Long before streaming allowed viewers to binge-watch entire series in a single weekend, there was just plain old primetime television bliss—and fan favorites like "The West Wing" and "The Sopranos" kept viewers glued to their sofas week after week, year after year, waiting to see what would happen next. Some series were so fantastic that fans would buy VHS or DVD box sets to watch them over and over again to relive the drama or giggle at the jokes.
Content has gotten even deeper and more diversified, gratifying both fans and critics alike, now that we have a plethora of streaming options at our fingertips and can watch TV anytime, anywhere.
But, whether you've been binge-watching for years or are just getting into it, there are some series that are made to be binge-watched as rapidly as possible. If you're thinking "What program should I watch?" while you navigate through streaming, the Movie Bureau has compiled a helpful list of our favorite series to binge-watch below.
Despite the fact that Netflix's sci-fi drama "Sense8" was canceled after season two, fans and critics appreciated the show's spectacular graphics and LGBTQ+ thematic/character representation. Eight strangers become psychically linked for unexplained causes, and must combat both the mystery and their pursuers, the Biologic Preservation Organization, who loathe the sensate breed's peculiarities. A Primetime Emmy nomination for cinematography was also given to the show.
Mare of Easttown
It's time to pack a hoagie and some water for a journey to Easttown, Pennsylvania. Mare of Easttown, a highly praised criminal drama series written and directed by Brad Ingelsby, starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a cynical, no-nonsense police sergeant who's seen it all. Despite being regarded as a local hero by many, she is constantly tormented by a missing people case she was unable to solve and fights to keep her personal life together. The tough (but charming) investigator is assigned to the murder investigation of young mother Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) and grudgingly teams up with enthusiastic county detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) to unearth more of the town's unsettling secrets.
The worst thing about Yellowjackets, one of the year's most surprising hits, is that there isn't any more of it to see. It explores two timelines of the same protagonists, blending genre and setting. After their plane crashed on the route to a soccer competition, the younger versions of the protagonists find themselves stranded. The elder versions we see now have families, occupations, and lives of their own. However, there is a lingering sense that their history will not remain buried indefinitely, and that all of the characters will be called to account at some point. It boasts a fantastic ensemble, but Melanie Lynskey, who plays the elder Shauna, dominates every scene. It is both fascinating in its tale and emotional in its characters, with each episode increasing the tension. You'll be both surprised at how quickly the time has passed and yearning for more by the time you reach the mic drop of a finish.
What happens when Jane Austen's regency world collides with Gossip Girl's seduction and scandal? You have access to this engrossing series. The period romance series revolves on the Bridgertons, an opulent family among London's elite, and is adapted on Julia Quinn's successful novel series. While Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter, is on the lookout for a husband, the rest of her siblings are attempting to establish their position in society. But will they be able to avoid the watchful eye of Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews), London's most famous gossip columnist? Come for the lavish clothes and escapism of 19th century England; stay for the mystery of Lady Whistledown's hidden identity and to fall in love with Daphne and Simon's love story.
Euphoria is one of those shows that, no matter how many episodes you've seen, you'll find yourself wanting to see more; based on the Israeli television miniseries of the same name, the show follows a group of teenagers as they navigate high school. Of course, these students face more than just difficult tests and unrequited crushes as Ruby "Rue" Bennett (Zendaya) sloshes through high school, recently out of rehab and desperate to find her place in the world. Drugs, sex, identity crisis, and even murder play a role as Ruby "Rue" Bennett (Zendaya) sloshes through the high school slog, recently out of rehab and desperate to find her place in the world. It's difficult not to cringe at the decisions characters make in their attempts to get through some of the most difficult years of their lives, but the cinematography, soundtrack, and story, as well as incredible performances by the actors, keep the viewer glued to the screen - even when the topics discussed are sometimes difficult to confront.
Succession manages to live in the present day while yet being in its own bubble universe. This dualism emerges as a result of the Roy family's creation of their own universe. This powerful family is the owners of a multibillion-dollar media and entertainment conglomerate, and as a result, they are obscenely affluent. They have enormous power in the outside world, but so much of the show is focused on their family relationships and dysfunction that it's difficult to believe such a society exists. Succession's characters are chaotic, messy, and selfish, but that's part of what makes the drama so compelling. When their father, Logan (Brian Cox), eventually steps down, the Roy siblings all want to head the firm. It's difficult to know who to support for and who to hate against as their allegiances to each other and their father shift from season to season since they're not decent people (except maybe Cousin Greg). Nobody can identify to the problems of evil, affluent individuals who can't trust their own relatives, but Succession isn't trying to be sympathetic. It's drama for the sake of drama, and once you're hooked, it's nearly difficult to stop watching.
