As the dog days of August threaten us with late-summer malaise and our DVRs verge on starvation, you might be sitting at home, carving hashmarks into your wall as you count up to the impending whirlwind of fall premieres. A steady diet of Under the Dome just ain’t cutting it; you’re not in the mood for the consistently dour and wholly pretentious episodes of The Leftovers collecting dust in your DVR; the thought of spending one more second with Marco and Sonya from The Bridge makes you want to find one and take a header yourself. What’s a TV addict to do? Fear not, friends and neighbors, for it is time for me to unveil to you five television shows that may have previously passed you by but are totally worth binge watching.
For our purposes here, let’s define the oft-used term “binge-watching,” okay? For me, what makes a show binge worthy (Ha! Seinfeld!) is simple: quality. Yup, that’s all there is to it, folks. It’s society’s biggest kept secret: the words “great” and “binge-worthy” are synonymous! How’s your mind? Did I just blow it out the back of your gourd?! #TVTruthbomb
When a show is great, you’ll want to gobble up as many episodes as possible. Some people will decry that this Netflix-inspired model of television consumption plays into our societal need for instant gratification, and to that person, I say…you’re probably very likely onto something! But you know what? Who cares? Quality is quality is quality, and life’s too damn short.
So without further delay, five shows worth binge-watching.
**Note: Breaking Bad will not appear on this list because if you haven’t seen it already, then what the hell are you doing? Why are you wasting your time reading this? Go watch Breaking Bad now!**
1) Six Feet Under
It’s likely the most emotionally devastating series ever to hit the air, and guess what? That’s a good thing! For a show that opens each episode with a death, there’s something positively life-affirming about this brilliant series. The Fishers are one of television’s best families, so even when the show descends to darkness (and, wee doggy does it), Ruth, Claire, David, Keith, and–to a lesser extent–Nate are there to guide us through. When you finish all five seasons, you’ll emerge with a new perspective on life, and that’s not an overstatement. Oh, and if you need one more excuse to dive in, SFU boasts (warning: opinion approaching!) the single greatest series finale in the history of television. Emotionally resonant, bitingly funny, and genuinely contemplative, Six Feet Under will never leave you.
2) Orphan Black
A masterclass in serialized science fiction storytelling, Orphan Black uses its two ten-episode seasons to unfurl a narrative that draws you in deeper with each passing installment. I’ll be honest, I just finished season one and find myself clambering for the second. Tatiana Maslany, she of the irate Emmy snub, wows as Sarah. And Cosima. And Helena. And Katya. Et cetera. It’s a series that you need to experience yourself; even the most basic of plot synopses will take away from the journey, so dive in and marvel at BBC America’s brilliant Orphan Black.
Don’t laugh at me. Or do, I don’t care. Because the fact is: Shonda’s DC drama about political fixer Olivia Pope knows exactly what it is and succeeds wildly in its ability to weave a season long arc that will have you pulling a straight-up Clockwork Orange on yourself as you speed to the finish line. In its attempt to be as apolitical as a political show can be, it becomes clear that Scandal‘s not here to change any minds–though jabs do pop up now and then, directed at very deserving facets of the DC machine. Entertaining you is Scandal‘s chief reason for existing and with its high-stakes storytelling and compelling performances (Oh, hi there, Joe Morton, you menacing rapscallion you), there’s no shame in climbing aboard this runaway freight train of a series.
Bryan Fuller, of Pushing Daisies –another show worthy of binge-watching come to think of it–fame, goes for broke in his one of a kind crime series. You might be thinking: do we really need another Hannibal story? And the answer is no we don’t need another but we do need this one. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen spellbind as Will Graham and Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. I’m shocked that this show airs on NBC. Not only does it consistently push the envelope for what network television can depict, but it remains psychologically astute and genuinely disturbing. Not for all tastes (ha! cannibalism puns!), Hannibal is nonetheless a delectable treat (ha! can’t stop me now!) for fans of crime shows looking for something a little different. NCIS and CSI this show ain’t.
5) Game of Thrones
Thanks for reading! Any shows you’d readily label as binge-worthy? Sound off in the comments!