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  • Writer's pictureHannah Pearson

Netflix and Panic

Emergency TV kit must-haves for surviving quarantine.


REC

Spoilers For: Anyone who hasn't seen Tiger King


When New York’s lockdown started in mid-March of this year, I immediately did what any sane/rational person would do when faced with an uncertain crisis: I prepared a first-aid kit. Except a first aid kit for me doesn’t have gauze or rubbing alcohol. It has Television. Tv shows uniquely designed for any ailment I may face while enduring the grueling tasks of staying the fuck home. Of course my first aid kit grew and changed as the months went by but I always made sure it was fully stocked with whatever I needed as I needed it. Here are my top five shows that put a bandaid on various hidden aches and pains.



Tiger King (A Cure for FOMO)


Premise: A documentary that focuses on a small Oklahoma zoo and its eccentric and erratic owner: Joe Exotic.


Nothing gives me more FOMO than being out of the loop of the latest TV phenomenon that has everyone talking. So of course when Tiger King came out early this year, I was incentivized to watch it asap and join in the witty tweets and memes. Being from Arkansas, and even having a family member who owned big cats (kept in cages behind a trailer), elements of the documentary that shocked viewers were slightly dulled to me. Not saying I wasn’t disgusted and outraged by some of it. I’m not known as a big animal lover, but the treatment of those creatures had me in steaming fits of rage at certain points. But the performance of white trash extravaganza that had everyone’s jaws to the floor felt more to me like snapshots of a place I once knew. Weirdly it hitting so close to home made it difficult for me to join in the conversation at times. I felt less like a spectator of the trainwreck, and more like a survivor of the trainwreck.





Tiger King was a show that tiered out its craziness, each episode serving something more appalling than the last. One of the biggest story lines, whether or not Carol Baskin had anything to do with the disappearance of her husband, was probably the fodder for most of the Tiger King online pandemonium. It was also one of the most infuriating parts of the show for me. Not because I think she was guilty, but quite the opposite. Everyone being so quick to jump on the “Carol Baskin Fed her Husband to a Tiger” bandwagon, without any evidence, was just another classic case of sexism in my opinion. Also it seemed like the big take away was that Joe Exotic was crazy and rednecks are funny, and NOT that maybe, just maybe, tigers should not be kept as pets in cages.


All the Tiger King hate aside, the show did fulfill its purpose, which was to make me feel more connected to my fellow man, clear up my FOMO, and provide a distraction from the despair that the early pandemic days brought.



Love is Blind (Painkillers for a Broken Brain)


Premise: A group of sexy singles engage in an experiment that sets them up on a series of blind dates that may lead to marriage proposals. The only catch is they never see their dates before saying I do.


I don’t consider myself a snob about most things. I feel equally at home in a four star restaurant with a triple digit tasting menu as I do scarfing down a big mac in the La Guardia airport. I am a person who likes what I like. TV is no different. I can talk shop all day about things like the use of Kierkegaard’s Leap of Faith concept in NBC’s The Good Place and I can also get down with some brain numbing reality garbage like Love is Blind. No shame.


Some days of the pandemic had me overdosing on depressing news, so when it came to my TV time all I wanted was something that wouldn’t irritate my frazzled and exhausted little brain. Love is Blind is the best of American dating reality. Extremely good looking single men and women, with comically ambiguous job titles, showcase the extreme highs and lows of their personalities to each other and the world. All the couples that ended up together, or broke up together, deserved one another (for better or worse.) From Lauren and Cameron’s mutual respect of each other’s individualism to the bombastic showboating personalities of Barnet and Amber. Of course, the most notable couple was Jessica and Mark, and not for good reasons. It was easy to hate on Jessica, so I tried to do the opposite. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, sometimes it was easy and sometimes girlfriend was just wrooooong.


Of course my favorite person was Diamond, because anyone who quotes Beyonce while dumping someone is a star in my book.



White Lines (A Band Aid for Wanderlust)


Premise: A grief stricken sister searches for answers to her brother’s murder on the small party island of Ibiza.


