May 9th, 2020 / posted by paularath

OK. I admit it. Since the coronavirus quarantine, I have watched way too much TV. (And that includes quite a few movies on our TV screen.)

But I will defend my habit by saying that I do quite a bit of homework about a show, series or movie before I invest my time in it. And if it doesn’t grab me right away, I shut it off.

My most trusted source for research is the New York Times blog, “Watching.” Although the writers tend to skew a little younger than my demographic, I find them well worth reading, and, often, worth following down the path of a new screening experience.

That said, here are a few of the programs Jerry and I have enjoyed together during this seemingly endless quarantine.


This Italian series has captivated us, and we are waiting anxiously for the next season, although that may be awhile. Based on a series of novels by Elena Ferrante, it takes place in Southern Italy, in a small village near Naples in the 1950s. It’s definitely not a scenic village, as its mainly low cost housing. (Jerry and I have spent many weeks in an Umbrian farm on art retreats, but have never been south of Rome.)

The main characters, Elena, played by Margherita Mazzucco and Lila, played by Gaia Girace, are friends from small kid time. The first two seasons (16 episodes) take them from early childhood to early adulthood. It’s a complex and sometimes confusing relationship and we are totally engrossed in each of the characters.


It’s an added bonus if I can learn about a different culture, and this series offered a great deal of insight and information about the Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. Based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, the plot involves Esty, a young Hasidic wife who flees her oppressive community in Brooklyn to go to Berlin. Tense and probing, it takes her deep into a world which is completely different from the world in which she grew up.

“Unorthodox” resonated with me on a personal basis. When I was a freshman at Goucher College in Maryland, I was assigned a roommate who was extremely different from me. She was an Orthodox Jew, although not Hasidic. I had never been exposed to Orthodox Judaism, so when she put a mezuzah on our dorm room door, I didn’t know what it was. I also didn’t understand why the other Jewish girls in the dorm were angry and upset, particularly on my behalf. (She didn’t discuss it with me or explain it in any way.) I think I get it now.

The leading cast of “Line of Duty.”


Our favorite TV channel, by far, is Acorn TV, on Amazon. It offers the best of TV from England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.  And our favorite British police procedural, “Line of Duty.”

Although we don’t enjoy CSI or Law & Order, we find this series intelligent and engrossing. It follows a police anti-corruption unit and follows DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) in a relationship that is as complex as the script in all its twists and turns. Not a hackneyed character in the whole series.


Another Italian series, this one also takes place in a Southern Italian village. The scenery is spectacular, and the village itself, with its charming houses carved into hillsides, took us right back to our beloved Italy.

It’s a mystery, in which lawyer Chiara (Anna Valle) returns to her hometown from Rome to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her sister Elena (Caterina Morariu). Chiara’s mother and her sister’s children are charming additions to the cast.

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in “Little Fires Everywhere.”


We just started binge watching this series yesterday. Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington head an excellent cast in this story of two families who could not possibly be more different.

It’s already had several unexpected twists and turns and we anticipate plenty more. The cinematography is terrific and the characters are more nuanced than one would expect.

What are they saying?
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Phyllis Oliver
May 10th, 2020 at 12:40 am

Paula, you’ve kindled my desire to check out some of these programs – and stop overdosing on CNN & MSNBC.



May 10th, 2020 at 3:45 am

Mission accomplished! It is really unhealthy to OD on CNN and MSNBC. It’s terrible for the blood pressure! I’m married to someone who has done that, and it’s part of my motivation to make sure he will watch some really good TV.
My next blog will be about a mini-film festival we are planning at home.

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