If you're watching: The Circus on Amazon Prime
Read: Antisocial by Andrew Marantz
There's something to be said for swapping one hellish nightmare for another. If, for some reason, you've decided that now is the time to dig your feet into the grime of American politics, you may have stumbled across The Circus, Showtime's docuseries on the upcoming presidential election. The show is good—and sobering—but there are only so many times you can watch someone deconstruct a stump speech. For some much needed context, try reading Andrew Marantz's Antisocial, the 2019 deep dive into online radicalization and its political implications. Someone had to wade into the swampy side of the internet where the conspiracists and trolls live, and Marantz took the hit for all of us.
If you're watching: Love Is Blind on Netflix
Read: Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson
Love Is Blind is a reality-show toothache only justifiable during a pandemic, but you'll still need to cleanse yourself with some sort of esteemed literature afterward. It's not exactly pods and sight-unseen proposals, but April Ayers Lawson's debut collection involves all the sex, love and feverish drama that makes any dating show so addicting. The title story follows a young woman in the American South, grappling with the dynamics of her new marriage and everything she thinks she knows about faith. Other stories tackle illicit piano lessons, gender transitions and terminally ill stoners—a quarantine read if there ever was one.
If you're watching: The Great British Baking Show on Netflix
Read: Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
The Great British Baking Show is the cream of quarantine television. The wholesome competition is chicken soup for the self-isolated soul, as amateur bakers whisk up meringue and custard tarts in the English countryside. While nearly every winner has published a cookbook or two, Season 3 finalist Ruby Tandoh released in 2018 her memoir-slash-manifesto Eat Up!, a funny, quick-witted ode to food as one of life's greatest pleasures. Tandoh is the ideal companion for self-isolation, as she embraces junk food and rails mercilessly against fad diets and the bad science behind—cough—Goopier pastures.
If you're watching: Pandemic on Netflix
Read: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
As it turns out, this is not the first time in American history we have been forcibly housebound. While shows like Pandemic can put things into perspective and arm you with public health knowledge, it also might be comforting to turn to a different season of isolation. The sixth book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House series is The Long Winter, drawing from Wilder's own experience in the South Dakota blizzards of 1880-81. The town of De Smet is buried under feet of snow, unable to receive supplies or aid from the outside world and running dangerously low on food—something to consider the next time you panic buy granola at Safeway.
If you're watching: High Fidelity on Hulu
Read: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
It's hard to say whether Nick Hornby's 1996 novel-turned-2000 John Cusack movie High Fidelity really needed a gender-bending reboot, but it's here and it stars Zoe Kravitz, so there is no judgment if it has become your pandemic stream of choice. But if you haven't read the original book, it's worth a weekend read, if only for the comparative value—Hornby's sad-boy protagonist, Rob, is neck deep in a pool of self-pity and plumbing the depths of his music collection for emotional resonance after a breakup. In other words, the book possesses a lot of quarantine energy.