The Wheel of Time
This epic fantasy series, based on Robert Jordan's blockbuster book series, follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) on her mission to discover the identity of the Dragon, a great channeller destined to either rescue or destroy the world from the Dark One. When she focuses her quest on five young villagers, their lives and the world around them are irrevocably altered. Things are not as they appear, and over the course of eight episodes, the actual intents of individuals begin to emerge as the forces of light and dark battle it out. It has a big scope, immersing you in a magical world while still providing Game of Thrones-style action, so it's not only for fantasy aficionados.
The first season of Foundation, a science-fiction epic unlike any other, is one of the most ambitious and dramatic works in the genre in recent memory. It took on a challenging challenge in adapting Isaac Asimov's writings, which many thought was impossible. It embraces the strong sci-fi characteristics of its original book and doesn't shy away from the most esoteric topics. With that in mind, it's also utterly exciting to see unfold in such an uncontrolled manner. As it wrestles with these concepts, it also produces a visually stunning spectacle that is both horrifying and inspirational. It represents a future that may appear far away but is considerably closer in its crisis than we may think, starting with the statement that the world is about to end and unraveling from there. It's thick in a good manner, giving you something to chew on before the show's next season premieres.
If you like superheroes and Christmas, you'll adore this series. The Disney+ series Hawkeye follows our beloved archer Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), who is still recovering from his tumultuous past as Ronin and is trying to move on from his perilous life as an Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, one year after the Thanos-filled events of Avengers: Endgame. All the shattered hero wants for Christmas is to get home to his family, but his plans are sidetracked when he meets 22-year-old Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a self-taught great archer and probably Clint's biggest admirer. The unusual duo teams together to bring down the Tracksuit Mafia, criminal leader Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), and Black Widow's sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh).
Hacks is an Emmy-winning dark comedy series created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky that follows Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), a renowned stand-up comic with diva tendencies who is fighting to make her act contemporary for her Las Vegas residency. Meanwhile, Ava (Hannah Einbinder), an up-and-coming, obstinate comedy writer, is dealing with the fallout from an insensitive tweet and is determined to establish herself in the business. With the help of their common manager Jimmy (Paul W. Downs), the two try to work together to better Deborah's act, and wind up establishing an unexpected and rather charming friendship along the way. You'll quickly discover that they're the farthest thing from hacks.
Only Murders in the Building
There's been a homicide! And, if you're anything like these true-crime fans, you'll be desperate to solve it. The SAG award-nominated crime comedy Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin as retired actor Charles-Hayden Savage, Martin Short as failed Broadway director Oliver Putnam, and Selena Gomez as young artist Mabel Mora. This delightful whodunit will have you giggling and gasping as it explores the age divides among the tenants and attempts to answer the question: who did it?
Lucifer is based on the comic book of the same name and follows the titular Satan as he takes a "vacation" from Hell and establishes himself as a high-end club owner in Los Angeles. He becomes involved in the police investigation when a buddy is slain at his club and discovers that he enjoys it... He adores Chloe Decker, the detective on the case, nearly as much as she does him. The series premiered on Fox and was discontinued after three seasons. Following a massive outpouring of fan support, Netflix renewed the program for three more seasons. Lucifer is a light, breezy piece of entertainment with just enough supernatural elements to keep it from being too procedural. The play introduces us to the first woman, Eve; God and his wife, the Goddess of all creation; Lucifer's cunning twin brother, Michael; Lucifer's best buddy, a demon named Mazikeen; and the devil's therapist, among other characters.
If you want your superhero storylines to be unafraid to go crazy, Noah Hawley's eccentric adaptation of Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz's X-Men spinoff series is the program for you. The FX series centers on mental patient David Haller (Dan Stevens), who is locked up in a high-security prison because he can't stop hearing strange voices. David is, in fact, a descendant of a well-known superhero. He can switch between numerous personas, each with its own set of powers. Legion examines mental health concerns while David discovers his abilities over the course of three seasons.
