Is it wave five of the pandemic in Nova Scotia? Or at this point are we so pummelled by COVID-19’s relentless inward tide that we’ve simply lost count? It’s hard to say. It’s also, at this point of almost two years of sheltering in place, hard to find something new to watch.
If you’ve already wept over the flawless, peerless Apple TV+ series Dickinson (and how the streaming service loves to pause and stutter playback); if you’re basically in a LTR with Netflix’s algorithm by now; if you hate yourself enough to deal with the terrible interface of Amazon’s Prime Video, in the name of season two of the anachronistic, super-horny series The Great (a wildly outside-the-lines imagining of Catherine The Great’s first years in Russia), then welcome: You, too, have watched almost the entire internet. What’s left to lose ourselves in now?
Here are three of the weirder self-soothes that my quarantine bubble has ingested during this unprecedented time, in between repeat devourings of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Please don’t judge us—we’ve already done that enough to ourselves.
Get way too into a niche sport
When a member of my household contracted COVID-19, they were pretty stoic about it (and were really fortunate that, due to being vaccinated, the case was comparatively mild). One small but understandable gripe? Brain fog meant focusing on a scripted show (or reading a book) felt impossible, so they turned to sports. But a fortnight alone in your apartment during off-season means getting creative, so they got to watching professional darts. “The darts,” as they’re now known in our household, have become their own cultural curio: Inexplicable crowd costumes, weird contestant nicknames (one player is simply referred to as “The Ferret” by commentators) and no songs more recent than 2012 feather the nest of the sport’s subculture. The best part, though, is watching people with a niche talent do their thing with startling precision.
Watch some vintage food shows
Julia Child, America’s OG food personality, is having a posthumous moment, with an upcoming eponymous HBO Max drama reimagining her butter-sauteed life, and the recent documentary Julia returning her to her rightful pedestal in our collective minds. Diving into her original public access broadcasts from the 1960s is a delightful deep-dive into the source material—but Child isn’t your only option, here. After a long bout of cooking for yourself, it can be weirdly comforting to watch the likes of Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten prep something intricate while you await your DoorDash order’s arrival.
Relive iconic interviews with your heroes
During the pandemic, social media became a new way to connect with celebrities. Comedian Ziwe’s viral Instagram Live interviews skewered unsuspecting star guests while the Verzuz webcasts saw top musicians comparing their catalogues while we tuned in live.
All this was fun, but too many celebs were left unattended with their Twitter accounts and phones, getting themselves cancelled for everything from casual racism to potential cannibalism. Keeping track of all your problematic faves can be exhausting, so watching great authors of the 20th century speak feels like a brain massage with the added bonus that, well, the dead can’t disappoint you on Twitter tomorrow. An iconic clip to get you started? Truman Capote telling Johnny Carson how his seminal true crime opus In Cold Blood came together in 1972.