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Top 25 TV Shows To Binge Watch

Posted on: 11-26-2014
The rise of video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon has led to the trend of binge watching TV shows, where you watch many episodes of a particular show in one sitting. Depending on how obsessed you are, this can even take up and entire weekend or vacation. Below is a recommended list of shows for you to binge on (note that some of these shows are for adults, so if you are under age 18 ask your parents before watching them):
  • Lost - A bunch of people trapped on an island, how interesting could that be? Hadn't that already been done before with Gilligan's Island? Nobody could have predicted the huge cultural impact the 6 seasons (2004-2010) of this show would have, and it has been described by many critics as being among the greatest television series of all time.
  • Friday Night Lights - About a high-school football team in Texas, but really about so much more. You don't have to care about football to love this show. It aired for 5 seasons from 2006-2011 and was filmed without rehearsal and without extensive blocking. Camera operators were trained to follow the actors, rather than the actors standing in one place and having cameras fixed around them, giving it a documentary type feel.
  • Breaking Bad - A high school chemistry teacher (Brian Cranston) turns to a life of crime. Premiered in 2008 and ran for 5 critically acclaimed seasons.
  • Sherlock (The BBC Version) - If you like Sherlock Holmes books or movies, or detective shows in general, you will like this series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. You may already be watching the American version of this show (starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu), but it is not the same. Watch the first episode of the British version and you will be blown away.
  • House of Cards - In an unprecedented move, Netflix released all 13 episodes of the 1st season in 2013 all at once, serving up a perfect feast for binge watchers. This political drama set in Washington, D.C. is an adaptation of a BBC mini-series and based on a novel by Michael Dobbs. It is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a South Carolina Democrat who develops an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of power.
  • The Sopranos - About the New Jersey life of Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), portraying the the conflict between his home life and his job as mob boss. To deal with this conflict, he sees his psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The show ran for 6 seasons starting in 1999 and in 2013 the Writers Guild of America named it the best written TV series of all time, while TV Guide ranked it the best TV series of all time.
  • Mad Men - Set in an 1960s ad agency, it follows the Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) and the people in his life. It also depicts certain parts of American society and culture in 1960s, such as cigarette smoking, drinking, sexism, feminism, and racism. The show aired for 5 seasons starting in 2007 and was consistently selected as one of the 10 best television shows each year by The American Film Institute.
  • Homeland - A political thriller staring Claire Danes as a CIA officer with bipolar disorder working in the Counterterrorism Center in Langley, Virginia. Metacritic.com named Homeland the 2nd best TV show of 2011 (it's first season), based on a compilation of year-end top 10 lists by major TV critics. Many people say though that the show imploded in the 3rd season.
  • Game of Thrones - Described as the The Sopranos in Middle-earth, it chronicles the violent struggles among the realm's noble families for control of the Iron Throne. It is an adaptation a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin named A Song of Ice and Fire, the first of which is called A Game of Thrones.
  • 24 - Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) is a Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent who races against the clock to thwart terrorist plots such as presidential assassination attempts, weapons of mass destruction detonations, Bioterrorism, cyber attacks, and government conspiracies. The show was groundbreaking in that it employed a novel form of storytelling where each 24 episode season covered 24 hours in the life of Bauer, using real-time narration. Over its 9 seasons it was full of more shocking plot twists and turns than any other TV that had come before it.
  • Orange is the New Black - A dramedy based on Piper Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, about her experiences in prison.
  • Gilmore Girls - Known for its fast paced dialogue filled with pop culture references, it is about single mother Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham) and her daughter Rory (played by Alexis Bledel), living in the fictional Norman Rockwell-esque town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. It ran for 7 seasons from 2000-2007 and was listed as one of Time magazine's "All-TIME 100 TV Shows" in 2007. Newsday wrote "The way in which Gilmore Girls digs lightly but firmly into deep-seated emotion is as magical as the way Lorelai's yellow dream daisies end up scattered all over their town. We weekly wish we were there."
