Quarantine Entertainment Guide 'Heights' editors and staffers share the TV series, films, and albums that have been keeping them sane in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheers – Available on Netflix

Wouldn’t you like to get away and take a break from all your worries? Cheers, a sitcom from the ’80s based in the city of Boston, is a great respite from these unprecedented times. If you’ve ever seen the Netflix series The Good Place, you might recognize Ted Danson as the young and handsome Mayday Malone in Cheers. All the characters on the show call him Sam. Formerly a Red Sox relief pitcher who had to end his career because of alcoholism, Sam ironically opened his own bar called “Cheers.” Sam bartends alongside his former coach, Ernie Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto), who goes by “Coach.” Sam’s witty friend Carla (Rhea Perlman) works as a waitress at the bar. In the pilot episode, Sam meets young and intelligent Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), who has been abandoned by her fiancé in the Cheers bar. With no fallback plan, she reluctantly agrees to work as a bar waitress with Sam and his entourage. The show revolves around the bar, which, as the theme song describes it, is a place “where everybody knows your name.” The show blends both high-brow and childish humor through Diane’s opinions as a former academic and Carla’s feisty behavior. And a flirtatious relationship between Sam and Diane gives viewers a little romance to boot. The episodes are short, the perfect length for a quick study break. – Grace Yang

The Expanse – Available on Prime Video

The Expanse is often referred to as the sci-fi Game of Thrones, and for good reason. Based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey, the show is set in the distant future. Humanity has colonized the solar system, but not the stars. Earth and Mars are vying for dominance, while various factions in the outer solar system look for a shot at independence. The Expanse follows spaceship officer James Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew, as well as an ensemble cast of other characters, from UN politicians to Martian marines. All become involved in the mystery of why an ice hauler was mysteriously attacked, which unearths a vast conspiracy that could trigger an all-out war across the solar system. The show places a large emphasis on scientific accuracy, which translates to space combat scenes unlike anything you’ll have seen from other space operas. The show is also equipped with a substantial special effects budget, since Amazon acquired the series. It’s no exaggeration—The Expanse really is on par with Game of Thrones at its best moments. – Donagh Broderick, Heights Staff

Dayglow – Fuzzybrain

Whether we like it or not, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led to a pandemic that has fundamentally changed the way that we live our lives. And that can be pretty jarring—maybe even depressing. So if you’re in need of a little sonic positivity, look no further than indie rocker Dayglow. The 20-year-old from Austin, Texas released his first album back in November, titled Fuzzybrain. The project’s peppy electric guitar, vintage flair, and youthful musings might be just the thing to cure your social distancing blues. Though focused on lost friends and growing up, Fuzzybrain navigates it all with a shining smile of hope that feels necessary now more than ever. “Can I Call You Tonight?,” a tune about online relationships, packs even more of a punch as Dayglow sings, “I hear your voice on the phone / Now I’m no longer alone.” “Dear Friend” is a portal to the past, a perfect backdrop as you reminisce about your favorite moments with the ones you love. As our Boston College community is scattered across the globe, it’s easy to feel alone, disconnected, and scared. But Fuzzybrain is here to help, offering relatable lyrics that never lose their silver lining, no matter how apart we feel.  -Julia Landwehr, Heights Staff

Girls – Available on Prime Video and HBO

If there’s ever a time to get emotionally invested in other people’s petty personal issues, it’s now. When Lena Dunham’s Girls premiered in 2012, it was equal parts derided and lauded for its vision of upper-crust 20-something malaise. Some critics couldn’t get past the narcissism and entitlement of Hannah Horvath (Dunham) and her rotating circle of friends and lovers, while others found their lack of direction refreshing. These characters don’t pretend to know their place in the world. Their jobs are unfulfilling, their friendships shallow, the sex they have incredibly, notoriously awkward. The story doesn’t so much as aim a straight path as meander aimlessly, as Hannah and her friends jump from one career to the next, adopting personas as quickly as they shed them. Admittedly, after finally getting into Girls while stuck at home under a shelter-in-place order, I could only make it two and a half seasons before I was worn down. After too many deeply uncomfortable sex scenes (many featuring the delightful Adam Driver) and ridiculous arguments, I was ready to call it quits. But the show had fulfilled its purpose for me. For a moment, I could be stressed out not by a global pandemic, but by the superficial concerns of rich Brooklynites. – Jillian Ran, Arts Editor

