As discussed in our latest article about things to do while self-isolating and doing your bit to help slow the spread of COVID-19, these are strange times we live in.
Times that will feature a lot of chilling out at home, taking it easy, and probably watching a bunch of movies and TV.
We’ll get to the former sooner, but as for the latter, here’s a handy list of TV shows across a variety of different platforms (don’t forget, ABC and SBS have free services) and genres, to stop you mindlessly scrolling for hours before settling on watching Friends again (although there is nothing wrong with that).
We’ve tried to focus on things with a few seasons, and a little off the beaten track:
The Last Man On Earth (SBS On Demand)
This one might be a little too close to home right now, following Phil Miller (creator Will Forte) as navigates the world as the only human survivor following a deadly viral outbreak. In times like these it’s more important than ever to laugh, and given how relevant this black comedy is to our current times, it may be a source of solace. SBS On Demand are streaming all four seasons right now.
Deep State (SBS On Demand)
For a tense bit of espionage TV you can’t go passed Deep State, so far covering two seasons with Mark Strong (Season 1) and Walton Goggins (Season 2) taking the leads. The first season features Strong as a former MI6 Agent dragged back into the field, while similarly Season 2 features Goggins as a former CIA Agent drawn back into a political crisis of his own. For a healthy dose of political intrigue, spies and twists and turns a plenty, this’ll keep you hooked.
If you’re a true crime fanatic we’d hope you’ve already stumbled across Mindhunter, and if not you’re in for a treat. It’s based on the true story of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit, who interviewed imprisoned serial killers to learn about what makes them tick. They chat to a host of serial killers from previous decades like Ed Kemper, Richard Speck and even Charles Manson, played to perfection by a variety of different character actors.
Another drama series based on a true crime story, this one seemed to fly under the radar last year but it’s brilliant. Some people may find the subject matter very difficult (it deals with a serial rape case from the late 2000s), but it handles the story with finesse. Aussie Toni Collette plays one of two detectives working to solve the case, and it’s a gripping procedural that’ll have you binging through it in no time.
Big Mouth (Netflix)
Never has any form of media so perfectly encapsulated growing up through puberty like Big Mouth. Hormone monsters, horny parents, awkward teens and young love combine thanks to some incredibly poignant, clever and most of all hilarious writing in a way that’ll take you right back to being 14 again. It’s loud and crass and perhaps not for everyone, but really, this should be shown in schools it’s so on point.
The Commons (Stan)
Another show that might hit a little too close to home, it’s set in a not-very-far-away future Australia where the effects of climate change are felt in ways that feel very subtle, but very real. The fact that it’s an Australian production make it feel even more prescient, like we’re really only a hop, skip and a jump away from living in this reality – if we’re not already.
The Heights (ABC iView)
How’s this for a bit of Perth-grown pride? The Heights is a 30-part TV series shot around the streets of Perth, and it follows a bunch of families from different backgrounds living within a social housing tower called Arcadia. It’s also just a nice slice of life piece of Aussie drama, offering a diverse look at Australians from all walks of life. Better for you, the first season is a whopping 30 episodes, with a second season confirmed to (hopefully given current events) start filming around Perth again later this year.
If you think times are tough now, be grateful you weren’t trying to survive in 1870s America, where HBO’s incredible wild west series Deadwood is set. You’ve probably seen it on a lot of “Best TV Shows Ever” Lists over the years and thought eh, I’ll get to it one day. Well now is that day, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s dirty as hell, filled with real life characters and historical figures like Wild Bill Hickcok, Wyatt Earp and Calamity Jane, and an engrossing few seasons (plus a movie) of HBO’s finest television.
If we’ve listed a few too many serious dramas here then settle in with the Georgious Ladies Of Wrestling, a (so far) three season dramatization of syndicated women’s wrestling back in the 80s. It follows Ruth Wilder (the ever-delightful Alison Brie), a struggling actor who joins a ragtag bunch of women wrestlers who fight not only each other, but to be taken seriously and of course, make a decent living. It gets off to a slow start, but we promise it’s worth sticking around for the full journey ahead of the fourth and final season.
Peep Show (Stan)
Another oldie-but-a-goodie, if you want to feel better about your life tune into the hilarious misadventures of Mark Corrigan and his best friend Jeremy Usborne as they navigate mid-2000s Britain…poorly. The show is completely shot from first person POV as Mark tries to survive the corporate world and Jeremy tries to survive, well life really. It’s got a healthy nine seasons, and is generally regarded as one of Britain’s best sitcoms.
The blackest of black new comedies, Kidding stars Jim Carrey as Jeff Piccirillo AKA beloved kids TV presenter Mr Pickles. Kidding tracks Mr Pickles as he slowly descends into chaos, with marriage breakdowns, new relationships, family problems and kids puppets all mashing together to push him close to the edge. It’s quite surreal at times, and definitely not for everybody, but if you want to see Jim Carrey in full flight this is some of the best, most underrated TV going around.
Mad Men (Netflix)
Now is the time you finally give in to Mad Men! A lot of people complained about Mad Men being too slow or not enough happening, but there’s no excuse now. You’ve got the time to sit back, relax, and melt like an ice cube in whiskey while Don Draper and his fellow New York city ad men (and women) guide you through one of the best TV shows of all time. Stretching out across six luxurious seasons, history will say this was one of the most meticulously-crafted and well-written/acted TV shows of all time, and these days we’re all about not being on the wrong side of history, aren’t we?