  • The West Wing - Created by Aaron Sorkin, this series set in the White House won 26 Emmy Awards during its 7 season run from 1999 to 2006. Most episodes followed President Bartlet and his staff through particular legislative or political issues. It featured Sorkin's trademark rapid-fire and witty scripts, as well as many "walk-and-talk" shots where the camera leads two characters down a hallway as they speak to each other.
  • Arrested Development - About a family that goes from "riches to rags". Michael Bluth (played by Jason Bateman), tries to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. The show ran for 3 seasons from 2003-2006 on Fox and was cancelled, but was revived by Netflix 7 years later with 15 new episodes. In 2011, website IGN.com named Arrested Development the funniest show of all time.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon, who described the show as "My So-Called Life meets The X-Files", it is loosely based on his 1992 movie of the same name. The story revolves around Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers", who battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Unlike previous Slayers, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang". Aside from saving the world, Buffy and her friends also struggle to balance the fight against supernatural evils with their complex social lives. The show spanned 7 seasons and was on TV Guide's list of 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time on Time Magazine's list of 100 Best TV Shows of All-Time, and led to the spinoff series "Angel".
  • Dexter - Revolves around a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department named Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall), who also leads a secret life as a serial killer, hunting down criminals who have slipped through the cracks of the justice system. Aired for 8 seasons beginning in 2006.
  • My So Called Life - Follows the life of high school student Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes) and her friends. Unlike most other teen shows before it, My So Called Life depicted the teenage years as being difficult and confusing rather than a light, fun-filled time. It dealt with major social issues of the early 1990s, including teenage alcoholism, homelessness, school violence, and censorship. Although it only lasted for one season, it built up a big cult following and was named the second Best School Show of All Time by AOL TV. In addition to launching the career of Claire Danes, it was a breakout role for Jared Leto, who played Jordan Catalano, the good looking but rebellious bad boy.
  • Alias - Created by J.J. Abrams, it ran for 5 seasons (2001-2006), and starred Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a double-agent for the CIA posing as an operative for SD-6, a worldwide criminal and espionage organization. British magazine Empire ranked as one of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and saying "Alias was an action-packed weekly adventure that outclassed just about every other show in the genre", The New York edition of Time Out listed the show in their top 50 TV shows of the decade, and UGO.com's listed it in the Top 50 TV Shows of All Time.
  • Veronica Mars - Starred Kristen Bell as high school student Veronica moonlighting as a private investigator in the fictional town of Neptune, California. She was a modern day Nancy Drew, investigating a different case each week while continually trying to solve a larger mystery. The show ran for 3 seasons from 2004-2007 and found a cult following, which resulted in a 2014 movie being funded through Kickstarter.com.
  • Six Feet Under - About the Fisher family, who run their own funeral home in LA. The show traces their lives over the course of five years (the show ran for 5 seasons from 2001-2006), and each episode begins with a death that usually sets the tone for that episode. It won 9 Emmy Awards and is considered by some to be one of the greatest TV series of all time.
  • The Wire - A crime drama set in Baltimore, known for its realistic depiction of the processes of both police work and criminal activity. Central themes include institutional dysfunction and electronic surveillance/wiretaps. Ran for 5 seasons starting in 2002, with several reviewers naming it the best show on television at the time.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004 version) - The Galactica and its crew must lead a small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a Earth. It ran for 4 seasons (2004-2009), and is very different than the 1978 version. Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the show "has distinguished itself as one of television's very best dramas " on a par with 24, The Wire, and Lost " because it so utterly transcends both its genre and its source material. ...[The] series' sophisticated stories have also attracted a distinctively new breed of fan, one who's not necessarily a sci-fi buff." Diane Werts of Newsday wrote: "You can look at this saga any way you want " as political drama, religious debate, psychological suspenser, sci-fi adventure, deep metaphor or just plain fun " and it's scintillating from every angle."
  • Felicity - Co-created by J.J. Abrams, this show about the emotional ups and downs of New York City college student Felicity Porter (played by Keri Russell) ran for four seasons from 1998 to 2002. Felicity was nominated for 29 awards and in 2007 it was named one of Time magazine's 100 Best TV Shows of All-Time.
