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TV shows to binge while you’re self-isolating at home

All of them have multiple seasons.
"Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker" stars Tiffany Haddish, left, and Octavia Spencer. [AMANDA MATLOVICH  |  Netflix]
"Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker" stars Tiffany Haddish, left, and Octavia Spencer. [AMANDA MATLOVICH | Netflix]

Since many of us may be staying home more than usual these days, here are some multiseason TV shows worth bingeing at home. The roundup features both new and classic picks from the streaming-verse. Unlike movies, they’ll help you kill more than two or so hours.

Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Video

The Life of Birds

Time to be with the birds, light-boned and feathery and endlessly fascinating. This PBS documentary series is so vividly shot, it’s incredible in the literal sense of not to be believed (how do they get the cameras so close to the birds?!), and the narration by the inimitable David Attenborough will soothe even the most existential anxiety (that accent!). Birds are life, flightless or of flight — join them.

Monk

It’s a jungle out there, all right. Tony Shalhoub won three Emmys for his role as Adrian Monk, the titular sleuth bent by the unsolved murder of his wife and the obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias that intensified after her death. Plot lines dulled as the show trudged on, but there’s enough heart in the script — and intrigue about Trudy’s murder — to make eight seasons worth watching.

Orphan Black

Yeah, this series — which starts grippingly when a woman sees someone who looks exactly like herself step into the path of an oncoming train — becomes increasingly silly. But the show always remains compelling, thanks to its sense of humor and the warmhearted sisterhood that develops among a group of women who discover they are all clones. The main reason to watch it, though, is for star Tatiana Maslany, who earned a well-deserved Lead Actress Emmy for playing more than a dozen clones, from a street-smart single mother to a book-smart bohemian scientist to a suburban soccer mom, and more.

Disney Plus

Frozen II

No, it’s not a series. But this sequel to the blockbuster 2013 animated musical, which was added to Disney Plus ahead of schedule, finds Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven joining Elsa as she searches for the truth behind her powers. Expect the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad.

The Mandalorian

The streaming service’s popular flagship series featuring tiny breakout star the Child, better known as Baby Yoda, is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. (Somewhere between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.) It follows the travails of a lone gunfighter (Pedro Pascal) in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic. The cast includes Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte.

The Child, better known as Baby Yoda, in "The Mandalorian." [AP]

HBO Now

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The fictionalized take on Seinfeld creator Larry David’s life is wrapping up its 10th season now on HBO, so it’s the perfect time to wind back across the bridges David has burned in his tireless quest to be right, no matter the argument (usually one he started). I won’t defend L.D.’s petty squabbles with friends, family, Mocha Joe, his dry cleaner, an aggressive swan, Joseph from the Nativity scene and a slew of Hollywood folks, but David did once refuse to shake Ben Stiller’s recently sneezed-in hand, ruining their relationship while displaying proper outbreak preparedness. For laughs from a man always trying to get away from people, Curb is pretty, pretty, pre-tty … pretty good.

Six Feet Under

Beginning in 2001 and ending five seasons later in 2005, this HBO drama was, quite literally, about life and death: It centered on the Fishers, a Los Angeles family who owned a funeral home, and every episode began with someone’s life ending. Sounds dark, and it was, but this Alan Ball creation was so perfectly cast and elegantly written that I returned for more every Sunday back in the aughts — and have been looking ever since for an excuse to watch the whole thing beginning to end. Also available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Westworld

The good news: There are only two seasons of this show (Season 3 premiered March 15 on HBO), so it’s not a huge time commitment. The bad news: Once you start, you’ll probably want to watch it all at once — not good for either productivity or health. This series, in which rich people live out their fantasies in a Wild West-set amusement park hosted by humanoid robots, becomes more twisted and multilayered as it goes along. Add to that the stellar cast (Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, etc.), and this unsettling, violent, visually stunning sci-fi drama might have you hooked by the end of the first episode. Also available on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Anthony Hopkins in "Westworld." [HBO | AP]

Hulu

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

You’ve probably already binged it twice by now, but it’s smart, it’s funny and, unlike many sitcoms that we’re finding haven’t aged well these days (since when is New York that white, Friends?), the series has a wonderfully diverse cast and is standing proof that you can be funny without being offensive.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" stars Terry Crews, left, Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher and Melissa Fumero.

