With everyone practicing extreme social distancing and self-isolating across the world, pretty much every publication is recommending what to watch right now. At Jezebel, we’ve been guilty of it, too. But now it’s time to get real: we’ve tried streaming a lot of TV shows and movies in the past week or so and not all of it is good. Here’s a list of what to avoid!
Do not watch the Mark Wahlberg movie Spenser Confidential, which was at one point trending No. 1 on Netflix. I suspect it’s because, like myself, viewers saw a still shot of Mark Wahlberg and thought, How bad could this be? Or they thought, at the least, This might be a fun action romp to distract the mind! I was also curious about why Post Malone is in the movie. Wahlberg plays a former Boston cop who was in prison for assaulting a cop and gets wrapped in a murder conspiracy upon getting released. I got about 13 minutes into it—an opening scene in which a conversation between Wahlberg and Post Malone in prison turns into a brawl—before absconding.
A Jezebel staffer who saw most of the movie described it as “Lifetime quality,” and I have to agree from just 13 minutes of viewing. I left thinking that Post Malone is not a bad actor but needs the right material and that Netflix Originals action movies are a bust. (I also tried watching the Michael Bay Netflix movie 6 Underground and found it intolerable, even as a superficial destruction-centric action film made for half-watching at home.) —Clover Hope
I find it generally impossible to watch anything these days, but it feels so nice to abandon shit willy-nilly because we can!! I have started and stopped Ratatouille, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I have not finished McMillions, though, I would like to, at some point? Maybe in three months’ time when we are still locked in our homes, and I have eaten cat food for sustenance, I will rise from the nest of discarded blankets and sweatshirts and finally, finish everything I started. —Megan Reynolds
HBO’s The Outsider seemed cool and bleak during its first episode. And then I got antsy after the second episode, as the mystery deepened and any semblance of clarity as to what the fuck was actually going on failed to materialize. And then during Episode 3, they’re trying to make me care about a new cop? No, sorry. I didn’t really care about the first cops if we’re being honest. —Rich Juzwiak
I believe everyone (which is to say every single person on the planet) who says that it’s good. It seemed well assembled. My problem was that to invest, you had to care about cheerleading and I just don’t have space in my heart to do so. Sorry, this emotional reservoir is finite. I just don’t care about sports, and yes, cheerleading is a sport. That I’ll give ’em. I turned the first episode off after a half-hour and never looked back. —R.J.
Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Great Pottery Throw Down or Britain’s Best Home Cook, but I just don’t have the appetite anymore for loud, brash American reality competitions on highly produced sets. The flashing lights, the screaming hosts, the dramatic music—it just doesn’t do it for me anymore! And unlike the aforementioned competitions, which feature people who both love what they do, and are given space onscreen to be human in that love for their craft, Lego Masters turns its contestants into nigh-impossible to root for caricatures. Also, Will Arnett is the worst competition show host in Hollywood history. Tacky, crude, and self-important—I turn into my own grandmother when he’s onscreen, and physically hurl my remote at him! —Joan Summers
Because I am a masochist, I sat through three episodes of RuPaul’s latest venture, AJ and the Queen. Instead of what I was expecting from someone with the taste level of Ru—camp, some mild glamour, and a good wig or two—I found myself being physically choked by what was happening before me. When it was finished beating me half to death with dull jokes and a three-year-old’s grasp on plot structure, I laid there on my couch for a beat, knowing I’d done this to myself. Thankfully, none of you have to catch up on it, because Netflix canceled it before there was even a whisper of excitement for a second season. As for why you’ve likely never seen so much as even a passing mention of it? Well, all who found themselves enjoying it are still recovering from the corniness poisoning. -J.S.
I actually started trying to watch the entire West Wing series a year or two ago, as I’d never seen it prior to it being on Netflix. At this point, I’ve made it to Season 6 and despite having nothing else to do I have absolutely no desire to see how any of this ends. Even though I’ve spread this watch out over almost two full years, it is such a slog, there are too many soliloquies and I don’t care about the campaigns of White Guy No. 1, No. 2, and Jimmy Smits. If anyone just wants to tell me how this entire show ends that would be perfectly fine. Also, what I think really killed my drive to keep watching was that Stockard Channing had less and less screen time as the seasons went on, which was the main reason I started the show. —Shannon Melero
Henry Cavill’s chest and arms are not worth watching this entire series; they’re just not. For someone who is unfamiliar with the source material for this show, trying to watch it is like walking into a conversation that started three hours ago and attempting to join it. Just when you think you know what’s going on, you’re lost once again. The weird timeline wasn’t so much of an issue as I had someone to let me know that was happening, but the world itself doesn’t make sense. How small is the Continent? They seem to be traveling pretty fast. Does the Witcher even have actual powers? When his eyes go all black, is this night vision or is that from the weird juice he drinks? Why are the mages so not powerful but treated like they’re so powerful? This one country that is attacking everyone else, are they supposed to be religious fanatics or just generally power-hungry?