The Good Place – Available on Netflix and Hulu

With all the negative news circulating 24/7, I can’t bring myself to watch anything too dramatic right now. I’ve been re-watching The Good Place with my family—it’s an easy watch, and it’s uplifting enough to bring us together every night to watch two 22-minute episodes. All the catastrophic parts of the show are intentionally silly, featuring giant shrimp flying through the sky or a blazer-wearing demon named Trevor (Adam Scott). While the show is known for tackling heavier topics such as mortality, it never gets bogged down. While Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) might be discussing the philosophies of Immanuel Kant or John Stuart Mill, Jason (Manny Jacinto) will be prattling on about the trials and tribulations of being an amateur DJ in Jacksonville, Fla. with his best friend, Pillboi (Eugene Cordero). The Good Place hardly makes any sense, but then again, neither does 2020. Eleanor and Chidi drive the show’s optimism and warmth, leaving viewers feeling better off at the end of every episode than they did before. The show is silly enough to capture your attention and stimulating enough to spark some reflection within the repetition and mundaneness that can come with our social distancing routines.  – Emily Himes, Heights Senior Staff

The Place Beyond The Pines – Available on Netflix

Derek Cianfrance’s neo-noir film begins with motorcycle trickster Luke (Ryan Gosling) revving the engine and doing daredevil stunts. For the next two hours, the excitement only continues to grow. The Place Beyond The Pines is a chilling epic about a murder that reverberates into the next generation. A confrontation between Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) and Luke forces their sons Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen) to shoulder heavy emotional burdens and instills in them a burning desire to settle the score. Gosling’s effortless nonchalance and swagger belies a deep commitment to his son and ex-girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes) despite his personal struggles. Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, and Mahershala Ali round out a supporting cast worthy of its own film. A crime movie that unapologetically examines our darkest tendencies, The Place Beyond The Pines is steeped in a viscous, lasting gloom, one that sticks to the walls like cigarette smoke and settles in the air like the scent of gasoline long after viewing. It is certainly a heavy affair, but is immensely captivating and features wonderful cinematography of upstate New York that calls to mind the suburban tranquility and insulated dread that pervades the storyline. It may not be the most comforting during these times, but it’ll certainly keep you entertained. – Nathan Rhind, Asst. Arts Editor

Making the Cut – Available on Prime Video

Take the mold of reality television, toss in a competitive fashion design component, add in hosts and fashion mentors Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, and you might be envisioning Bravo’s Project Runway. But you’d be wrong. Amazon’s Making the Cut is certainly cut from the same cloth as Project Runway, featuring 12 designers competing to become the next global fashion brand. Yet what distinguishes Making the Cut from its predecessor is that this competition isn’t rooted solely in design. The designers are tasked with not only building their brands, but also marketing themselves. As Klum reminds the competitors before every judge’s cut: “The designer behind the brand is just as important as the clothes that walk the runway.” The stakes are high (a $1 million prize), the drama is simmering, and the competition is fierce. Within the first three episodes, two eliminated contestants seem more than willing to go. Global domination isn’t tailored for everyone. Yet for all its rigor, the designers are basking in luxury—the competition unfolds in Paris before jetting off to Tokyo. The designers sketch their runway collections outside the Louvre. They visit the Yves Saint Laurent museum. Klum performs at the Moulin Rouge while Gunn applauds her efforts. While Klum and Gunn frolic around the world, living vicariously through the pair grants me the escapism I currently crave. I came for the fashion, but I found myself staying for the virtual sight-seeing and the reality television drama. – Grace Mayer, Assoc. Arts Editor

Featured Images Courtesy of Netflix, Amazon, and HBO

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