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Five TV Series (And Some DIY Projects) To Help Keep You Sane While Social Distancing

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During this time of social distancing and school closures we here at MoPOP realize that being confined with your beloved family is both an amazing chance to bond and a huge risk that you all will drive each other crazy. But rest assured, we're here for you during this challenging time. Our museum celebrates creativity in all its forms, and we’ve come up with some bingeable suggestions to keep you entertained and inspired during this challenging time.

Here’s five shows to binge watch while you’re all at home, plus some cool and creative do-it-yourself projects inspired by each one!

1. Parks and Recreation

What It's All About: After The Office, it seemed like another documentary style half-hour comedy was not exactly what America was looking for. But after getting to know Amy Poehler’s lovable optimist, Leslie Knope, and her ragtag group of public servants, we signed on for seven seasons (and in the process launched the careers of Chris Pratt, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Aziz Ansari)! The show’s quirky cast of characters and big heart will charm even the most cynical critic (looking at you, teenagers).

DIY Project: Leslie and her best friend Anne were known to share scrapbooks of important moments in their lives. Here’s a sample. Why not spend some time scrapbooking with your family while you’re sequestered from the world?

2. The Muppet Show

What It's All About: In your children’s minds the Muppets are likely known for reboots of classics like A Christmas Carol or other musical films, but perhaps the best thing that creative genius Jim Henson and his crew ever made was The Muppet Show, a zany variety show that aired for five seasons beginning in 1976. Even if the guest stars mean nothing to anyone born after 1995 (though Elton John, whose costume we have on display in the museum, was a two-time guest they might know about), the show is so joyful and unpredictable that the fact that the humans are unrecognizable won’t stop anyone from getting in on the fun.

DIY Project: After watching, why not make some puppets yourselves?

3. The Great British Baking Show

What It's All About: Despite the fact that most people in the U.S. think of baking as involving a little more than placing pre-cut Pillsbury dough balls onto a sheet in the oven, TV shows that feature the challenging, complicated, and creative world of baking have begun to proliferate. And while you and your family may never have eaten a Swiss roll or a kransekake, watching a bunch of good-natured Brits craft amazing cakes, cookies, and crumbles is nothing short of joyous. Often inspired by their families or their cultural backgrounds, these bakers and the lengths they go to make their miraculous meringues, can’t help but pique your curiosity about cooking.

DIY Project: If you’ve got time to watch, you’ve probably got time to bake! So get your family going with this Swiss roll recipe inspired by the show.

4. Arrested Development

What It's All About: Irreverent, hilarious, and manic, this show from Mitchell Hurwitz depicts the adventures of a dysfunctional - and financially strapped - family in Orange County, California. The antics never stop and the mix of flashbacks, “archival” footage, and Ron Howard voice over make this half-hour comedy a perfect mix of elements for family isolation. This may not seem like the first “family friendly” show you’d pick off of a list, but for some reason, every young person in my life has become a fan.

DIY Project: The family in the show owns a frozen banana stand, which is an ideal treat for parents interested in healthy eating and for kids interested in chocolate. Here's how you can make your own Bluth bananas.

5. Stranger Things

What It's All About: Here are just a few selling points for Stranger Things, a show that is equal parts nostalgia and modern sci-fi storytelling:

  • It centers mostly on the creative problem-solving skills of a ragtag crew of nerdy kids.
  • It has a host of inexplicable super powers and alien maleficence that will keep you on your toes.
  • The story pays enough attention to human relationships, dating, and family dynamics to keep you interested even when the more fantastical mystery may lose you. Families will enjoy the ways these young sleuths and demon hunters figure out how to save the day.

DIY Project: While social distancing endures, why not redecorate your kids’ rooms with a Stranger Things theme?

Keep it locked on our blog for more fun and engaging 'MoPOP Don't Stop' content in the weeks ahead! Plus, give us a follow on YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Twitter to keep up with all our content aimed at keeping you entertained during our nonprofit museum's temporary closure.

And if you like what you see, make a donation to support our work!

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About the author

Jason is the Director of Education and Programs at MoPOP.

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