  • True Detective - The first season (8 one hour episodes in 2014) starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as detectives tracking a serial killer in Louisiana, and was highly acclaimed by critics. Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker, wrote that True Detective "offers up shiver-inducing cable intoxicants, from an over-the-top action sequence so liquid it rivals a Scorsese flick to piquant scenes of rural degradation, filmed on location in Louisiana, a setting that has become a bit of an HBO specialty." Each season features a different story and cast of characters.
  • Scandal - A look at the inner workings of Washington politics and the White House, this show has more crazy, breath-taking plot twists than any other show before it. You will not be able to only watch one episode.
Other shows you might want to binge watch:
  • Freaks and Geeks - Executive produced by Judd Apatow, it aired for only one season (from 1999 to 2000) but built up a cult following, and launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps, and Linda Cardellini. It was about a group of high school and their various social struggles.
  • The Newsroom - Created by Aaron Sorkin, it a fictionalbehind-the-scenes look at a nightly news program, like how The West Wing was about the White House and Sports Night was about a sports show. If you liked either of those shows you will like this one.
  • Northern Exposure - NY doctor Joel Fleischman is sent to practice in Cicely, Alaska, which is filled with quirky and eccentric townsfolk. Won 27 awards over its 5 year run.
  • Pushing Daisies - A fantasy comedy-drama about a pie-maker who can bring dead things back to life by touching them. The show had a unique visual style, quirky characters, and fast-paced dialogue, and received 17 Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
  • Gossip Girl - A teen drama based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar. It ran for 6 seasons from 2007-2012 and was narrated by the blogger "Gossip Girl" (voiced by Kristen Bell). Starring Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, it centered on the lives of privileged young adults on Manhattan's Upper East Side in New York City. The show was nominated for 18 Teen Choice Awards.
  • Penny Dreadful - A psychological thriller that takes place in the dark corners of Victorian London.
  • Angel - Created by Joss Whedon, it centers on Angel, a vampire with a soul, who was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's boyfriend for several years but can never really be with her (because he is a vampire). Angel eventually sets out on his own path of redemption, hoping that he can make up for his past through good deeds. He works as a private detective in LA to help the helpless, restoring the faith and saving the souls of those who have lost their way. Typically, this involves him battling his inner demons and real demons (most of the time from the evil Wolfram & Hart law firm). The show ran for 5 seasons.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before." This updated version of Star Trek won 18 Emmy Awards over its seven seasons, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) leading the USS Enterpise and its crew on action packed adventures and through thrilling battles with enemies such as the Romulans, Ferengi and the Borg.
  • Twin Peaks - David Lynch's cult show followed FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) investigation into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. Quirky and bizarre, with offbeat humor and surrealism. It also had a unique cinematic style and paranormal undertones.
  • Pretty Little Liars - A teen drama-mystery-thriller loosely based on the series of novels written by Sara Shepard. It follows the lives of four girls whose clique falls apart after their leader is murdered. It is a cross between I Know What You Did Last Summer and Gossip Girl.
  • Dr. Who - A British sci-fi cult favorite that has been on the air since 1963. The Doctor is a Time Lord (a time traveling humanoid alien) who explores the universe in TARDIS time machine, which appears as a blue British police box.
  • Boardwalk Empire - Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition.
  • American Horror Story - Scary stuff. The plot and cast changes each year.
  • Fringe - A modern day X-Files created by J. J. Abrams, about a government division that uses fringe science to investigate crimes and strange occurrences.
  • Flight of the Conchords - A comedy that follows the adventures of Flight of the Conchords, a two-man band from New Zealand, as they seek fame in New York City.
  • The Blacklist - A spy thriller about a notorious criminal teaming up with the FBI. Lots of shocking plot twists.
  • Reno 911 - A mockumentary-style parody of law enforcement documentary shows (like COPS).
  • Longmire - Walt Longmire is a Wyoming county sheriff who returns to work after his wife's death.
  • Prime Suspect - A British police drama series starring Helen Mirren.
  • The Americans - Set during the Cold War in the 1980s, two Soviet KGB officers pose as an American married couple living in the Washington D.C. suburbs.
  • Orphan Black - A Canadian sci-fi thriller about clones.
