Whether it lasted for years, or just a single season, these are the shows I love and recommend for your next binge. Timing is everything, and sometimes you have to be in the right mood/frame of mind for a particular show or genre, so I’ve categorized the shows below. Pass the popcorn!
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX) – We’re only halfway through the first season of this anthology series, but I’ve been hooked from the beginning. Even if you don’t really care about Old Hollywood, this is an impressive look at what women in all professions deal with. Highly entertaining and relevant.
The Crown (Netflix) – Gorgeous. Some episodes are fascinating time capsules of history, such as “Act of God”. Fantastic acting, and the chance to get a glimpse into the British Royal history, are what make this series stand out. I’m eagerly awaiting season two.
Friends (NBC) – Just a classic, and pure nostalgia for me. I probably laugh more when I catch an episode now than I did as a teenager. Everyone says how hard comedy is, but I didn’t fully realize how magic this cast was until I tackled sitcoms in an acting class years ago…now I watch those episodes with so much respect and admiration for their perfect inflections and impeccable timing. Could they be any better? I knoooow!
Happy Endings (ABC) – I’m keeping my fingers-crossed for a revival of this hilarious show. It only lasted three seasons, but it was a gem. Brad & Jane are pretty high on my list of TV couples, as well.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – I love Friends, but this show had so much more meaning for me, probably because it was “that 20-something friendship show” that came along at exactly that time in my life. I could relate to this group of friends, and they were every bit as charming and funny a crew as that other NY clique. I still have mixed feelings about the entire final season and the finale, but overall, I loved it and can still easily quote it. “Haaaaaaaave you met Ted?”
The Mindy Project (FOX/Hulu) – Mindy Kaling is the celebrity BFF we wish we all had, and this quirky, office comedy/rom-com is the perfect late night binge in bed…preferably with one of her beloved bear claws. It had some growing pains in season one, but after cast changes and a more focused approach, it fell into its rhythm in season two, and even improved again once it moved to Hulu. If you love classic rom-com’s and pop culture, you’ll love this show.
Sex and the City (HBO) – I have such fondness for these four ladies. I binged this series so many times (with my sister, with my bestie, with those edited TBS repeats) that you would think I’d be tired of it, but no. I will always stop and watch a SATC episode. There have been too many copycats to count, but this cast and this moment in time was pure magic. Raise your Cosmos!
13 Reasons Why (Netflix) – I devoured all 13 episodes in two days straight. Regardless of how well you survived high school, this should be mandatory viewing for all human beings. If you’ve ever had a period of your life where things seemed to spiral out of control, or snowball until you felt like you were reaching a breaking point, you will identify with the struggle Hannah faces. Based on a best-selling YA novel, the show (despite its somber topic) is incredibly addictive, with a suspenseful hook and a perfect soundtrack, but mostly it’s a deeply meaningful look at how we affect others with our actions. (Note: As an adult, I was able to watch the controversial scenes from a different perspective than younger viewers. I am not flippant about the subject matter at all, as I have personally dealt with depression, but I was more removed from the story, as I have experienced life outside of high school walls. If you’re a parent, watch with your kids, or at least watch on your own so you can be prepared and decide how you want to approach these topics.)
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX) – This miniseries got a ton of awards for a reason: it’s television at its finest. It’s a quick binge at just 10 episodes, the acting is master-class worthy, and the plot digs deeper than what you remember from the “trial of the century”.
The Americans (FX) – It’s a slow burn, but every single season builds on the last so well, and it really rewards you for sticking with it. One episode will be slow (but good!), and then you’ll be gasping out loud at the next. The show never fails to surprise me, and I love the research and attention to detail that goes into it. (For example: the clothes are legit 80’s items my family had in their closets, not the glammed-up version so often seen in period pieces, and the music cues are perfection–not just hits, but deep cuts that feel true for the time.) Side note: the sex scenes are actually sexy.
Big Little Lies (HBO) – I’m so glad this was turned into a 7-part limited series instead of a film, because I can’t get enough. From the opening credits and the crazy gorgeous houses on that amazing Monterey coast, to the secrets and lies of these fascinating females, I’m in for all of it. As the tagline states: “A perfect life is a perfect lie.” Put this one at the top of your list.
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family/Freeform) – My guiltiest pleasure, as I am far too old to enjoy this show as much as I do. The epic clothes, the BFF-drama between the prettiest people you have ever seen, the batshit-crazy mystery of “A” (which makes no sense, by the way)…it is the girliest show ever, and I have no shame. Bring on the wine and queue up 2 or 10 episodes on the DVR. Also: the annual Halloween episodes legit scare me.
True Detective (HBO) Season 1 – I don’t know what the next season will have in store for us, but I purposefully singled out season one because that’s the only one worth binging. (I loved the cast of season two, but it was all over the place.) But, Woody Harrelson & Matthew McConaughey unraveling over a serial killer in the Bayou? Mesmerizing.
