Issue #8: When the going gets tough, the tough get bingeing

Hi,

Welcome back to Continue Watching! Can you believe that we’re entering December tomorrow? Eight months of complaining about what a terrible year we’re all having, and now it is about to end. We love December here, because for one of us it’s her birthday month, and the other one is just obsessed with year-end lists. Plus, with January approaching, all our problems quite literally become so last year, and what’s not to love there?

Since we’re so passionate about a̶v̶o̶i̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ solving our problems, we’ve dedicated this issue to shows that become our anchor and help us through hard times. For two people who love TV so much, you can imagine the number of shows we have accumulated over the years that have carried us through weeks, months, or even years of self-doubt and despair.

Fair warning: one of us (Kashika) is recovering from COVID-19 right now. It’s a mild case and she’s getting better every day, due in no small part to the deranged amount of television she’s watched during her leave of absence from work. In her writing for this issue, she takes you through 10 different shows that helped her stay sane during 10 days of self-isolation. 

In the second essay, Shahana talks about Fleabag and Normal People, two shows that are about her favourite thing in the world— the feeling of yearning. Apart from being stellar pieces of art, these shows have helped her feel less alone, which is all any of us can ask for, in her longing for something more, even though she doesn’t know what that ‘more’ looks like. 

Speaking of feeling alone, have you watched the trailer of The Wilds? 

So there are obvious Lost vibes here but that twist in the trailer, which suggests that these teen girls did not end up on this island by accident, has us hooked. We have a feeling that this is a bad trailer for a show that has excellent potential, and thankfully we don’t have to wait for too long to figure that out. 

Hopefully, by then, we’d have finished what we’re watching at the moment. 

CURRENTLY WATCHING 

Kashika

Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives: My biggest complaint about the show is not that it is vain or tone deaf or a useless addition to the Netflix Originals coming out of India— everyone knew all of that anyway. My biggest complaint is that it is boring. I’m four episodes in, and I literally do not care about a single person in the show. Also, these women are terrible friends to each other. If my friend called me ‘twat’ every time she spoke to or about me, I’d have punched her in the first three minutes of the show. Streaming on Netflix. 

Bandish Bandits: This show came out in August and I had absolutely no intentions of watching it. A few days ago, I heard one of its songs, Labh Par Aaye, and got curious. It’s the story of how Radhe, an Indian classical singer, falls in love with Tamanna, a contemporary pop singer, and how that leads to a tremendous amount of shit hitting the fan because of how traditional and conservative Radhe’s guru and grandfather, Panditji, is. I do not enjoy shows or movies where everything and everyone revolves around an Amitabh Bachchan from Mohabbatein-type of a character, which is why I’m not very invested in Bandish Bandits. The music is something else though. Listen to the jukebox on YouTube if you don’t watch the show. Streaming on Amazon Prime.

Shahana

The Flight Attendant: Kaley Cuoco and Michiel Huisman star in this limited series about a perpetually drunk and fickle flight attendant named Cassie Bowden, who wakes up in a hotel room in Bangkok after a crazy night to find a dead man in her bed. Watching Cassie trying to piece the night together and figure out who the murderer is (is it her?) is proving to be quite fun. Not streaming anywhere.

Elementary: Starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and Watson in yet another Sherlock Holmes adaptation. This is a rewatch and one of my more preferred adaptations, because the others make Holmes so debonair and dashing, and Miller brings an awkwardness and vulnerability to his Holmes that I personally believe is more authentic. Liu’s Watson is one I love too, not a bumbling fool who serves as a mere sounding board, but instead an equal to Holmes, who grows into someone Holmes truly respects and enjoys working with. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

We have also introduced a new section in this issue, born out of the sheer frustration we feel day after day at the state of our democracy. It has nothing to do with television, but it is important. We’re aware of our privilege, which lets us write a newsletter on TV while largely being unaffected by some of the worst things that happen in our country every day. So we wanted to use this platform to spread awareness and link our subscribers to articles, Twitter threads, and Insta accounts that are reporting on ground and taking the time and effort to explain what is happening around us and what that means. We also hope to promote people who are doing great work for minorities or communities in danger so if anyone wants, they can volunteer, support or donate as they see fit. If you want us to feature a particular cause or endeavour in this section, please email us. We look forward to any and all contributions to this section, which we have named The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

We hope you have a great week! Happy December to all of us, may this last month of 2020 only have good things in store for you and us. If not, there’s always the world of TV to escape to. And please remember to stay indoors and stay safe, the pandemic isn’t over yet.

