What to watch on TV this winter when you don’t want to leave your couch

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By Dan Sears

The winter doldrums are upon us — and they may be exacerbated by the inability to find something (anything!) new and interesting to watch on TV.

So whether you’re feeling stuck in a search algorithm that feeds you the same suggestions over and over, or you’re looking for a shot of nostalgia, Kathryn VanArendonk has some suggestions.

She’s a critic for Vulture and New York magazine, and she recently sat down with WNYC’s Tiffany Hanssen to run down a list of what to watch.

What to watch to get caught up with the Oscars

Looking to catch up with the films, actors and directors in this year’s Oscars race?

VanArendonk says all the “Best Picture” nominees are currently streaming on various platforms; the catch is that most require an additional rental fee on top of the monthly streaming service fee. Netflix has a slew of Oscar nominees, and those films are included in streamers’ memberships:

“Rustin,” a film about the 1983 March on Washington, features actor Colman Domingo, who was nominated for “Best Actor.”

“Nyad,” a film about marathon swimmer Diana Nyad’s swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 60, features Oscar-nominated performances by Jodie Foster and Annette Bening.

Of the directors whose films are currently nominated in that category, many have a vast catalog of previous films to catch up on.

VanArendonk suggests watching Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” with performances by Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan. It’s available with a Starz subscription.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenhemier” is nominated in multiple categories, and the director’s previous film “Tenet” is now set to be rereleased in theaters.

To watch “Tenet” now, you’ll most likely need to pay an additional rental fee, but it is available on many platforms.

What to watch if you want a new series that’s currently streaming

VanArendonk suggests Amazon Prime’s “Expats,” starring Nicole Kidman.

The critic says the film fits a sort of mold for Kidman’s recent work on TV, where she portrays a “sad maternal figure” who finds herself in “mysterious and tense” circumstances.

Kidman’s other series in that category are “Big Little Lies,” currently streaming on Max, and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” now on Hulu.

What to watch if you want a great show that you missed in its first run

For a shot of nostalgia, VanArendonk suggests “Battlestar Galactica,” a show she says is “very interested in what it is to be a human and what it is to be a robot.”

For sci-fi and non-sci-fi lovers alike, the show is “fascinating to watch in a moment when we are very concerned about AI,” according to VanArendonk.

The original series aired on TV in the late ’70s, and there was a brief sequel in 1980. The remake from the early 2000s is available for a rental fee on multiple streaming services.

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VanArendonk is also excited about the availability of “Northern Exposure,” an early ’90s TV series that portrays a New York doctor who is indebted to the people of Alaska for his education and must work as a physician in the small town of Cicely as repayment.

The series was produced by David Chase — the creator, head writer and executive producer of “The Sopranos.” Many folks are rewatching the latter show right now, in part because it just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

VanArendonk says “Northern Exposure” has been “very difficult to watch for a long, long time because of music rights.” That all seems to have sorted itself out given the program is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where it’s included in membership.

What to watch if you’re looking for new shows to binge

There are several series with new seasons currently available that make for great binge watching for anyone who hasn’t seen the shows from the beginning. In this list VanArendonk includes: “Slow Horses,” a British spy thriller starring Gary Oldman that is streaming on Apple TV+ with three complete seasons.

She says the good thing about the show is that “you don’t have to go back and watch every single season, because they are anthology style. So each season is a standalone mystery.”

For people who are not interested thrillers, VanArendonk suggests “Girls5Eva,” which “was a Peacock show and is now being revived by Netflix.”

The show is about a musical “girl group” who, after one big hit, try to rekindle their stardom.

Looking ahead to spring, VanArendonk has “The Regime” on her radar — a new series starring Kate Winslet as the dictator of a fictional country that is spinning out of control. The show will premiere March 3.

History buffs might like “Manhunt,” a series about the search for John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It premieres March 15 on Apple TV+ and stars Tobias Menzies.

VanArendonk is looking forward to “3 Body Problem,” a sci-fi adaptation coming to Netflix on March 21 from the creators of “Game of Thrones.”

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