During the shutdown, many discovered the joys of Netflix binge-watching. The disturbing (actually super-disturbing) series “The Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” or simply Tiger King, is a miniseries about the life of zookeeper Joe Exotic. It was released on Netflix on March 20, just in time for everyone to be stuck inside, ready for mindless entertainment.
The series became a shared experience in a time of isolation. According to Business Weekly, it was watched by 34 million viewers. Two months before COVID-19 closures, my family and I canceled our cable and took what we thought was the gutsy step into the world of streaming. We already had Netflix, but we added Hulu Live and the apps BritBox and PBS. Only a week or so into the shutdowns, my curiosity was piqued by Facebook posts. We started watching an episode a night. When it was done, we were glad/horrified that we had watched it. It’s actually icky and the people are not nice.
But I will credit Tiger King with pushing me into scrolling through streaming options. I have always been crazy about British mysteries, so as the winter of our discontent dragged on, I was stupidly happy most days, binge-watching “Father Brown,” “Midsomer Murders,” “Broadchurch,” “Bancroft” and “Vera.” That’s not even a complete list, by the way.
I also did my fair share of history binges (American and British), really too many to mention.
Which brings me to my latest obsession, which oddly fits none of the above categories. It’s on Netflix and it’s called “The Repair Shop,” a British show that debuted in 2017. It chronicles the meticulous process of talented and likeable craftspeople working in a thatched barn outfitted with twinkle lights. They repair old and even older items, including clocks, toys, signs, furniture, industrial items such as shoe stretchers, pottery and paintings. Owners bring in an item, explain its history and how much it means to them or one of their loved ones.
There is rarely an episode that doesn’t leave me in tears, usually twice. The reaction of the owners when they see the repaired item is deeply moving. And the repairs are amazing, whether it’s restoring a shattered ceramic heirloom vase, or making a 100-year-old mechanical toy boat power across a lake for the first time in decades.
In one episode, the first one I watched, a woman brought in a battered violin. It had been played by the woman’s grandmother when she was interned in Auschwitz. The violin and the woman’s musical prowess saved her life. It also had been played by the woman’s father but hadn’t been played for decades. The Repair Shop experts brought it back to life. And they brought in a top British violinist to play a piece for the woman. Everyone was in tears.
That’s just one of the many, many heartwarming stories. I love “The Repair Shop.” I want to adopt the expert furniture repair guy. And I want to be adopted by the two women who repair all the stuffed toys.
Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to “The Repair Shop.” You will thank me.
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