When this all started happening, I didn’t even realise I felt pressured to be overly productive in the midst of a global pandemic until the Internet told me I was excused. “You do not have to write the next great American novel.” “You do not have to finally finish that project.” “You do not have to ‘make the most’ of this time.” It was like a lightbulb had switched on in my mind to let me know it was okay to switch off.
So, I started creating a list on my phone of nice things I like to switch off to. Here are some tv shows, podcasts, albums and books that make me laugh, feel calm, completely forget about the world and don’t include a single mention of COVID-19. I’ve also started drawing again, just for the heck of it.
Things To Watch
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous — I laugh at everything John Mulaney says in his Netflix special Kid Gorgeous, even the stuff that’s not the punchline. I remember thinking ‘this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen’ the first time I watched it. His delivery is just so endearing. Plus, in the landscape of male comedians, he is THE breath of fresh air. When else have you ever heard a man on stage shout “I love my wife!” He’s also got another Netflix special, The Comeback Kid, so add them both to your List.
Schitt’s Creek — The world is chapped lips and Schitt’s Creek is the balm. For the unaware, it’s about a rich family who loses all their money and goes to live in their only remaining asset, a town they bought as a joke called Schitt’s Creek. This show jumps between being goofy and pulling at your heartstrings with really beautiful moments. Every single character is so loveable and has such nice character arcs, plus it’s just so damn funny. Moria Rose will go down as one of televisions most memorable characters. The episodes are around 20 minutes so they’re easy to watch, and there are 5 seasons to binge before the final season drops on Netflix May 14.
Fleabag — Fleabag is one of the best things I’ve ever watched, so if there’s any time to start it, it’s now. It’s just so well written (bless Phoebe Waller-Bridge), everyone is perfectly cast, and it’s just so sharp. There are only two seasons and the episodes are short, so try to savour it as there aren’t going to be anymore episodes. It’s on Amazon Prime, so you can knock it out easily within your 30-day free trial period. Afterwards, when you’ve got the post-Fleabag blues and want more, I would recommend Crashing on Netflix. It’s another PWB creation and is so funny.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (specifically seasons 5, 6 and 7) — I’m loving season 12 and am so grateful I have something familiar to look forward to each Saturday night (despite accusations and lockdowns threatening to overshadow its run). But the older season, man, those hit differently. There’s something so comforting about watching a show hit its stride so perfectly. Season 5 is such a sweet spot (baby Alaska! baby Alyssa!), while Season 6 is arguably the greatest season, and Season 7 is just sentimental to me. Some people reread Harry Potter, I rewatch old Drag Race.
Studio Ghibli — You know those food scenes in movies that just stay in your mind? I have never forgotten how soothing it is to watch food in Studio Ghibli films (and the water! The water scenes! Even when characters cry!) Howl’s Moving Castle is my favourite of Hayao Miyazaki films, partly for this breakfast scene. Ugh, look at that yolk. So far Netflix has Spirited Away (my second favourite), My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke, with a bunch of other Ghibli classics set to drop at some point.
Sex Education — My current obsession. I’m one of the last people in the world to get around to watching this, but thankfully television shows aren’t yoghurt and they won’t expire. In short, it’s about a boy who accidentally starts an underground sex therapy clinic to deal with his classmates’ problems. I’m about to finish the first season, and so many people have hailed season two as one of the best things on television, so I can’t wait to keep going.
Things To Listen To
The High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes — These women have such soothing voices, my god. I could listen to them for hours, and have. They’re British journos discussing pop culture and current affairs, but they’re not a source of news. It’s just like two well-read friends catching up. They’re currently on break at the moment because Pandora had another baby (!), which means I’ve been listening to their old episodes which have no mention of coronavirus. Oh, to be back in 2019. They return next month and I could not be more ready.
Dolly Parton’s America — A deep dive into Dolly Parton’s career and why everyone, from every walk of life, no matter their conflicting views, loves her. I’ve learnt so much from this podcast (like did you know she wrote I Will Always Love You!? AND that she wrote that song and Jolene on the SAME DAMN NIGHT?) Audio wise, this is just a really well produced podcast with a great host, heaps of interview snippets so it moves quickly, plus heaps of Dolly singing.
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour — For relaxing, and remembering that the world is still a good place.
Lana Del Rey: Norman F**king Rockwell — For reflecting, and leaning into the feeling of helplessness.
Lizzo: Cuz I Love You — For snapping out of the rut Lana sang you into so you can have a dance in your room.
Lady Gaga — Any and all, but especially the Stupid Love single for said dance party and the entire ARTPOP album to get hyped for Chromatica.
Books To Read
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens — I loved this story so much, way more than I expected to. The summary bored me so I thought I’d never read it, but it has become, maybe, one of my favourite books. It is genuinely a story that pulled me in entirely and gently gliding me through the narrative. It’s beautifully written, the descriptions of the environment are stunning, and the entire thing just has an overall soothing kind of quality.
Normal People by Sally Rooney — Alright, this is such a polarising book. People either love it or hate it, so why not strike now while you’ve got a bit more time and see where you land? I love Rooney’s writing style, but I didn’t like the characters or plot, which made for an interesting read. What a lot of people have agreed on is that it’s addictive and easy to read, so you might knock it over in one self-isolating weekend.
Harry Potter by J.K Rowling — My eyes have glanced over at the series sitting on my shelf one too many times over the last few weeks, so I think it’s only a matter of time before I bust them out and reread them.
What have you been doing to switch off from everything lately?