I’ve been a bit of a TV addict lately. I love getting wrapped up in a good series; I get invested in the characters and the story, and I’m usually sad when it ends. I’m not a total couch potato. I do manage to get a lot of other stuff done and I read a lot of books, but for me, TV shows are a sort of guilty pleasure. I’m not into ice cream or brownies, so I think of Netflix as my less-fattening substitution. And besides, the weather has been kind of crappy so binging shows is a great inside activity and distraction from the real world.
Here are some of my favorite binge-worthy shows from the past 6 months.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Seasons 1-2)
By far, my favorite show. Elizabeth Moss is brilliant, and the modern-day interpretation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel is on point. In fact, they have consulted with Atwood, and the result is a show that remains true to the original story, but relevant to today. While the book ends where Season 1 leaves off, the Season 2 story flows well, as if this part of the story was always meant to be told. Available on Hulu (Season 3 coming soon!)
Ozark (Seasons 1-2)
I may be partial to this show because it is shot just miles from where we live, but the fact is Jason Bateman is outstanding in this dark story about a family involved in a money laundering scheme for a drug cartel. If you liked Breaking Bad and Weeds, this one’s for you. Lots of interesting characters in this one. Laura Linney, who plays the wife of Bateman’s character Marty, is great and their son, Jonah, is creepy in the same sort of way Nancy Botwin’s son, Shane, was in Weeds. Available on Netflix
The Crown (Seasons 1-2)
You don’t have to love the Royal Family to dig this show. It’s delightful for many reasons: the costumes are great, the acting is fantastic, and the bits of history mingled with a little embellishment (fiction?) make this a fabulous series. Claire Foy is brilliant as a young Queen Elizabeth, and I’m definitely going to miss her in Season 3 when she is replaced by Olivia Colman in order to “age” the Queen. However, Olivia Colman is one of my favorite actresses (she is outstanding in The Favourite) so I’m equally excited to see her assume the role. Available on Netflix (Season 3 coming soon!)
Broadchurch (Seasons 1-3)
Speaking of Olivia Colman, this series features her as a British police officer, investigating the murder of an eleven-year-old boy. Broadchurch won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in 2014. Watch it, and you’ll understand why. It’s a crime drama that explores the depths of human emotion and betrayal, while telling the story in a beautiful English sea-side town. Available on Netflix
The Fall (Seasons 1-3)
If you dig British crime dramas like Broadchurch, you’ll also like The Fall. Ironically, the lead, Gillian Anderson, isn’t British, but she does a terrific job playing the role of a detective from London (and her accent is pretty good, too). This one is a little more violent than Broadchurch, as it involves not just a single murder, but the capture of a serial killer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who has a thing for beautiful women with long dark hair. Jamie Dornan plays the serial killer Paul Spector – so if you didn’t get enough of him as a sexy Christian Gray in Fifty Shades, then you can see him in his shirtless glory as a fit and very attractive man who leads a double life. Don’t worry, this show isn’t cheesy like Fifty Shades, and you’ll definitely be creeped out Spector’s fetishes.
The Sinner (Seasons 1-2)
How about a crime drama that isn’t British? The Sinner made its debut in 2017, but I recently just discovered it. If you get impatient waiting for the hook that draws you in, this show starts off with a bang. Jessica Biel plays a troubled woman who brutally attacks a man during the day on a crowded beach. Bill Pullman (who is troubled in his own way) is the detective charged with investigating the crime. Each season has only 8 episodes, so it goes down fast – which is good. The Sinner was just renewed for a third season.
