Staff Columnist

Here's the thing

Movies, TV shows and books to help beat the coronavirus blues

During this apocalypse where we have all become toilet-paper hoarding zombies, I have been doing a lot of things. Cleaning, baking, cooking and of course watching movies. Oh also working. Yes, that too.

The following are my personal suggestions for things to watch and what streaming service to find them on. I threw in a couple of book suggestions as well. If you have any suggestions for me, send them my way. I’m curious what you’re interested in, too.

NETFLIX

Crip Camp

This documentary was produced by Michelle and Barack Obama and let me tell you it is absolutely riveting. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I laughed, I cried and my heart went out to these people.

The story is that of handicap adults who attended a summer camp together, Camp Jened, in Rock Hill, NY in the early 70s. To quote the movie, the camp was started “by a bunch of hippies” who invited those with special needs to come to camp.

The able-bodied adults acted as counselors and the camp became a refuge for the handicapped because it was a place where people who looked like them and had the same ailments as them could gather with no judgment. At Camp Jened, there was nothing to hold them back.

After re-entering the “real world” many of the campers decided what they were experiencing, freedom and accessibility, were just basic human rights. Together they staged protests and sit-ins until they were finally able to pass bill 504 that required all buildings in the United States to be handicap accessible.

Original footage from camp is included and getting to see the smiles on these individuals faces will make you smile too, I guarantee it. ‘Crip Camp’ is about an hour-and-a-half long and has some adult language and themes (it was the 70s after all). So, it might be best suited for high-school aged adults and up.

Tiger King

To quote Mt. Pleasant’s favorite sports editor Andy Krutsinger, “Tiger King is electric.” To put it a little more bluntly, this show is completely bonkers. The seven-episode documentary series follows Joe Exotic, an Oklahoma man who opened a zoo specifically for tigers and all of the other shenanigans he gets into.

Along the way the viewer is also introduced to a cast of wild characters including Carole Baskins, Exotic’s arch nemesis. Her goal is to have his zoo shut down due to animal cruelty concerns.

However, there are a variety of twist and turns that make this worth watching. From Baskins’ first husband mysteriously disappearing and a conspiracy about her feeding him to the tigers to Exotic running for governor of Oklahoma, this is one that will make you wonder how we all live in the same world.

Once again, Tiger King is intended for the more mature audiences of the world as it does have quite a bit of adult themes and language.

HULU

The Act

As a self-proclaimed “true crime junkie” I loved this one, but it is very intense. The story is about the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case; a young woman who was presumed to be both physically and mentally handicapped.

Her mother, DeeDee, told the world and even her own daughter this and was able to secure Make a Wish Foundation funded trips and even a home through Habitat for Humanity. However, everything was not as it appeared.

Gypsy was actually perfectly healthy and her mother was suffering from Munchausen by proxy, a mental health disorder where a caregiver preys on a vulnerable person by pretending they are ill. Things take an incredibly dark and fatal turn when Gypsy has enough and plots how to end her suffering.

Although the show and its events are fiction, it is based on a true story. The show would best be suited for adults given the nature of the material.

The Golden Girls

Arguably one of my favorite TV shows of all time. The comedy stands up; the outfits don’t but that’s OK! The girl power in this show is what carries it for me despite the fact even I’m too young to understand all of the jokes. There are seven seasons and I have probably seen them all at least three times.

Not just hilarious, this show was truly ahead of its time. The girls covered a variety of topics including immigration, same sex marriage and homelessness.

From Bea Arthur’s blunt delivery of spiteful phrases to Betty White’s adorable characterization of the show ditz, this one is a treasure and just the light hearted laugh we all need right about now.

AMAZON PRIME

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Now this is just a classic. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, I highly suggest checking it out once more.

Considering we can’t really go anywhere but the backyard, this movie will make you realize that’s not so bad after all. To those who haven’t seen it, the movie stars Steve Martin in classic late 80s fashion.

While trying to get back to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Martin runs into a snowstorm and has to come up with other ways to get back. Along the way he bumps into Del Griffith (John Candy) who Martin finds incredibly annoying. For the rest of the movie, the pair have to figure out how to tolerate each other while just trying to get home for the holidays.

Although it will set you back $3 for the rental fee, this one is worth every penny. It is also available for rent on iTunes and YouTube.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The fashion. That’s the first thing I want to talk about with this one. Every single thing she wears I want to wear. Set in the 50s, the story revolves around burgeoning comedian Midge Maisel.

Her family is incredibly old fashioned and in a time where women did not work let alone tell raunchy jokes, she gets herself into a pickle trying to find ways to pursue her passion while balancing two children and a separation from her husband. The show is full of girl power, comedy and incredible costumes.

Although probably suitable for most teenagers, all three seasons of this show would most likely go over better with adults who can understand the references.

DISNEY PLUS

Mrs. Doubtfire

An absolute family-friendly classic this one is. No matter how many times you watch it, and I have watched it a lot, this gem never gets old.

Featuring Robin Williams in his prime as Mrs. Doubtfire herself, the movie shows how Williams dresses up as this character in order to secure a job as a nanny for his own children. The twists and turns are almost as good as the many quotes associated with this movie.

Kim Possible

Easily my favorite show as a kid. Now as an adult, I’m watching it all over again.

The story is typical: teenage girl is actually an international crime stopping secret agent who enlists the help of her best friend, Ron Stoppable, and his naked mole rat, Rufus, to help. Yeah. Typical.

The animated show features girl power to the max and is a great nostalgic watch for kids. Even kids like me.

BOOKS

Mrs. Kennedy and Me

Written by Clint Hill, personal body guard for Jackie Kennedy when she was first lady, the book is a personal account of what Hill’s job was like. He walks the reader through the easy times of going shopping and the tough times of the aftermath of the assassination.

As a big fan of first ladies in general, I first read this book in high school and it stuck with me. Getting a firsthand peek at someone’s life through the eyes of the one hired to protect her is such a fascinating take in my opinion.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders

Back into the true-crime world for just a minute, this book tells of the horrific murders of the Osage Native Americans and how the FBI was formed. Not graphic or gory in detail, the book carefully takes the reader through the many twists and turns of the cases and how the FBI struggled to catch the culprits.

Featuring personal accounts from those who lived it, David Grann provides a quick read that is both interesting and easy to follow. Rumor is it will become a movie before long, so read the book first.

Both books are available for download on Audible and Bridges.