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Quarantine binge watching suggestions

When my summer plans of camps, college tours, and trips to Disneyland came to a screeching, coronavirus-induced halt, I made a promise to myself. After Ms. Valladares regaled my pajama-clad calculus class with tales about Isaac Newton discovering calculus during quarantine, I pledged to use my newfound free time for good. As the Marlborough math department can attest, I do not have it in me to discover a new branch of mathematics. But maybe I would learn to bake or to speak a new language. Even stuck at home, the opportunities seemed endless.
After my second attempt at baking ended in a smoking oven and burnt meringues, my ambitions were tempered. Even though I did not become a baking virtuoso over the summer, I did watch an appalling amount of TV. If I cannot share with you tips for achieving culinary greatness, I can at least tell you about the movies and shows I thought were pretty cool.
“The Office”
For years, I have been urged to watch the show, and for years, I would shrug and say I was too busy to sit down for nine whole seasons. Clearly, I was not trying hard enough, considering it took just two and a half weeks to watch seasons two through nine (I have been told season one is an abomination and not worth my time. I cannot speak to the veracity of that claim, so if UltraViolet readers think differently, please let me know).
Overall, I cannot think of a better quarantine watch. It’s lighthearted fun, with high rewatchability and a lovable ensemble cast. Also, I now realize the sheer number of Office references I encounter on a daily basis, and that revelation in and of itself makes it worth the watch.
“Monty Python and the Flying Circus”
I am a big fan of the British comedy group’s movies, so their TV show had been sitting on my watch list for months. But between the rush of junior year and forgetting the password to my dad’s Netflix account sometime in January, I had not gotten the chance to do so until quarantine.
While most of their movies make some attempt towards an overarching plot, the TV show is more in the vein of “Saturday Night Live”- a series of disconnected skits. Like any show in this style, the skits can vary in quality, and I can’t say all the skits have stood the test of time. But I think the show remains pretty consistently funny fifty years later, and for anyone looking to get into the show, “The Funniest Joke in the World” skit is a good starting point.
“My Neighbor Totoro”
I may have given up on my culinary aspirations, but I am still determined to learn a new language- sort of. There was a point where my Japanese had been at least conversational. But ever since I stopped taking classes, it has atrophied rapidly. No doubt my ancestors are shaking their heads and wondering what went wrong.
In a last-ditch effort at self-improvement in quarantine, I have been watching Hayao Miyazaki’s films in Japanese, including “My Neighbor Totoro,” the movie that arguably propelled Miyazaki to American stardom. The question of whether to watch with subtitles became a source of great internal struggle, but I eventually decided on alternating. I would watch “Totoro” with subtitles, then “Princess Mononoke “without, then “Ponyo” with.
The results were…mixed. Much to my dismay, a few hours of children’s movies did not hurl me back to fluency. However, my Japanese has recovered enough to realize that the subtitles on HBO are quite inaccurate. This means, at worst, I’m only the second-worst Japanese speaker on earth. Not bad, right?
Unfortunately, the start of school and looming college application deadlines have put a stop to my watching spree. That being said, my watchlist has already begun anew in anticipation for Thanksgiving break, and when it hits in eight weeks, I’m looking forward to HBO and Netflix once again.