Hollywood Reporter TV Critics: 11 Things to Watch if You're Stuck at Home

6:45 AM 3/12/2020

by Daniel Fienberg and Inkoo Kang

Superior examples of escapist reality fare, a deliciously lurid high-school noir, a sweet YA fam-com and a network supernatural procedural are among recommendations for the self-quarantined.

Clockwise, from top: 'Dare Me,' 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay,' 'Next in Fashion'
Clockwise, from top: 'Dare Me,' 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay,' 'Next in Fashion'
Courtesy of Rafy/USA Network; Lara Solanki/Netflix; Tony Rivetti/Freeform

Whether it's concerns associated with the coronavirus, the waning days of winter or sheer exhaustion with an election cycle that feels like it will never end (and yet has barely begun), there are plenty of good excuses to eschew the hustle-and-bustle of the outside world for some quality time with the small screen these days.

Perhaps sensing that people would be ready for some time off the grid or the opportunity to Netflix & Ill — seriously, folks, wash your hands and be considerate of those around you — networks and streamers have been churning out some excellent TV over the past couple months. Here are eleven recommendations by THR's TV critics.

  • 'Better Call Saul' (AMC)/ 'Better Things' (FX)

    'Better Call Saul,' 'Better Things'
    'Better Call Saul,' 'Better Things'
    AMC; FX

    Looking for something better? See what I did there? Two of the best shows on TV returned in the past couple weeks, and both Pamela Adlon's tone-bending FX dramedy and AMC's Breaking Bad prequel are at the absolute peak of their creative powers. Jimmy McGill has a new name! Sam Fox has a new car! And if you don't know who Jimmy and Sam are, you've got some fun catching up to do. — DANIEL FIENBERG

  • 'The Circle' (Netflix)

    'The Circle'
    'The Circle'
    Courtesy of Netflix

    Netflix seems to have finally figured out how to make cultural phenomena out of its reality series. But before Love Is Blind, there was The Circle: a social-media “competition” that forced its isolated contenders to vie for friendships through photos, group chats, private messages and sometimes catfishing personae. Is this a glorified popularity contest for the Instagram age? Absolutely. And yet the series is undeniably compelling for exemplifying the ways tech-mediated communication distorts our perceptions and desires — and how we’re learning to see through the manipulations. — INKOO KANG

  • 'The Conners' (ABC)

    'The Conners'
    'The Conners'
    ABC

    Who knew Roseanne without Roseanne could work so well? After kicking former star Barr to the curb (for a racist tweet), The Conners has more than justified its matriarch-less existence by focusing its signature spikiness on the eternal enmity between now-grown daughters Becky and Darlene (Lecy Goranson and Sara Gilbert, one of TV’s great comedy duos). With both women under their father’s (John Goodman) roof again, their struggles to care for their aging relatives and parent a younger generation with diminished dreams — all on a Lanford salary — feel more relevant than ever. — I.K.

  • 'Dare Me' (USA)

    'Dare Me'
    'Dare Me'
    Rafy/USA Network

    By now you've probably watched Netflix's intense, heartwarming Cheer, one of the year's true word-of-mouth sensations, and you're looking for more cheerleading fare. Check out USA's Megan Abbott adaptation, which is twisty, mysterious and steamy, and as much about noir-style obsession as the quest to make it to regionals. I remain convinced that eventually word of mouth will kick in for this addictive tale of female empowerment and murder, featuring a star-making turn from Marlo Kelly, so you've still got time to be an early adopter. — D.F.

  • 'Desus & Mero' (Showtime)

    'Desus & Mero'
    'Desus & Mero'
    Greg Endries/Showtime

    Kudos to Showtime for not making Desus Nice and The Kid Mero change what wasn't broken from their platform-hopping late-night formula. In their Monday/Thursday installments, the two Bronx-raised personalities serve as the perfect halfway point between Jimmy Fallon's substance-free noodling and John Oliver's ever-building outrage, expressing exactly enough incredulity so that you know they care but infusing enough levity that you don't slip into a current-events-fueled depression. And it isn’t so timely that you can’t do a multi-episode catch-up, because some of what they consider “news,” you probably missed. — D.F.

  • 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' (Freeform)

    'Everything's Gonna Be Okay'
    'Everything's Gonna Be Okay'
    Freeform

    Josh Thomas' Freeform half-hour isn't to be confused with Netflix's supernatural coming-of-age comedy I'm Not Okay With This, but once you've made it through one, feel free to start on the other. They’re both very good! Thomas' new series is full of cringe-y laughs and truly unexpected heart thanks in large part to how well newcomers Kayla Cromer and Maeve Press mesh with Thomas' own established persona in this story of an Australian entomologist who becomes the 20-something guardian to his teenage American half-sisters — and struggles to prove that he's up to the task. — D.F.

  • 'Evil' (CBS)

    'Evil'
    'Evil'
    Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

    Robert and Michelle King's CBS supernatural procedural isn't exactly escapist TV, but it explains many of contemporary society's sources of darkness — YouTube hucksters, incels, catchy musical ear worms — in ways disturbing and yet oddly comforting. The first season, which wrapped in January, practically begs for binge-viewing, letting you glide past the opening episodes in a hurry and hit the show's creepy sweet spot — everything from "October 31" on, really — to become astonishingly dark and fun for a broadcast show. — D.F.

  • 'High Maintenance' (HBO)

    'High Maintenance'
    'High Maintenance'
    David Russell

    Now in its fourth season on HBO (with a previous six on Vimeo, where it first debuted), High Maintenance has been garnering rapturous reviews for nearly a decade. But the series, about the disparate lives of the various customers of a weed-delivery guy (Ben Sinclair, who created the dramedy with his now ex-wife Katja Blichfeld), still feels like a hidden gem, so allow us to sing its praises once again. High Maintenance is the best-case scenario for an anthology show, with each episode tonally surprising, unfailingly moving and perfectly cast, usually with unknown actors. A binge watch is the ideal viewing experience, unfurling a New York City full of pangs, hopes and weirdness. — I.K.

  • 'Next in Fashion' (Netflix)

    'Next in Fashion'
    'Next in Fashion'
    Courtesy of Netflix

    Before Project Runway alums Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn debut their style-meets-entrepreneurship Amazon reality competition Making the Cut on March 27, fashionistas should check out this underrated design tournament. Hosts Alexa Chung and Tan France (of Queer Eye) are no Klum and Gunn, but the international “cast” of contestants make the runway looks immediately distinctive. Yet the real reason to tune in is the rivalry between its eventual top two, who are fiercely and equally matched in creativity, accomplishment and sweetness. — I.K.

  • 'Visible: Out on Television' (Apple TV+)

    'Visible: Out on Television'
    'Visible: Out on Television'
    Apple TV+

    Perhaps the greatest TV accomplishment of 2020 thus far, this five-part docuseries about LGBTQ representation on the small screen is a can’t-miss project. Spanning seven decades, it’s not just an important and inclusive overview of queerness on TV, but a fascinating exploration of how the fight for greater acceptance via representation comes in stops and starts — and what role an intimate medium like television can play in the larger battle for social justice. — I.K.