We are not sponsored by Netflix, but damn if it isn’t the best most beautiful thing in my life. With a lot of shows going on their winter break/ extended hiatus/being canceled permanently I figure I could give out some options for those in need of a good show to binge watch in the mean time. All of the shows listed are on Netflix, but the ones that are currently on air won’t have all of the seasons.
In the mood for suspense, possible aliens and really good drama? Here are some shows for you:
When it was on: 2008 – 2013
What it’s like: mix X-Files, Supernatural and Lost and you’ve got Fringe.
What it is: Centered around Olivia Dunham, a FBI agent who is assigned to the Fringe Division and teams up with a recently un-institutionalized genius, his son, another FBI agent and a cow. Together the team work to solve unexplained phenomena that are popping up all over the world. Easy to watch over several months, or in a few weeks – it varies from ‘Monster Of The Week’ to ‘Multiple Episode Arc’ throughout the series. Romance, drama, spooky and complex plot lines ensue. And loads of lens flares, because it’s JJ Abrams.
When it was on: 2004 – 2010
What it’s like: I gave it a lot of thought, and ‘The Twilight Zone on an island’ is the best I could come up with. It’s hard to compare Lost to anything, really. If you like any of JJ Abrams’ stuff you’ll probably like Lost.
What it is: A plane crashes on a mysterious remote island and a whole bunch of mysterious things start happening to the survivors. Lots of drama, a bit of romance, a whole bunch of mystery, piled on intrigue, piled on mystery. Not a show to step lightly into, though – there are a lot of plot lines to keep track of if you aren’t paying close attention.
When it was on: 2004 – 2009
What it’s like: West Wing, but in space. Or, if you haven’t seen West Wing, an awesome, super action-y soap opera – but in space.
What it is: After a nuclear attack by the Cylons (super smart robots that can look like humans), what is left of humanity bands together and sets off in a fleet of spaceships to find a new home. With robots and space ships and folklore and religions and disease and romance and awesome battles and drama. It’s a fantastic show, and there are so many cameos (especially if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon shows) and GAH it’s so great. The plot isn’t super complicated, so it isn’t too difficult to keep up with, but is an excellent binge watch because the characters are so great.
In the mood to cry and/or feel all the emotions? Here are some shows for you:
The West Wing
When it was on: 1999 – 2006
What it’s like: Mix the politics of Veep and Parks and Recreation, and the fast paced dialogue and drama of The Newsroom and you’ve got The West Wing.
What it is: The West Wing follows politics and lives of the two term presidency of President Josiah Bartlet, and his staff. It has stayed surprisingly un-dated in what and who Barlet has to deal with (including problems with Syria and a government shutdown over taxes). The West Wing is my favorite show. There are a lot of episodes and some of the plot lines drag on a bit, but the characters and the stories are so incredibly well written that I have watched all 154 episodes 4 times all the way through. It’ll make you laugh, cry, baffle at the writers seeming to be able to tell the future, and feel for the main characters so much you’re protective of them. It’s pretty easy to pick up after not having watched it for a few weeks, so you don’t need to binge watch it, but you’ll want to.
Call The Midwife
When it was on: 2012 – present
What it’s like: If you’re a fan of Masterpiece Theater, Downton Abbey, or any of the British dramas that your local PBS channel airs, this show is for you.
What it is: The show follows the lives of a group of midwives based in London in the 1950s. The stories are so compelling and there are only 17 episodes in the series so far – it starts up again this Christmas, so there’s plenty of time for you to catch up. It will make you bawl like a little baby, on several occasions, but it also has a lot of genuinely sweet and funny moments. Plus it’s really interesting to see the slice of life that was a poor area of London in the 1950s. Not difficult to follow along and doesn’t require 100% of your attention but is well worth a watch.
Orange Is The New Black
When it was on: 2013 – present
What it’s like: a less violent/more funny Oz? I’m not sure, as I’ve never seen Oz, but I know it takes place in a prison. It has about the same level of drama and comedy as 6 Feet Under.
What it is: The show follows Piper Chapman during her 15 month prison sentence for a crime she committed 10 years prior. It’s amazing what this show has done for a series that is only online – it was made and produced by the people at Netflix and is a stunning show of what the internet can do. It’s sexy, funny, romantic, sad, dramatic and sometimes creepy – it will surprise you. There’s only one season on Netflix, but a second season is on it’s way and, personally, I can’t wait. It’ll suck you in so fast you’ll be wondering how you watched 4 episodes in 1 night.
In the mood for light, lovely, hilarity? Here are some shows for you:
When it was on: 1975 – 1979
What it’s like: the silliness of Monty Python, and the wit of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and the disgruntled manager of Black Books. It’s a British comedy with terrible, mean, yet hilarious characters.
What it is: the show follows the lives of the inept/unhelpful/hilarious staff of Fawlty Towers, a hotel run by Basil and Sybil Fawlty. It’s silly and Basil is constantly misunderstanding and being terrible to the guests and his staff and utter chaos (and hilarity) ensue. It’s a bit dated, but the chemistry of the cast and the fantastic physical comedian that is John Cleese make it worthwhile. The episodes are pretty stand alone, so it’s easy to pick up or leave as you like – and I’ve watched the series enough times to say that it’s still hilarious every time I watch it.
How I Met Your Mother
When it was on: 2005 – Present (but it’s in it’s last season)
What it’s like: Modern Family, or Friends. If you like ensemble cast sitcoms, this will be a good binge watch for you.
What it is: The story of how Ted Mosby met the mother of his children. It’s told in memories from the perspective of Ted talking to his two children in 2030. It’s a somewhat inappropriate story to tell his kids (with all of the relationships and sexy shenanigans that Ted and his friends get into), but it is funny and sweet and I will definitely miss this show, but it’s a great way to kill some time and is light enough – with the exception of a few very well acted darker episodes – to put on in the background and go do other things in the room.
Parks and Recreation
When it was on: 2009 – Present
What it is: The show follows the lives and works of the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana. Especially Leslie Knope, a very motivated public servant who’s only wish is to make everyone else see that Pawnee is the best town in the world. The staff have silly antics and the townsfolk are strange and hilarious and it is well written and has so many awesome female characters that it almost makes up for 30 Rock not being on anymore. You’ll have to get past the first season – which is much darker than the rest of the series, it took itself too seriously and doesn’t really hit it’s stride until the second season. The guest stars alone will be enough to make you want to watch, but the main cast are all so talented and every character is unique in their personalities and are all so hilarious.
What it’s like: It’s filmed mocumentary-style like The Office, and has a lot of the same sense of humor, but it is a lot like 30 Rock as well.
Hopefully those shows will get you through any hiatus or cancellation that you might experience. Some honorable mentions: 30 Rock, Black Books, It’s Always Sunny In Philidelphia, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse. All of those are also on Netflix so feel free to watch them and let us know what you thought – or if you think there’s a show that I’ve missed and should watch, let me know. I’m always on the look out for a new show to watch!