Happy non-tax day.
A new workplace makes for a new workday. Thanks to the pandemic, the new workplace is home. With the many beckonings of family or chores or television or, most seductive of all, the refrigerator, the workday at home is filled with interruptions. We Big Law drones learned long ago that our jobs are not bounded by 9 a.m. and 5/6 p.m. Still, there are usually some reasonable endpoints. But in the time of the coronavirus, any line of demarcation between home and work has been erased. The new routine is to dial into a bed-headed conference call at 7:30 in the morning. (We waited for the person taking roll call to ask who was wearing pants. Didn’t happen. But a couple of nights ago SNL went and did that joke, so now it’s inevitable.) Then we proceed through our intermittent tasks through lunch, second lunch, snack time, dinner, and deep into the night.
And then there are weekends. Or are there? Doesn’t it all now seem like one long, claustrophobic slog?
Deprived of the usual dissipations, we find ourselves exchanging lists of bingeworthy tv shows with friends and colleagues. (Well, not quite all of our colleagues, as you will soon see.) Everybody else on Facebook and Twitter is suggesting series to plow through, so we here at the DDL Blog will follow suit.
As the aggregator of these suggestions, we get to go first, and hereby lay claim to the program on almost everybody’s curdled lips, Tiger King (Netflix). It is just as bizarre as you’ve heard. Who knew there was a cadre of big cat owners out there? Who knew that there are more tigers in captivity in the USA than prowl the wild in the great wide world? Tiger King assaults you with one crass astonishment after another until you grow numb. There is even something in it for the attorneys, as you witness the assembly by a federal prosecutor of a case involving unlawful trafficking in animals — oh, and attempted murder for hire. As lawyers, we are always ready to admire public speaking. In Tiger King, you will see and hear a eulogy unlike any other. Go ahead and fire up Tiger King on your screen. Join the national conversation. But be prepared to shed any hopes you ever had for our miserable species. (Determined not to miss a buck, the makers of Tiger King recently put up an additional episode. But it is merely Joel McHale catching up with some of the players. We learned two things: 1. Joe Exotic was an even worse human being than we thought, and 2. Modern dentistry can really work wonders.)
After Tiger King, a Stephen King story about a shape-shifting demon sounds like a snooze. But The Outsider (HBO) is gripping stuff – certainly through its first half, which reeks of mystery and terror. As too often happens with King’s tales, the landing – the explanation/resolution – is not exactly stuck. Still, if the choice is between continuing onto the next episode of The Outsider or reading yet another court bulletin on coronavirus closings, we know what button you’ll push on the remote.
Then there are the suggestions we collected from our fellow DDL bloggers. Let’s begin with the anglophilic contingent.
Rachel Weil is making her way through Downton Abbey for the second time. The well-heeled Edwardians survived the Spanish flu with style. And wouldn’t a spot of tea feel good right now? And yet we cannot linger at Highclere Castle too long. Bringing us back to the modern era (sort of), Rachel mentioned the availability of Broadway shows on the web. Let’s face it: Rachel is in every respect our cultural superior.
Michelle Yeary has been watching The English Game and Peaky Blinders, both on Netflix. We’ve heard others praise the former, and we ourselves can vouch for the latter. The star of Peaky Blinders, Cillian Murphy, is often listed as a possible next Bond. Are we the only person who thinks the Peaky Blinders theme song sounds like The Wire’s?
Enough with old Blighty. Is America capable of producing anything worth watching? (And watching. And watching.)
John Sullivan had good things to say about The Patriot (Amazon Prime). The protagonist is a CIA operative folk singer in Amsterdam posing as piping company salesman while dealing with depression and trying to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He relieves his depression by singing in the Amsterdam streets and cafes, but gives away the details of his CIA operations in his lyrics. He also pushes a poor guy in front of a bus – twice. We’re betting John is not a huge Downton Abbey fan, especially given that his second selection was Narcos Mexico. Mr. Bates might’ve had a brush with the law, but he was no El Chapo.
Eric Alexander agreed on The Patriot, and is now watching Hunters (Amazon Prime). We have to admit that we gave up on Hunters. How can a cast that includes both Al Pacino and Carol Kane go wrong? Watch and discuss. Has there ever been a better villain than Dylan Baker? Eric is also watching Baby Yoda.
If Sullivan and Alexander seem to favor Amazon Prime, it doesn’t look like Steven Boranian will cancel his HBO subscription anytime soon. He is taking a cringe-walk through Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes. Next comes Veep. Boranian sees to be taking the sensible approach of looking for laughs in the midst of the ongoing pestilence.
We saved Bexis for last. He doesn’t watch tv. Really. Or almost really. After some poking and prodding from your disbelieving correspondent, Bexis grudgingly admitted that he had watched an old UConn women’s basketball game (April 7, 2013: UConn 83, Notre Dame 65). He also extolled the virtues of something called “books.” Yeah, as if. (If what we are doing here is analogous to those “Staff Recommendations” you’d find on a shelf at the now-defunct Blockbuster video stores, then Bexis is like the uber-eccentric staffer, invariably named Neville or Nat, who put up DVDs of “Roach! The Musical of Franz Kafkas’s Metamorphosis” and a documentary on “How Fish Do Laundry.”)
Notice anything remarkable about these suggestions? Nobody mentioned the Mt. Rushmore dramas of The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, or Breaking Bad. And nobody listed that last great Monoculture achievement, Game of Thrones. Perhaps the assumption is that everybody has seen them. We might add Deadwood and The Shield to the canon viewing list. Succession is also a nasty but tasty pleasure. Nor did anyone mention some of the recent series about which there has been so much chattering: Zero Zero Zero (Amazon Prime) and Devs (Hulu). Perhaps all that proves is that we DDL bloggers are conservative. And not young.
Good luck out there. Keep washing your hands.