Top 10 Best Shows to Binge Watch
Guest Post by Emily Cassano
Taking Netflix and Chill to a whole new level
Hi, my name is Emily, and I’m an alcohol—wait, no, that’s not right. I am a bit of a TV junkie. Ever since I began watching Days of Our Lives with my grandmother at age 5, I have always loved TV. I think it’s the continuing storylines that hook me – I love movies, too, but I like that I can follow characters from September to May right on my television.
With the advent of Netflix and Hulu, I have become a real pro at binge-watching. Whether I am watching a show I’ve never seen or re-watching something I’ve enjoyed in the past, I can’t get enough of it.
Now, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite binge-watches. These may not be the BEST, but they have left a lasting impression on me in one way or another.
10. Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Netflix has put out a lot of really great original content over the last few years, and they are doing it specifically to cater to fellow bingers. One of my favorites is Orange Is the New Black, a retelling of what it must be like to be a sexually confused, neurotic white woman living in a rough-and-tumble women’s prison. The thing about OITNB is that the protagonist – Piper – is completely obnoxious. You’ll start watching the show and think, “Ugh. Shut her up already.” However, stay with it – the supporting characters are great enough to carry the show with or without her.
9. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Another standout Netflix hit? Marvel’s Jessica Jones. I love me some superhero storytelling, and although Daredevil is both dark and delightful, Jessica Jones is even better. Krysten Ritter plays the show’s namesake with enough spunk and snark to make anyone smile. She’s a grown up, hardcore Veronica Mars. Bonus? The bad guy is David Tenant. Can’t get much better than that.
Other Netflix originals to check out? The aforementioned Daredevil and sleeper hit Bloodlines.
8. Sherlock (Netflix)
Three seasons, nine episodes. Benedict Cumberbatch + Martin Freeman. Take a rainy Sunday and get it done.
7. Sons of Anarchy (Netflix)
For years, people had been telling me to watch both SOA and Breaking Bad. I’m a great lover of TV and binging, but it has taken me FOREVER to get around to these shows (I’m still not done with Breaking Bad). I really didn’t think I’d like SOA – a show about a hard core bike gang starring Peggy Bundy? Didn’t sound up my alley. However, it is a critical darling, so I gave it a shot. By the end, I was emotionally invested in all of the characters and madly in love with Charlie Hunnam. Do yourself a favor and watch. this. show.
6. The Affair (Showtime)
Admittedly, I get a little tired of HBO and Showtime’s “let’s put pretty people in a TV show, strip them down, and make them screw for an entire episode.” It’s sort of like reading a romance novel – I don’t care if the Dread Pirate Roberts is going to rip your bodice open and gaze upon your heaving bosom – GIVE ME A PLOT, PEOPLE. I expected The Affair to fall into this category, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, but it is held together with a very clever plot device.
The first season follows two couples, Noah and Helen and Alison and Cole. Noah and Alison begin a torrid affair (it’s in the title, people, this is not a spoiler) and each episode is split in two – one half dedicated to Alison’s side of the story and the other half Noah’s. Sometimes, each episode follows the same exact story, just told by two different people – other times one of them will pick up where the other has left off. The fascinating part is that the details from their respective stories rarely match up. Season Two is just as great – this time adding in Helen and Cole’s perspectives. Standouts of this series are Maura Tierney as Helen and a now grown up Joshua Jackson as Cole.
5. Dawson’s Creek (Hulu)
Speaking of Joshua Jackson – we cannot forget his foray into the small screen post-Mighty Ducks movies. I watched Dawson’s Creek every Wednesday night religiously. I was madly in love with James Van Der Beek and his geeky film student alter ego, Dawson Leery. I own this series on DVD AND have watched it on Hulu. I can practically quote the whole thing. This show follows a trio of close friends from a small town – Dawson (Van Der Beek), Joey (Katie Holmes), and Pacey (Jackson) – coming of age while their hormones are racing out of control. It also prominently featured a pre-Oscar nominated Michelle Williams as the pot-stirring Jen. This show defined my high school years.
4. Veronica Mars (Amazon Prime)
I have a hardcore lady crush on Kristen Bell. I was first introduced to VM while I was in grad school. This show was a critical darling, originating on the now-defunct UPN network, then moving to the The CW. It never quite garnered enough watchers though, and was cancelled after only three seasons. Season 3 ended on a cliffhanger, spurring many fan requests of a movie, which was made and released in 2014 after a Kickstarter campaign (helmed by show creator Rob Thomas and K Bell) raised almost $6 million dollars for production. Both the show and the movie are smart, snarky, and highly entertaining.
3. Call the Midwife (Netflix)
This was a friend recommendation. I never got into Downton Abbey, and was hesitant to watch a “British” series for fear of being bored to tears. Admittedly, I was totally wrong. This charming series is based on the memoir, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. Jenny Lee is our protagonist, and the show follows her adventures as a Nurse/Midwife in 1950s/60s England. The supporting cast of characters are vivid and delightful, and include a few quirky nuns. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that almost every episode leaves me a little misty-eyed.
2. Gilmore Girls (Netflix)
Now, I watched Gilmore Girls live…ya know, when you had to wait each week to watch a new episode and painfully sit through commercials? I am such a Gilmore Girl myself that my cat is named Rory. However, I have watched it on Netflix a few times. Watching this show is like drinking a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s night in April. The dialogue is fast and furious, and I know that drives some people crazy. I am not one of these people.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Gilmore Girls is about a mother-daughter pair (Lorelai and Rory) living in the tony town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The show follows their lives and the antics of the kooky townspeople surrounding them. Notable standouts include a pre-Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy and the always fabulous Edward Hermann (RIP) and Kelly Bishop as Lorelai’s parents. I will now go shiver in anticipation for the four GG mini-movies coming to Netflix in the kinda-sorta-near future.
1. The West Wing (Netflix)
Many moons ago, my friend Zach told me to check out The West Wing. He knew I enjoyed Aaron Sorkin, and he was a big fan as well. I, of course, ignored him. Then last year, for some reason I can’t remember, I thought, “Heck, let’s give it a shot.” Zach was not wrong. This. Show. Is. Amazing. Not only have I binge-watched it once – after I finished the first time, I did it all over again. Since then, I’ve given it a third whirl, in order to prepare myself for the upcoming election.
This show not only has the fast and witty dialogue that Sorkin is known for, it has an amazing cast of lovable characters. It is smart, funny, and endearing – plus, BONUS, it teaches you about politics! Don’t know what “Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc” means? You’ve come to the right place.
Emily Cassano is an educator living in Northwestern PA. She loves all things pop-culture and is See Here’s The Thing’s resident TV guru. Give her a shout-out on Twitter.