I am personally of the opinion that TV shows and movies that have integrated COVID-19 into their plotlines are unnecessary and cringeworthy. It feels like too much too soon, and I generally like to turn to media for an escape, rather than a reminder of my unfortunate reality.
But there is something to be said for turning to pop culture to find solace in your favorite TV characters’ relatable misadventures.
So, if you’re in need of some entertainment during onboarding quarantine, here is a list of TV show episodes to watch where characters are contagiously sick and/or stuck in some sort of quarantine or small space, for non COVID-related reasons.
- Bones, Season 1 Episode 9, “The Man in the Fallout Shelter”
On December 23rd, the team are tasked with solving a case as Booth brings in the skeletal remains of a man found dead in a bomb shelter. While everyone is in Christmas Eve-mode and itching to leave work and celebrate, their hopes are crushed as they discover in the skeleton a fungus containing the potentially contagious Valley Fever. The team must quarantine in the lab for two days, having to miss Christmas and only being able to see their families briefly and through the panel of glass (relatable, much?)
Despite the circumstances, this episode largely maintains a heartwarming tone, as most Christmas episodes do, featuring a Secret Santa gift exchange highlighting the camaraderie between the characters.
- Broad City, Season 2 Episode 7, “Citizen Ship”
Abbi, Ilana, Lincoln, and Jaime fib their way onto a party boat to celebrate Jaime becoming an American citizen. What should be a lavish and fun evening goes south when Abbi and Ilana accidentally lock themselves in a liquor closet in an attempt to get free alcohol. This episode in particular really lets some of the side characters shine, without skimping on any of the funny, heartwarming, chaotic Abbi and Ilana moments the show is known for.
- Schitt’s Creek, Season 4 Episode 1, “Dead Guy in Room 4”
I’d recommend the entirety of Schitt’s Creek for a quarantine-adjacent show; the once-wealthy Roses’ experiences of being stuck living in a motel feel eerily analogous to living in quarantine. But as they adapt and grow through the hardship (though not without hilarious antics), so must we.
In this particular episode, Stevie Budd finds that a motel guest has died, and Johnny must figure out a way to keep their other guests in the hotel as the coroner attempts to discreetly remove the body. This episode wins bonus points for Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose stretching the word “how” into three syllables.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season 4 Episode 13, “I Have to Get Out”
This episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finds the gang in the hospital as Paula suffers a heart attack. As she, Heather, Rebecca, and Valencia scheme to break Paula out so she can take the bar exam, Nathaniel, Josh, and Greg are…. say it with me…. forced to quarantine after a young patient with the contagious “squirrel flu” coughs on them. As the three men chasing after the same girl are forced together in a small space for an indefinite amount of time, tensions naturally come to a head. But not without a healthy dose of hilarity, in the form of a melodramatic musical number that mocks the unrealistic choreographed, badass fight scenes of TV and film.
- Friends, Season 3 Episode 16, “The One With the Morning After”
A pivotal moment in Ross and Rachel’s relationship, this episode deals with the aftermath of Ross sleeping with another woman hours after he and Rachel had broken up. As Ross determines whether or not to tell Rachel, the other four friends wind up in Monica’s room — Monica and Phoebe try out a new leg waxing product, with Chandler and Joey rushing to their rescue as they hear Monica and Phoebe’s screams from across the hall. Shortly after, Rachel and Ross storm into the apartment, and the rest of the Friends have to lay low in Monica’s room and pretend they aren’t there as they listen to the fight play out. While this episode is more angsty than your typical “Friends” episode, antics nevertheless ensue as Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey try to figure out how to entertain themselves while stuck in Monica’s room.
- House, Season 2 Episode 20 & 21, “Euphoria” (parts 1 and 2)
While the episodes of House are more or less self-contained, especially in the beginning of the series, “Euphoria” parts 1 and 2 mark one of the show’s first forays into a more serialized, intricate story arc. A police officer is admitted to the hospital with symptoms of happiness and euphoria. As Dr. House and the team struggle to diagnose the man, one of the members of the diagnostic team, Dr. Foreman begins to exhibit symptoms. As Foreman catches the disease, he and the police officer are then put into an isolation room. As the disease progresses even more quickly in Foreman, the team rushes to diagnose him. This episode is especially intense and high-stakes, and it gives a glimpse into Foreman’s personal life as his father visits him in the hospital, which causes other tensions to arise.
- Parks and Recreation, Season 3 Episode 2, Flu Season
As Leslie and the parks department prepare for the Harvest Festival, plans go somewhat awry as flu season hits Pawnee hard, leaving April, Chris, and Leslie all incapacitated in the hospital. The flu leaves health-nut Chris in a tailspin and nearly prevents Leslie from giving a presentation about the Harvest Festival to the Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, Ann must tend to April in the hospital as she still harbors anger towards Ann for kissing Andy. This episode is hysterical all the way through; as each character gets the flu, they really play up what makes each of them so uniquely funny.
So, if you’re feeling especially trapped during onboarding quarantine, check out these shows — from funny to intense — to cure your COVID-19 Cabin Fever.