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A MinnPost stay-at-home survival guide: 21 things to watch, read and talk about while you shelter in place

MinnPost staff-recommended picks for books, movies and TV shows to tide you over during the coronavirus bunkering.

Retsuko in a scene from "Aggretsuko."

We know. You’re a Minnesotan, you’ve been cooped up all winter, and it’s finally getting nice out there. You want to be out and about: see your friends, head up North, hang with the neighbors (or, Minnesota being Minnesota, avoid your neighbors). 

Anyway, we get it. But just don’t. Coronavirus is upending lives, business and communities across the state, and Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order is in place for a very good reason, even if — and pardon the technical term here — it sucks.  So, to help you get through the next few weeks of sheltering in place, we’ve put together a list of recommendations by MinnPost staffers: books, movies and TV shows that are worth your time — especially now that you have so much of it:


“Aggretsuko,” Netflix

This Netflix anime-style cartoon takes place in Tokyo, though the dialogue is in English. It’s about a red panda who copes with her bad office job by going to a karaoke bar where she sings death metal. It’s goofy and hilarious and metal. —Jonathan Stegall, user experience engineer

“Sex Education,” Netflix

This show follows Otis, an awkward British teenager, as he tries to navigate the normal high school stuff while setting up a sex education “clinic” for his peers with his friend Maeve. Gillian Anderson delights as Otis’ sex therapist mom. It’s charming, hilarious, queer, warm, but serious when it needs to be. You’ll fly through the first two seasons and then be stuck with the rest of us, waiting impatiently for Netflix to release the third season. —Laura Lindsay, membership manager

“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; Amazon Prime Video (seasons 1-8)

The long-running comedy classic helmed by Larry David just finished its 10th season, so if you have HBO it’s time to catch up or binge-watch again from the start. In the latest season, Larry opens up a “spite store,” a coffee shop made just to get revenge on a next door cafe whose owner he dislikes. It’s dumb. It’s hilarious. And the gripes Larry has with ordinary life are extra entertaining given the world’s current situation. We need a special “shelter in place” coronavirus episode, though. As we learn in season 10, Larry is already a hand-sanitizer enthusiast. Prescient! —Walker Orenstein, environment and workforce reporter

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“Cheers,” Netflix

A classic James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles sitcom, “Cheers” ran from 1982 to 1993. I hadn’t seen it for a long time, but the first episodes introduce the cast featuring Ted Danson, Shelly Long, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt. (Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer and Kirsti Alley come later in the 271-episode run.) The show is the TV equivalent of comfort food and can be taken in small helpings, with each show running 24 minutes long. —Peter Callaghan, state government reporter

Melinda Kinnaman in "Modus."
Melinda Kinnaman in "Modus."
“Modus,” Twin Cities PBS; Amazon Prime Video

We had some pretty late nights stacking up episodes of this Swedish TV thriller. In Season 1, ex-FBI profiler Inger Johanne Vik teams up with police to solve a series of murders — after her autistic daughter sees the killer with a body, and he sees her. Season 2 gets political: Vik is called in when the American president (played by Kim Cattrall) disappears during a state visit to Stockholm. Lots of satisfying twists. — Susan Albright, managing editor

“McMillions,” HBO

Why didn’t you win at the McDonald’s Monopoly game? Do you think it’s: A) You’re reasonably unlucky? Or B) McDonald’s Monopoly was run by a wide-reaching crime ring? You’ll have to watch McMillions to find out. Or you can read this extensive 2018 profile by Jeff Maysh in the Daily Beast: “How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions.” —Gabe Schneider, Washington correspondent

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“Parks & Recreation,” Netflix

I’ve watched “Parks & Recreation” probably a gazillion times. It’s my go-to comfort watch in times of stress, when I need to distract myself and laugh. It follows the hijinks of the Parks & Rec department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. The whole ensemble is great, and throughout the show, the entire town is populated with bizarre and funny side characters. The show also has a lot of heart, and the characters truly grow over the course of its six seasons. (Pro tip: the six-episode first season is a bit shaky. You can skip it and not miss a beat.) —Tanner Curl, development director

