. The writing is impeccably amusing and this final season focuses on a dystopian future where baseball is dying. (The series was shot in Atlanta but set in other cities.)
“Fleabag” Amazon Prime - Talking straight to the camera is a risky creative venture but Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag character somehow makes it work. Over two seasons and 12 episodes, Fleabag sleeps around and in season two, gets the hots for a priest. It’s very, very British.
“Black Monday” Showtime - Set in 1987 Don Cheadle’s character is a manic, morally corrupt but super entertaining trader named Mo who helps usher in the 1987 Wall Street crash. Season 2 began March 15 and Mo is on the run for the crimes he committed.
“Shrill” Hulu - Aidy Bryant of “SNL” fame plays Annie, a woman who may be shamed by others about her size but amusingly embraces her own evolution as a woman both at work and in her relationships. Two seasons are now available.
“Letterkenny” Hulu - This comedy is set in a rural Ontario town with its cliques of “hicks, skids, hockey players and Christians” and its rapid-fire dialogue is Canada-specific yet universally funny. Two seasons available on Hulu.
“The Outsider” HBO - This mystery-horror hybrid set in a small town in Georgia is based on a Stephen King novel and features strong characters and a super perplexing crime. Season finale aired March 8 but is available on demand for HBO subscribers.
“The Plot Against America” HBO - Based on Philip Roth’s 2004 novel of the same name, this dark alt-universe series — which debuted March 16 — imagines what life in America would have been like if a fascist, anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh became president in 1940 instead of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“Lodge 49” AMC on Hulu - A sweet ex-surfer Dud, mourning the death of his dad, finds solace at a fraternal lodge with mysteries of its own. The characters are delightfully empathetic, the setting very Long Beach, California, even though it was shot in metro Atlanta. Two seasons available.
“Lost in Space” Netflix - A reboot of the 1960s classic, this series brings stunning vistas and a family-friendly vibe to the Robinson family.
“Little America” Apple TV+ - An anthology series featuring eight different true stories about immigrants adjusting to life in America with a sense of positivity.
“Devs” FX on Hulu - Nick Offerman (“Parks & Rec”) opts for drama and pulls it off with panache as mysterious Silicon Valley entrepreneur Forest creating something potentially life changing and dangerous. The miniseries, which focuses one of Forest’s employees fighting the system, debuted March 5.
“Cherish the Day” OWN - Ava DuVernay’s latest drama follows a couple — Evan and Gently — in a way that’s more realistic and fully realized than your standard romcom. Each of the eight episodes follows one day in their five-year relationship. The series debuted Feb. 11.
“McMillions” HBO - In this fascinating just concluded six-part docuseries, an ex-cop turned security officer rigs the McDonald’s Monopoly game promotion throughout the 1990s, swiping millions of dollars through a vast network of co-conspirators.
“Free Solo” Hulu - Who needs ropes when you climb mountains? Alex Honnol, a free climber, does not and this documentary is both visually compelling and psychologically unnerving.
“Three Identical Strangers” Hulu - This documentary starts sweetly about how three men living separate lives figure out they were triplets. But it gets surprisingly dark in ways you’d never initally expect.
“13th” Netflix - Ava DuVernay, in this far-reaching historical documentary, explores mass incarceration and its impact on black men in what is often called “the new Jim Crow.”
“Cheer” Netflix - Cheerleading may seem facile and shallow on the surface, but this diverting series follows the dedicated students on a Texas college cheer team and how dangerous the sport really is.
“LEGO Masters” Fox - Sure, this is one big advertisement for Legos, but it’s an entertaining reality competition show featuring adults creating very cool Lego structures. It’s airing on Fox now.
“The Circle” Netflix - With most everyone stuck at home, this reality show might be educational: several young folks are placed insolated apartments interacting only through social media. Who’s real? Who isn’t? It’s certainly a show for 2020.
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