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16 TV shows to binge during a big snowstorm

Danielle Deadwyler in "Station Eleven."Warrick Page/HBO

You’ve gotten your recipes out and clawed your way through the supermarket, you’ve gotten the shovels from the basement, and you’ve gone to the liquor or weed store for supplies. Now it’s time to think about a viewing plan, so that you’ll have a few options for the duration of the snowstorm. You won’t be able to go out, but you’ll be able to visit all kinds of places with the loyal help of your remote control. Here are a few binge recommendations — comedies, thrillers, dramas, and exactly one pandemic tale.

“Station Eleven” Right up front I’ll tell you that this powerful series is set after a flu pandemic has wiped out most of the world. So it’s timely in a bad way — but nonetheless worth watching. The post-apocalyptic tale has a deeply affirmative twist, as it’s more about the value of storytelling and the powerful role of the arts than it is about the usual grimy survivors battling for resources and power. Based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel, and adapted by Patrick Somerville, the 10-episode limited series zeroes in on a tribe of performers — and a young woman named Kirsten in particular — who travel in the Great Lakes area putting on Shakespeare plays for other survivors. It’s transporting. HBO Max


“Belgravia” Julian Fellowes is in the air right now, with the premiere of his new series (HBO’s “The Gilded Age”) and the forthcoming May release of the second “Downton Abbey” movie. Fellowes wrote this lesser-known period miniseries, which was released in 2020. It’s a mild six-episode escape, as it takes on the conflicts between entitled old money and scrappier new money in 1840s England. There’s old love and new, and reputations are at stake, of course. The story lines aren’t especially fresh or challenging, and the upstairs material fares better than the downstairs, but it’s all lifted to a higher level by a pair of engaging performances from Tamsin Greig (“Episodes”) and Harriet Walter (“Succession”). If you’re a “Downton” type, I suspect you’ll enjoy it. Epix

“Frayed” This broad, endearing dramedy — there are two short seasons so far — is set in 1980s Australia with lots of giant cellphones and big hair. It’s about a woman living in London, played by show creator Sarah Kendall, who loses her husband and their fortune overnight. She moves with her two teen kids back home to Australia to live with her financially struggling family, with “Schitt’s Creek”-ian results. She has airs, but she is brought down to reality by her crude dude of a brother, with whom she bickers and fights like a 5-year-old, and by her sober mother (played by the magnificent Kerry Armstrong). It’s a warm portrait of extended family, and a bit raunchy, too. HBO Max


Aisling Bea and Tobias Menzies in "This Way Up."Rekha Garton/Channel 4

“This Way Up” I love this warm British import, a poignant slice-of-life comedy about the bond between sisters, one of whom is recovering from a breakdown. Aisling Bea is Aine, a teacher in London trying to restart her life after a stay in an institution. She has a dark sense of humor that keeps her afloat, aware that everyone is watching her closely to make sure she’s OK. Sharon Horgan, from “Catastrophe,” is the always-worried Shona, whose boyfriend (played by Aasif Mandvi) tries to mellow her out. Tobias Menzies is on hand as an unlikely romantic interest for Aine; he’s as reserved as she is extroverted. I hope the breakdown theme doesn’t scare you away; the two seasons are charming, and funny, and, at times, moving. Hulu


“The Shrink Next Door” I’m a fan of this New York-set eight-episode series, which didn’t get much appreciation when it was released late last year. Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell are remarkable as an exploitive therapist and his dupe of a client, respectively. Rudd’s Dr. Isaac Herschkopf is a narcissistic heel, a wolf in mensch’s clothing, and Ferrell’s extremely shy Marty Markowitz is his doormat, as well as his bank and his servant. Together, the two actors create a fascinatingly intricate psychological system of adulation and abuse. Based on a true story, “Shrink” also features Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson. Apple TV+

“The Capture” This is a six-episode British thriller about the terrifying deep-fake phenomenon. It’s set in London, a famously heavily surveilled city loaded with CCTV cameras, where detectives often rely on street footage to solve crimes. But sophisticated deep fakery is changing the game, as they try to find a murderer. One of our most historically dependable faculties — sight — has been rendered unreliable as criminals — and cops — can doctor footage. The twisty story has creative ups and downs, but the concept is consistently haunting. Peacock

William Jackson Harper and Jessica Williams in the second season of "Love Life."Sarah Shatz/HBO Max

“Love Life: Season 2″ The second round of this anthology rom-com — which features a different New Yorker’s romantic history in each 10-episode season — is a pleasure, with more layers and original twists than the underwhelming first. William Jackson Harper (Chidi from “The Good Place”) shows his great range as Marcus, a book editor who, when we meet him, is married but blandly, almost grudgingly, so. He and his wife split, and we join him on a journey through dates, hookups, and love affairs as he grows along the way. The supporting cast is half the fun here, with Leslie Bibb as an older girlfriend, Ego Nwodim as a date with a New Age vibe, and Punkie Johnson as his sister. HBO Max


