Written by: Joe Lollo; student reporter
Well, we hit it. One year since the first stay-at-home order was issued in Washington thanks to COVID-19, meaning that I and many other people had way more time to watch a variety of things on television and any other streaming services. I found several favorite shows of mine from this, and I have to say I love everything about all of these shows. If any of them interest you, feel free to watch them, or to contact me for more recommendations similar to them if you’re interested in any of these.
This list only includes shows that I watched the entirety of since early 2020, so, unfortunately, shows I watched before that had their latest seasons in progress or received new seasons since then, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fleabag, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Fargo, are not listed. Consider them the honorable mentions on this list. My other two honorable mentions are Russian Doll and Kim’s Convenience, which I only left out because I thought 10 was enough.
10. Hollywood (Netflix): Ryan Murphy’s series are always a mixed bag. While I’m a big fan of AHS and Scream Queens, a lot of things he has done recently have been questionable. Hollywood, his new dramedy about the Golden Age of Hollywood, is certainly not bad in any way and is a fantastic pastiche of the classic cinematic period it’s based on.
Featuring both fictional characters and fictionalized versions of real people (like gay icon Rock Hudson), and led by an ensemble cast including Laura Harrier, Joe Mantello, Darren Criss, Hollywood is certainly not as skippable as many of Murphy’s recent productions.
9. Superstore (NBC/Hulu): This Office-style sitcom was created by former Community writer Justin Spitzer, and follows a lovable group of employees in a fictional superstore known as “Cloud 9.” This includes offbeat college dropout Jonah (Ben Feldman), straight-laced floor supervisor Amy (America Ferrera), and overly enthusiastic Baptist manager Glenn (SNL alum Mark McKinney), alongside others.
While innocent and funny at first, the show ventures into darker territories to comment on heavier issues that previous work-coms have not, including labor unions, institutional racism, and corporate greed – there are really no weak links in the show, and it gets consistently better as time goes on. The sixth season, currently airing on NBC, is going to be the last, and it is a great show to watch when you just need to laugh at something.
8. Tidying Up With Marie Kondo (Netflix): This isn’t really a series, per se, but I had to put it on this list because of how much it inspired me in my own life. Each episode, organizing consultant Marie Kondo visits families to help them organize and tidy their homes. Each family has their own individual backgrounds and needs, but Marie’s positivity is consistent in each episode.
After showing the inner workings of family homes and different cultures’ expectations towards tidying and organizing households, I was inspired to try some of Marie’s methods myself, which was a wonderful thing to do.
7. Mythic Quest (Apple TV): This show was something I found by chance, but I am so happy that I was able to make time to watch it. Apple TV (which I only had for a brief trial) did not market this show at all, and if it was not for seeing this on my recommended, I would not have watched this at all. This show is hilarious – it follows a game development studio and the different people that work there as they plan a new update to the game they are creating.
Creative director Ian Grimm (Always Sunny’s Rob McElhenney) clashes with lead engineer Poppy (Charlotte Nicado) and CEO Mr. Bakshi (Community’s Danny Pudi) over their competing visions for the games, and the show explores the gaming industry with equal levels of thoughtfulness and sincerity. It had a special episode filmed over Zoom, called “Quarantine Quest,” in late 2020, which tackled workplace responses to the pandemic with its typical comedy style, and is releasing its second season within in few months.
6. Barry (HBO/HBO Max/Hulu): This was the show I have most recently completed before my current venture in Scrubs. Only two-season long and led by SNL alum (among other things) Bill Hader, the show follows the titular Barry (Hader), a former hitman who now wants to become an actor instead.
The central conflict is around Barry’s balance between his new career and his criminal past, and the show excels because of the balance between darkness and comedy, all the while steering clear of the typical anti-hero protagonist in Hader’s central character.
5. Never Have I Ever (Netflix): This show was very well-timed and, judging by its first of hopefully a few seasons, legitimately a fun time. Created by The Office’s Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever centers around Devi, an Indian high school student dealing with the death of her father, her identity as Asian American, and her school life, while also struggling with her friendships and family relationships.
The show is very genuine, and likely to have viewers falling head-over-heels for how charming and cute Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is in the lead role. I cannot wait for the next season.
4. The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix): And now for something completely different, I adored The Queen’s Gambit. It’s the only show on this list that was the opposite of what I expected it to be – I expected another straight-laced historical drama based on its cover, and instead found a ton of joy, insanity, and honest coming-of-age all wrapped around some beautiful period design.
The production value is fantastic, as is its story about Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphaned chess prodigy on her rise to the top of the chess world while struggling with drug and alcohol dependency. The lead performances from Taylor-Joy and Bill Camp are wonderful, as is the fantasy-like quality of its worldbuilding. So, believe the hype, this is really good.
3. Los Espookys (Hulu): Another odd pick, but I really love this show. I never expected something this great when I saw what this was. Starring several up-and-coming Latinx comedians including Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Bernardo Velasco, alongside veteran comedy actor Fred Armisen, Los Espookys follows a group of friends trying to turn their love of horror into a successful business, where most of their jobs consist of fabricating horror film-like situations and trick people into thinking they are real. It’s campy, well-made, and absurdly funny, and totally something worth watching.
2. Schitt’s Creek (CBC/Netflix): If it wasn’t for one slide quoting it in Dr. Stevi Costa’s Women in American Literature class on Zoom last spring, I would have never been interested in watching this show. So, thanks to her, I found what I consider one of my favorite shows of all time. Schitt’s Creek is a well-written comedy series about a formerly uber-rich Canadian family – serious yet joking patriarch Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) is arrested for tax fraud and is forced to relocate to a small town in the Ontario province alongside his wife, eccentric former actress Moira (Catherine O’Hara), pretentious artist son David (Dan Levy), who Johnny bought Schitt’s Creek (it’s the town name) for when he was a kid, and spoiled-sweet daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy).
The family is forced to find jobs and find their new callings in the town, and hilarity ensues – particularly when other residents get involved. I love this show because all of the characters are unique individuals and it’s filled with great humor. Even the simplest things on this show make me laugh out loud, and the unexpected becomes expected as you continue to progress through the show. It’s truly a unique series, and I don’t think there’ll be another like it.
1. Silicon Valley (HBO/HBO Max/Hulu): This might be one of the funniest shows to have ever graced millions of suburban television screens. I had a lot of my friends recommend it to me since its inception, but I never got around to watching it until last March and found what I now consider to be one of my other favorites of all time.
SV centers around Richard (Thomas Middleditch), a young programmer who creates a revolutionary web app due to its data compression method. Together with his childhood friend Erlich (T.J. Miller), sardonic and cynical network engineer Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), hopeless romantic software developer Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), and extremely supportive business development manager Jared (Zach Woods, of Office fame), Richard creates a company – now dubbed Pied Piper – and ventures into the absurdly excessive world of tech companies.
The show is a deft yet resonant satire of the entire tech industry, and the socially awkward yet kind-hearted and hilarious computer misfits are much more representative of nerds today (which I am proud to say I am part of) than shows like The Big Bang Theory. It’s realistic, it’s fun, and it’s probably one of the most consistently good shows I’ve seen. This is one that will certainly go down in history due to how unique it is.
Was there a particular type of media that you binged or started during the pandemic? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to write a ranking of shows, movies, or games!