If you liked the recurrent mysteries of Lost and HBO's Watchmen, you'll appreciate Damon Lindelof's other twisted television shows. The series is based on Tom Perrotta's novel and takes place three years after 2% of the world's population mysteriously vanished in an event known as the "Sudden Departure." Residents of a tiny hamlet deal with their collective loss while searching for answers. The Leftovers delves into some dark territory, yet stellar performances by Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Regina King, Christopher Eccelston, and others highlight the human spirit's resiliency. It's a tense and reassuring series for a post-COVID world.
I bet you've never seen anything like Hannibal, and if you appreciate elegantly crafted serial killer thrillers with plenty of sexual tension, you'll adore it. Based on the same-named Thomas Harris novel, the show began as a Hannibal Lecter prequel, with Mads Mikkelsen playing forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who is enlisted by gifted criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit to assist in the hunt for a serial killer. Will and Hannibal form an incredibly inappropriate and highly linked friendship, which only complicates matters when Will suspects Hannibal of being involved in the killings. For fans of Harris's Lecter series, the program includes some cherished storylines from the books (like Red Dragon). Hannibal is a truly unique series that gets stranger and crazier as it goes on, yet keeps you fascinated the entire time. It's one part crime procedural mystery, one part twist-filled psychological thriller romance, and one part full-on horror narrative. You'll soon be perplexed as to how a show this brutal, lyrical, and bizarre could have broadcast on NBC for three seasons.
The Boys, an Amazon superhero series, is the right blend of a "prestige"-style show with a well-oiled serialized network drama engine. The program is based on the same-named books and takes set in a universe where superheroes are not only real, but also famous. However, it turns out that the majority of those superheroes are enamored with their power and often commit crimes with no repercussions. The Boys are a ragged collection of ordinary people with personal vendettas against the superhuman team known as The Seven. The show is highly violent, darkly humorous, and definitely not for children - but it's also more serious than you might anticipate, tackling topics like business, celebrity, and even sexual misbehavior. And, while it does travel to some pretty dark areas, The Boys is, above all, a lot of fun.
WandaVision begins up just after Avengers: Endgame, with Scarlet Witch, called Wanda, and her husband, Vision, living the idyllic suburban life. Wanda has enchanted a whole community with her magic and has everyone bound into her notion of a perfect existence based on her intake of American television series. Each episode satirizes a different TV program from a different decade, including I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, Full House, Malcolm in the Middle, and Modern Family, which is perfect for both superhero fans and TV geeks. It's like seeing the whole history of television in a single eight-hour episode.
The Witcher is a complete joy to play. The fantasy series is very fantasy—more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it doesn't take itself too seriously and embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill's titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after her city has been sacked, but she has her own secrets. The Witcher is a wonderful type of binge-watching program, rich in mythology and world-building yet always fascinating.
Imagine a less cynical Arrested Development coupled with an inverted Beverly Hillbillies, and you'll have a good idea of Schitt's Creek, one of television's most upbeat sitcoms. The Canadian sitcom about an affluent family who loses everything when their company manager defrauds them. The only thing they possess is a small, rural town that the father (Eugene Levy) bought as a joke present for his son (Daniel Levy) in 1991, and they're compelled to move there and live in a hotel. Despite their numerous eccentricities, they gradually embrace their new lifestyles and even adore their new town. The comedy is hilarious, thanks to Catherine O'Hara's outstanding portrayal as the family matriarch, a former soap actress who is oblivious to her social rank. It's also a deliciously forward-thinking series, as the son's pansexuality is received with full loving love rather than derision or condemnation. Schitt's Creek is the perfect program to watch when you need a pick-me-up. It's hilarious, funny, and oh-so-sweet.
Game of Thrones
When you're pulling your hair out waiting for new episodes week after week, and new seasons year after year, you know a program is going to be an excellent binge-watch. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have built on George R. R. Martin's best-selling book series' framework of shock drama and high fantasy. Game of Thrones, adapted by Weiss, captures all of the political maneuverings, royal intrigue, and apocalyptic fantasy foundations in television gold. Game of Thrones may be the most spectacular show to ever hit the airwaves, thanks to HBO's game-changing budget. That lavish attention creates a completely immersive world where anything can happen, anyone can die, and each new twisted cliffhanger and violent punctuation leaves you clamoring to see what's next.