Also, how does anyone know where to go? All of the towns the Witcher goes to are like smack in the middle of either a forest or a frozen tundra. If any of the characters were remotely interesting, then maybe I would take more time to figure out what was happening on the show but everyone is either boring or just poorly constructed. Yennefer is possibly the worst of the group. —S.M.
I’ve been watching a lot less TV in general lately and way more movies, maybe because there are too many movies on my list to watch right now and I’m feeling bored or disillusioned with a lot of Netflix offerings (I tried to watch Love Is Blind, but then just got wind of the spoilers and abandoned it.) And I’m also trying, I think, to get out of my comfort zone movie-wise and not reach for re-watches I know will soothe me. Unfortunately, sometimes that backfires. Case in point: trying to watch a five-hour (yes, five-hour) Wim Wenders movie set in a futuristic 1999 about the end of the world (sort of) and a lot of other stuff. The nearly $20 million epic was edited down to normal length and flopped at the box office, but the celebrated director’s cut was what my boyfriend picked up one day to watch. The pros of Until the End of the World are that the art direction, costume design, and soundtrack is insane (all original music from people like Neneh Cherry, Talking Heads, CAN, etc.) The cons are that I had found myself drifting off in its second half and leaving the living room too often that I lost the film’s threads. If you’re in for the project, by all means, go for it, but I’m not sure I care how this one ends. —Hazel Cills
During times of emotional or physical duress, there’s a very specific type of movie I’m interested in watching: I’m looking for a thriller/action movie with a brisk plot that’s stupid but not so stupid that I can’t feel invested for two or so hours. So while in hindsight it’s hard to fathom why I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to watch Three Kings—the 1999 gulf war comedy starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube, coincidently streaming for free on my Roku—I guess it seemed like it would check my boxes? In practice, I lasted about five minutes past the opening credits. I’m sure it’s meant to be a larger metaphor for the frivolity of war, or the realities of nationalism, or something. Whatever. As soon as Wahlberg waved a gun at a stripped Iraqi soldier, yelling “raghead” I was out. —Alexis Sobel Fitts
Now that Netflix is my only contact with the outside world, I’ve been finally whittling down my saved list, which is how I came across this 2018 sci-fi thriller starring Emile Hirsch and Amanda Crew, aka the beleaguered woman (and basically the only woman) from Silicon Valley. It begins with Henry (Hirsch) and his young daughter, Chloe (Lexy Kolker) holed up in a house (relatable) because, as Henry puts it, the outside people want to kill them. At first, it seems like a regular dad-with-issues tale, but in short order, we learn that the world has been divided between “normals” and “abnormals”—people with supernatural abilities who bleed from their eyes when they’re doing shit like telekinesis—and everyone does really want to kill the abnormals. As a huge fan of the X-Men series, conceptually this film is exactly the kind of sci-fi I want to watch. But about 30 minutes in, I grew weary of the pacing and art-aspirational, mid-budget filmmaking, so decided just to read the Wikipedia page to find out the plot, invested in the concept but not the characters. Then I filmed a video myself washing my face as it prattled on in the background. Cool idea for a movie! —Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
Movies have always kind of been my blind spot, so I plan on watching a lot of classics during this multi-month stretch of isolation. Unfortunately, my boyfriend and social distance partner keeps telling me I should watch Contagion. All I know about Contagion is that there’s a pandemic, and Goop has a seizure (thanks, GIFs). As a hypochondriac, I absolutely refuse to watch this shit. So I’m preemptively adding it to this list. Fuck that. —Ashley Reese
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a reliable comfort. He is just what I most needed this and last week, or so I thought, which is why I spent $20 to buy (buy!) Jumanji: The Next Level on iTunes before it was available for rent. Good thing I bought it, too, because it took me five days to finish it, watching in 10- to 30-minute increments. This owes partly to all-consuming pandemic anxiety and partly to the fact that the Rock spends the majority of the movie having to act like an avatar that Danny DeVito is playing in a video game. The Rock attempting to sound like a small elderly man with a New Jersey accent? Sounds like deeply my shit! But, no sir, not right now, I just need everybody to be what they seem. It might be back to The Game Plan for me. —Tracy Clark-Flory
Most of my television viewing isn’t based on enjoyment or even interest, per se. I like anything that will shut my brain off, save for a few superficially stimulating details, such as a beautiful setting or characters who wear immaculately styled, thrifted outfits. The new-ish Netflix series I Am Not Okay with This checked most of those boxes—with the added bonus of small-town charm and a teenage protagonist too nihilistic to function—but I ended up checking out after, like, three episodes. Apparently it is based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel, and that’s supposed to be better, but the premise felt a bit too derivative. Spoiler: she has superpowers. And so do I: to click out. —Maria Sherman