Eleven Shows to Binge-Watch at Your Earliest Convenience

As we enjoy the end of winter break, avoiding both snow and responsibilities by sitting on our computers and watching tv, we got to thinking this week about our favorite shows to binge-watch:

1. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) – A remake of the 1978 television series, Battlestar Galactica is a sci fi military drama following a war between the human-inhabited Twelve Colonies and their cyborg creations, called cylons. With incredible plotting, compelling characters, and genius world building, it’s sci fi that doesn’t feel like stereotypical sci fi as it becomes a reflection on a post-9/11 world. It is nearly impossible to stop watching. But you don’t have to take our word for it: Portlandia has wonderfully dramatized the experience of watching Battlestar Galactica.

Series available for purchase or through your local library system.

2. Friends (1994-2004) Rachel Green leaves her fiance at the altar and moves in with her best friend from high school in the pilot of this foundational ‘90s sitcom about being in your 20s – when your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and your love life’s DOA. Yeah, reruns are on tv constantly, and you’re probably already familiar with the major plot arcs and character beats. But – with strong relationships between the characters, some really smart comedy writing, and just enough serialization to pull the plot along – Friends definitely holds up.

Series available on Netflix.

3. Orange is the New Black (2013-present) – Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, Orange is the New Black follows trojan horse Piper Chapman as she spends time in federal prison for transporting her girlfriend’s drug money. With a beautifully diverse cast of incredible characters, Orange is the New Black weaves a complicated narrative about the experiences of incarcerated women. Netflix releases each season in one lump sum, and the story arc feels much more like one continuous narrative than your average TV show, creating a natural environment for non-stop watching.

Series available on Netflix.

4. Veronica Mars (2004-2007) – Film noir meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Veronica is a high-school-student-slash-private-detective who’s just trying to get through high school while solving (and coming to terms with) the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane. The first season, which focuses on the murder of Lilly Kane, is definitely the strongest of the bunch, but they’re all good!

Series available on Amazon Prime.

5. Doctor Who (new series: 2005-present) – An alien (who looks and sounds like a British man) with a time machine (that’s disguised to look like a police telephone box) has a lot of adventures and saves the world a whole lot of times – usually accompanied by a human companion. Start with the show’s regeneration in 2005 with the 9th doctor (Christopher Eccleston). It’s incredibly campy and rather low-budget at points, but that’s its charm.

Series available on Netflix (until 2/1) and Amazon Prime.

6. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) – Three generations of Gilmore ladies laugh, love, fight, and grow up in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s famously fast-talking, pop-culture-referencing dramedy. Small-town Connecticut and an eccentric cast of supporting characters lend a vibrant back-drop this show about friendship, family, and finding your way (and also one man’s quest to work every job).

Series available on Netflix.

7. Lost (2004-2010) – When a plane crashes on an unknown island in the Pacific, surviving passengers attempt to create order and find meaning while attempting to survive on a hostile island. While the fourth and fifth seasons were particularly rough and the finale was unusually divisive, Lost follows a big cast, creates big mysteries, and asks big questions, making it an utterly compelling show.

Series available on Netflix.

8. Arrow (2012-present) – Returning home after being marooned on an island for five years, Oliver Queen dons a hood and grease paint (as you do) and becomes the Arrow (cue grimly dramatic music), a masked vigilante out to save his city from the corrupt capitalists, socialites, and super-villains who would exploit it. With lots of Lost-esque flashbacks and some silly dialogue, it’s not the most prestige-y television show you’ll ever see, but it’s campy and delightful with great chemistry between the core trio of Oliver, special ops man John Diggle, and IT lady Felicity Smoak. (Awesome special effects, campy plot arcs, and repeat appearances from a scenery-chewing John Barrowman (Doctor Who) don’t hurt either. Nor does the sheer physical attractiveness of the main cast.)

First two seasons available on Netflix.

9. Parks and Recreation (2009-present) – About to start its seventh season, Parks and Rec started out a bit rocky (although the first season is short and respectable, we recommend skipping ahead to the second season). However, as it follows our optimistic parks department employee Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the satirical mockumentary quickly picks up steam and becomes an upbeat comedy about friendship, government bureaucracy, and breakfast food. The overwhelming positivity of the show (not to mention superb female friendships, if you’re into that sort of thing) makes it utterly delightful.

First six season available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

10. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008) – In an Asiatic world where some humans can manipulate particular elements by “bending” them, one Avatar seeks to master all four elements to “bring balance.” Aang, the new Avatar, awakens after 100 years to discover that the world he knew has changed, and he joins up with airbender Katara, her brother Sokka, and earthbender Toph to attempt to master the elements and stop the Fire Lord’s war against the other three nations. Told in half hour segments with a strong mix of action and humor, Avatar is almost impossible not to marathon. Plus, if you want more, you can start on the sequel, Legend of Korra, which follows the next Avatar and has a totally rad ending that kind of made TV history.

Series available on Amazon Prime.

11. Downton Abbey (2010-present) – House fires, Turkish diplomats, forbidden romances, class conflict, corsets, trench warfare, and – of course – Dame Maggie Smith. Need we say more? It’s silly and soapy, but so much fun.

Series available on Amazon Prime.

Happy watching! And don’t forget:


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