Is It Good or Is It Quarantine?

Emily in Paris is just the latest show to make us question everything we know about what qualifies as a "good" TV show.

By Tierney Bricker Oct 25, 2020 7:00 AMTags
Related: Necessary Realness: Morgan & "Emily in Paris"

Maybe it's born with it. Maybe it's quarantine.

We don't know about you, but we're pretty sure we've watched about 95 percent of what's available on Netflix since mid-March a.k.a. when stay-at-home orders were put into place because of the coronavirus pandemic. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, binge-watching served as the perfect distraction.

And in the seven months since quarantine began, more than a few TV shows have managed to become A Thing. You can't scroll through your Twitter feed without seeing a meme-related to it. And your parents bring it up during one of your daily FaceTime chats. You know what we mean.

The latest example of this phenomenon is Emily in Paris, which has sparked debates—both online and in our (virtual) offices—about whether or not it's a good show since its first season dropped three weeks ago. There's nothing really extraordinary about the series itself (No offense, Darren Star!) except for how ordinary it actually dares to be in the year 2020. 

So its quality isn't really the question; its timing and whether it dropped at the precise right time is probably a better topic to investigate. 

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Inside the Closet of Emily in Paris

So which shows benefitted from debuting during quarantine?  Let's find out by playing is it good or is it quarantine, TV edition. Warning: You will have THOUGHTS...

Emily in Paris

It obviously has a certain je ne sais quoi, because viewers have been captivated by the Paris-set Netflix rom-com  Sure, Emily (Lily Collins) wears over-the-top clothes that Carrie Bradshaw would've stopped her in the front of the Eiffel Tower to inquire about. And yes, it indulges in every basic American-in-Paris cliché you could possibly imagine. (Berets, croissants and haughty Parisians, oh my!) Of course, it could be the Gabriel of it all, with actor Lucas Bravo rightfully becoming the Internet's latest boyfriend. But Emily in Paris really is just the streaming giant's latest example of televisual cotton candy. It has no nutritional value and you won't ultimately be satisfied, but damn, it really is frivolous fun. 

Verdict: Quarantine.

Tiger King

Released on March 20, just days after we were all told to stay inside, it's hard to know if Tiger King would've become the phenomenon it eventually grew to be if it had come out at any other time. We all were in need of a distraction, and c'mon, what better way to forget about the dangers outside your door than with the wild tale of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and their wild animal kingdom of characters, murder plots and country songs? 

But there is a difference between quality and entertainment, and, TBH, Tiger King's mayhem and madness helped add a distracting sheen to the ickiness of it all. It's ridiculously watchable, but you also feel like you need to take a shower after doing so. 

Verdict: Quarantine.

Normal People

We're still fanning ourselves off after watching the Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel, thanks to the ridiculous chemistry between leads Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Sure, it was basically torture to watch one of the sexiest shows to hit the small screen in recent history during a time when you couldn't even be in the same room as people, let alone touch them, but it hurt so good, you know? 

And, should you be doubting the Normal People hype, sales for silver chains reportedly jumped by over 200 percent after Connell (Mescal) sported them during the show. The impact!

Verdict: Good.

Outer Banks

You guys. Outer Banks is ridiculous. Outer Banks is insane. Outer Banks is absolutely ludicrous. But, like, did we devour every hour faster than you can say John B? Duh. (Random tangent alert: He is seemingly the only John in town, why do they constantly add the B like he's a Bachelorette contestant? Who knows!)

The Netflix teen drama isn't anywhere near as good as the shows and movies it's clearly emulating (The O.C. and The Goonies, to name the two most obvious), but sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel or even fully assemble it to deliver a solid ride. 

Verdict: Quarantine.

Lovecraft Country

The HBO fantasy drama is a rarity on this list: It was released week-to-week, a way of watching that over the years has become increasingly intolerable (Look at You's transition from Lifetime to Netflix for just one example of the power of binge-watching), but became a near fatal flaw during quarantine. Stuck at home, patience was no longer a virtue. Rather, much like toilet paper and Clorox wipes, it was in limited supply and viewers wanted instant satisfaction. Based on Matt Ruff's novel of the same name, Lovecraft managed to be the exception, becoming appointment TV on Sunday nights. 

Verdict: Good. 

The Baby-Sitters Club

We don't need to look over the meeting minutes to remember just how freakin' charming, sincere and relatable Netflix's new take on the classic book series was. Like a warm hug, the Gen-Z version of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey and the rest of the BSC managed to be nostalgic yet modern, old-fashioned yet relevant.  Hey na-na-na-hey, we'd watch The Baby-Sitters Club any day, stay-at-home order or not. 

Verdict: Good. 

The Boys

We'd like to issue a formal apology to our little brothers for constantly ignoring them when they said we should watch Amazon's f--ked up superhero show back in summer 2019. We now recognize the error of our ways, with The Boys' second season setting new ratings records for the platform, almost doubling its season-one audience. We'd like to think that the drama would've experienced this breakout moment regardless of quarantine, but it probably didn't hurt that its sophomore outing was a boisterous blast that provided a break from reality. (ICYMI: A third season and a spinoff series have been ordered.) 

Verdict: Good.