Television

10 series you can co-watch with friends and family on CBC Gem while self-isolating

All your co-bingeing shows you can enjoy with family, friends or neighbours in one place.

All your co-bingeing shows in one place.

(CBC)

Watching movies and shows with friends and family can be a special experience. But, it's been a bit hard to do while in self-isolation. There are, however, ways you can try and recreate those precious moments, with a social isolation trend known as "co-watching."

"Co-watching" occurs over video messaging programs, such as a Google Hangout or a Zoom meeting. Just share your screen with whoever you choose to watch with and there you go. Easy. 

Maybe you've discovered a better way to co-watch but whatever the viewing choice, let us at least save you some time on searching for something to co-binge with a list of family friendly series you'll be discussing or laughing about for days after.

Heartland

Who doesn't like horses? Heartland is one of those shows that eliminates the clash in "the clash of generations." It's a multigen drama about a family getting through the highs and lows of life on a horse ranch, set against the stunning vistas of the foothills of Alberta — that you can enjoy with your grandma or your friends.

X Company

If you're into espionage and covert operations stories, and are also wondering "What was WWll like?", X Company is for you. It could be a great conversation starter with relatives who've lived in the '40s and then you could watch it together with them and have them share their perspective on the time. Or just hang out on Zoom with friends as you explore this emotionally-driven character drama — which follows the stories of five highly skilled young recruits — and learn about a time you can never go back to visit.

Alias Grace

Alias Grace is a bit of a dark mind-twister which will have you guessing all the way through. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, this six-hour mini-series tells the story of Grace Marks, a young, poor, Irish immigrant and domestic servant in 1843 Upper Canada who finds herself accused and convicted of two heinous murders — as adapted by Sarah Polley (Away from Her, Hey Lady!) and directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho). 

The mini-series features an all-star Canadian cast: Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis, True Detective), Anna Paquin (True Blood, Bellevue), Paul Gross and more.

Britannia

A bit of history and magic in a series is always interesting. If you liked Merlin or Game of Thrones, you might enjoy Britannia, which definitely has its own beat and is not trying to be anything but an epic drama telling the story of the determined, but terrified, Roman invaders and the occupied Celts and Druids — whose lives are changed forever by the arrival of a new world order.

The story is set in A.D. 43 as General Aulus Plautius, who is determined to succeed where Julius Caesar failed, wants to conquer this mythical land on the very end of the Roman Empire.

Documentary Now!

A star-studded show like this one has to be good, and it is! SNL squad, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers are the creators, executive producers and writers of this comedy but also executive producing alongside them is the famous Canadian creator of SNL, Lorne Michaels. They present a unique format combining their love of documentary films and comedy with each episode shot in a different documentary film style, paying homage to the world's best-known documentaries — with some of the most important stories that didn't actually happen. 

Icing on the cake, Dame Helen Mirren hosts the show and guest stars include everyone from Michael Keaton, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson and Jack Black to Maya Rudolph, John Slattery, John Mulaney and so many more. 

This Time with Alan Partridge

The show is a spoof of current affairs programmes and if you're someone who watches those, you will find This Time with Alan Partridge very funny.

Knowledgeable, insightful, sophisticated. Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan of Philomena) is none of these. But, even after reaching his lowest point of complete obscurity and medical addiction to Toblerone, this broadcaster bounces back as he becomes the stand-in host of This Time after the regular co-host falls ill. 

Alan Partridge's journey actually began in another series called I'm Alan Partridge where he lives alone in a roadside hotel and hosts a late night local Norwich radio show, while at the same time, to no avail, pitching ideas for new TV shows. In a way, This Time with Alan Partridge is his victory lap. Or is it?

MotherFatherSon

Not many families can identify with this melodrama but that's why we love to watch stories like MotherFatherSon — about a family behind an influential media empire that dominates politics and power. The stakes are high and anything can happen, plus you get a view of the behind the scenes of powerful families and how they live, much like in the Succession. This one has a different plot twist, though. The family is struck by a tragedy and the consequences could shake a nation.

Richard Gere stars as a millionaire media mogul, Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders) as his estranged wife and Billy Howle (Dunkirk, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as their troubled son.

Winston Rowntree's Peoplewatching

A somewhat different show about 20-something people in the year 20-something, stuck in that seemingly endless limbo between school and adulthood, between nothing and friendship, and between expectations and reality. 

Winston Rowntree's Peoplewatching is an animated web series that explores concepts such as self-loathing, depression, societal stereotypes, preconceived opinions and nostalgia. Each episode is a 5–13 minute delight which means you can binge it in no time.

Portlandia

Portlandia is most likely every sketch comedy lovers' jam. Fred Armisen of SNL and Carrie Brownstein, a vocalist/guitarist in the band Sleater-Kinney, created, wrote and starred in this award-winning sketch comedy series that parodies life in Portland, Oregon. Each episode's character-based shorts draw viewers into "Portlandia," the creators' dreamy and absurd portrayal of the city.

Kim's Convenience

Kim's Convenience is a sitcom which has your funny combined with a bit of guessing that you can enjoy with family or friends and maybe learn something about a different culture. A truly funny and heartfelt story of the Kims, a Korean-Canadian family, running a convenience store in downtown Toronto.


Explore CBC Gem for more shows that you can co-watch with your family, friends or neighbours.

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