Continue Watching (and reading!),

Kashika and Shahana

10 Days Of COVID-19 With 10 Different TV Shows

By Kashika

Day 1: I wake up and I know I have COVID. I just know it. I feel miserable, but more importantly, I cannot taste or smell anything. It’s like someone has turned a switch off in my head, like the humanity switch all vampires conveniently turned on and off a hundred times in The Vampire Diaries. I tell my parents and there’s instant panic. I don’t think that it sinks in for me. I take an off from work and watch Something In The Rain mope-ily in my room. It’s the cute Korean drama that is supposed to be feel-good but is making me irrationally angry. The woman is one of the most irritating female leads I have ever watched. She has absolutely no say in what happens to her and she makes the shittiest decisions. I try finding something else to watch because reading the subtitles is giving me a terrible headache. But scrolling through Netflix gives me an even bigger headache, so I just go to sleep.

Day 2: I wake up at 6am. I don’t know what to do. My throat hurts, my head hurts. I keep thinking about the COVID test which everyone says is The Worst because they stick the thing way too far up your nose. Now my nose hurts. Twitter is awash with misery and American politics. Tumblr is quiet. Instagram is too bright. I turn the TV on. I have to finish Something In The Rain because once I’m tested positive (I’m sure of it), I do not want to bring it into my recovery period. I keep the volume on 2 and read the subtitles. Somehow I fall asleep again and when I wake up it’s COVID test time. It is terrible but not as terrible as I was expecting it to be. The wait for the results is brutal. I remember that I haven’t yet watched the Grey’s Anatomy episode where McDreamy comes back so I turn it on. BIG MISTAKE. It’s 90 minutes of COVID worst-case scenarios. All of Grey Sloan’s patients are just straight up dying and Meredith is having meltdown after meltdown. I feel doomed but I tell myself not to be dramatic. My report is out. Positive. I repeat this diagnosis and my symptoms at least 20 times to concerned friends, family, and colleagues. Everything hurts. 

Day 3: I wake up at noon. I text a couple of friends. I keep a bottle of my favourite perfume on my bedside table and smell it obsessively. Nothing. I gargle. I take steam. I take my oxygen levels, my pulse, and my temperature and forget to note it down. My family gets tested. I fall asleep at 4 again. I wake up at 8 and my entire family is now COVID positive. Even my 84-year-old grandmother. They’re all asymptomatic but now they can come into my room and talk to me from a distance instead of only speaking to me on the phone. We’re all scared and worried and tired. We try to figure out all the logistics. We divide chores. We order groceries. We order disposable cutlery. I watch the episode of Gilmore Girls where Max Medina proposes to Lorelai with a thousand yellow daisies and feel a little better.

Day 4: I wake up with a throbbing headache. I cannot open my eyes. I look at my phone and that makes it worse. I put it on silent and go back to sleep. I wake up after who knows how long because I am hungry. I am very upset about not being able to taste anything. I turn on the TV and suddenly realise that we have Apple TV+ on it. I sign up for the free one week trial and tell my brother about Ted Lasso, which at least seven headlines have told me in the last one month is the show that will fill the Schitt’s Creek-shaped hole in my heart. It’s about football so my brother is instantly in. I tell him we need to finish it in seven days. My brother is bad at binge-watching so I am not hopeful. We stay up till 3am and finish all 10 episodes. When we shut the TV, we do not understand where we are. Are we in the show? We have watched five hours of television. We are shocked and scared. 

