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30-plus TV shows to stream during the storm

From left: Ambreen Razia, Kadiff Kirwan, Aisling Bea, and Tobias Menzies in Hulu's "This Way Up."Rekha Garton/Channel 4

Now that you’ve clawed your way through the supermarket to get the very last bag of Cheetos on the shelf, it’s time to think about a viewing plan. The storm has arrived, and you can’t go out, but you can travel vicariously with the loyal help of your remote control. Here are a few recommendations — comedies, thrillers, dramas, and exactly one pandemic tale.

“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)


From left: Rhodri Meilir, Gabrielle Creevy, and Jo Hartley in "In My Skin."Hulu

“In My Skin” This British series — there are two short seasons — ought to be unbearably bleak. It’s about high-schooler Bethan, played by the miraculous Gabrielle Creevy, who pretends to her friends that she comes from a safe and caring middle-class home. In reality, her mother suffers from mental illness, her father is an alcoholic, and they are poor. And yet the show is filled with kindhearted moments, as Bethan acts as a parent-like figure to her wounded parents, and as she and her amusing grandmother share moments of levity. It’s about survival, not lying, and I was moved and amused. (Hulu)

“Schmigadoon!” You probably need to like Broadway musicals to enjoy this buoyant spoof, but you don’t need to be a student of the genre to understand the jokes. Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key play a couple on the rocks who can’t leave the magical Schmigadoon until they work out their relationship one way or the other. The people in the pastel town are played with infectious enthusiasm by the likes of Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, and Jane Krakowski. It hasn’t yet been renewed, so let’s just call it a miniseries. (Apple TV+)


“The End” This British-Australian import is, top to bottom, about death. Suicide, assisted suicide, cancer, you name it. Yes, of course it’s a comedy. Frances O’Connor plays a single mother of two and a palliative care doctor in Australia who deals with dying patients all day long. Harriet Walter from “Succession,” “The Crown,” and “Belgravia” — who is phenomenal, as usual — plays her suicidal mother, forced into a retirement community and angry about it. There are flashes of hope and lots of gallows humor along the way, as mother and daughter work to come to terms. (Showtime)

Himesh Patel and Matilda Lawler in "Station Eleven."Parrish Lewis/HBO Max

“Station Eleven” Yup, this powerful miniseries is set after a flu pandemic has wiped out most of the world. So it’s timely in a bad way — but nonetheless well worth watching. It has a deeply affirmative twist; it’s more about the value of storytelling and the powerful role of the arts than it is about grimy survivors battling for resources and power. Based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel and adapted by Patrick Somerville, the 10-parter 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” and “Dr. Thorne” I keep hearing from “Downton Abbey” fans who are disappointed in Julian Fellowes’s new “The Gilded Age.” Maybe one of these Fellowes dramas will ease the pain. “Belgravia,” set in 1840s England, is a six-episode escape, and, like “Gilded,” it takes on the conflicts between entitled old money and scrappier new money. It’s a conventional tale elevated by engaging performances from Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter. “Dr. Thorne,” based on the novel by Anthony Trollope, is a pretty diversion about the eternal theme of love vs. money. The mild four-parter doesn’t bother with Trollope’s political notions. (“Belgravia,” Epix; “Thorne,” Amazon)

“Stateless” This miniseries gives us the Cate Blanchett we love to see, the Cate who will cut you with a leer if she needs to, the Cate who looks so nice on the outside only because she’s hiding how ugly she is on the inside. She plays a scamming cult leader who, with her noxious husband (played by Dominic West), sends Yvonne Strahovski’s fragile soul over the edge and into the immigration system. The six-part Australian import is ultimately about the flaws in immigration policy and the nightmare of detention centers. It’s imperfect — a show taking on immigration that’s largely about a white woman? — but nonetheless powerful. (Netflix)


Sofia Black-D'Elia (left) and Lily Mae Harrington in "Single Drunk Female." Elizabeth Sisson/Freeform

“Single Drunk Female” This likable dramedy, currently in the middle of its first season, is about getting sober in your 20s. It can be funny, but it does not shy away from painful truths. Sam, our sardonic heroine played by Sofia Black-D’Elia, hits bottom, gets into a program, and lives through all the changes and challenges sobriety can bring into your life once self-medication is out of the picture. Having lost her writing job in New York, she moves back in with her widowed mother, Carol (Ally Sheedy), in the Boston area and, terrified, feels her way forward. The supporting cast is all aces: Sam’s only remaining friend is Felicia, played irresistibly by Lily Mae Harrington as a ruthlessly loyal single mother with a good Boston accent, and Sam’s sponsor, Olivia, played with droll humor and excellent timing by Rebecca Henderson. (Freeform, Hulu)

