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THE B-LIST: TV shows to binge while self-quarantining

Comedy, crime and everything in between

The alien rogues and heroes of "Farscape". From left: Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), Chiana (Gigi Edgley), Dominar Rygel XVI (Jonathan Hardy), Ka D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe), Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), John Crichton (Ben Browder), Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey) and Crais (Lani John Tupu).
The alien rogues and heroes of "Farscape". From left: Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), Chiana (Gigi Edgley), Dominar Rygel XVI (Jonathan Hardy), Ka D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe), Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), John Crichton (Ben Browder), Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey) and Crais (Lani John Tupu).

We're all aware of the bizarre, "Twilight Zone"-esque state of the world right now.

Amidst the panic buying — seriously, people: STOP IT — and floods of memes/news articles on Facebook, most of us are just trying to stay positive and distracted while we, as good neighbors, practice self-quarantining to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

So, while we're all stuck indoors in the coming weeks, I'm offering up a varied list of long-running, well-made, satisfying shows worth binging from start to finish. Almost all of these can be found streaming somewhere — Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Acorn for the British stuff — and several services are offering free or reduced subscriptions right now.

And if you don't have home internet (like yours truly)? Hit up friends and see if anyone's willing to swap DVDs with you, either through the mail or via quick drop-offs in between sanitizer spritzings.


• "BROOKLYN NINE-NINE" (7 seasons). Focused on one NYPD precinct, this is the best sitcom currently airing, with fun characters and genuine heart. It's that rare comedy that's both hysterical and unafraid to tackle heavy issues like racial profiling, homophobia and corruption.

• "THE NANNY" (6). The story of a gorgeous gal from Flushing who becomes a British producer's live-in nanny has aged far better than "Friends," and is a brassy, sassy feel-good charmer.

• "GOLDEN GIRLS" (7). If you've yet to meet the four snarky ladies living out their golden years in Florida, do yourself a favor and dive in. Are you a Blanche, a Sophia, a Dorothy, or a Rose? (I'm absolutely a Dorothy.)

• "FRASIER" (11). Boy, do I love watching a self-absorbed, pretentious radio shrink fail miserably at everything he attempts. His neurotic brother, earthy dad and quirky British maid just add to the entertainment.

• "3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN" (6). Four bizarre aliens pretend to be humans to learn about Earth. John Lithgow's bombastic Dick and Jane Curtin's human Mary are stellar; a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also adorable.

• "PARKS AND RECREATION" (7). It's "The Office," only wholesome and uplifting and better in every other way. Lovable characters and earnest emotion anchor the silliness in Pawnee, Ind.


• "ELEMENTARY" (7). Jonny Lee Miller is the best Sherlock to date in this clever updating of the Victorian sleuth. Sherls' ride-or-die platonic partnership with a gender-swapped Watson (Lucy Liu) is deeply moving and powerful.

• "HAWAII FIVE-0" (10). This soap opera-y reboot of the '60s series is, admittedly, the TV equivalent of cheese popcorn, but sometimes that's all you need. The Steve/Danno dynamic is superb, the settings are gorgeous and there are scads of people of color in the cast.

• "MISS FISHER'S MURDER MYSTERIES" (3). Glamorous detective Phryne Fisher is #GOALS, from her glitzy wardrobe to her modern sensibilities. The found-family at the heart of this sumptuous period drama, set in 1920s Australia, is a favorite.

• "CASTLE" (8). He's a playboy writer. She's a driven detective. Together, Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) are a dynamite combo with Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn vibes.

• "MURDOCH MYSTERIES" (13). In turn-of-the-century Toronto, inventor detective William Murdoch is on the cutting edge of new technologies, like fingerprinting. He's often assisted by famous figures — Nikola Tesla, Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle — in this historical whodunit.

• "JUSTIFIED" (6). U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is a modern-day cowboy going up against a bizarre cast of criminals in a Kentucky-flavored neo-noir drenched with violence, bluegrass and sass. Walton Goggins' underworld kingpin Boyd Crowder, the yin to Givens' yang, is magnetic.

• "LUCIFER" (4). Few shows have better soundtracks, or prettier casts. Tom Ellis is brilliant in the title role; his King of Hell turned detective is equal parts smug lothario and traumatized anti-hero. There are canon queer characters and a compelling story that builds steadily. It's so satisfying to watch the characters develop and grow each episode.

• "PUSHING DAISIES" (2). A gawky necromancer baker and his high-spirited undead girlfriend solve crimes with a grumpy private eye in a candy-coated Technicolor world brimming with insanely snappy dialogue and ridiculous crimes. It's both the saddest and sweetest show I've ever seen. "Quaint, like dessert spoons."


• "THE MUSKETEERS" (3). Dumas' immortal heroes thwart assassins and traitors as the royal bodyguards in this leather-clad reimagining of "The Three Muskteers." Perfect fare if you like swashbuckling, ruinously handsome men and action-packed romance.

• "BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES" (4). The definitive take on the Batman mythos. Kevin Conroy is the best Bats, Mark Hamill the greatest Joker, and the art deco stylization of Gotham is *chef's kiss*. A must watch, no matter your age.

• "AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER" (3). Not only the greatest animated show; this is the greatest show of all time. Period. A perfectly constructed tale of war and magic, built around Asian and indigenous cultures, starring a mostly pre-teen cast of characters. It's emotional, it's fun, it's beautiful, it's thought-provoking. It's something you should watch with your whole family.

• "XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS" (6). Campy, girl power goodness. Lucy Lawless is a true queen in the title role and New Zealand is the perfect stand-in for a magic-infused ancient world.

• "STRANGER THINGS" (3). The Netflix juggernaut is a nostalgia-fueled fever dream that's equal parts horror, political conspiracy thriller and heartwarming coming-of-age drama. The child actors are phenomenal. And it is SO nice to see Winona Ryder return from obscurity; her determined and hysterical Joyce is a highlight.

• "FARSCAPE" (4). A group of alien misfits steal a living spaceship — and a lost, very confused human astronaut — and set off across the galaxy. With creature effects from the Jim Henson Company, this Sci-Fi Channel series is one of the most expensive ever made, a trippy cult classic that sways between goofy action and gutting heartbreak. It honestly ranks up there with "Star Trek" in terms of great science fiction.

• "THE X-FILES" (11). One's a true believer, the other a diehard skeptic. Together, they tackle mysteries the rest of the FBI won't touch, facing down aliens, monsters, ghosts, mad science and even magic. The monster-of-the-week episodes are better than the mythology stories, but everyone should watch this iconic series at least once.

• "DOCTOR WHO (2005-Present)" (12). A heroic alien has adventures through time and space with their human friends in this extremely long-running BBC classic. Campy and silly, but also earnest and uplifting, DW's size can make it daunting for newcomers, but never fear! Start with the 2005 reboot season starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper (the episode "Rose") and go from there. This one's good for the whole family.

• "SANTA CLARITA DIET" (3). Drew Barrymore is a sweet mom and perky Realtor who just happens to be a zombie; Timothy Olyphant is her devoted, dorky husband who helps her find awful people to eat. It's gory and slapsticky, a zombie story with real heart (yuk-yuk).

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at

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