18 TV Episodes About Quarantines to Watch During Your Own Self-Quarantine
By Philiana Ng, Meredith B. Kile and John Boone
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As we all settle into our new normals in self-quarantine amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, now's the perfect time to park yourself in front of your TV (or computer screen) and make a dent on that never-ending list of shows you've been meaning to watch.
While comfort television is always a feel-good cure to curb boredom, sometimes curiosity over quarantines and lockdowns, virsuses and outbreaks is only natural at a time like this. (Hence why everyone has been watching Contagion.)
If you're looking to escape our real-world lockdown for a fictional quarantine -- or want to see how characters have handled self-isolation and social distancing -- we at ET have compiled 18 TV episodes to check out:
Episode: "Salvation" (Season 2, Episode 6)
Super-spy Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and her CIA handler-turned-lover Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan) are put into quarantine after a trip to Taipei may have exposed them to a deadly virus. It's during their self-isolation that Sydney and Vaughn are forced to confront their feelings toward each other and grapple with their respective diagnoses. It's an episode that showcases both the high-stakes world and grounded relationships of Alias, and if you haven't yet experienced Sydney's badassery, now's the time to rectify that. Stat.
Episode: "Persona Non Grata" (Season 4, Episode 13)
This season four finale has plenty of Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth's (Keri Russell) usual Russian spy games, but it also includes a subplot about Dylan Baker's undercover KGB agent, William, intentionally infecting himself with a biological weapon when he's cornered by the feds. We the viewers watch as William, isolated away in a bio-containment unit, experiences the slow spread of the virus.
Episode: "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" (Season 1, Episode 9)
Leave it to Bones to center their very first Christmas episode around an airborne fungal disease. When the Jeffersonian staff triggers a biohazard alarm while cutting into some new skeletal remains, they must stay under quarantine over the holidays. The season one episode gave fans a closer look at each character's home life, as they discussed what their own Christmas celebrations were supposed to entail -- motivating Brennan (Emily Deschanel) to open up about her childhood in the foster system after her parents' disappearance -- and ended up being a memorable early hour for the long-running procedural.
Episodes: “Infection” (Season 5, Episode 4 of Med; Season 8, Episode 4 of Fire; Season 7, Episode 4 of P.D.)
The OneChicago shows have covered a gamut of medical cases and emergencies over their respective runs, but the most recent three-show crossover event in 2019 put the city on high alert. In "Infection," the Med, Fire and P.D. teams find themselves at the center of a mysterious virus and they team up to eradicate the rare bug that’s slowly infiltrating the city that’s been planted by a bioterrorist. The Chicago teams are successful, but not before it threatens the health of one of their own.
Stream it: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. are available on Hulu.
Community put its own irreverent spin on the lockdown episode with season two's "Cooperative Calligraphy," in which the study group self-quarantines after Annie's (Alison Brie) beloved purple gel pen goes missing. Secrets are revealed as each member of the group comes under scrutiny, but ultimately they give up the search -- only viewers learn the true culprit behind the theft. (Bonus recommendation: If you're more in the mood for a zombie-style pandemic episode, season two also includes the stellar "Epidemiology" episode.)
Stream it: Community is available on Hulu. It will be available on Netflix starting April 1.
Episode: "Pilot" (Season 1, Episode 1)
Based on Belgium's Cordon, the short-lived but stellar U.S. version revolves around an epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, leaving part of the city under quarantine and those stuck in containment fighting for their lives. It's one of The Vampire Diaries creator Julie Plec's lesser-known series, but it explores the many facets of an outbreak and the lives that are fundamentally changed as a result -- from the government officials to the medical doctors to the families and loved ones to the affected. Have 13 hours to spare? Containment is a worthy show to binge-watch during self-quarantine.
Stream it: Containment is available on Netflix.
The Good Doctor
Episodes: "Quarantine: Part 1 and 2" (Season 2, Episodes 10 and 11)
A hospital-wide quarantine was the premise for The Good Doctor’s two-part midseason arc. The entire San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital is put on lockdown when several patients from an overseas flight from Malaysia come in with an airborne viral respiratory disease and the high likelihood that anyone who came into contact with them could be susceptible. Unlike other cases, this one hits home the hardest when Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang) and the son of Dr. Alex Park (Will Yun Lee) are just two of the potentially infected patients.
Stream it: The Good Doctor is available on Hulu and the ABC app.
Episodes: "Time Has Come Today" (Season 3, Episode 1), "Wishin’ and Hopin'" (Season 3, Episode 14) and "You Be Illin'" (Season 10, Episode 18)
Because Grey's Anatomy has been around for 16 seasons, there are a handful of episodes where the doctors are forced into quarantine or in self-isolation situations. There's the season three premiere, "Time Has Come Today," where Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) are stuck in the hospital locker room for hours due to a patient suspected of having the plague. The season 10 episode, "You Be Illin'," features a voiceover by Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) detailing how many times we touch our faces (at least 100) and the number of surfaces we touch every day, allowing germs to spread. The hour also follows a hospital overrun by patients with the flu that gradually makes its way to the doctors.
Stream it: Grey's Anatomy is available on Netflix, Hulu and the ABC app.
Episode: "A Pox on Our House" (Season 7, Episode 7)
Hugh Laurie's eponymous doc saw his share of deadly diseases throughout the series' run, but this season seven episode has the entire hospital on lockdown from the CDC over the threat of a smallpox outbreak. It all stems from a scuttled 18th-century slave ship and a scuba diving trip centuries later, when a family is quarantined after showing signs of exposure to the disease. As always with House, it's twistier and turnier than simply just smallpox.
Of course, the quarantine is Schmidt's idea in this New Girl season 5 episode, in which the loft's most neurotic resident locks his friends in a saran-wrapped room so he doesn't get sick before a big presentation at work. First Nick, then Cece, then Winston, fall victim to the involuntary lockdown, but Schmidt catches the cold anyway. Social distancing is important, people!
Stream it: New Girl is available on Netflix.
Episode: "Pie-lette" (Season 1, Episode 1)
Or Social Distancing: The Series. Bryan Fuller's criminally short-lived series is a whimsy-fueled love story about a pie maker, Ned (Lee Pace), who has the power to bring the dead back to life. But while one touch revives his childhood crush, Chuck (Anna Friel), a second would make her dead forever, thus the two find increasingly inventive ways to connect without actually touching. Come for the squee-worthy romance, stay for the Kristin Chenoweth musical numbers.
Stream it: Pushing Daisies is available on CW Seed.
Episode: "My Quarantine" (Season 4, Episode 16)
Scrubs went viral during the coronavirus pandemic for a clip on social distancing from season five's "My Cabbage," but it was one season earlier that the comedy did their own version of a lockdown episode with "My Quarantine." After JD (Zach Braff) incorrectly diagnoses a patient with SARS, his first date with Kylie (Chrystee Pharris) gets put on hold as the ICU goes under quarantine. Luckily for the residents and patients of Sacred Heart, the lockdown ends within the half-hour timeframe after only a few hijinks.
The West Wing saw multiple lockdown-style scenarios over its seven-season run -- including the controversial post-9/11 bonus episode "Isaac and Ishmael" -- but the most resonant to now is season five's "No Exit," in which the White House goes into quarantine mode after a contamination detector goes off just outside the Oval Office. The resulting panic forces the show's key players to shelter in place in interesting combinations -- though, lucky for them, it only lasts about 45 minutes -- pushing forward the season's dramatic tension and resulting in one of the best episodes of the show's latter, post-Sorkin seasons.
Stream it: All seven seasons of The West Wing are available on Netflix.
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