“The Keepers” This seven-episode documentary series digs into the murder of Baltimore nun Sister Cathy Cesnik, who disappeared in 1969 at age 26 and whose body was found the following year. The more filmmaker Ryan White pursues the case, the more horrifying it becomes, with news about a coverup, sexual abuse by priests, repressed memories, the statute of limitations, and more. The series is helped by its portrayal of a pair of amateur sleuths, both former students of Sister Cathy, who work to solve the case. Their loyalty and commitment is touching in a story that triggers much darker feelings. (Netflix)


“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)

From left: Amrit Kaur, Alyah Chanelle Scott, and Pauline Chalamet in "The Sex Lives of College Girls." HBO Max

“The Sex Lives of College Girls” This comedy series cocreated by Mindy Kaling provides us with yet another one of TV’s female foursomes, on the order of “Sex and the City” and “Girls.” The four roommates and — gradually — friends, spend their freshman year experimenting with sex and romance and trying to decide who they want to be. It’s all familiar stuff, but the fast-paced show has enough charm and energy to make it easy to watch, if not compelling or thought-provoking. The casting is good, so that the friends become both endearing and a bit more than the stereotypes they are written as. (HBO Max)

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” This powerful docuseries procedural is about the search for the Golden State Killer. It’s also the story of the tragedy and bravery of the rapist-murderer’s victims and their families, whose lives were broken by depression, shame, and police officers with no sensitivity to rape survivors. And it’s a look at the true-crime genre and those obsessed with it, including author Michelle McNamara, whose own death becomes the one mystery the series doesn’t get to the bottom of. (HBO, HBO Max)

“Call My Agent!” This light-hearted and witty French drama — there are four short seasons — is a full-on treat. It’s about a group of high-powered talent agents, specifically those in a Paris agency called ASK. In each episode, some real-life actor — from Juliette Binoche and Jean Dujardin to Isabelle Huppert and Sigourney Weaver — plays a comic version of his or herself, which is great fun; “The Larry Sanders Show” was a model of this kind of metamaterial. The agents do their best to pamper their stars, even when the stars are at their most prima-donna-ish. Mostly though, we follow the personal lives of the nine characters who work for ASK, as they deal with personal and professional challenges. Now get to it. (Netflix)

Jonathan Groff in "Mindhunter." Patrick Harbron

“Mindhunter” Netflix, like all TV outlets, likes a sure thing. So it returned to David Fincher, the star director who brought the company its first breakthrough series, “House of Cards,” for this stunning look into the psychology of serial killers. A fictionalized version of the 1995 nonfiction book “Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, the show has a haunting noir affect as its FBI agents — played by Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff — visit and interview darkly fascinating imprisoned serial killers to look for patterns. Essentially, they are inventing profiling. Set in the late 1970s, the show also follows the agents into their personal lives. Season one is good; season two is riveting. (Netflix)

“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)

“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)

Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke in "The Other Two."Greg Endries/HBO Max

“The Other Two” Yet another sharp sendup of show biz? Yes, please, when it’s this much fun. I liked the first season when it aired on Comedy Central more than two years ago. But I loved the second season, after the series jumped to HBO Max last year. Created by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, former “Saturday Night Live” head writers, it satirizes fame and the hunger for it deftly, wisely, and, ultimately, compassionately. The titular pair, Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver), are trying to use their pop-star brother and their talk-show host mother (a sweet Molly Shannon) to get ahead in New York entertainment, but it’s an uphill battle strewn with humiliation and thankless jobs. They are so close, and yet so far. Ah, the trials of fame-adjacency. (HBO Max)

“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+)

“We Are Lady Parts” This British comedy, about music as a gateway to salvation, quickly became one of my favorites of last year. I binged with a passion. Set in London, it’s about an all-female punk band whose members are Muslim. None of them fits into a stereotype — as women, as performers, and, most clearly, as Muslims. The show dodges more familiar, EZ-to-read tropes, so that a devout Muslim woman also can be a tattooed wild child with a jagged haircut who finds all kinds of redemption and freedom in performing curse-filled songs. The story line is built around the shy Amina, who wants to be in the band — if she can stop vomiting from stage fright. But all the characters are fully — and wonderfully — dimensional. The songs are catchy, too. (Peacock)

William Jackson Harper and Jessica Williams in "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, Jessica Williams as a possible new love, and Punkie Johnson as his sister. (HBO Max)

“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)

