It has been a long and difficult week of political news and the coronavirus pandemic. And when things seem too exhausting and overwhelming, binge-watching a few new shows can be a welcome break.
And yet, with the number of shows on various video platforms – broadcast networks, traditional cable, streaming services, apps – finding a new show to watch can seem like a mentally taxing job in its own right.
To help narrow the list, Vulture TV critic Jen Chaney shared five shows worthy of a frenzy.
“The Good Lord Bird” on Showtime
Starring Ethan Hawke and based on the novel of the same name, the story follows a newly released teenager as he joins famed abolitionist John Brown in the crusade to end slavery. While the show deals with a very serious issue, it also features some “weird and dark comedic moments” that work well, Chaney said.
“Tonally it’s a very, very skinny tightrope that she walks, but she walks it really, really well,” she said. “Ethan Hawke is a good actor, but it might be the best performance he’s ever given.”
“The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix
Set in the 1950s and 1960s, “The Queen’s Gambit” follows a young chess prodigy from her time in an orphanage, through adulthood and when she emerges as an elite chess player – but treats also demons from his childhood, including addiction.
“Anya Taylor-Joy is playing the lead role, and she’s just an amazing actress,” Chaney said. “I didn’t know how many people were going to watch a chess show, but it was very popular.”
“The Mandalorian” on Disney +
The second season of the popular “Star Wars” spin-off kicked off last week, and it’s worth it, Chaney said. After the fall of the Empire and before the rise of the First Order, a lone gunman fights in the far reaches of the galaxy, beyond the reach of the New Republic.
“It’s really awesome,” she said. “One of the reasons I love it so much is that even though this is a large-scale storytelling… and there are a lot of visual effects, the storytelling itself is very economical. She exaggerates nothing… and of course, I love Baby Yoda. “
“Dark” on Netflix
The German thriller set in the aftermath of the disappearance of two children in their small town ended after three seasons this summer. It’s a puzzle – incorporating elements of science fiction and time travel.
“It has a bit of a ‘Stranger Things’ kind of vibe, but not quite as mainstream,” Chaney said. “If you like this kind of series, then you will probably like ‘Dark’.”
“The Crown” on Netflix
Entering its fourth season, “The Crown” chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her accession to the throne at age 25 in the 1940s through modern times. This season, released on November 15, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher are making their debuts.
“This season we come to the 1980s and it’s a really fascinating time,” said Chaney. “It’s such a well done show.”