“The Wire,” HBO; Amazon Prime Video

The Guardian just ran a piece on how self-isolating people in the UK are buying “bucket list” books. HBO is full of “bucket list” TV series: “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones,” “Sex and the City,” to name a few. Leading the pack is David Simon’s brilliant and magnificent “The Wire,” which ran for five seasons (2002-2008). Arguably the greatest show in the history of U.S. television, chronicling failure, decay, drugs and corruption in Baltimore, it starts off a little slow, but so what? Stick with it. You’ll never forget it. —Pamela Espeland, Artscape columnist 

“Love Is Blind,” Netflix

I’m a sucker for reality TV dating shows — “The Bachelor,” “90 Day Fiancé,” “Married at First Sight,” etc. I’ve sadistically watched countless “relationships” crumble and others grow, all under TV producers’ directions, of course. So when Netflix launched this 11-episode show that begins with couples proposing marriage to each other on blind dates, I grabbed a bottle of red wine and strapped in for a weekend binge session. Jealousy between participants? Check. Overly produced B-roll footage of an extravagant resort? Check. C-list celebrity hosts? Check. This show marks all of the boxes for guilty-pleasure TV. —Jessica Lee, local government reporter

Joe Para in "Joe Pera Talks with You."
Factual Productions
Joe Pera in "Joe Pera Talks With You."
Joe Pera Talks With You,” Adult Swim; Hulu; YouTube TV

This show is comfort food for the times in which we find ourselves. Comedian Joe Pera plays an unassuming Midwesterner who appreciates the small stuff in life, whether it’s growing green beans, making the perfect grocery budget or going out to breakfast. Is it campy? Sure. Can it remind us not to forget the little things as we try to make sense of our rapidly changing world? I hope so. The episodes are short. Start with “Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements.” —Greta Kaul, data reporter

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“The Sopranos,” HBO; Amazon Prime Video

Sure, it’s been two decades since TV drama changed forever because of Tony Soprano. But it’s for good reason that this love-hate character and his family’s antics stand the test of time. Plus, for millennials like me, we couldn’t — or shouldn’t — have watched The Sopranos’ TV-MA take on organized crime when the episodes premiered in the early 00s. Available via Amazon Prime and HBO, the show is a perfect form of escapism we all need right now. Bonus benefit: Your impression of a New Jersey accent will, no doubt, improve. —J.L.

“10 days of positive thinking,” TED 

No, it’s not technically a TV show, but TED talks is offering this playlist, which is exactly what it sounds like. Presenters span all generations and their topic selections will make you smile, ponder, laugh, and perhaps view life or happenings from a different lens. The talks on the list range from 6 minutes to 18 minutes so they’re not time-consuming, yet the messaging you take away will likely have lasting ripple effects. And they’re all free. —Suzanne Childs, advertising sales manager


“The Sellout,” by Paul Beatty

Beatty’s Man Booker prize-winning satire is set in a small town just outside of LA. It follows the narrator (“Me”), a marijuana and watermelon farmer, as he gets pulled into the role of slavemaster and segregationist and ultimately stands trial before the Supreme Court. This irreverent novel is a damning mediation on race in the United States, and it does what all great satires do: makes you simultaneously laugh and feel overwhelming discomfort. —Caroline Schwenz, audience engagement and development manager

“Bad Blood”  by John Carreyrou

This is a nonfiction book that reads like a thriller.  John Carreyrou, an investigative reporter with the Wall Street Journal, tracks down the story of lies, blood, and Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes, with her black turtlenecks and obsession with Steve Jobs, makes a villain you feel no problem rooting against. The sheer lack of oversight on a multibillion-dollar health care company is shocking. Even if you know the story of Theranos, the erstwhile blood-testing company led by Holmes, you need to read this book. In a time of coronavirus and rapid testing, the reporting done here reminds us how valuable journalism is during our age. —Allie Moen Wagstrom, director of finance and operations

