Guilty Pleasure Picks: Pandemic Edition


Emily Harvie takes us through her top guilty pleasure films and shows from the pandemic.

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By Emily Harvie

During the UK lockdown, an impressive twelve million people subscribed to new streaming services such as Netflix. In April, watch time on these sites almost doubled. Evidently, visual media is extremely important during these times and this continues to be the case as we enter the eighth month since the pandemic hit the UK. Now, as we face the daunting prospect of a second lockdown, this is the perfect opportunity to discuss some of my lockdown guilty pleasure films and shows, and just reflect on the endless hours of binge-watching this pandemic has caused me to do.

Back in March, being confined to my home in South Wales, I turned to dwelling on the chaos that ensued from entering a dystopian-esque pandemic, through the terrible decision to binge watch horror films. This, I wouldn’t particularly recommend, as I ended up scaring myself over the prospects of our future as a society. Films like The Purge felt a bit too topical for the state of the world in 2020. However, horror remains the best genre to bask in the craziness of this year. Things that seemed far-fetched not long ago, now seem much closer to home. Although I do not recommend anyone stick on this thought-train for too long.

Horror is not the best genre to binge when facing endless hours of boredom, and during the height of the pandemic the British public spent 40% of their days watching TV. This figure definitely reflects my own habits after far too many weeks of lockdown boredom, with what I call the “avoidance” stage of pandemic binge-watching. This is the phenomenon of committing to a show with so many seasons that it will (or at least should) take you plenty of time to get through. For me, it was the 12 seasons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

I can’t say I’ve finished the show quite yet but I am on season 11 and have caught up on over a decade’s worth of trashy reality TV in the space of about five months. Lockdown was definitely the perfect time to work my way through the empire of Drag Race and its spin-offs, such as the behind-the-scenes show Untucked. I got through four seasons’ worth in just as many weeks before my obsession started to even out – and I regret none of it.

Whenever this pandemic gets you down, there is nothing more uplifting than watching a group of drag queens bitch and bicker before the climax of the show, a ‘lip-sync for your life’ (if you have no clue what I’m talking about then you’d better start watching!)

As I now enter my third year of university, studying alongside the fear of lockdown part two, I have entered a new stage of existential TV watching. This largely involves pure panic and fear over my future post-Uni. Therefore, my  show of choice  to stress-watch has been the four seasons of British Sitcom Fresh Meat. This show is all fun and games and “relatable content” set over the course of university life, until you get to the final season which is predominantly based on the daunting prospects of what comes after university. As such, I am now deep into the depths of what posh-boy JP (Jack Whitehall) likes to call “Fear Year”.

Since finishing the show, I haven’t yet turned to anything new to fill my days. Yet, I’m sure that the juggernaut that is Netflix will be able to suck me into the depths of a new TV obsession before too long. As the clubs remain closed, and the UK social distancing rules grow tighter, there is never a better time than now to get invested in a new show. Whether you watch it with those in your chosen bubble or simply by yourself, have a scroll through whichever streaming site takes your fancy and try out something different for a change.

Ask The Editors: Guilty Pleasure TV!

Elizabeth – Arts Editor:
Outlander – Set within the beautiful Scottish Highlands, Outlander has it all: huge historical battles interwoven with individual stories that makes it impossible not to watch them all in one go – it’s a must watch!

Alex - MUSE Editor:
Come Dine With Me – Never has a show captured British culture in all its ugliness quite as well. A grand in cash seems to truly bring out the worst in people. I’ll happily watch five episodes back-to-back, despite hating almost everyone on the show, and finding the whole thing incredibly uncomfortable.

Dom – Sport Editor:
Peep Show – Anything with David Mitchell involved often feels like some sort of high art that only a few can understand or enjoy. Peep Show is more accessible, presents the best of the Mitchell and Webb duo, and shines an embarrassingly realistic light on your own life.

Annabel – Features Editor:
Don’t Tell the Bride – It’s almost always a hideous car crash that you can’t look away from. I love the unpredictability – will they get married underwater? Will she be dressed as a pig? You never know!

Jenna – Deputy MUSE:
Celebrity Dinner Date – This is essentially Come Dine With Me meets First Dates meets the cast of TOWIE. It’s got to be the most unsuccessful dating show on TV. And I like it when the ‘celebrities’ pretend to be pleased their date doesn’t recognise them – comedy gold.

Ally – Deputy Comment Editor:
Selling Sunset – An awfully wonderful mix between Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Grand Designs, and MTV Cribs. While the first season was a typical reality show with a background of gorgeous houses, the second was almost painful to watch – but in the best way.

Kristina – Deputy Music Editor:
Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends – Only Louis Theroux, the awkwardly British all-seeing observer, could find himself involved in a swinger’s orgy, undergoing liposuction, and posing naked on a porn-set all in the name of journalism.