I’m excellent at procrastination and lately the way I’ve been avoiding my work/feeding my insomnia is the rabbit hole known as the Netflix binge.
I did the “House of Cards” binge (S1 in two nights but S2 took longer), the “Orange Is The New Black” binge (S1 only, I’m saving S2) and I’m currently knee deep in the teen drama “One Tree Hill“. Don’t judge! I didn’t watch the show the first time around but it’s reminiscent of the 80’s teen dramas I love so much (like “Dawson’s Creek” which I could watch over and over again…for Pacey Witter NOT Dawson).
Since I know that I’m not the only one who gets sucked into to the newest socially acceptable form of bingeing and because I see requests on Facebook and Twitter nearly every day for recommendations of what shows to binge-watch next, I’m sharing some shows you might want to start watching before the Fall TV season kicks in.
Because once you’re done with “Breaking Bad“, “Mad Men“, “Sons of Anarchy“, “Dexter“, “Scandal“, or “The Walking Dead” (which I hear is good but I can’t get into), you really do need a next show to watch!
(in no specific order)
If you like gritty, masculine energy dramas:
“The Shield” – Amazon Prime
This LA based cop-drama shows not only the camaraderie between officers who work and risk their lives together fighting crime (most often drug related crime), it also shows how dirty cops can get. Michael Chiklis is stellar as Vic Mackey but don’t miss the amazing Walton Goggins (Shane Vendrell). Kurt Sutter, the producer of “Sons of Anarchy“, was a producer, writer and director on “The Shield“.
“Rescue Me” – Netflix
I thought I hated Denis Leary until I watched this show. As a New York based firefighter post 9/11, Tommy Gavin, is guilty at the loss of his cousin during the Twin Tower tragedy, he’s divorced from his wife and kids but he’s married to his job. You get a bit of wit, darkness, humor and mystery while feeling like you’re one of the guys. I was sad when I watched the last episode of this show. A classic IMHO.
“Oz” – Amazon Prime
Some people love HBO’s “The Wire“, it bored me to tears but “Oz” appeals to my dark side. This prison drama is beyond dark. This show is violent, raw and deep and with some stellar dramatic acting. It also has Chris Meloni naked. Enough said.
If you love teen dramas with edge:
“Skins” (UK S1 and UK S2 ONLY) – Netflix
English teen drama with kids that get away with a crap ton. I only like the first two seasons of this show. Nicholas Hoult (of “About A Boy” and the recent X-Men movies) has the main role and he’s brilliant. Once the series starts with his sister in the main role, I got bored.
“Pretty Little Liars” – Netflix
Based on the series of young adult novels, PLL, follows four high school girls that seem to have drama and mystery following them (not in a ridiculous Disney TV show kind of way) but in a semi-suspend-disbelief-for-the-sake-of-drama kind of way that’s enjoyable. These girls are smarter than your average teen and have wardrobes that I would have killed for when I was younger (read: I’d take their wardrobes now too). Odd tidbit: I have a penchant for interesting character names (without being soap-opera overdone), so I kind of love that there’s a character is named Aria on the show.
If you like drama that’s not too heavy but isn’t entirely mind numbing:
“Friday Night Lights” – Netflix and Amazon Prime
Is it wrong to admit that this show actually taught me about football and I liked it? I never watched this show when it was on the first time around and a friend kept telling me to try it. I tried the first episode 3 times and couldn’t get through it. After skipping the first episode and going straight to the second, I was hooked. This teen and adult drama set in town in a Texas with one focus – the high school football team. The actors are all stellar and the story lines (both adult and teen) are compelling. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are fabulous and their portrayal of a southern couple (warts and all) is exceptionally compelling. The series falls a little toward the last season or two but the characters are all very rich. Landry and Tyra were my favorite characters – these two teenagers were played with more heart, strength and intelligence than I’ve seen on television in awhile.
“Parenthood” – Netflix and Amazon Prime
This family centered drama has the same head writer and executive producer as “Friday Night Lights” and it shows. The characters are multifaceted and the story lines reflect different versions of parenting and being part of a family. I resisted watching this show because it was (loosely) based on the movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin (which I really liked) but after watching “FNL”, I gave it a shot and now I can’t wait for it to return this fall. Also, you’ll get over Craig T. Nelson as Coach (from the late 80’s/early 90’s TV show of the same name) and Peter Krause as Nate from “Six Feet Under” quickly.