Day 5: When I wake up I find out that my brother also has a headache. Ted Lasso did it. Our mother asks us what time we slept the night before. We lie and say 1. We get scolded. My headaches are becoming more intense. We ask the doctor and he says it’s normal for COVID. I hear of three other people in my circle who have tested positive. “It’s everywhere,” people tell me on the phone. I know. My brother and I have a spirited discussion about Ted Lasso during lunch. He wants to know why I didn’t think it was great. “It was good, I liked it,” I say. “But why didn’t you love it?” I don’t know. I think I was expecting too much. I loved parts of it but it wasn’t a 10/10 show. Plus I have space for only one drawling football coach from Texas in my heart and that’s reserved for Coach Taylor. After I tell him this, we decide to watch the pilot of Friday Night Lights, which my brother agrees is one of the best TV shows I’ve introduced him to. 

Day 6: I am very serious about making the most of the Apple TV+ free trial so I Google ‘best things to watch on Apple TV’ and make a list. When I realise that Little Voice is on it, I scream. My mother comes into the room and scolds me for watching too much TV. “You need rest.” Once she leaves I immediately start watching Little Voice, which is about a 20-something singer-songwriter with intense stage fright wanting to make it big in New York. She has all the usual 20-something problems that people on TV always have, including a love triangle, so it is extremely my jam. The songs, written by Sara Bareilles, are soothing and self-indulgent in a way that makes me feel like they’re all written about my life. 

Day 7: We have more or less settled into a routine of doing our chores, always wearing a mask around each other and eating out of disposable plates. I am always exhausted and my head is lowkey always hurting. I watch Little Voice and try to decide which of the two guys I’d have fallen for. The one with the girlfriend or the sweet one who clearly likes Bess. I know the answer but I don’t like it. I tell another friend I have COVID and she calls me. We talk about why this season of Bigg Boss is so boring and why the men talk to their alleged girlfriends in the show like they’re their slaves. That night when I watch Bigg Boss, I cannot deal with how Aly Goni talks to Jasmin Bhasin. I hope she dumps him (she won’t). I finish Little Voice and add it to the list I maintain on my phone, of shows I’ve watched since the pandemic started. I look at it and wonder if I should be worried about how much TV I watch, so much so that even my COVID recovery revolves around it, but I shrug it off. 

Day 8: The next show on my Apple TV+ list is Defending Jacob, which I’m watching not because of Chris Evans but because of how much the plot reminds me of We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read and 10% the reason I will never have kids. Chris Evans plays a lawyer and a dad, whose 14-year-old son Jacob is accused of murdering a classmate. That’s fine but I’m struck by how hot Chris Evans is and what having such a hot dad (and mom, go Michelle Dockery!) means for a teen. Shahana has told me for years that Chris Evans is hot but the fact that he broke Jenny Slate’s heart and that he’s in a superhero movie always nullified that hotness for me. I text Shahana to talk about this. 

Day 9: I wake up sad. And tired. I am tired of my head hurting, I am tired of being confined to this room, I am tired of watching my work WhatsApp groups go off and not being able to help my team, I am tired of watching my mother worry about everyone except herself. To make things worse, I go and read my old defunct blog from when I was in my early 20s. I don’t do this often but I do it enough. The earnestness and arrogance of 22-year-old Kashika always takes my breath away. I watch season two of Grey’s afterwards because so much of my early 20s personality was a mix of Meredith, Cristina, and Izzie. I finish Defending Jacob and do not enjoy it as much as I’d thought I would. 

Day 10: I feel better. My headache has dulled, my throat is fine and I do not feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Taylor Swift releases Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions and I am instantly obsessed with the long pond studio, which is the romcom house of my dreams. Her voice sounds like a hug and I fall asleep in the middle of august. When I wake up it’s dark and for a second I forget whether it’s evening or morning. I finish watching the movie so my brother and I can continue One Tree Hill. We’re watching the season one finale and the moment Haley tells Lucas that she and Nathan are married, both Lucas and my brother lose it. My brother tells me we need to stop watching this shit. “They’re 17 years old,” he screams. “Seriously, tell me, is there any point in continuing,” he asks. “Yes, a lot of cool shit will happen.” “Okay, fine, but if I weren’t watching this with you I’d have stopped watching at this point. I wouldn’t even finish this stupid episode,” he says. We finish the episode but the momentum is lost. He cannot get over it. I remember being not this bothered by this track. In retrospect, I should have been. Right before he goes back to his room, he says, “I can’t believe that we’re watching this over Breaking Bad.”

