Spending a lot of time at home to keep our community safe? Us, too. Might we recommend some off-the-beaten-path treasures found within the infinite universe of streaming platforms, as a way to pass the time? Watch alone, or FaceTime your friends and watch together.
THESE WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY
"Sex Education" (Netflix)
I resisted this one for a while. Another teen sex comedy? We’ve done that before; even involved a pie once. How foolish I was to resist this British charm bomb, wherein Gillian "Agent Scully" Anderson A) is a sex therapist, B) has poor boundaries and C) is raising a good-hearted kid, Otis (Asa Butterfield), who’s giving out his own relationship advice. That’s the hook for newbies, but the real treat here is the stellar cast playing Otis’ classmates, like Emma Mackey as whipsmart lone wolf Maeve and Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, a kid whose fabulousness will not be denied. — Eric Webb
"Handsome Devil" (Netflix)
Also from the Bureau of Sensitive European teens, this 2016 Irish film has got what you’re looking for. The hot priest from "Fleabag." A gangly ginger with a guitar teaching his hunky rugger roommate to accept himself. School uniforms. — E.W.
"Pushing Daisies" (CW Seed)
I don’t know why God won’t let Kristin Chenoweth have a weekly spotlight to sing. I don’t know why God keeps taking Lee "6 Feet, 5 Inches and a Whole Lot of Eyebrows" Pace off my TV screen. I do know it’s heaven to burn through this whimsical, gone-too-soon mystery soap (about a piemaker with resurrection powers) in one day, two tops. — E.W.
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So, you put John Travolta in fat-suit drag that makes "The Nutty Professor" seem like "RuPaul’s Drag Race." Hard for me to forgive. Few things make up for it. The short list: John Waters; Zac Efron so Brylcreemed that Greenpeace should investigate; and Amanda Bynes’ part in showstopper "You Can’t Stop the Beat." — E.W.
"The Good Wife" (Amazon Prime, Hulu, CBS All Access) and "The Good Fight" (CBS All Access)
I once wrote an entire essay about the thrills of watching Julianna Marguiles and Christine Baranski take on Chicago politics and the justice system with rapier wit and smart blazers. Now is the time to pound back all seven seasons of "The Good Wife," which is better than its already-good word of mouth. Then, sign up for CBS All Access to watch the Baranski-led sequel, which is about her Diane Lockhart character thrashing through our hallucinatory political moment. Also: Audra McDonald is there. — E.W.
"I Am Not Okay With This" (Netflix)
Sydney (Sophia Lillis) is not having a good time in high school. She’s still dealing with grief over her dad’s suicide. Her mom always expects her to watch her younger brother and run errands while she works long shifts. Her best friend and unrequited crush, Dina (Sofia Bryant), is dating the school bully. And, oh, yeah, she’s started to unintentionally control things with her mind. Draped in ’70s and ’80s visuals mixed with modern technology, this show is funny, melancholy, suspenseful and extremely cute: the perfect depiction of adolescence, with a dash of superhero lore. Lillis does a great job portraying an insecure, deadpan teen who’s simultaneously trying to open up and to hide herself, and Wyatt Oleff is endlessly charming as her neighbor and new friend, Stanley Barber. — Chloe Gonzales
"The Circle" (Netflix)
This show is essentially the dating contest version of "Catfish." Contestants are given their own private apartments and technology that allows them to set up a dating profile and send messages to other contestants — all without seeing or hearing each other. They can add photos to their profiles — but the photos don’t have to be of themselves. The goal? Make friends, rank each other and become the most popular participant. It’s an interesting social experiment: Why do some people think they need to use fake pictures? Do the people using fake pictures tend to be more popular? And it has surprisingly heartwarming moments in which the contestants remind us that it’s what’s inside that counts. — C.G.
"Love Island" (Hulu)
In my humble opinion, the first season of this British dating show is some of the best reality television ever made. Make no mistake: It is trash. But it’s sweet trash. During the first episode, you see a lot of very conventionally attractive people in swimsuits pair up based on looks alone. After that, their goal is to stay in a couple — any couple, as there are regular recouplings — and be the most charming couple on the show so that they’ll win some prize money. At first glance, it’s easy to judge the people who are living together in a villa in Spain: Their priorities seem to be fame and plastic surgery. But as you watch them develop friendships and romances, it becomes a classic "don’t judge a book by its cover" situation, and you may find yourself feeling a little love, too. — C.G.
"Terrace House" (Netflix)
If you think "Love Island," "Temptation Island" and other reality show "Islands" are too shallow and mean-spirited, take a break and dive into "Terrace House," a Japanese reality show that puts six strangers in a house together, gives them a few cars and lets them live their lives, complete with a panel of hilarious commentators who analyze everything that happens. Sometimes participants aim to start a romantic relationship, but sometimes they’re on the show just to take some time to live in a nice house with new friends and achieve their personal goals. Each season is set in a different location in Japan; the current one takes place in Tokyo. — C.G.
