Coronavirus: bingeable TV box-sets to keep you busy during isolation

Stuck at home self-isolating? We're here to solve the boredom

Coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic on Wednesday (March 11), meaning that thousands of people across the globe are now affected by the new virus. The UK government’s chief scientific adviser estimates that between 5,000 and 10,000 people are currently infected in Britain. Ten people have died to date [via BBC News].

Self-isolation is the advice for anyone who is suffering with a “new, continuous” cough and fever, or for those who know they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19.

While there’s rarely a silver lining to such serious matters there is one small glint in the mire for those who are required to stay at home: the chance to catch-up on all those TV box-sets.

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We’ve collated some of the best, easy-to-watch, on-demand TV shows for your viewing pleasure. There aren’t any intense or overly convoluted programmes here – just bingeable sitcoms, addictive indie teen dramas, whipsmart black comedy and feel-good format shows that will help you while away the hours.

Sex Education

Sex Education review
Aimee Lou Wood, Emma Mackey and Asa Butterfield in ‘Sex Education’ season two. Credit: Netflix

What’s it about? British comedy drama that follows the life of socially awkward teenager Otis (Asa Butterfield) navigating the twists and turns of secondary school. His mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist. Unbeknownst to her, Otis begins to use the knowledge imparted by her to advise his fellow pupils – but in exchange for cash. A hilarious, informative and super smart coming-of-age series with a stellar supporting cast whose characters traverse LGBTQ+ issues, addiction, absent parents, identity and, of course, the full spectrum of sex.

Number of series: 2

Episode lengths: Around 45 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

Queer Eye

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Queer Eye
Queer Eye. Credit: Christopher Smith/Netflix

What’s it about? Each episode takes ‘The Fab Five’ to a different person in the US who’s in need of a spruce-up to boost their health, happiness and confidence. Antoni (food guru), Bobby (interior design) Jonathan (grooming), Karamo (culture) and Tan (fashion) make suggestions for changes – sometimes engaging in deep conversations with the subject who has been closed-off until now. It’s a hugely feel-good and empowering show. You’ll want another serotonin hit the minute the episode finished.

Number of series: 4 (including the Japan spin-off)

Episode lengths: Typically 45 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

This Country

Kerry and Kurtan
Credit: BBC

What’s it about? Daisy May and Charlie Cooper’s British mockumentary series charts the mundane lives of cousins Kerry and Lee ‘Kurtan’ Mucklowe in their Cotswolds village. The series introduces itself as a fly-on-the-wall BBC documentary exploring the low levels of employment in rural Britain. Hilarity ensues when you come to learn of Kerry and Kurtan’s sometimes volatile relationship. The downright bizarre, relatable and boring interactions they have with village folk are oddly charming.

Number of series: 3

Episode lengths: Typically 25-30 minutes

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation - Season 7

What’s it about? This political satire sitcom TV series stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana. There’s frankly absurd behaviour from Knope and other officials as they pursue a myriad of projects to improve the city they live in.

Number of series: 7

Episode lengths: Typically 20-30 minutes

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Derry Girls

The cast of ‘Derry Girls’.

What’s it about? This sitcom explores the lives of four Northern Irish teenage girls (plus one British boy) growing up during the Troubles in the early 1990s. Expect plenty of laughs, tears and an excellent soundtrack (we hear you, The Cranberries).

Number of series: 2

Episode lengths: Typically 20-25 minutes

Where to watch: All 4 (Netflix also has series 1)

The Good Place

What’s it about? This comedy drama stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who’s been sent to the “good place” after her death for her excellent positive actions and contribution on earth. The issue is – she was actually a terrible person and was sent by mistake. A wildly creative fantasy show that pushes the viewer to consider the fact that nothing is black or white, or good or evil, but usually a mixture of it all.

Number of series: 4

Episode lengths: 22 minutes (save for longer opening episodes)

Where to watch: Netflix

The End of the F***ing World

Netflix
A roadside diner in ‘The End Of The Fucking World’. Credit: Netflix

What’s it about? Stylish black comedy based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman. The show follows James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old who thinks he’s a  psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), James’ unruly classmate who strikes up a relationship with him to escape her tumultuous home life. Road trips, dangerous encounters, grand cinematics and a killer eclectic soundtrack all contribute to this vivid and addictive dark comedy.

Number of series: 2

Episode lengths: Typically 21-25 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
The cast of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’

What’s it about? Five egocentric friends who run a neighbourhood Irish pub in Philadelphia try to navigate the trials and tribulations of adult life. This long-running comedy first aired back in 2005, so there’s plenty to get stuck into during self-isolation.

Number of series: 14

Episode lengths: Typically 21-25 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

Fleabag

Fleabag
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in ‘Fleabag’ CREDIT: BBC

What’s it about? Whipsmart, fourth wall-breaking comedy series that follows a dry-witted woman (known only as Fleabag) who’s trying to cope with living in London while coming to terms with a recent tragedy. The show, which started out as a one-woman stage play, is written by and stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the titular character. You’ll be hard-pressed to find sharper dialogue, more relatable references or more mind-blowing tragicomic acting from Waller-Bridge and her stellar supporting cast.

Number of series: 2

Episode lengths: Typically 25-28 minutes

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Big Mouth

Big Mouth Hormone Monster
Maury is a hormone monster who guides Andrew through the stages of puberty. Credit: Netflix

What’s it about? Animated comedy series that follows friends who find their lives upended by the wonders and horrors of puberty. Expect cringe-inducing moments.

Number of series: 3

Episode lengths: Typically 25-30 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

What’s it about? Comedy show follows Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), an immature but talented N.Y.P.D. detective in Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct, who must learn to work with his new commanding officer, the serious Captain Ray Holt.

Number of series: 5

Episode lengths: Typically 21-22 minutes

Where to watch: Netflix

Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner
Credit: Jenn Five

What’s it about? Family comedy series, which is first broadcast on Channel 4, that portrays the experience of the Goodmans’ British Jewish dinner every Friday night.

Number of series: 3

Episode lengths: Typically 22-25 minutes

Where to watch: All 4 and Netflix

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