Golden Compass“The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman

I’m reading “The Golden Compass” right now. It’s one of those books that I know I would’ve loved as a kid, but I never got around to reading it. As an adult, I haven’t read any fantasy books, so it’s a fun reminder of all the books I grew up with. I’m totally loving it! It’s a fun story to get sucked into right now, and it’s complex and well-written enough to enjoy as an adult. Adventure, danger, and plenty of philosophical and moral questions. Bonus, you can read and discuss it with an older kid in your life. I plan to have a virtual book club with my nephew when we’ve both finished reading it. —L.L.

“We Are Never Meeting in Real Life,” and “Wow, No Thank You,” by Samantha Irby

If you just want to laugh right now, this book is for you. (Note: if you don’t like foul language or poop jokes, this book is decidedly NOT for you.) In this book of personal essays, the vulgar, cynical, awkward, secretly sweet Samantha Irby takes you into some of the many uncomfortable/embarrassing/immature moments of her life. Always darkly hilarious, but with surprising emotional depth on issues like mental health and chronic illness. Irby’s latest, “Wow, No Thank You” comes out on Mar. 31, and you can preorder it now to support your local bookstore. You can also catch Irby reading, with color commentary, some of the essays from the new book on her Instagram page. L.L.

“Beautiful Ruins,” Jess Walter

This is a novel that somewhat defies description. It covers 50 years of time, from Italy in the 1960s to current day in Hollywood and other locales, weaving a lot of different stories and characters that all come together at the end. It’s a page-turner from the start, and while it definitely lives in the genre of social satire, at its heart, it’s a love story. The actor Richard Burton even makes a bizarre cameo. —T.C.



Shoplifters,Amazon Prime Video; Hulu; YouTube TV

Hirokazu Koreeda’s 2018 film follows a “chosen family” living in Tokyo. Subsisting on low-wage jobs and shoplifting, the characters highlight life on the margins of Japanese society. After taking in/kidnapping a young girl (depending on how you interpret film events), the characters’ lives are uprooted. Koreeda’s film surprises. What looks like a heartwarming investigation of humanity becomes much more complex, leaving us wondering how we are supposed to understand what just happened. —C.S. 

Sam Rockwell in "Moon."
Sony Pictures Classics
Sam Rockwell in "Moon."
“MOON,” Netflix

Sam Rockwell works from home (on the moon). Rockwell, playing Sam Bell, keeps a lunar facility running, sending resources back to Earth. After a long contract, he’s preparing to head back to Earth to see his family. “Moon” came out in 2009, but if you want a movie that has no parallels to modern life, you should watch it. It’s mostly about loneliness, corporate greed, and solidarity. —G.S.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon,” Redbox 

Looking for something that the whole family can watch, that’ll leave you feeling inspired and hopeful? Consider adding “The Peanut Butter Falcon” to your at-home movie queue. It’s about a young man with Down syndrome, named Zak, who runs away from the nursing home he lives at to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a professional wrestler — and how his determination and confidence inspire those who accompany him on his journey.  The most affordable stay-at-home viewing option I could find: rent on demand from Redbox for $4.99. —Erin Hinrichs, education reporter


“36 Questions to Fall in Love”

Like a lot of people, my wife and I are doing virtual hangouts with friends and family, and of course, we talk about the current situation and how we’re handling all of it. That’s good, but we also decided we wanted to socialize and NOT talk about coronavirus. To do that, I recommend using 36 Questions to Fall in Love. You can ignore the love part. The questions come from a 1990s social experiment, and they’re really just a tool to get to know your conversation partners in a meaningful way. While we have to be apart physically, perhaps it’s a good opportunity to make our social bonds with people we care most about even stronger. —T.C.