“Girls5eva” Yes, it’s silly and punchy. But, you know, comedy is subjective. I laughed out loud many times, and I couldn’t get enough of the comic delivery of Renée Elise Goldsberry, who plays a narcissist to perfection. The show is a parody of show business and the greed machine that creates fads such as the one-hit 2000 girl group Girls5eva, whose surviving members are considering a comeback. The women are also trying to redefine themselves in midlife, and we get to know each one thanks to the strong cast led by Sara Bareilles. The fake pop songs are awful and irresistible at the same time. (Peacock)

Gemma Arterton and Alessandro Nivola in "Black Narcissus." Miya Mizuno/FX

“Black Narcissus” This three-part miniseries based on Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel explores a small group of British nuns who begin a mission in the Himalayas during the last years of British rule in India. Gemma Arterton plays Sister Clodagh (played by Deborah Kerr in the 1947 film), who is driven to guide the nuns in their difficult endeavor. Separated from their culture, the women begin to have new feelings, sexual and otherwise, as the primitive environment rises to their heads. Alessandro Nivola costars as the rude Brit who tries to help them blend in with the locals. (Hulu)

“Lady Dynamite” This is artful quirkiness meshed with edginess. From comic Maria Bamford, the show lasted only two seasons, failing to meet Netflix’s unpredictable standards for renewal. But it’s an odd treat, as it takes on a pair of related topics — mental illness and Hollywood. The narrative includes hallucinogenic flights of fancy, as it tracks Maria’s return to acting after a breakdown, and they beautifully reflect her state of mind. The supporting characters are fun, most of all Ana Gasteyer as Maria’s thoroughly disingenuous agent, a shark with flashy glasses and slippery loyalties. (Netflix)

“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)

Innocent Ekakitie (left) and Kemiyondo Coutinho in "Little America." Apple TV+

“Little America” In this lovely eight-episode anthology series, each half-hour zeroes in on one immigrant to tell an entirely discrete story about his or her experiences in America, in coming to America, or in having to adjust to America. Each episode seems to have the reach of a full-length movie, but the season holds together impressively as a collection of sharp short stories whose themes resonate with one another. “Little America” is consistently inventive, and the diversity of storytelling styles matches the diversity of the characters. When a guy listens to cassettes sent by his family in Nigeria, the family members appear in the room with him. Each episode has its own language, literally and figuratively. (Apple TV+)

“Hacks” Jean Smart plays a Joan Rivers-like comic named Deborah Vance who has a residency at a casino in Vegas. She’s Mrs. Maisel much further down the road. Deborah is comfortable, which has taken a toll on the freshness of her performances and her material. Her agent hooks her up with a 25-year-old comedy writer who is dryly ironic and in-jokey, and the two begin a mentor relationship that is twisted, tense, and beautiful. Sexism, ageism, and generational distance are among the themes, but what will keep you hooked is Smart, who is genius in the role. (HBO Max)

“Maxxx” Like “Girls5eva,” this six-episode British comedy is 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)

Winona Ryder and Oscar Isaac in "Show Me a Hero."Paul Schiraldi

“Show Me a Hero” If I told you that you’d thoroughly enjoy a six-part HBO miniseries from 2015 about 200 units of public housing in 1980s Yonkers, N.Y., you’d probably roll your eyes. But David Simon of “The Wire” turns the story of Yonkers councilman and later mayor Nick Wasicsko into both an informative snapshot of how local government does and does not work and a tragic portrait of a man defeated. It’s all informed by Simon’s intelligence and outrage, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Oscar Isaac is brilliant as Wasicsko. (HBO, HBO Max)

“Gentleman Jack” Time to catch up on season one of this 1830s-set drama, as season two is imminent. Suranne Jones plays Anne Lister, a real woman who kept diaries about her affairs with women. She was gender nonconforming, with enough property and status to reject social conventions and pursue her desires. Jones is a gale-force wind, carrying the story of Anne’s loves with confidence, bold self-awareness, and unexpected emotional power. From Sally Wainwright of “Happy Valley” and “Last Tango in Halifax,” the show has a few lulls midseason, as Anne and her neighboring heiress go back and forth on their relationship. But still, when Jones is onscreen, which is almost always, there’s enough life to lift everything. (HBO, HBO Max)

“What We Do in the Shadows” Few shows right now make me smile more than this gothic vampire comedy, as it finds subversive humor in the banal days (by which I mean nights) of its three undead Staten Island housemates. The perfectly cast Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Kayvan Novak make me laugh out loud. Their bloodsuckers are a little bitter, a little bored, and, for such ancient beings, very, very stupid. Berry was particularly good in the episode about his character Laszlo’s alter ego, Jackie Daytona, a half-hour featuring Mark Hamill that’s destined to become a classic. Mark Proksch also entertained as the energy vampire living in the basement of the mansion, who feeds from people by boring them into a stupor — something this show could never be guilty of. (Hulu)

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.