“Maxxx” Like “Girls5eva,” this six-episode British comedy is a broad comedy and a fierce lampoon of fame and the hunger for it. About a washed-up boy-band star named Maxxx who wants a comeback, it’s cringey — but it’s also witty and, when it comes to Maxxx’s teen son, sweet. The show is written by its star, O-T Fagbenle, best known for playing June’s husband on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and it’s packed with inside show-biz jokes — an “Imma let you finish” line, for example, when Maxxx grabs the mic from a dead man’s mother while she’s eulogizing her son. Add in an over-the-top Christopher Meloni as a record exec and you’ve got a tart treat. Hulu

Russell Tovey (left) and Bertie Carvel in "The Sister."Robert Viglasky/Robert Viglasky/Hulu

“The Sister” This four-episode thriller, a British import from “Luther” creator Neil Cross, stars Russell Tovey as a guy who carries a very dark secret involving the death of a young woman 10 years earlier. When a creepy lowlife he hasn’t seen since the incident shows up to warn him that the woman’s grave is going to be dug up to make way for new construction, he embarks on a long, complicated campaign of lies to avoid exposure. It’s dark and tense, like any self-respecting British thriller, and it hints at the paranormal. Desperation, bad choices, unexpected twists — good times! Hulu


“Landscapers” If you saw “The Lost Daughter” and marveled at Olivia Colman, here’s your chance to marvel at her all over again. The four-parter is based on the true story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, an unremarkable British couple who may have murdered her abusive parents and buried them in the backyard. Colman’s Susan is fragile, melancholy, and magnetically drawn to escape inside the world of the movies, and David Thewlis’s Christopher is docile and selfless, or so it seems. I should mention that the miniseries is highly stylized, so that for every two scenes grounded in our shared reality, there’s one surreal scene set in the characters’ Hollywood-bred fantasies. That gets in the way of the flow to some extent, but still: The acting makes it worthwhile. HBO, HBO Max

“High Maintenance” This four-season series is an all-time fave for me. I’m afraid the half-hour show (which began as a Web series, then graduated to HBO) has been pigeonholed as “the pot comedy,” but it’s so much more than that. It’s a collection of short stories about the people of New York, the multitudes that once inspired Walt Whitman, as they live their ordinary extraordinary lives behind locked doors. In the show’s narrative design, they are linked only because they share the same pot dealer — show co-creator Ben Sinclair’s “the guy” — who delivers and then, in some cases, splits, leaving us alone with them at critical moments. Each of the stories has depth and character and, sometimes, a little O. Henry-like twist at the end. HBO, HBO Max

Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Ingram in a scene from "Quiz." Mark Johnson/AMC/ITV via AP

“Quiz” Tom Wambsgans fans, your guy Matthew Macfadyen is the star of this one, which is based on a true story. The scripted three-episode British production looks back at the 2001 attempt by Macfadyen’s Charles Ingram to cheat on the UK version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The reputed weapon of choice? Coughing to guide him to the correct answers by Ingram’s wife and another person who were sitting in the audience. Directed by Stephen Frears, the lighthearted but sad story also features Michael Sheen, Sian Clifford (“Fleabag”), Aisling Bea, and Helen McCrory. AMC+

“Beartown” Like “Friday Night Lights,” this five-part Swedish miniseries is only peripherally about sports, in this case high school hockey. Really, it’s an unromanticized view of small-town life and the dangers of groupthink. Based on the novel by Fredrik Backman, it gives us a hockey team whose star player rapes the teen daughter of the new hockey coach. No one wants to believe it’s true, and the town slides into cruel denial while the coach’s daughter goes through the agony of revictimization. Obviously, it’s rough viewing, but the cast is excellent and the script manages to find some redemption. HBO, HBO Max

“Only Murders in the Building” Co-created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, this endearing New York comedy is a light whodunit filled with meta jokes, goofy twists, and a lot of satisfying star cameos (including ones by Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, and, best of all, Sting). Martin and costar Martin Short are remarkable, with the kind of rare, perfectly synced timing that takes years to develop. Short’s comic grandiosity and blather never get old. At the heart of the show, and what lasts after the murder mystery is solved, is the warmth that the self-appointed detectives — who include Selena Gomez — find with one another amid a big city of strangers. Hulu

Cush Jumbo and Jared Harris in "The Beast Must Die."Gareth Gatrell/AMC

“The Beast Must Die” Jared Harris and Cush Jumbo are outstanding in this six-episode British revenge thriller. She’s the grieving mother of a 6-year-old boy killed in a hit-and-run on the Isle of Wight, he’s the shifty rich guy she believes is responsible. She goes undercover to live with him and his family, pretending to be a writer, to gather proof, while a cat and mouse game develops between them. The plot engages, and the acting is memorable. I can’t say it’s up there with the best of the British mysteries like “Broadchurch” and “The Fall,” but it’s good enough. AMC, AMC+, Fubo

“Dickinson” I didn’t like this loosey-goosey series about the young life of Emily Dickinson, with its contemporary language, sexual fluidity, and pop music — until I gave it a second chance and fell in love. It’s deeply respectful of Dickinson (played by Hailee Steinfeld), and it brings the lines of her poems into the stories with grace. For all the surrealism (including Wiz Khalifa smoking a joint as Death), the show nevertheless brings us inside the heart and soul of a strong-willed outsider. She is a brilliant young woman coping with the misogyny and gender expectations of her day and wrestling with a massive, mysterious gift. The supporting cast is all aces, notable Toby Huss as her traditional but loving father. All three seasons of the series are available. Apple TV+

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.