A few months before the COVID pandemic erupted in early 2020, my wife Sandy signed us up for Netflix, a streaming service. She immediately dipped into its vast catalog of offerings, but I didn’t. This was predictable, since, for years, I’d been watching very little TV. However, when the pandemic halted the activities that until then had shaped my life significantly — such as going to concerts, movies, museums and restaurants — I was in need of high doses of entertainment. So, I turned to Netflix and HBO, another streamer, in order to fill the gaping void. (We already were HBO subscribers, because Sandy loves Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.) I’m damn glad that I did. Man, it became a five-to-seven-nights-a-week ritual, which has continued to this day, for Sandy and me to watch an hour or two together of one series or another, or sometimes a movie instead.
And the selections available to us expanded luxuriously about a year ago when we decided to give Jeff Bezos some needed cash by becoming members of Amazon Prime, one component of which is Prime Video, a streamer supreme. Around that time, too, we transitioned from HBO to HBO Max, as Max offers shitloads more series and movies than traditional HBO does. Holy crap, my mind was and remains blown by the nearly infinite mass of scripted, ad-free visual content a few clicks away from me. Though the world in many ways is a nightmare, its streaming realm is f*cking miraculous.
It was a good move on my part, at the start of my infatuation with streamers, to begin compiling a list of the series that Sandy and I jointly watch on television. After all, in a way the list is a partial record of our lives. The list also includes the series that she and I have viewed individually, but there aren’t many of those. Well, I ain’t lying when I say that the list has become really long. The number of productions that we’ve seen in tandem absolutely astounds me: 87, comprising limited series and also multi-season series of which we’ve taken in one or more seasons. Yup, though I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the tube, I’m a freaking streaming addict nonetheless. I haven’t partaken of scripted fare to this extent since I was a kid ages ago, when I feasted regularly on innumerable network-television series: Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, and Peter Gunn, to name but a few.
A good indication of the strength of my addiction (and Sandy’s too, it must be noted) is the fact that, as a team last month, we polished off every episode of Mo, A Very English Scandal, Entrapped, and Wednesday. We also devoured season one of The White Lotus and the first two seasons of Catastrophe (we’ll watch the remaining two seasons in February). I liked all the shows, one especially so.
The standout is Catastrophe. It initially ran on the United Kingdom’s Channel Four, ending in 2019. Prime Video started carrying it somewhere along the line. A rip-roaring rom-com that isn’t all fun and games, Catastrophe tells the mid-life tale of Sharon Morris, an Irish lass living in London, and Rob Norris, an American who hails from Boston. At the start of the show, Rob is in London on business. Friendly, frisky and 40-ish, Sharon and Rob like what they see in each other when they meet by chance in a pub, and lose no time in getting it on, repeatedly, over the next week. Rob then returns to the States where, some weeks later, Sharon phones him to announce that she is pregnant. Well, though they barely know one another, Rob moves to London, Sharon decides to have the baby, Rob proposes to Sharon, who says yes, and a married couple they become. A few hours after the wedding ceremony concludes, the unborn child silently proclaims that it is ready to meet the world ahead of schedule.
I won’t say any more about the plot. I will add this, though: Catastrophe (created by, written by and starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, who, as best I can determine, were/are not romantically involved) leaves me breathless. Its eight or so principal characters are beautifully drawn and played, its dialogue whip-smart. The show, however, is not for anyone who isn’t up for getting drenched with candid sex talk and robust sexual situations, all of which, mind you, Catastrophe presents with a twinkle in its eye. Catastrophe truly is something else.
So, that’s the latest on the TV-viewing front from my abode. Seeing that Sandy and I always are on the lookout for series and movies to watch, we’d love to learn what you recommend, on streaming services or elsewhere. Thanks!