Shows mentioned:

Something In The Rain - Netflix ⭐⭐

Grey’s Anatomy - Disney+ Hotstar ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Gilmore Girls - Netflix ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday Night Lights - Amazon Prime ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Little Voice - Apple TV+ ⭐⭐⭐

Defending Jacob - Apple TV+ ⭐⭐⭐

Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions - Disney+ Hotstar ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ted Lasso - Apple TV+ ⭐⭐⭐

One Tree Hill - Amazon Prime ⭐⭐⭐

Bigg Boss (season 14) - Colors, Voot ⭐⭐

Fleabag And Normal People: A Study In Love, Loss, And Longing

By Shahana

For years, I have loved e e cummings’ poetry, and one of my favourites goes like this:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I dare you to read the entire poem, and to not soften a little at the sheer number of endearments in it. Around the same time I was falling in love with e e cummings, I was also discovering a love for Victorian and Regency romances, and after taking into account some of my favourite songs (Wildest Dreams and my tears ricochet by Taylor Swift, ocean eyes and when the party’s over by Billie Eilish, Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo by Farida Khanum, the Across The Universe cover of The Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Asleep by The Smiths, Cool Kids by Echosmith, Hazy by Rosi Golan, and From Eden by Hozier), I’ve come to realise the thing that ties my favourite works of art together is yearning. I don’t mean yearning for a specific thing, but the concept of longing for something so much that it feels like a craving, like an ache you can feel deep in your bones.

Earlier last year, the second season of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag dropped, and I watched both seasons in one go. On the surface, Fleabag looked like someone who went through life without a care in the world, but a second glance revealed someone who longed for so much— she longed to have her best friend and her mother back, she longed to stop feeling the weight and the pain of their loss, she longed for the Boo and her mother-shaped hole in her heart filled, she longed to never know how their absence felt, she longed to “cry all the time,” she longed to feel wanted, in spite of and because she was who she was. One might ask, wanting to cry is simple, therapeutic; a good cry is often recommended when one is feeling too much. Fleabag can’t and Fleabag won’t, because when you love that deeply, you feel the loss a little too much, and if you start feeling it, really feeling it and unpacking all the things you’ve been pining for, you might end up crying all the time, not knowing how and when to stop, if you could stop. When Fleabag’s mother died, she cried and wondered what she would do with all the love she had for her. “I’ll take it,” Boo said, quietly and confidently. This time, with Boo gone, there was nowhere to put the love. 

A year after I cried my eyes out watching Fleabag, when we were all under lockdown, I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that the only way to stay safe in a pandemic was to keep yourself isolated, alone, and away. At home with nowhere to go, I watched Normal People. The plot this time was far simpler. Based on a novel by Sally Rooney, the show follows Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), a couple of Irish teenagers who try and fail, over a few years, to resist the intense, almost magnetic, attraction between them. Individually, the two are quite fascinating to watch. Mescal makes sure we’re aware of what Connell is feeling, even when it’s evident Connell himself isn’t quite clear.  Edgar-Jones evokes such tender feelings within us when she conveys her desires and the dark places they often lead her to. 

Most of all though, it is breathtaking to watch the two together, because when that happens, their relationship becomes a third character; a living, breathing thing. When they’re apart, it is the elusive thing they are constantly searching for. Apart, they become the embodiment of the emotion the Portuguese call saudade, a melancholy yearning. As if there was something missing within themselves, and they can be complete only when they’re with each other. Neither Connell nor Marianne are good with communicating what they want or particularly verbose. And yet, when they fit, they fit so well. Their words and actions with each other are perfunctory and resolute--a drunk “Come here,” a sober “Come to bed” the next morning, “It’s not like this with other people” after they’ve slept together. And yet, even though they fit so well, their longing to find that part of themselves that prevents them from being “normal people,” is the very thing that brings them so much angst. Edgar-Jones and Mescal manage to convey the vulnerability and confusion of youth so well that we understand why they move away from each other, but the obvious spark in their eyes that flips on when they see each other also makes it clear just these two will never stop yearning for each other, no matter where they are. 

