Hoopla is an online resource you can use from the comfort of your couch. To use it, simply go to the Cedar Rapids Public Library website (crlibrary.org), click on Resources and Services and select Hoopla. Once there you’ll be prompted for your library card. Log in as a Cedar Rapids or Marion resident. You’re now ready to browse thousands of titles. Here are my top ten TV Shows.
10. American Pickers
If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, this show has, well a bit of column A and a bit of column B. Operating from a workshop based in Le Claire Iowa, Mike and Frank travel the United States scouring homes, barns and anywhere else they get a good lead on an “antique archeological” hunt for the next big treasure. Think The Antiques Roadshow with a lot more Americana.
9. The Great British Baking Show
Sometimes when I’m anxious at night and find it hard to sleep, I turn on The Great British Baking Show. Maybe it’s the soothing British lilt of host Paul Hollywood, or the calming and indefatigable Mary Airy or the brazen honesty of Prue Leith. It’s the colors and it’s the contestants but mostly, it’s the baking. Amateur British chefs face-off by proving their way around a Swiss Roll, fondling their Florentines and preparing prize-winning pasties. This show is a feast- both for your eyes and, if you nip to the grocery store and give the recipes a shot for yourself, your belly. Warning: this show is slightly addictive- but it’s better to watch a baking show that constantly head to the kitchen for a snack, right?
8. Chappelle’s Show
When Chappelle’s Show aired in 2003, there was nothing like it. Dave Chapelle’s cheeky, tongue-in-cheek satire is uncomfortable, thought-provoking and hilarious. His blend of socio-political skits introduces topics of overt racism, pop culture, and history. Love him or hate him, there is no-one who has had the courage to bring these issues to light and examine them under the lens of comedy. Warning: this show has explicit language and content some viewers may find offensive.
7. Absolutely Fabulous
Growing up, there was a sketch comedy show that I just couldn’t get enough of. French and Saunders was a British show that parodied popular culture and spoofed movies, celebrities, and art. The comedy duo went on to star in other great comedies and both were the brainchild of Absolutely Fabulous, (starring only Saunders). Absolutely Fabulous follows “Eddy,” a boozing, drug-using PR agent desperately fixated with looking fabulous and maintaining her youth and Patsy, a magazine editor who burdens Eddy by mooching and living in her huge home. The burden of responsibility lies with Eddy’s daughter, Saffy, a Sixth form student who tries her best to keep her mother and her friend in line.
6. Ken Burns Jazz
Ken Burns is the Michaelangelo of documentary making. He takes a slab of marble which, to begin with, is everything and nothing and chips away at it retaining it’s wheat and discarding the chaff. What is left is nothing short of a masterpiece. Burns has documentaries on many topics including The Central Park 5, the Vietnam War, The Great Depression, and Prohibition. When I watch them, I know I’m in the hands of a true professional, capable of discernment. This Jazz special is no different.
5. Tiny House, Fyi
Fans of Marie Kondo and House Hunters will enjoy this tiny spinoff. Experts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin help families to build their new home- of no more than 500 square feet. This show exemplifies how to maximize minimal spaces, the true necessities we need to live and how to organize our homes, even if they are not teeny tiny.
4. The Essential Lectures of Alan Watts
British Philosopher Alan Watts brought Eastern Philosophy to the Western World and sowed the seeds deep reflection. His essays and lectures have welled tears in my eyes. His work teaches mindfulness and how to be happy by appreciating the present. By not holding on to the past or pining for the future. His insights on Eastern and Western religions are fascinating and there are so many nuggets you can incorporate into your daily life. Fans of Joseph Campbell will enjoy these lectures. Want more Watts? Check out this wonderful article by Maria Popova in Brain Pickings https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/06/alan-watts-wisdom-of-insecurity-1/
3. Call the Midwife
When my coworkers ask if I’ve seen The Crown, or Downtown Abbey, or Doc Martin, I sheepishly shake my head no. While hailing from the UK, I am nowhere near an Anglophile as my American colleagues. So when one of them recommended Call the Midwife, I thought it was about time to check out a show. Call the Midwife is a British period drama television series based on the best-selling memoirs of former nurse Jennifer Worth, who died shortly before the first episode was broadcast. The characters in the show immediately pulled me in and follow a group of mid-wives doing their rounds on bicycles in the 1950s; covering British culture, class, and every-day life.
2. Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr
Henry Louis Gares, Jr is a National Treasure. A tour de force. He’s an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and the Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American research. He’s authored and co-authored twenty-one books and created fifteen documentary films. One of these is the series Finding Your Roots, a PBS original where he sits down with notable celebrities, political figures and well-known folk and through DNA testing, discusses their genealogy. American history is complex and convoluted and for some Americans, difficult or impossible to trace because of incomplete or unrecorded family histories. This series delves into the real American story and it’s incredible.
1. Adam Ruins Everything
Spoiler alert- Adam really does ruin most everything including restaurants, going green, the Constitution and education. But his show is so good! I’ve watched several of these with my kids and we learn a lot. He has experts like Nikole Hannah-Jones (1619 Project) to discuss redlining and segregation, and others who dispel myths in our social frameworks and institutions. Whether you believe everything he says or not, he cites his sources and at the very least, he will challenge your critical thinking skills. Highly informative and binge-worthy.