“Private Practice” – Netflix
This was a show I saw no reason for when this “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off was on the air but once I got into “Scandal”, I decided to give the show a go and was pleasantly surprised. While Kate Walsh’s Addison remains annoying, I fell in love with some of the characters on this show (Charlotte King and Cooper Friedman). The Shonda Rimes magic is woven throughout this show…and there’s Tim Daly (who I can watch on screen forever!)
“The West Wing” – Netflix and Amazon Prime
Before there was “The Newsroom” on HBO, there was this exceptionally brilliant White House drama. Aaron Sorkin’s fast moving dialogue and interesting characters made politics interesting (for me at least). Yes, Rob Lowe is in the show and he’s gorgeous and all but it’s the banter and the characters that make this show a don’t-miss! Jed Bartlett for President! PS – For the “Grease” fans, it’s also fun to see Stockard Channing as NOT Rizzo.
If you appreciate the quirky:
“Scrubs” – Netflix
I heart Zach Braff and this show is what put him and his amazing musical taste on the map (Can you believe it’s been 10 years since “Garden State“?!?). This hilarious hospital based comedy is a buddy show that isn’t always ridiculous but when it is, it’s fantastic. Great soundtrack and some phenomenal character angles. Skip the last season though.
“Wings” – Netflix
Silly comedy that takes place in a small Nantucket airport focusing on the regional airline operated by two brothers. There are some wacky characters played by some actors that are now well known like Thomas Haden Church and Tony Shaloub. If you don’t know who they are, don’t tell me. This show has one of my favorite television episodes of all time. All you have to say is “Empty!” loud and with anger and I’ll crack up. I even found a YouTube video of a mini clip of this episode called “The Houseguest” and I’m laughing as I write this.
“Dead Like Me” – Amazon Prime only
Before Mandy Patinkin was helping out Claire Danes on “Homeland”, he was in charge of a group of grim reapers who help remove souls before they die to guide them to the afterlife. The main character is a girl named George who becomes the newest grim reaper after being killed by a toilet seat. This comedy-drama only ran for two seasons but it was an interesting story and had some interesting perspectives on death and what death is like for the living. Skip the direct to DVD movie though.
If you want to roll the dice and try something completely different (aka a Wild Card):
“Queer As Folk” – Netflix
Based on the British television series, this show focuses on a group of gay men and women living in Philadelphia. There’s a lot of graphic sex and debauchery featured in the series but the show is really about love and friendship. This is another very character driven show with heart. Sharon Gless (of “Cagney and Lacey” fame) who plays Debbie, Peter Paige (Emmett) and Gale Harold (Brian) are phenomenal.
“Absolutely Fabulous” – Amazon Prime
This British sit-com is one of my favorite shows. Little could be funnier than two oblivious middle aged women desperately try to remain hip and relevant by constantly trying to recreate a party atmosphere (at all times) while maintaining a religious adherence to the latest in fashion. Watching Patsy and Edina attempt to muddle through life (accompanied by some zany characters) is hilarious. The ridiculousness and over-the-top characters definitely take you away from the real world in a way that no other American television show can.
**Not available but should be: “Nip/Tuck“
This show used to be available on Netflix and it is usually my go-to repeat show to watch. The show could be described as a drama focusing on two plastic surgeons in Miami (and later Los Angeles), their families and their patients but that wouldn’t be fully accurate. This show featured graphic plastic surgery operations, a lot of sex, some drugs, alcohol and many other off the wall things but overall, this show was about two best friends and their lives. Every episode revolved around one main patient but the patient’s life also had a way of weaving itself into the lives of the two main characters. Created by Ryan Murphy (“Glee” and “American Horror Story”), the show is slick, strange and definitely interesting. It’s too bad that this show isn’t available for free right now. It’s worth buying IMHO though.
So there you have it. My picks for your next television binge. Have you seen any or all of these yet? Let me know.
What’s the last show you binged on? What’s your next intended show?