Separately, Marianne and Connell may be extraordinary, but together, they are normal people, and when it’s that feeling of not standing out you’ve craved your whole life, you’ll chase that feeling. Of course you’d chase that feeling. And this time, when I yearn for something so fiercely I fear the other me, that lives in an alternate version with everything I want, must feel me as keenly as a phantom limb, I’ll turn on Fleabag again for the umpteenth time and watch her say, “I just want to cry all the time,” and feel a little less alone in my desire.

Shows mentioned:

Fleabag - Amazon Prime ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Normal People- You’ll have to get creative to find it ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommendations

We get so many requests for TV show recs from friends, so we’ll get to them here in every issue.

I’ve been watching The Undoing, and I really enjoyed Hugh Grant’s pivot from lovable romcom hero to creepy, manipulative man. And while I hate myself for it, something about charismatic asshole men really speaks to me. What can I watch that will further this?

We suggest watching A Very English Scandal, so you can take a deeper dive into Hugh Grant really dismantling his “lovable romcom hero” persona. Based on John Preston's 2016 book of the same name, and also starring Ben Wishaw (Q in Skyfall), A Very English Scandal revolves around politician Jeremy Thorpe who begins a whirlwind affair with a stable hand, Norman Scott. Once the relationship ends, Scott becomes a secret Thorpe will go to desperate ends to hide. Based on the actual 1970s British parliament scandal, there’s a murder conspiracy, heavily-publicised trial, and intense media scrutiny. The tone shifts between serious to darkly humorous, and Grant and Wishaw give us some stellar performances. 

A Very English Scandal is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Shout-Outs

Kashika

One of the biggest things that happened in television this year is Patrick Dempsey coming back to Grey’s Anatomy as McDreamy. Deadline did an interview with him, Ellen Pompeo, and showrunner Krista Vernoff about how this came together and what it was like for Meredith and Derek to reunite on screen.

Shahana

This season of The Bachelorette is definitely living up to my drama-needing heart (also, two Black people talked frankly about America’s racist history, police brutality, and growing up Black, and NO ONE interrupted them with a “Can I steal her for a sec?”). There was a plot point where all the men called out one guy named Chasen for using the same words to describe both bachelorettes instead of actually seeing what the current bachelorette was about, and he spent an entire episode coming up with a word, and that word was “Smokeshow,” which he decided to announce to everyone. Guys, he literally waited to get everyone in a room and said, “I’m sorry for using the same words to describe two women, and I’ve thought about it, and my new word for Tayshia is smokeshow.” Please read this episode recap by Ali Barthwell to understand why you need to be watching this and then discussing it with me.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Links and resources to understand what’s happening around us, and what you can do to make a difference. If you want us to feature a particular cause or endeavour in this section, please email us.

Eighty-three-year-old activist Stan Swamy, who has Parkinson’s disease, has been asking for a sipper and straw for over 20 days so he can drink water and tea. Apparently, the National Intelligence Agency doesn’t have one, nor does Taloja Jail, where Swamy is. You can send a straw and sipper to Stan Swamy here.

Thousands of farmers are marching to Delhi to stage a protest against the Centre’s new farming laws. Delhi police fired water cannons and tear gas at them, set up military-style barricades, and even dug up national highways to prevent them from entering. See pictures and coverage from the protests here, and read about why they’re protesting here.


We hope you enjoyed reading this issue as much as we loved writing it. Please write to us if you have any feedback. We look forward to your emails, comments, tweets, and DMs with requests, criticism, recommendations, and anything else that you want to tell us. You can also follow us on Instagram here. And if you haven’t already, do subscribe!