So you’ve already ran through all the Netflix movies you hadn’t seen yet and watched all your old, childhood Disney+ favourites in an attempt to feel something again. But maybe it’s time to just face the realities of the situation we’re in right now. You know, through the best possible way to deal with problems: avoiding your own by watching other people suffer through them instead. Here’s two television shows and a film to check out in your time of need, all of which touch on the chaos and claustrophobia we’re all feeling right now.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
With 154 episodes scattered across 14 seasons, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is probably the perfect quarantine watch, provided that watching a group of people huff spray paint and foraging in trash isn’t going to make life feel even more chaotic for you. Not only is there a lot of content to get through, every episode is quick-witted and hysterical, lighthearted even when covering dark material. Always Sunny’s facetious, often absurd humour is the perfect remedy to both the boredom and anxiety you may be feeling right now. As an added bonus, watching hours upon hours of such horrible people interact with each other will probably make you feel awfully good about social distancing.
Knowing Always Sunny, we’re most definitely going to see their take on coronavirus in a season or two, but until then, there are a few other episodes to check out that match the mix of chaos and ennui overtaking us all right now:
“Mac & Dennis Move to the Suburbs”: This episode’s an absolute classic, the crème de la cracked-out crème. Mac and Dennis can’t find a place in Philadelphia within their price range so they decide to move to the suburbs, but it goes from sunshine to The Shining real quick as the two of them fall into insanity. Mac becomes a bored, restless housewife and Dennis is a stressed-out hard-working husband, doomed to come home to the same dinner every single night (until the dog goes missing, at least). Glenn Howerton, in particular, is at his best and most horrifying in this season 11 episode. A must watch.
“The Gang Gets Quarantined”: I mean, obviously. The season nine episode sees the gang voluntarily quarantine themselves inside Paddy’s Pub during a flu outbreak, as they have a competition that’ll let them open for Boyz II Men coming up and need to make sure their voices are immaculate. Frank (Danny Devito) becomes increasingly neurotic as the rest of the gang breaches the rules they all swore on and quickly become ill. This episode is a perfect disaster slathered in hand sanitizer, which is how a lot of us are feeling right now and how Frank definitely felt as he uttered one of the most infamous quotes in Sunny history, “I just want to be pure.”
Let’s go back to “Mac & Dennis Move to the Suburbs” real quick. This 2019 film is basically that episode if it’d watched a handful of 1920s horror films.
Touching on obvious themes of isolation and the insanity that can come with it, The Lighthouse is a black-and-white horror film that takes place in the 19th century, following a man named Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) as he sets out on what’s supposed to be a four-week gig tending to a lighthouse on a remote island. He’s under the supervision of Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), an irritable and utterly foul old wickie who is deeply captivated by the lighthouse’s light and has clearly lost his mind quite a long time ago.
The pair become trapped on the island after a storm hints, but their descent into madness has already begun. If you’re at least isolated with friends, you can probably find some relatability in Winslow and Wake spending their days getting drunk, singing and dancing, sharing stories about their lives. If you’re isolated by yourself, maybe Winslow’s hallucinations of tentacles and mermaids or his lonely, screaming-and-crying shed excursions with his scrimshaw mermaid sound more like you.
Either way, the psychological horror is a phenomenal film that drips with dread and has a claustrophobic quality to it. Dafoe and Pattinson are both at the top of their game and the Oscar-nominated cinematography alone is enough to keep your eyes stuck to the screen.
I’m a firm believer that it’s always a good time to give Breaking Bad a rewatch, though this time’s probably better than ever. If you’ve never seen it, then great, you finally have a chance to catch up with the rest of us. Commonly hailed as one of the greatest shows ever made, I can say with certainty this thrill-ride series still holds up no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Plus, with the time to give the series your full, undivided attention, you’ll be able to pick up on all the incredible little details sprinkled throughout the show.
Much like Always Sunny, Breaking Bad has a few episodes that feel rather timely for right now.
“Fly”: One of the most divisive episodes of Breaking Bad history comes from Vince Gilligan and the team realizing they were wildly over budget and needed to make a bottle episode to avoid the expenses of moving production trucks to a new location. In comparison to the rest of the series, this one’s got no action and a slow pace, featuring only Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Walt (Bryan Cranston) sitting in their meth lab chasing a fly around, as Walt insists it’s a contamination and must be eliminated. It almost sounds like a Sunny episode, but “Fly” is laced with subtlety and gets deep into the minds of Jesse and Walt.
“Grilled”: If you’re one of the people who skips “Fly” in a rewatch, maybe the tension and high stakes of “Grilled” will give you something to look to instead. This is the one where Tuco (Raymond Cruz) kidnaps Walt and Jesse and holds them hostage in the desert hideout he takes care of Hector (Mark Margolis) in. This one’s unforgettable for Tuco’s intensity and the fear he builds. At times, it felt like Jesse and Walt really weren’t going to make it out of there alive. Even knowing that they do, the tension still remains at an all-time high in a rewatch.