Watch This: It’s Time for ‘ER’


Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, our TV critic Margaret Lyons offers hyper-specific viewing recommendations in our Watching newsletter. Read her latest picks below, and sign up for the Watching newsletter here.

When to watch: Now, on Hulu.

Several people have asked me in the past few weeks if now is the worst time to watch “ER,” and the answer is no! Now is the best time to watch “ER.” It’s one of the greats; there are more than 300 episodes; the characters genuinely try to provide good health care; there are multiple models of successful leadership; some people fall in love; and many people learn things. I’m pretty sure fully one third of all living actors appear in the series at some point.

“ER,” set in a busy emergency room in a Chicago public hospital, premiered in 1994. But other than the absence of cellphones and Google, it feels current — modern, even, thanks to its fast pace and aversion to neat endings. A lot of doctor shows follow a case-of-the-week procedural model, but “ER” does not; you might follow a patient’s story for only one scene, or you might follow it for most of a season.

I recently mainlined all of “Lenox Hill,” a documentary series on Netflix about a New York hospital, and I loved it. But I think what I loved about it most was the ways it reminded me of “ER,” especially in its portrayals of mentorship and education. Amassing knowledge is important, obviously, but developing good judgment is the real ballgame, and unfortunately there’s no such thing as precocious wisdom.

If you’ve never watched “ER,” I’m trembling with jealousy. If you’re embarking on a rewatch, just start at the beginning — there’s nothing to optimize here. Skip super sad episodes if you’re feeling extra vulnerable (I skipped “Love’s Labor Lost” and “On the Beach” during my rewatch), but otherwise just embrace the best-ever show about giving a damn.

‘Britain’s Best Home Cook’
When to watch: Now, on Hulu.

This might be the lowest-stakes show I’ve ever binged, but if you too are in the market for a keep-me-company series, watch this gentle contest show that is so chill the participants aren’t even that good at cooking. Mary Berry, best known to American audiences as one of the original judges on “The Great British Baking Show,” is the big draw, and she dispenses her sage verdicts here with familiar panache.

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