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Ask Chris Black: What Are You Streaming to Pass the Time These Days?

Photo: Alix Rutsey

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or the handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, Chris Black is here to answer it in a regular column.

What are you watching or streaming to pass the time these days?

What a time for streaming! I am a known cable television enthusiast, streaming … isn’t my favorite, but desperate times call for drastic measures. Fire up the damn AppleTV. Don’t worry; I am not going to recommend Tiger King or Friends. [A note that some of the services below offer free trials, and prices shown are for services’ monthly subscriptions unless otherwise noted.]

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling nostalgic. Too much idle time has me thinking about the shows I truly love. So I’m drawn to streaming some of the classics in full, front to back! Dawson’s Creek still hits. Trust me. Pacey is always hot, and Dawson is still a dork. The quaint, sleepy setting and melodramatics feel like a warm hug right now.

Sex and the City is probably the most excellent show of all time. If you are a displaced New Yorker like me, nothing will make you miss home more. It’s an excellent reminder of how glamorous and beautiful the city is. I will be reserving a table at Buddakan for after the isolation lifts. From Amazon, you can buy individual episodes from the series for $2 each, or full seasons for $15 apiece.


Veep is really really funny: I laugh out loud during every single episode. It mocks the political system in such a smart, cutting way. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a national treasure. Watch every season. Laugh — so you don’t cry! To watch on Hulu, you will need an additional $15 subscription on top of the service’s basic $6 subscription.

Sports Night is a short-lived, half-hour comedy-drama from Aaron Sorkin, about a fictional sports-news show (rumored to be based on the SportsCenter team of Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick). It might be some of Sorkin’s best work. The show features Josh Charles, a favorite of mine (he’s amazing in The Good Wife), starring as anchor Dan Rydell, a Connecticut-raised Dartmouth grad. The rapid-fire dialogue will keep you from dozing off on the couch while you’re “working” from. From Amazon, you can buy individual episodes from the series for $1 each, or full seasons for $15 apiece.

Frasier is a damn classic. It’s funny, smart, and full of fantastic furniture (Eames and Wassily chairs, to name two pieces). A Cheers spinoff, the show sees psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane return to his hometown of Seattle, following the end of his marriage and life as he knew it in Boston. The first few seasons are chock full of intelligent, heartfelt comedy.

Following your thoughts on lightweight jackets, wondering if you can direct me to some good technical ones/windbreakers? Ideally, jackets that are actually good for a (properly distanced) sprint, but will also make people think I started Kinfolk or some indie magazine.

You must have missed the excellent Vanity Fair piece on Kinfolk. But I get your point. Let’s find some cool windbreakers for sprinting! My friend Joe Holder says it is one of the keys to getting quarantine abs!

The Nike AeroLayer is pretty perfect. Lightweight and water-resistant, it works in chilly or warm temperatures and has zipper pockets for your personal effects.

Salomon is known for its shoes, but its clothes are also nice and usually well-priced. The Agile Wind Jacket is superlight while still being water-resistant. It comes in this wild, tonal digi-camo, but also a fun “Poseidon” color (a.k.a. blue).

Uniqlo makes a great windbreaker, too. The Pocketable UV Protection Parka comes in a full rainbow of colors (the olive is an on-trend option) and will repel light rain.

Have you had to buy any quarantine birthday (or other) gifts? Looking for ideas that feel special but also appropriate for the moment.

I feel sorry for anyone who has to celebrate a birthday or any other milestone during quar. Zoom parties ain’t the same. Luckily, you can still send a gift.

Sending something LIVING feels positive. I love to give orchids as gifts. They look great and require very little care, which is what I look for in a lot of friendships. LOL. The Sill can deliver a potted one for under $100!

We are all stuck at home, forced to make coffee and tea for ourselves day in and day out. Make that chore more fun for your friend or loved one by giving them a truly chic kettle. Alessi’s 9091 is just that: Its design, which has landed the kettle in some museums, features two brass whistles that play a harmonious melody once the water reaches the boiling point.

Maybe your friend is missing the thrill of Broadway. If they are a theater-head and tired of streaming movies and TV, get them a yearlong (don’t be cheap) subscription to Broadway HD. The service offers hundreds of productions commercial-free. Break a leg!

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Ask Chris: What Are You Streaming to Pass Time These Days?