Choice paralysis is real, and the only proof we need is a click or two away. Perhaps the era of cutting cables has largely done away with channel surfing, but many of us have an equally large amount of idle time these days. Instead of clicking from PBS over TNT, we check out what’s available on different streaming services and save the interesting stuff on our lists. Of course, once something is on that list, there’s no guarantee that it will ever be watched (maybe channel browsing will become more productive afterwards).
But, like seemingly everything else, our viewing habits and rituals have changed dramatically in the past month as society settles into its temporary, at-home COVID-19 reality. Around Ars, some of us took advantage of the extra time near a screen and hit ‘play’ on the things that have always been, ‘uh, I’ll check it out next time’. Others are faced with new realities, from ever-present children to newly shared selection tasks that make us regret never watching those movies and shows lined up before.
However, we all undoubtedly have more time to think about the consequences of our streaming queues. These are those stories (Law & Order: SVU marathons not yet included).
tfw, you finally have three and a half hours left
the Irishman (Netflix) is an obvious choice for a list like this: it’s well-rated, it has legendary stars, and its massive three-and-a-half-hour runtime should be less taxing if I can’t leave the house. But yes, that.
This isn’t a controversial stance, but I’m sort of a Martin Scorsese fanboy. His highlights (Raging Bull† Taxi driver† Good Boys) are almost undeniably brilliant, but I have appreciated his genre work (Shutter Island† cape fear), period pieces (Gangs of New York† The Age of Innocence), tortured religious epics (Silence† Kundun† The Last Temptation of Christ), even the children’s film (Hugo† The Wolf of Wall Street perhaps the scorched earth is to film American greed, seduction and self-indulgence, and The king of comedy may be more relevant today than it was in the early 1980s. They are all so considered, so committed at every level to furthering the questions Scorsese wants to ask with a particular piece. I can always count on them to entertain, but don’t pat me on the head and give me meaning on a plate.
the Irishman is a gripping gangster movie starring Robert De Niro, so it seems to be in Scorsese’s wheelhouse. Feedback from friends is mixed, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t have time” is less of an excuse these days, at least for me.
†Jeff Dunn, Commerce Editor
Foreigner, and a Friday the 13th binge nightmare
I jumped on a six month Starz subscription in January just to watch season five foreigner (Hulu) in 2020. Our family has “yours, mines, and ours” entertainment, and it’s mine, all mine† And since even my husband isn’t interested, I usually sneak into the show during intermissions, in chunks. Normally, weekday hours have proven to be optimal, as the show’s bare Highlander bottoms and equally bare swords aren’t exactly suitable for kids.
Except, well, you know. Schools are closed and my kids have always been home with me since Friday March 13th – at that time I was only half way through the second episode. I’ve read the books so I know what’s coming, but it’s driving me crazy having the perfect binge watch and never being able to bring it up.
Other shows that I don’t watch at the moment due to the continued presence of children include the third season of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)† who is less naked than foreigner but twice as many jokes and choice sentences I don’t want to spend my time avoiding explanation.
†Kate Cox, technical policy reporter
When you’re at home, why not act weird?
For me, sitting at home isn’t so much a matter of “working through saved movies” as it is “looking at the weird stuff I didn’t know about”. Example: the Major Lazer cartoon (Hulu).
For those unfamiliar, Major Lazer is a quasi-Caribbean electronic dance music group made up of three DJs: Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Jillionaire. Diplo is a white gardener, Walshy Fire is Jamaican and Jillionaire is Trinidadian.
It’s sort of a “concept” music group, with album artwork and sometimes musical themes revolving around the exploits of a burly, quasi-military Jamaican dude whose right arm has been severed and replaced by a huge laser cannon. The actual songs are all EDM club bangers, heavily influenced with Caribbean beats and instruments.
With me until now? OK, great: now that you understand what Major Lazer is, I can tell you that Diplo broke it down and a… Major Lazer cartoon – without involving Jillionaire or Walshy Fire (or at least without crediting it).
In the cartoon, the titular pseudo-Rastafari Major Lazer smokes tons of weed and saves music, white girls, and the world, in roughly that order. All four of these elements are major plot points – themes, if you’re being generous – across the entire 11th episode (yes, 11) run, now streaming on Hulu.
†Jim Salter, technology reporter