The Great Escape
Streaming Recommendations for the Homebound
By Anita Bowser (and Friends)
It’s a strange situation I now find myself in. This homebound social distancing leaves me with all the time in the world to read and write and finish up household projects. But, a pervasive sense of smoldering anxiety creeps in after a few hours and leaves me searching for escape.
Give me distractions! Long, engaging, visual journeys to someplace, anyplace, that is not here and not now.
Cue (or queue) the streaming services. I’m certain they’re getting more than their fair share of use. My family subscribes to four of these online content warehouses. Lucky for me, because I’ve run out of books, and the libraries are all closed for the foreseeable future.
Sifting through the various services for the perfect show can be a bit daunting. So, I asked some friends for recommendations. Below are a few of their/my favorites. Please share your recommendations in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
Hunters, Amazon Prime Original Series, 2020
Review by Kathleen Edwards
Hunters is slick and smart and a great series to draw you in. Heavily stylized with the feel of a graphic novel come to life, the series is a crazy, violent, morality tale centered around a group of rag tag Nazi hunters lead by a wealthy holocaust survivor portrayed with chutzpah by Al Pacino. With frequent flashbacks to the WWII concentration camps, Hunters is not for the squeamish. But the Jordan Peele produced series does not turn away from racism both toward Jews and African Americans. Thought provoking and heart pounding - well worth binging. I rated this 5 out of 5.
Kathleen Edwards is a freelance writer who enjoys wearing pajamas all day. She is the proud mama of two sons (Isaiah and Josiah) both of whom are in film production, and two cats (Zippy and Katie) who don’t produce much of anything.
Laughter in the Time of COVID – Netflix Comedy Specials
Review by Jillian Larko
If you're looking for a good laugh in these stressful times, look no further than Netflix. Their comedy specials are just what are needed to brighten one's day, specifically any of John Mulaney's specials.
Kid Gorgeous in particular is one I return to often. Mulaney is a 30-something former SNL writer and his style is quick and witty, almost giving one comedic whiplash as his jokes segue seamlessly from one to the next. Off the top of my head, some other quick recommendations are John Mulaney, Ali Wong, Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais, Maria Bamford, Ryan Hamilton, Taylor Tomlinson, and Marc Maron. Happy streaming!
Jillian Larko is a librarian working at the New Castle Public Library. She is currently making the most of her time off cuddling her guinea pigs, riding her horse in the woods (social distancing, huzzah!), catching up on her mountainous to-be-read pile, and rewatching the Marvel films ad nauseum.
The Stranger, Netflix Original, 2020
Review by Tiffany Harkleroad
What would you do if a total stranger approached you and told you earth shaking information related to your personal life? That is the exact premise for the Netflix Original series The Stranger, based on a book of the same name by Harlan Coben. The series begins when we meet Adam Price, whose encounter with The Stranger leaves him suspicious of his wife Corrine. Throughout the 8 episode series, we see how the lives of seemingly “normal” families are twisted and linked by secrets and lies.
This series captured my attention from the start. The suspense builds steadily throughout the series, and there are some nice twists thrown in. Good story, great acting, and plenty of suspense. While I had not read the book that inspired the series, I want to after watching it. This is a good binge-able series for anyone who likes mysteries or psychological thrillers. I give it 5 out of 5!
Tiffany Harkleroad is the Youth Services Librarian at the Butler Area Public Library. She has long championed graphic novels for readers of all ages. She lives in Butler with her husband, their two adorable dogs, and their very cranky cat. When not reading graphic novels, she can be found playing board games, binging on documentaries, listening to podcasts, and taking long naps.
Fortitude, Amazon Prime Original Series, 2014-2018
Review by Anita Bowser
Fortitude is a combination of Nordic noir and sci-fi with a hint of magical realism. The sometimes grisly tale of arctic murders takes place in the town of Fortitude, a convergence of multiple northern ethnicities from Iceland to Finland to Russia. A warming planet has released from the ice a menacing pathogen (or is it a demon) placing the good citizens of Fortitude in great danger. I was reminded of The Thing, John Carpenter’s icy story of an otherworldly danger destroying an Antarctic research team from within.
I really liked this series though it is open ended. The third/final season is completed and expected to be picked up by Amazon in the near future. There is profanity, graphic violence, gore and nudity – sometimes all at once. Some scenes are very difficult to watch. I give this program a 4.5 (of five) rating because, as of this date, it is still open ended.
Ozark, Netflix Original Series, 2017-2020
Review By Anita Bowser
Each season of this action-packed series builds to a perfect finale, leaving the audience with a deep sense of foreboding and anticipation for whatever comes next. There are three seasons on Netflix and more to come. Ozark is the story of Marty and Wendy Byrde, played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, and their two kids making a new life for themselves in the Ozarks. Sure, the family is held together more by survival instincts than familial love. And, they are laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. But, hey, every family has its problems.
The writing is top notch. The locale and visuals are stunning. And, the acting is flawless. Bateman and Linney never disappoint, and, Julia Garner, as Ruth Langmore, generates the tough swagger and sass of a hillbilly criminal and the sweet vulnerability of a lonely girl. She steals every scene she’s in. I give Ozark 5 out of 5.
There you have it. A few streaming recommendations to get you through a couple of weeks of social distancing at home. If you have a recommendation, please share. After all, we’re all in this together.
Anita Bowser is a writer and blogger from Butler. She’s a volunteer at Kittanning Library and has worked as a reporter, copy editor, content writer and a library director. Her favorite past times include reading, writing and avoiding arithmetic. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more at www.anitabowser.com.