One of the only silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic is that being homebound has given many of us an opportunity to catch up on the countless books, films, TV shows, and albums we hadn’t had a chance to get to. For those of you whose “must-read/watch/listen to” lists are a bit light on Texas-inflected works, we’ve put together a selection of items you should check out while you’re holed up in isolation—including virtual displays of museum exhibits you may not have had time to drive out and see. Enjoy, and stay safe.



Based on Julie Murphy’s novel, this film, set in fictional Clover City, Texas, revolves around a bygone beauty queen and her daughter, a plus-size teen who competes in a pageant to protest the beauty-industrial complex.


Katy native Renée Zellweger took home an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her searing portrayal of the late icon Judy Garland in this bittersweet 2019 biopic.

Alita: Battle Angel

Robert Rodriguez’s flick—believed to be the most expensive film shot in Texas—is a thrill ride set in the dystopian Iron City.

The River and the Wall

Ahead of the contentious plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, director Ben Masters, a part-time Austinite, trekked the 1,200-mile boundary with several friends. The film, which documents that journey, shows that it’s not easy to draw stark divisions between nations and cultures.


The Righteous Gemstones

This HBO dark comedy centers on the Gemstone family, who made their fortune through a televangelism empire. Texas City’s Edi Patterson, as eager-to-please daughter Judy, upstages everyone with her comic timing.

The Son

Drawn from Austin writer Philipp Meyer’s Pulitzer Prize–nominated novel of the same name, the AMC drama—which recently had its second and final season—tracks a family of nineteenth-century Texas settlers, led by Eli McCullough (played by Pierce Brosnan).


This Netflix docu-series centers on the charismatic athletes who make up a Corsicana college cheer team and the grueling training they undergo, as well as the tough lessons they learn from their exacting coach, as they prepare for a national championship.

The Good Place

In his role as the anxious moral philosophy professor Chidi Anagonye, Dallas-born William Jackson Harper holds together NBC’s whimsical comedy—about the afterlife, hell, and the many places in between—which recently had its fourth and final season.


The End of October, Lawrence Wright

The April 28 release of the Austin author’s thriller, about a virus that threatens to destroy humanity, is so uncannily timed that any moment now some conspiracy theorist will tweet that our real-life pandemic is a hoax dreamed up by Wright’s publicist.

The Bird BoysLisa Sandlin

This sequel to Sandlin’s 2015 mystery The Do-Right is, like its predecessor, an atmospheric dive into Beaumont’s seamy underworld, featuring the private-eye duo of former roughneck Tom Phelan and ex-convict Delpha Wade.

Trust MeRichard Z. Santos

In this funny and sharply observed debut novel, San Antonio native Santos follows a down-on-his-luck political operative who moves to New Mexico to take a seemingly safe job as a PR flack that turns out to be anything but.

Heaven, My HomeAttica Locke

The second installment of Locke’s Highway 59 mystery series finds her hero, the black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, navigating the charged racial divides of East Texas.


No Novelties, Fea

The San Antonio–based Chicana punk cohort, featuring two members of the city’s longtime rock group Girl in a Coma, mince no words on their second full-length album, full of barn burners that inspire action.

Texas Sun, Leon Bridges & Khruangbin

The Fort Worth R&B heavyweight and the Houston instrumental trio team up for a collaboration that evokes aimless days in the stifling Texas heat and cool(er) nights spent behind the wheel.

The Highwomen, The Highwomen

For its debut, this supergroup—Texans Amanda Shires and Maren Morris and musical polyglots Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby—put together an airtight collection of songs that counters country radio’s notable lack of gender balance.

Texas Piano Man, Robert Ellis

On his latest release, Houston alt-country crooner Robert Ellis cements his status as Texas’s answer to Billy Joel—only with a much more souped-up wardrobe and breezy songs dedicated to the likes of Topo Chico.

Fine and Performing Arts

Houston Chamber Choir

The vocal group recently launched With One Accord, a podcast featuring a single comforting choral tune per episode. Pulling from their choir performances over the years, the episodes showcase works by musicians as wide-ranging as Johann Sebastian Bach and Dolly Parton.

Kimbell Art Museum

The Fort Worth institution’s website has a section entitled “The Kimbell from Home” that features a sizable digital collection you can browse from your couch, as well as audio recordings that contextualize works at the museum.


Travel through our state’s spectacular mountain ranges and bluebonnet patches via this Twitter account, which tweets out Impressionist landscape works by this turn-of-the-twentieth-century San Antonio–born artist.

Dallas Museum of Art

The museum’s digital collection, which boasts more than 25,000 images, is an excellent place to spend an afternoon. You can search for works done in a certain period or by hyper-specific categories such as sacred objects, beasts and monsters, and climates.

This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.