  • Firefly - A space western drama created Joss Whedon.
  • Supernatural - Sam and Dean Winchester are brothers who hunt mysterious and demonic monsters.
  • Farscape - A sci-fi series where astronaut John Crichton is accidentally transported across the universe into an intergalactic conflict.
  • The Walking Dead - About life after a zombie apocalypse.
  • Downton Abbey - A British series that follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era.
  • Millennium - If you liked the X-Files or Fringe, you might like this show.
  • American Gothic - A 1995 horror show about a corrupt sheriff, that only ran for 1 season.
  • La Femme Nikita - Beautiful Nikita is given a job as a top secret spy instead of having to go to jail.
  • How I Met Your Mother - Ran for 9 seasons and was nominated for 28 Emmy Awards. Kind of like a modern day Friends. Funny, sentimental, and innovative.
  • White Collar - About a brilliant and talented con artist who helps the FBI to avoid going to jail. Part crime drama, part comedy. Nominated for 4 People' Choice Awards.
  • Justified - A tough U.S. Marshal enforces his own brand of justice in his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky.
  • The Shield - A Golden Globe winning series about an experimental LAPD anti-gang division.
  • Deadwood - This series set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota won 8 Emmy Awards. Many historical figures such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Wyatt Earp appear in the show.
  • X-Files - FBI agents Mulder and Scully investigate murders, the paranormal, and conspiracy theories. Considered by many to be one of the best sci-fi shows of all time.
  • House - A hospital drama about unconventional medical genius Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) and his colleagues, as they investigate medical mysteries.
  • Oz - Takes place in "Oz", which is the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility. Disturbing, brutal, and gruesome. Ran for 6 seasons.
  • Suits - An award nominated legal drama, with suspense and lots of clever twists.
  • Prison Break - About a group of convicts trying to break out of prison. Very hard to watch only one episode at a time, so great for binge viewing.
  • Jericho - A post-apocalyptic action-drama series about the residents Jericho, Kansas.
  • Psych - A private detective pretends to be a psychic to help the police solve crimes. Witty, smart, and suspenseful, this award winning show ran for 8 seasons.
  • Monk - An Emmy award winning series about a private detective with OCD and many phobias. Each week he helps the San Francisco Police Department solve a case.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm - Seinfeld type humor from Larry David.
  • Party Down - A comedy about 6 struggling Hollywood dreamers working for an L.A. catering company named "Party Down". Ran for 2 seasons.
  • Smallville - The adventures of teenage Clark Kent before he becomes known as Superman.
  • Burn Notice - The adventures of an ex-spy in Miami. Lots of action, explosions, suspense, and humor.
  • The O.C - A teen soap opera set in Orange County (Newport Beach, California).
  • Sons of Anarchy - A crime drama about an outlaw motorcycle gang.
  • Hannibal - A bloody, thrilling, haunting show about the famed serial killer. Like nothing else on network television. Twisted and fun.
  • Archer - An animated show about a master spy.
  • Grey's Anatomy - A medical drama set in a hospital, like many shows before it (ER, Chicago Hope), and extremely well done just like those shows were.
  • Peep Show - A long-running British sitcom about the lives of two men from their twenties to thirties.
  • Band of Brothers - A dramatization of the history of a group of paratroopers from their jump training up until Japan's surrender at the end of the war.
  • True Blood - A vampire dramabased on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, about the co-existence of vampires and humans in a small town in Louisiana.
  • Skins - An award winning British drama about the lives of a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England.
  • Bored to Death - An offbeat comedy about a writer moonlighting as a detective in New York City.
  • Dead Like Me - About a pair of grim reapers in Seattle, Washington.
  • Better Off Ted - An office comedy.
  • Spartacus - Inspired by the Thracian gladiator who led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic.
  • Sports Night - Created by Aaron Sorkin, this show about the making of a sports show, has his trademark rapid-fire dialogue.
  • Broadchurch (BBC) - A British murder mystery set in a small town.
  • Parenthood - A drama loosely based on the 1989 film, it follows the Braverman clan which consists of an older couple, their four children and their families.


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