Stranger Things (Season 1-2)
Need something a little less heavy, but still fun and weird? Stranger Things is a delight in many ways: from the brilliant young cast of misfit kids, to the quirky 1980’s setting, to the unique story line, you just can’t help but like this one. Like Ozark, Stranger Things is shot in Georgia which seems to be the Hollywood of the South. The story centers around a small town located near a lab that does secret experiments involving a portal to an alternate dimension called the Upside Down. One of the town’s kids is abducted by a creature from this alternate universe, so his friends, the local police chief, and his mom (played by Wynona Rider) make it a priority to find him. Season 3 drops this summer. Safe for kids, but fun for adults, too. (Netflix)
The Americans (Season 1-6)
Six seasons?! Yep, I did it. It was recommended to me by a couple friends, so I took it for a spin and was instantly addicted. It takes place in the 80’s during the Cold War and is about a couple of Russian spies who are pretending to be normal Americans. They have a lovely house, two kids, and run a travel agency. But they are so much more than what they appear. This is one of those shows in which you like and sympathize with the “bad guys.” The show has a terrific soundtrack (how could it not, being the songs are from the 80’s?!), and the styles are spot on, as far as clothing, cars, and home décor go as well as what was trendy and popular at the time. There is a lot of violence, and at times it can be pretty gruesome and cringe-worthy. There is also a fair amount of sex and nudity, so probably not a good one to watch with the kiddos around. I’m almost finished with Season 6 and find myself looking forward to each new episode. (Amazon Prime)
I love scary movies, so when I heard this show was downright terrifying, I got really excited. The truth is, while it has some scary moments, it’s not at all terrifying and never kept me up at night. This is the story of a family who purchases an old mansion with the idea that they are going to renovate it and flip it. However, the mansion is haunted and there is a traumatic event that takes place resulting in PTSD for the kids. This is one of those shows that goes back and forth between past and present, so you need to pay attention. The haunting takes place in the past, when the kids are young, and when they flip to the present, it follows each of the kids (now adults) and how they are dealing (or not dealing) with the trauma they experienced. It’s a clever show, and not as predictable as a lot of shows out there, with some twists along the way.
I absolutely love this show. I have to admit, when it first came out, I tried watching Season 1 and lost interest. But over the winter I dove in and watched all of the seasons up until the current one (Season 4) which is on Showtime now. It’s another one of those shows where you like the “bad guy” because he’s just so – well – fun. I think one of my favorite things about show is the writing – the characters have some brilliant one liners that are delivered quickly. The wit and sarcasm is right up my alley. This show is about a billionaire name Bobby Axelrod (or just Axe) who is a little on the shady side, amassing his wealth through hedge funds. The U.S. Attorney General is after him, hoping to bring him down on insider trading charges. Axe is played by Damian Lewis who you may know from Homeland, and Chuck Rhoades, the Attorney General, is played by Paul Giamatti. The entire cast is fabulous and this one is definitely worth a watch. On Showtime
There are several more that I’ve watched, and I have an extensive list of shows I would like to watch as well. I’m getting to the point of considering ditching cable because I spend most of my time on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. With spring here, and summer around the corner, I suspect my viewing habits will drop off a bit since I’ll be spending more time outside – but it’s still a fun activity for me in the evenings before bed or on a rainy day. (Showtime)
Other Shows I Enjoy
There are just too many for me to write about, but I can’t leave without mentioning some of my other favorites. Some of these have been around a bit longer, but definitely still worth checking out if you haven’t already:
- Game of Thrones (The final season just finished running on HBO)
- Shameless (Season 9 currently running on Showtime)
- House of Cards (Even though Kevin Spacey is YUK now, 6 seasons)
- Black Mirror (Skip Episode 1 – it’s awful, disturbing, and will scare you away from a really good show!)
- American Horror Story (Each season is its own contained story line, so you can skip seasons or watch in any order. I watched Seasons 1-4, 6-7. Season 6 isn’t good, so skip that one)
- Narcos (I only watched seasons 1-2; season 3 available on Netflix. In Spanish with subtitles)
- You (new show, originally on Lifetime and now on Netflix, 1 season available)
“Older” Shows Worth Watching
Weeds (8 season from 2005-2012 on Showtime)
Six Feet Under
What are some of your favorite binge-worthy shows?