"Derry Girls" (Netflix)
"We are all Derry Girls!" You will get that after watching the two seasons now available (a scant 12 episodes total, but it’s renewed for more). I have told probably 15 people about this show, and to a one, they have thanked me later. You don’t have to be a graduate of an all-girls Catholic high school to appreciate the adventures of five friends navigating high school while their hometown, Derry, navigates "The Troubles" in 1990s Ireland. You might need the subtitles. You will laugh a lot — cry, too — and want to channel your own inner Sister Michael. — Sharon Chapman
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"Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker" (Netflix)
Walker was America’s first self-made black female millionaire, building an empire on hair products, and the limited series is based on a book by her great-granddaughter, "On Her Own Ground" by A'Lelia Bundles. So good — I binged it in one night! The cast alone is A+: Octavia Spencer in the title role, Blair Underwood as her husband, and Tiffany Haddish as their daughter. Plus: Carmen Ejogo, Garrett Morris, Kevin Carroll and Bill Bellamy. — S.C.
"The Heart Guy" (Acorn)
Hugh McKnight (Rodger Corser) is a brilliant Australian heart surgeon and narcissist who gets high and drunk a lot. He’s forced to do a year of probation at a regional hospital in his small hometown after a particularly hedonistic episode. He doesn’t quite shed his ways, but there is personal growth, and his family and friends provide plenty of drama and a lot of lighthearted moments. It’s called "Doctor Doctor" in Australia and available here through an Acorn subscription (you can subscribe through Amazon Prime, as well). — S.C.
"Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries" (Acorn)
"Wherever you go, Miss Fisher, murder follows." Essie Davis plays the title character, the most stylish gumshoe in 1920s Australia. She’s also the most modern woman, enjoying all of life’s pleasures. A romp of a good time! A spinoff, "Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries," is set in the 1960s and features Miss Fisher’s niece. We also have been promised a movie called "Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears" sometime in 2020. — S.C.
THESE WILL MAKE YOU SAD
"20th Century Women" (Netflix)
In Austin360’s 2019 film wrap, I picked this Mike Mills flick as one the 2010s movies I hope endures in the film canon. A sweetly sad and sadly sweet portrait of growing up in 1970s California, with a stacked cast — Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup. — E.W.
"Other People" (Netflix)
Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon are going to make you weep, and you’re going to like it. Written and directed by former "Saturday Night Live" writer Chris Kelly (who also co-created Comedy Central’s sharp "The Other Two" — go, you watch), it’s based on his relationship with his terminally ill mom (Shannon). What? It’s not like anyone is around to see you bawling. — E.W.
"The Skeleton Twins" (Hulu)
Two morbid siblings, two screwed up lives, one great musical number. Bill Hader: never better. Kristen Wiig: should only do drama. — E.W.
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A found family on the margins of Tokyo takes in a young girl who’s been neglected by her family. The movie asks: Who are the rules of society helping, exactly? We’re riding a wave of excellent class-disparity films — "Parasite," "Last Black Man in San Francisco," "Hustlers" just last year — and this 2018 Japanese story is just as powerful. — E.W.
"A Very English Scandal" (Amazon Prime)
Not an atomic weeper like others listed here, just a three-episode shot of British political drama starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw. Based on true events about a 1960s-70s sex, um, scandal. The fuse burns down to a tragedy that’ll sit with you. — E.W.
"Train to Busan" (Netflix)
Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) and his estranged young daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an) get caught on, if you can believe, a train to Busan with zombies in this South Korean horror film. Much like early seasons of "The Walking Dead," this movie proves that horror is at its most effective when it focuses on relationships and how people handle decisions when faced with the worst-case scenario. What will people do to protect their loved ones in a crisis? What will they do to help strangers? Is there a chance a zombie movie will make you cry? Find answers to these questions and more with a nice public transportation horror viewing. — C.G.
JUST ROLL WITH IT
"Muriel’s Wedding" (HBO Now)
In honor of it being one of my first social isolation movies this month: I was put on this earth to watch Toni Collette lip-synch to ABBA. Weren’t you? — E.W.
"The Venture Bros." (Hulu, YouTube TV, Fubo)
A Venn diagram for this animated cult favorite from Adult Swim: adventure cartoons (1960-1989), comic books, depression, David Bowie. If you’re not in one of those circles, skip it. If you are, welcome, family. — E.W.
"Tangerine" (Hulu, Tubi)
Director Sean Baker ("The Florida Project") tells the story of two transgender sex workers on Christmas Eve, looking for what we’re all looking for: love, a dream and maybe a good doughnut. Shot on iPhones! — E.W.
"Teen Wolf" (Amazon Prime)
You’re going to get tired of thinking and are going to watch some supernatural garbage featuring supernatural abs, and this is that. (Talking about the 2000s MTV horror drama, not the Michael J. Fox movie.) — E.W.
Two misfit young women in the U.K. can see demons hiding in our world, so they do what one might do in that scenario, which is kill a bunch of demons. A romp! A bloody romp. No, really, there is blood. — E.W.