Parks and Recreation
Because Parks and Recreation developed so much over its existence, it's a terrific program to binge-watch. Mike Schur, the showrunner, was never satisfied with the status quo, and this love letter to public service delights in upsetting its people and their situations in interesting and entertaining ways. Furthermore, Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope's incredible journey from deputy head of the Parks and Recreation Department to prospective President of the United States is flawlessly performed. Aside from a rough first season, this show doesn't have a single wrong note, and its sympathy for its characters and ever-changing situations make it a terrific binge-watch at any time.
True Detective (Season 1)
The intriguing anthology from Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Fukunaga is a rabbit hole of a mystery that had viewers spending an inordinate amount of time attempting to figure out who the (possibly mythological) culprit was. But the aesthetically stunning investigation of this Louisiana-set crime narrative is actually about Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson's two disturbed men who investigate it over time. True Detective's tale weaves through The Yellow King's atrocities while also focusing on the difficult connection between its two detective protagonists, which eventually brings it all together after a totally southern gothic crescendo. It's an engaging and mesmerizing experience that established a bar that Season 2 (with a new cast, directors, and setting) couldn't even come close to meeting.
Here's where the distinctions between TV and movies start to blur. House of Cards, for example, is plainly created and presented like a typical TV series, although one intended to be binge-watched. Stranger Things, on the other hand, is far more filmic in character, not just because of its smaller number of episodes, but also because of the structure of each one. They're more like reading a great novel in one day than watching a bunch of TV at once, and bingeing Stranger Things is more like reading a great novel in one day than watching a bunch of TV at once. Indeed, the show's creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, regard each season as more of a film than a TV series, making it the most rewarding binge-watch on our list. Even if the last episode leaves room for additional speculation, the first two seasons each have a distinct beginning and finish.
The first scene of Bodyguard's first episode draws you in, and the program doesn't let up for the rest of its six-episode first season. The series follows a metropolitan police officer named David Budd (Richard Madden) who is tasked with guarding the life of Conservative Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) in the midst of a political crisis—namely, the debate over how to deal with terrorism—before making its US debut on Netflix. Budd's personal past and history are gradually disclosed during the act, prompting the audience to wonder if he is a real hero or a possible evil. If you like the first season of Homeland, you will adore this program.
The enticing secrets of Westworld were delectable when released weekly, and it was a joy to have enough time between chapters to piece together the jigsaw that Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy had painstakingly built. However, going through the episodes, especially as a revisit, rewards you with a better understanding of the series' twisting, time-bending plot. Westworld is a wonderful blend of pulpy fantasy and intellectual sci-fi, packed with HBO's hallmark sex and death extravaganza with a heavy dose of complicated brain-twisters, and whether you watch it week by week or all at once, both vantage points provide fresh qualities to admire.
Sure, we got our six seasons, but that movie is still on the way. Meanwhile, binge-watching Community is always a treat. Dan Harmon's irreverent comic series had its ups and downs over the seasons, but it was always one of the sharpest and most distinctive sitcoms on television, never shying away from skewering half-hour comedy clichés or utterly breaking the mold. Community, which is ostensibly about a study group at a somewhat boring community college, waltzes across genres with total chameleon flexibility while never losing sight of the long-term storylines. In the end, binge-watching Community is like hanging out with a group of your strangest friends, and what's not to appreciate about that?
The Wire is one of those series that became more well-known after it had been on the air for a few seasons or had completed its erratic schedule. There were occasional editorials about how it was one of the best shows ever made and needed a new season, but the method of bingeing was via DVDs, which seems harder to comprehend now with the modern method of Netflix or whatever program you use actually requiring you to decide when to stop watching because they'll autoplay you into oblivion, giving you seconds to decide whether or not to continue. The Wire has reached legendary status and is an immediate discussion starter at parties after completing a five-season order that included a more than one-year hiatus (because to low ratings). It was never intended to be consumed in one sitting, but the buzz from friends and critics convinced many to do so.
Breaking Bad, the ultimate Golden Age series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, might feel like an emotional marathon, but the finale is well worth the turbulence. Breaking Bad is a masterwork of long-form narrative that veers left every time you think you've got a handle on it, never unwilling to swing for the fences with disgusting human conduct and the far-reaching consequences of evil acts. Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned drug lord, is a revelation, and he's surrounded by a cast of incredibly gifted co-stars. Breaking Bad is a well produced program, with each season seeming both like a standalone tale and a part of a larger totality. It'll make your hair stand on end and give you a pit in your stomach as it takes you on a frenetic rollercoaster of character drama via crime and retribution.