J.K. Rowling is bringing a little magic to our quarantines. The author of the Harry Potter series has launched an online hub for children, families and teachers who are stuck inside amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The hub, called Harry Potter at Home, comes soon after Rowling relaxed the copyright permission on the Harry Potter books so that teachers could read the beloved stories to their students over video.
It’s at times like this that we could use a little enchantment to whisk us away from the isolation of our quarantines. And with Freeform no longer giving us the trusty Harry Potter weekends and all the Wizarding World theme parks shuttered, online is the next best place to find that magic. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is offering us a “banishing charm” on our boredom with Harry Potter at Home online hub, a new website that will feature “special contributions from Bloomsbury and Scholastic, nifty magical craft videos teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!, fun articles, quizzes, puzzles and plenty more for first-time readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world,” according to the website.
Rowling announced the launch of the hub on Wednesday, writing, “Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic, so I’m delighted to launch harrypotterathome.com.”
Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic, so I’m delighted to launch https://t.co/cPg0dZpexB pic.twitter.com/i0ZjTplVoU
— J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling April 1, 2020
The launch of the hub — one of many Harry Potter-based hubs, including Pottermore — comes a week after Rowling and agents The Blair Partnership relaxed copyright permissions on the Harry Potter books so that teachers can post videos reading the beloved series out loud. It was the latest measure to help teachers with remote reading time, according to Forbes, as British schools remained closed due to measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The videos are only allowed to be posted “onto schools’ secure networks or closed educational platforms” through the end of the school year.
The Harry Potter books have proven instrumental over the years to encourage children to read and have often been used in lessons, which Rowling and her agents have taken note of and is happily not taking financial advantage of — for now. Another Wizarding World partner, Audible, launched a free minisite too, at stories.audible.com, that offers a “free destination offering educational, entertaining, immersive children’s and family audiobook content.” And with the launch...
There’s a symmetry to the final season of “Homeland” that speaks louder than any of its international rabble-rousing and high-octane action scenes. Carrie Mathison, the CIA officer with bipolar disorder who Claire Danes has squinted, screamed, sweated, and shaken her way into becoming over seven intense seasons, is now a former P.O.W. suspected of turning on her country. To Carrie, such an accusation is as ludicrous as it is insulting. She’s a patriot. She’s put her life, sanity, and family on the line, time and time again, for America. To see it any other way is impossible.
And yet, over the course of the first four episodes, Carrie is forced to reexamine her perspective; to consider the unthinkable in order to, once again, protect her country — this time, possibly, from herself. Not only is this a clever means to put Carrie in the shoes of her one-time enemy, long-time lover Nicholas Brody Damian Lewis, but it encompasses the parallel stories “Homeland” has told since he left the show. Carrie has worried her mind will betray her when it matters most; that she won’t be able to serve her country to the best of her abilities because of her disorder, her drinking, or even her child. The series, meanwhile, has tried to force viewers to reexamine who’s the real enemy in the war on terror; to empathize and rationalize with people whose opinion of America is less than “Great!”
Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon are bringing these questions full circle, and the early episodes are a strong start to a complicated goodbye. When Nicholas Brody turned out to be a terrorist, it opened up a deeper, richer conversation about what that word meant. When we find out what happened to Carrie Mathison during her seven months in a Russian jail, we’re going to know a lot more about what it means to be a patriot — a definition “Homeland” has been exploring for nearly a decade.
Season 8 opens with Carrie still in isolation post-imprisonment. She’s been debriefed, interviewed, and analyzed, but her time behind enemy lines is still a mystery. Her memory is missing big chunks of time, which is taxing on Carrie but suspicious to her colleagues. Does she really not remember, or is she choosing to exclude key details? Before anyone is comfortable with an answer, Saul Mandy Patinkin, still in fine, blustery form after all these years steps in to pull Carrie out of friendly captivity and into enemy territory.
As the National Security Advisor to President Warner Beau Bridges, Saul’s top priority is negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan by brokering peace talks with Taliban leaders. This, as one might assume, is no easy task, and Saul needs his protégé to help push the deal through. To say much more would enter into spoiler territory, and given “Homeland” builds...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: New Girl
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: Charming weirdo Jess Zooey Deschanel moves into a new apartment with three male roommates after a devastating break-up. It turns out that her new roomies played by Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris are also charming weirdos. Quirky friendship ensues and it is all very, very funny.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: On paper, there is literally nothing special about New Girl, which ran on Fox from 2011 through 2018. In fact, it sounds downright hacky and tired: a quirky girl has three male roommates?! What is this, 1972? But while that concept may be a tough pitch in an age where television comedy has grown increasingly experimental and daring, New Girl has something you cannot fake or manufacture: lead actors with undeniable, unmistakable chemistry that works no matter which combination of characters share the screen in a given scene.
Honestly, it was that basic concept that kept me away from New Girl for a long time, even as my significant other insisted I watch it. And damn it, they were right. Now that the entire series is finished and streaming on Netflix, I’m hooked. While I certainly would’ve been hooked during another time, the show feels especially right for this given moment. During a literal pandemic where I cannot see any of my real friends, being able to hang out with Jess and Nick and Schmidt and Winston and Cece has genuinely cleansing for the soul. Sure, they’re not my real friends, but they are close enough for now. The show’s agreeable tone and chilled-out, laid-back, friendly vibe makes them welcome visitors in your living room.
At this point during my first time through the series I just completed the first season as I write this, New Girl‘s greatest strength remains its cast, which elevates the weaker episodes while super-charging the more inspired entries. Deschanel, Johnson, Greenfield, Morris and Hannah Simone as Jess’ best friend and eventual member of the group are talented, funny folks in a vacuum, but when put in the same room, the electricity between all of them could power a dozen lesser sitcoms. It’s a triumph of casting, acting, and character development, the kind of lightning in a bottle ensemble that every comedy series wishes it could taste.
I imagine New Girl will have its highs and lows as I watch it. I imagine there will be the rough patches and inspired streaks. But I know these are my new television friends and right now, I treasure them....