Television has always offered a great escape — piping the strange and wonderful into our homes. For the brief period of a 30-minute sitcom or a two-season zombie thriller, it’s possible to be anywhere but here (“here” being 2020, or as I like to call it, Hell). As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic keeps us indoors, streaming content continues to multiply by miraculous divination.
Here are some new releases spanning multiple genres, fictional timelines, and landscapes both familiar and new. Settle in and start watching:
Starring Nick Offerman, this Hulu sci-fi thriller is set in our beloved foggy city. “Technology is the alienating force in Devs, a rampaging machine that’s gone AWOL, distancing us from our neighbors as well as from ourselves,” writes Jeffrey Edalatpour in his review for SF Weekly.
New episodes air Thursdays on FX on Hulu.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
San Francisco bursts into song and dance in this brightly colored, somewhat magical NBC series. Zoey Clarke is a programmer who gains a bizarre superpower after a mishap with an earthquake and an MRI machine. Zoey can hear people’s innermost thoughts — through song. Fans of musical series might be inclined to Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which likes to satirize San Francisco culture: One of the romantic apexes of the series comes when Zoey is swept off her feet on an e-scooter ride (because real modern romance is zooming on your electric scooter together in the city); Zoey’s absurdly extravagant tech company isn’t too far off from some of the major real-life ones the city has (“SPRQ Point” even has its own cereal bar), except in this fantasy, women actually get to be in charge!
New episodes air Sundays on NBC. Stream it on Hulu.
The Roxie Virtual Screen
The Roxie had to close its doors in order to respect social distancing orders. But locals can still access the beloved arthouse theater via their laptop screens. Log in through The Roxie’s streaming portal to watch two foreign-language films: The Wild Goose Lake and Bacurau. We reviewed The Wild Goose Lake earlier this year. It’s a moody noir about an underground motorcycle gang set in Wuhan, China. The Wild Goose Lake is definitely a slow burn, shot through with violent scenes and a macabre sense of humor.
Bacurau won the Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Set in a fictional Brazilian town, Bacurau is a Western-horror flick about the terrifying secrets the city’s people hold.
Stream it with the Roxie through April 7.
Humor is always welcome in difficult and apocalyptic times. Thankfully, that’s Kim’s Convenience’s speciality. A Canadian sitcom about a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store, Kim’s Convenience is a delight. Season four is coming to Netflix on Apr. 1, and will pick up on a lot of the unresolved love triangles from last year. Even if you haven’t watched the first three seasons, it’s not too late to catch up, and you’ll be glad you did. Kim’s Convenience is all about the joy in Asian immigrant familial experiences.
Stream it on Netflix.
Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng, author of the book Little Fires Everywhere, hopes that its Hulu drama adaptation will make viewers question “well-intentioned white ladies.” She said as much in an interview with Buzzfeed News. Little Fires Everywhere takes place in a quiet suburban town called Shaker Heights. Community journalist Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) and new arrival Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) already don’t get along, which may have a lot to do with Elena’s well-intentioned white liberalism. One of the first conversations the two have is revolves around Elena asking Mia to be her maid — or, in her words, “house manager.”
But things really heat up when an undocumented Chinese immigrant wants her baby back, after a white family has already started to draw up the adoption papers. The controversy illuminates conversations about race and motherhood that Shaker Heights is clearly not ready to have.
New episodes air Wednesdays on Hulu.
Watch two seasons of this zombie thriller — as if real life wasn’t already horrifying! Set in ancient Korea during the Joseon period, Kingdom is partly a political drama and partly a nightmare of the undead. Crown prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) investigates a mysterious plague that’s claimed his own father while trying to avoid a coup. This could be the end of the Joseon dynasty.
Stream it on Netflix.
Grace Li covers arts, culture, and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.