"Death Note" (Netflix)
Light Yagami picks up a notebook called a Death Note that says if you write someone’s name in the book, that person will die. As an ambitious, extremely smart student, he does the only reasonable thing: tests it to see if it works. This brings into his life a shinigami, or death god; the exploration of the morality of killing people who he thinks deserve it; and a cat-and-mouse game with a reclusive detective. Even if you don’t typically like anime, give this one a shot, especially if you like crime shows. But avoid the Netflix live-action movie, which never should have been made. — C.G.
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"Hannibal" (Amazon Prime)
Maybe the real serial killer investigation is the dark, codependent relationships you build along the way. In Bryan Fuller’s visually stunning take on Hannibal Lecter’s story, FBI profiler and forensics teacher Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is recruited to work with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. When the investigation seems to be taking a heavy emotional toll on Will, he is referred to psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). What follows is a complicated mix of friendship, emotional manipulation and, of course, some good old-fashioned cannibalism. — C.G.
"Grave Encounters" (Amazon Prime)
In a world full of mediocre, predictable horror movies, "Grave Encounters" is a gem: It gives you exactly what you want out of a movie about a bunch of documentary-makers who stay overnight in a supposedly haunted psychiatric facility, but in a satisfying, visually horrifying way. It’s like if something ever actually happened in "Ghost Adventures." — C.G.
"The End of the F***ing World" (Netflix)
In this dark British comedy, James (Alex Lawther) thinks he’s a psychopath and has decided he wants to try something new: murder. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) has anger issues and has decided she wants to run away from home, and who better to leave with than James? At first, James sees Alyssa as a potential victim, but as they travel together and criminal mishaps ensue, he starts to see her in a different light. It’s surprisingly funny and endearing to watch the two fumble their way to a uniquely supportive relationship. Based on a comic by Charles Forsman (the same guy who made the comic version of "I Am Not Okay With This"; the shows also share a director), the source material ended with the first season — amazingly, the second season is just as good, if not better. — C.G.
"Vampire Diaries," "The Originals" and "Legacies" (Netflix/The CW)
In the beginning we had two vampire brothers who loved and hated each other. Plus Ian Somerhalder’s blue, blue eyes.
"The Originals" spun off from "Diaries" with uber-villain Klaus Mikaelson and family heading to New Orleans for five seasons. "Legacies," about various offspring and the magical school they attend, is still airing. "Vampire Diaries" is mostly a decent watch for eight seasons, although the main love triangle gets TIRED, and they waste more than a few good characters. "The Originals" has some great characters but mostly doesn't know what to do with them, which isn’t to say it’s boring. "Legacies" is kind of dull for a season or so, but then they hit their stride, mostly by "borrowing" from just about every popular franchise, from "Buffy" to "Harry Potter" to "The Avengers." It’s bonkers in tone but tons of cotton candy (dripping with blood) fun. All on Netflix, except the current season of "Legacies" still airing on the CW. — S.C.
"A Place to Call Home" (Acorn)
This one is so much melodrama. In 1950 Australia, a nurse who survived a concentration camp takes a job in a small town and falls in love with the richest dude there. (It’s worth it for the mid-century clothes and home decor alone.) His adult children have their own dramas going on, and his meddling mom never stops meddling, even when she’s sidelined by a heart attack. Lots of lovely, sometimes intense moments with story lines around post-traumatic stress, anti-Semitism and the pain caused by homophobia. Know this: Season Two has two finales (episodes 10 and 11). Cast and crew thought the show was not being picked up. Episode 10 was filmed with all story lines concluding mostly happily, then they learned they were coming back. Episode 11 goes over the same events with different endings and a cliffhanger. It is wild. Six seasons total. — S.C.
"Last Tango in Halifax" (Netflix)
A true delight! Two former high school sweethearts, driven apart by fate and missed communication, reconnect in their 80s and decide to get married (this is all in the pilot). Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid are the sweethearts, and the supporting cast is strong, led by Nikola Walker and Sarah Lancashire as their two adult daughters with complicated love lives of their own. (Lancashire stars in "Happy Valley," also written and created by Sally Wainwright; it is a good but dark and gritty police drama — very different from "Halifax.") — S.C.
"Motherland: Fort Salem" (Freeform)
Love an alternative history. This one imagines that the Salem witches made a deal back in the day to protect the U.S. in exchange for no longer being persecuted. Fast forward: Witches are treated like rock star heroes and train to fight ... enemies that are not yet clear, based on the pilot. I am ready to enlist! OK, you have to actually tune in for this one: new episodes at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on Freeform. Also recommended on Freeform: "Good Trouble," the sequel to "The Fosters" and set five years later. Sisters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) have moved to Los Angeles, specifically a co-living space in a former movie theater. "Grown-ish," the spinoff to "Black-ish," which follows eldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) on her journey through college and to adulthood. And the rebooted "Party of Five," which in 2020 centers on five siblings on their own after their parents are deported to Mexico. — S.C.
"Star Trek: Picard" (CBS All Access)
Too many characters, not enough action, a plot both convoluted and too simple, but darn if I wouldn’t watch Patrick Stewart read a cereal box. It’s also great fun to see Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) again, and it’s not boring. Speaking of Stewart, he’s taken to reading a sonnet a day and posting on Instagram and Facebook.