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s has always been about relationships — the medicine is just a vehicle to advance the drama! — and how the people around us get us through life’s challenges. The show is set in a hospital full of fictional world-class doctors who somehow always pull out miraculous answers for the most confounding viruses, tumors and medical mysteries. So if it’s hope you need in a time of pandemic, well, get acquainted with the doctors of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. Also available on ABC and Netflix.

High Fidelity

Who didn’t love the John Cusack movie version of the Nick Hornby novel when it was released in 2000? This is the 10-episode version starring Zoe Kravitz. Kravitz plays Rob, the curmudgeonly owner of Championship Vinyl and the character originally played by Cusack. Replacing Jack Black and Todd Louiso as Rob’s employees and best friends are Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Cherise and David H. Holmes as Simon (who also happens to be one of Rob’s top five desert island heartbreaks). Things have been delightfully updated for the times … while also scattering a few Easter eggs throughout the episodes for fans of the movie.

Killing Eve

Into spy movies, old-school cat-and-mouse chases, lively acting and a peek into the mind of a cold-but-charming female assassin who has a complete lack of empathy for anyone except the female agent trying to track her down? This is the series for you. Based on the novel Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings, the show shines in large part because of its strong casting. In 2019, Sandra Oh won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama for her portrayal of MI5 agent Eve Polastri. Jodie Comer, who plays the assassin Villanelle, won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a TV Drama this year. So, go ahead. Binge the first two seasons on Hulu and you’ll be all caught up by April 26, when Season 3 begins on BBC America.

Little Fires Everywhere

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington bring their star power to the twisty eight-part series. Based on Celeste Ng’s gripping bestseller, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of a picture-perfect Ohio family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

You’re the Worst

This show is like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia if it were a romantic comedy set in Los Angeles. Frequently referred to as an “anti-romantic romantic comedy,” You’re the Worst contains one of the greatest love stories in modern television. It follows two love-cynics, Gretchen and Jimmy, and their journey through love, relationships, happiness and other wacky antics over the course of several years.

Netflix

American Vandal

A searing, hilarious parody of the true-crime genre (think Serial or Making a Murderer) with an incredibly well-written mystery arc and a terrifyingly accurate depiction of high school antics in the 2010s.

The Circle

If you like reality television, or even if you don’t, you should check the show out. A group of strangers all vie to be the most influential, but they can only interact with each other through an online system called “The Circle.” With catfishing, romance, drama and a cast of unique characters, it’s the perfect recipe for a silly but irresistible watch. Considering the players have to be isolated in their own apartments, the show might help you feel less alone while you’re doing the same.

Dark

The first German-language show to debut on Netflix, this creepy-as-all-hell two-season (for now) series has been compared to Stranger Things, but other than the 1980s and some supernatural forces, the two shows have nothing in common. There are no kids in Ghostbusters costumes here, only two nuclear cooling towers dominating the rainy landscape, plus an ominous forest complete with spooky caves. Wormholes, time travel, child abductions and more haunt four families over three generations connected in 33-year increments. It seems like everyone is hiding something, some secrets much more devastating than others.

Love Is Blind

The concept is like The Bachelor, with a distinct arranged-marriage vibe, wherein a bunch of conventionally attractive people talk to each other through a wall and then get engaged without knowing what their (conventionally attractive) partners look like. Surprise! They (mostly) try to give their hot mystery dates a shot, cohabitating and planning weddings at a time when most of us are still only committed to the texting-funny-gifs stage of a relationship. Don’t worry, it gets weirder! The Love Is Blind contestants are inexplicably shepherded through their stress-inducing journey by the one-time boy-band star and ex-husband of Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, and his wife, Vanessa Lachey (previously Minnillo), best known as host of MTV’s Total Request Live.

A scene from "Love is Blind," which features conventionally attractive people who (mostly) try to give their hot mystery dates a shot. [Netflix]

Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

Octavia Spencer stars as the title character in this four-part limited series releasing Friday. It recalls the extraordinary exploits of a trailblazing African-American hair care entrepreneur who became the nation’s first female self-made millionaire. The cast includes Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish and Garrett Morris, too.

Compiled by Meaghan Habuda, Times staff writer, with information from Times wires.

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