There are comfortwatches aplenty to wrap around yourself like a Slanket in this time of social distancing. Throw on your favorite SchurVerse sitcom for an entire weekend, keep it wholesome with every PG rom-com you can find, or finally watch The Good Wife or The West Wing, which technically counts as a fantasy series these days. Or go to the other end of the spectrum, and opt for gory catharsis and controlled tension with a horror film.

But at some point, you may find yourself sick of comfort, yet also too tense to watch the news. Perhaps it’s starting to feel weird to disappear into cozy or fantastical worlds when outside feels like a movie you can’t turn off. Or maybe you perversely want to pick at your barely suppressed existential panic like a scab. It’s OK! There’s honestly no right way to react to all this! (As long as you stay inside, wash your hands, and take care of your mental health as best you can.)

So for those times when you really just want to learn all the way into this moment, here are some of the least comforting, most stressful, and most decidedly-too-close-to-home things you can stream right now. 


10 things to watch while social distancing that aren’t comforting at all

I mean, duh. No, you don’t have to watch it. But you can! 

Steven Soderbergh’s matter-of-fact, star-studded Contagion is just one of the pandemic-themed entertainments people have been embracing over the last weeks and months, but it’s probably the most relevant to our current situation. 

The disease in this film is far more deadly than we currently know COVID-19 to be, but it’s perversely satisfying to hear newly familiar phrases like “social distancing” and “R-0” thrown around, watch the grim competence at work behind the scenes of this fictional pandemic, and wonder how far off we are from full-on supermarket looting. 

For extra germy goodness, you can, of course, seek out classics like Outbreak, The Andromeda Strain, or ebola docudrama The Hot Zone.

Where to watch: Amazon


10 things to watch while social distancing that aren’t comforting at all

From China to Trump, government denial and downplaying of the coronavirus outbreak has been compared to the badly bungled Soviet response to the Chernobyl disaster. Thanks to HBO’s nerve-shredding 2019 miniseries, the lethal secrecy and bureaucratic hubris of the Kremlin’s response, and its preference for face-saving over life-saving that filtered all the way down through to local officials, were laid bare for a new generation. 

Angie J. Han@ajhan · Mar 16, 2020Replying to @ajhan

3 eps in and I wouldn’t say Chernobyl is *soothing* tv but I do appreciate how seamlessly I am able to transition from the doom and gloom of the show to the gloom and doom of real life

Angie J. Han@ajhan

no emotional whiplash for this gal118:35 AM – Mar 16, 2020, · West Hollywood, CA

Twitter Ads info and privacy

See Angie J. Han’s other Tweets

Not only is it a story about an invisible, deadly threat, and the kind of TV that demands words like “unflinching,” “harrowing,” “visceral,” and “oh god why can’t I stop watching this”, it’s also just incredibly good: heartbreaking performances across the board, a pitch-black seam of grim humor, and a score by the now Oscar-winning Hildur Guðnadóttir.

Where to watch: HBO

Children of Men

10 things to watch while social distancing that aren’t comforting at all

Children of Men is a devastatingly tense near-future dystopia that’s all the more effective because it’s such a recognizable extrapolation of our own. We’ve now actually entered the decade in which Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 masterpiece is set — specifically, a version of 2027 where no babies have been born in 18 years. 

Where to watch: Amazon

Dead Set 

Before Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker created this short series imagining what would happen if the zombie apocalypse hit during a season of Big Brother. (There are actually at least four Big Brother seasons filming right now, and even without subtitles, watching the casts of the Brazilian and German versions find out about what’s going on out here is pretty intense.)

There’s some attempt at updated Romero-style ~social commentary~ about ’00s reality TV culture that feels a little dated now, but also an early-career Riz Ahmed (who apparently does not age). Most importantly, you, too, are cooped up inside, so embrace this version of cabin fever — and remember, this is Charlie Brooker, and he’s not known for copout feel-good storytelling.  

Where to watch: Netflix

28 Days Later

10 things to watch while social distancing that aren’t comforting at all

Really, any zombie media is a bit of a vibe right now — from Shaun of the Dead to World War Z to the whole Romero canon, you’ve got options if you want stories about some mysterious pathogen spreading amongst the populace, causing widespread chaos and bringing out the best and worst in humanity. But this one feels especially relevant, if only for the early scenes where Cillian Murphy finds himself wandering an eerily empty London that’s not far off reality.

Where to watch: Amazon

The Leftovers

10 things to watch while social distancing that aren’t comforting at all

In the midst of all the numbers and predictions being thrown about in coronavirus coverage, that mortality rate is one of the most misused. Saying that only one or two percent of the population would die from COVID-19 sounds not-that-bad until you actually do the maths. As this meditative, underrated Damon Lindelof show about grief and survivor’s guilt demonstrates, two percent of the population is a LOT. 

Ponder the future aftermath as you watch this impeccably acted prestige drama and sink further into your couch dent, weeping softly.

Where to watch: HBO



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here