Veronica Mars (UPN/The CW) – Hands down, one of the best shows ever. The first season is mystery perfection, and the second has some great moments, but things get trickier when she goes off to college in the 3rd and final season. Thank goodness we were treated to a film in 2014 that wrapped up loose ends and gave fans what they wanted! Logan & Veronica will always be one of my favorite TV couples. (P.S. You’ll recognize a ton of guest stars and be on IMDB every other minute.)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – The original cast and first few seasons were really special for this show. Some early episodes still stand out in my mind as excellent television, but like any show that stays too long at the party (year 12, people!), it’s suffered numerous cast additions and departures and boring storylines. I tapped out around the time of Izzy’s drama in season five and never looked back. (Believe me, you’ll know when you get to it.) I highly recommend binging at least the first two seasons, and I know several people who’ve stayed with it all these years, so it’s still worthy of making this list.
Gilmore Girls (WB/the CW/Netflix) – What can I possibly say about this delightful, quirky mother-daughter show? It’s cheesy, adorable, emotional, and a love letter to all things pop culture. Sometimes the ensemble of townies is a bit too much, but no matter, the heart of the show has always been Lorelai & Rory. I’ve yet to meet a woman of any age who didn’t love this show. Be warned: you will crave junk food at all times while watching.
Glee (FOX) – Any musical theater/show choir fan will adore this. It made plenty of missteps along the way, but I still think this show did a great job of opening people’s minds to acceptance and tolerance. Also, Lea Michele’s voice is everything.
This Is Us (NBC) – This was my favorite new show of the 2016-2017 season. The phrase “all the feels” applies here, for sure. I’m so invested in this beautiful, messy family and so many of the storylines are relatable. I’ve also never cried so much from a show, but it’s a great, cathartic cry each week. The last few episodes of season 1 pack one emotional wallop after another, but you’ll be glad you watched. (I should also note it’s one of the few shows where I think every single actor is doing 150% and I want to stand and clap at the end of each episode.)
The Vampire Diaries (The CW) – The first 2-3 seasons are excellent–great characters, great story-telling, great love triangle–but it loses some punch after that. Still, it’s a fun binge, even if you tap out halfway through. I skipped the last two seasons, but I still got a little choked up with that (mostly) satisfying series finale. #TeamStefan
The Walking Dead (AMC) – I was blown away by the first season of this gory, nail-biting series. I don’t like blood and guts, but the show is so much more than that…it’s really difficult to explain to people who haven’t watched, but it is incredibly addictive and you’ll either be able to handle the gore because you MUST know what happens to these people, or you won’t make it past the first episode. I am several seasons behind, but I did catch that epic episode this past season (you know the one) and it was enough to make me bump this back to the top of my catch-up list. Admittedly, I do enjoy this show more in the fall season…something about zombies and October just feels so right.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB) – I didn’t think sci-fi shows were for me until a friend told me I must watch this. It was probably one of the first shows I binged back to back…I’d finish a set of DVDs and greedily go back to my friend for the next batch. I love bad-ass female characters, and Buffy is 100% that. I have to admit that the later seasons, after Angel left, were not my favorite, but I was in it until the end. Some episodes were silly, but there were more than a few that scared the bejeezus out of me.
The Flash (The CW) – There are plenty of superhero shows out there, but this is the only one I still look forward to watching each week. What really makes this work is the cast; it’s just a great group of people, with so much chemistry. Grant Gustin shines as the lead, and even when the plot gets ridiculous (it is a superhero show, after all), this group of actors grounds the whole thing and keeps you rooting for the characters. Try not to tear up during Barry & Joe’s father-son talks.
Game of Thrones (HBO) – It’s not for everybody, and some seasons are better than others, but I still think it’s one of the most shocking, bingeable shows ever. I had no idea I would like it as much as I have, or that I would gasp so much while watching something. Shock doesn’t = brilliance, but I think everyone should at least watch that insane pilot to see how much this show has paved the way for others. It was a game-changer for TV.
Lost (ABC) – THE water cooler show of 2004, and one of the most diverse casts on screen, Lost seemed like a game-changer when it debuted. Sadly, by season two it was already starting to collapse on itself. Season one is absolutely worth watching, but after that it’s up to you. There were still genuinely good episodes in later seasons, but the mythology was too tangled by the end. I got so frustrated with the show, that I gave up at the start of the final season. After awhile, I just didn’t think the “big reveal” would ever be fulfilling.
Timeless (NBC) – A fun time-travel show, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love the costumes and attention to detail…plus, I actually learn stuff! History for the win. 😉
Beverly Hills, 90210 (FOX) – Ok, the plot lines and the clothes (and hair!) are pretty dated now, but it’s still a classic. I watched this show for a decade of my life-from the end of elementary school until the middle of college…how many shows can you say that about?! Although we follow them into adulthood, I’m keeping it in the YA section because those are really the best years of the show and what most people associate it with. The guiltiest of pleasures, in a simpler time. Oh, how I miss you, Peach Pit After Dark! (And sorry, the remake doesn’t count.)
Dawson’s Creek (WB) – A pure 90’s- 00’s indulgence, but I think it still holds up. This was probably the first time I ever LOVED a show, and because I am pretty much a female Dawson (minus actually making films), it has a special place in my heart. There are certain episodes I can watch over and over: “Escape From Witch Island”, “Weekend in the Country”, and “Cinderella Story”. Joey & Pacey 4 ever!
Gossip Girl (The CW) – Another guilty pleasure, also with insanely good clothes for teens. Lots of star power, and a whole lotta fun, even if stayed a little too long at the party. Worth a binge during those swelteringly hot days of summer. Xoxo.