No one moves to NYC because they love their apartment. Their apartment usually serves as an overpriced closest and shower, and usually is no bigger than either. The rest of your New York life is supposed to happen outside your apartment. Cue March 2020. Even though we had zero international travel plans on the horizon, as soon as it became impossible it was the only thing I wanted. White Lines, a murder mystery show that takes place in Ibiza, was travel porn.



Paradise, right?

The story line was compelling enough and it had just the right amount of sauciness. You’re thrown in the action right away and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of slow moments. The main character is the victim’s sister, who is desperate to find answers in the beginning, but over time forgets her original goal and gets lost in the temptations of the island. There is also a lot of sex. Like HBO levels of sex. Like I didn’t know Netflix could show this much sex. Not complaining but it really feels like Netflix has gone European!


Aside from the story line, the show served as an escape from the dreariness of New York during the time of Quarantine. White Lines gave me gorgeous blue water beaches, golden Spanish countrysides, and the most glorious foreign vista: hot people flocked together dancing the night away. Also big thank you to Netflix for introducing me to Portuguese actor and DJ, Nuno Lopes, who stole every scene in his tight shirt and pointy boots. His next role will be the lead in all my downstairs DJ fantasies.



Queer Eye Season 5 (Hope on Steroids)


Premise: 5 Fab individuals set out to help willing participants turn their lives around in the areas of fashion, food, grooming, decor, and culture.


Queer Eye is so much more than just a make over show. It is a pure grade, all natural, and highly addictive straight shot of galvanizing hope to the main vein. I first got hooked on the modern remake (original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, 2003-2007) after the birth of my daughter. I was in the heart of postpartum depression darkness, pouring all of myself into taking care of a newborn but completely neglecting anything outside of that. But being stuck on a couch breastfeeding round the clock gave me the time to binge the first season in just a couple days. And soon after I was finally able to run a brush through my hair and wear real pants. Other factors, including therapy, helped me survive those first few months but QE was the fire starter.


Of course I couldn’t wait for the latest season and it seemed to come just like it did the first time; at exactly the right time. Quarantine fatigue was settling in and being stuck in my tiny apartment was starting to trigger my PPD. Thankfully the Fab 5 were back to remind me that there is still good in the world and things will get better. Season 5 takes place in the greater Philly area and the heroes were just as diverse and interesting as ever. Something special about this season was the focus on helping out small businesses. Episode 2 Groomer Has It, in which they take on a charismatic dog groomer and her small mobile business and jump start them both into the new business/tech era, was my favorite!


QE during Quarantine was an essential business. Tan’s fashion advice got me out of my sweats, Bobby’s STUNNING home decor had me cleaning up my space, Antonie’s cooking sessions were the thing to get me out of my take out rut, Jonathan had me once again running a brush in my hair, and Karamo’s T-shirts were giving me life.(Seriously is he starting a line of them and where can I buy them?)


Who knows what next crazy thing 2020 or beyond will throw at us, but knowing the Fab 5 will be around reminds me there is always a rainbow after a storm.



Community (A Lollypop for a Brave Girl)


Premise: A group of misfits come together to form a study group at community college, shenanigans and hijinks follow.


I love discovering a new show to do a deep dive into and experience for the first time. However some of my favorite shows have become like touchstones of comfort for me over the years. I hold onto them tightly the way my daughter does her stuffed puppy, named Dr. Puppy Dreidel. I visit them time and time again when I find myself in ruts, crossroads, or low points. These shows like Friends and Parks and Rec are my security blanket.


For this lockdown lowdown, I pulled out one of my favorite, softest, snuggliest tv shows: Community.

Abed Nadir will always be one of my favorite written characters. His unabashed love of all things television is my anthem. I also have been known to refer to periods of my life as seasons (this deadly-virus-taking-over season storyline really jumped the shark, amirite?) But watching the gang create high-concept, homages to genre and delight in the absurd and all things meta was like mother’s milk to me. Jeff Winger's show ending speeches were the moral of the adult bedtime story and Troy and Abed in the Mooorrrninnng was the lullaby to sing me to sleep.


Making it to the last episode and hearing Abed’s speech about television reminded me why I love this medium, why it’s the only thing I want to do with my life, and why it will always serve as the best first aid kit, no matter what ailments life throws at me.



What is in your TV First Aid Kit? Comment and join the bloom!


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