Need some binge worthy boxsets for this latest lockdown? Of course you do, we all do. We all need a bit of escapism, if only for 20 minutes or an hour, a six part mini series or five seasons that take us through weeks, switching off the outside world and collapsing with some binge worthy boxsets is just what we all need for this latest lockdown.
The Queens Gambit — Netflix
This is a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy named Beth Harmon from the age of eight to twenty-two during her quest to become the world’s greatest chess player while struggling with emotional issues, and drug and alcohol dependency. The story begins in the mid-1950s and proceeds into the 1960s and is superb. You don’t need to understand chess to enjoy it
This Is Us — Amazon Prime Video
Every time somebody mentions needing something else to binge this is my go to suggestion, it has it all. The series follows the lives of siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall (known as the “Big Three”), and their parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson. It takes place mainly in the present and uses flashbacks to show the family’s past. Season 5 has just been released and they deal with the Black Lives Matter movement, and Coronavirus. There are around 18 episodes to a season so this really is one to sink your teeth into but trust me, since your diary is probably clear for the next month now is the perfect time.
Love Life — BBC iPlayer
This is a ten part series following Darby Carter from her first romantic relationship to her last. It is an easy watch with just a handful of characters so perfect viewing if you don’t really want to pay too much attention but want a bit of moving wallpaper as you veg on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Emily in Paris — Netflix
Emily in Paris follows Emily, a driven 20-something American from Chicago, who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity. She is tasked with bringing an American point of view to a venerable French marketing firm. Cultures clash as she adjusts to the challenges of life in Paris, while juggling her career, new friendships and love life. Lots of stereotypical French women surviving on coffee and cigarettes and Lily Collins (yes Phil’s daughter) is brilliant as Emily.
Life — BBC iPlayer
Amanda Steadman can do no wrong in my eyes (hello, Abigail’s Party is one of the greatest films ever released) so I already loved this series before it started. In theory it is a spin off from Doctor Foster but you dont need to have watched that to enjoy this. Gail and Henry are a couple in their sixties and you will find yourself being in either Camp Gail or Camp Henry, though you can see why either character could be equally as unlikeable as the other. Another six parter series that you can binge in a weekend without feeling too overwhelmed about so many episodes.
Staged — BBC iPlayer
I was late to the Staged party but thought it was utterly utterly genius. David Tennant and Michael Sheen are meant to be starring in a play together but because of lockdown, they can’t. So their director persuades them to rehearse remotely from home. Devised, developed and filmed in their own homes during lockdown it is brilliantly done. I literally sat and watched all six episodes in one afternoon. Don’t judge me.
Ratched — Netflix
When I asked on Twitter for recommendations so many people mentioned this that I have decided to watch it this weekend. The short synopsis is that it’s a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The long synopsis is that it is:
a suspenseful drama series that tells the origin story of asylum nurse Mildred Ratched. In 1947, Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but the wheels are always turning and as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born.
Sounds perfect for a weekend of curtains drawn, box of popcorn bingeing.
Better Things — BBC iPlayer
There are four seasons available (42 episodes) of this one, the first airing in 2015. It centres around a single mum, Sam, who is attempting to raise her three children alone in LA. Er hello, remind you of anyone? There are 40+ episodes to binge your way through but they are only 20 minutes long so you will have the whole done in no time.
Lilyhammer — Netflix
I hadn’t even heard of this until recently, despite it first airing in 2012. It ran for four seasons and was actually Netflix’s first exclusive show. Comparisons have been drawn between this and the Sopranos as it centres around a former American gangster called Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano who relocates to Lillehammer in Norway. The spelling in the title though comes from the name of Frank’s dog, Lily, who dies in the opening episode (no more spoilers). Real shame this was cancelled after four seasons.
Rake — Netflix
Only one person mentioned this to me but I trust his judgement and when he tells me something is brilliant and will make me laugh, I have to pay attention. So I havent watched this yet, but it is on the list. All the reviews say that you get hooked from the first episode so I am here for it next week, and will be going in hard on all 40 of them:
On any single day, Cleaver Greene is described as many things. Whilst his ex-wife may call him ‘unreliable’, his son will call him ‘a mate’. To his learned friends at the bar table he is ‘a real wag’, to his jurors he is ‘hilarious’, and to most judges he is ‘an outrage’. To the Tax Office, he is ‘a defendant’, to a certain brothel owner ‘a legend’, and to his former cocaine dealer ‘a tragic loss’.
Sounds good, doesnt it?
The Fall — Netflix
Gillian Anderson. Need I say anything else?
Designated Survivor — Netflix
In the US they have a Designated Survivor, a role so named as it is the person appointed to run the country in the unlikely event that the entire cabinet is killed. That would never happen, though, would it? And then it does and up steps Kiefer Sutherland who was a junior cabinet member in the role of Secretary for Housing, appointed to the role and absent from the US Capitol building when it is blown up in a catastrophic attack. I love American political drama (hello West Wing and Scandal) so this is a definite favourite.
Riviera — Now TV
Just watch it. South of France, Art, gorgeous cast, more plot twists than you can shake a stick at and cliff hangers that make you swear at the TV. The third season as just been dumped all in one go and was just as brilliant as the previous two. Julia Stiles as Georgina Clios, the lead character is superb. I am sure you will love it as much as me.
No list of binge worthy box sets is complete without this. Every raves about it, asks if you have seen it, is incredulous when you say you haven’t, and implores you to start it. We finally did last week and have really enjoyed it so far. My problem is that I binge stuff on my iPad when I am working and then regret not waiting and watching it on the TV with Mr B. This is a rare box set that we have both started watching together. A family have just lost it all, except for a small town that was up for sale for 20 years before their business partner bought it. When all their assets are frozen this is all that is left to the Rose family and they relocate from their filthy rich millionaire lifestyle to Schitt’s Creek, without the proverbial paddle. Very funny and only 20 minute episodes, which is good as there are 80 episodes.
The Undoing — Sky Atlantic
This has been trailed on Now TV for weeks and I couldn’t wait for it start. There have only been two episodes so far and already I am hooked. No spoilers but there’s a possible double life being lived, a PTA full of women you can all associate with, and a dead body by the end of the first episode. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant are an unlikely casting as a husband and wife but it just works. Unlike Nicole’s top lip which has too much botox.