Movies are still not being released in theaters. At the same time, the premier of certain TV show episodes has been delayed while some series are at a complete production standstill. Sure, there are still fantastic new movies and TV shows to watch every month, but during this global quarantine, some folks need meatier content to chew on.
That’s where this list comes in. Here we’ve curated the best television shows to binge right now, ranging from titans of TV’s Golden Age to new classics, all of which are conveniently available to stream platforms such as Netflix, HBO Now and Hulu. We’ve included some of the undisputed greatest shows of all time, but also thrown in a few curveballs to keep the selection diverse — and included a few animated offerings for good measure.
Read on to find your next series to binge, and for more movie offerings, be sure to check out the best films to purchase on-demand.
This is probably the number one workplace mockumentary comedy that those of us shut out of our normal offices are turning to. Pandemic aside, this is a show nearly all fans keep on rotation throughout the year. So really, this is just another excuse for viewers to settle back into Dunder Mifflin Scranton and watch these cartoon characters with human faces interact in an office space. We just hope that Netflix’s Space Force, created by The Office creators and starring Steve Carell, can be half as good as this series.
Who killed Laura Palmer? There’s no easy answer, as Twin Peaks is a serious mind-bender of a show. On its face it’s a mundane, small-town tale, but under that nice facade lies an exploration into the nature of humanity. And then creator David Lynch also throws in a bunch of mystical, demonic, parallel universe themes for good measure. It’s no wonder fans are still crafting theories around the series’ meaning.
If you love the show as much as we do, then move onto the Showtime reboot, which appeared 25 years after the conclusion of the original series. But don’t go in expecting answers for all the questions the original series left. It’s not Lynch’s way.
Scrubs is an easy viewing sitcom with a lot of heart. It’s one of those 2000 shows that you can leave on morning, noon and night without even realizing it’s been playing all day. The show follows a group of medical students coming to Sacred Heart Hospital as rookies, who ultimately leave as mentors themselves for a new generation. Characters like Turk, JD, and Doctor Cox keep the show entertaining, and their relationship to one another makes for a great dynamic, whether it be for laughs or drama.
Where to watch: Hulu
Dexter is a glorious show inspired by the “a man doing bad things” mold of The Sopranos and The Shield (which we’ll get to later). In the case of Dexter, he’s a serial killer trying to balance his life as a blood splatter analyst for the police and a family man. The formula is amazing for four seasons straight — 10 out of 10 bangers every episode (or maybe nine out of 10 for the third season).
After that? The score drops by one every season until we get to the abysmal finale. But like other great shows with poor endings (which we’ll also get to later), the disappointing final destination does not erase the otherwise enjoyable journey. Even though season five and on are nowhere near as great as their predecessors, there are some top-notch episodes along the way, especially the season six finale leading into the season seven opener.
Where to watch: Netflix
The Sopranos is heralded for beginning the now elongated Golden Age of television, as well as introducing the antihero archetype to the medium. Without The Sopranos, shows like Breaking Bad and The Shield, and countless others, couldn’t exist. If all you know about the show is its focus on mobsters and its infamous ending, you know nothing about The Sopranos.
Yes, it is a mobster show, but it’s also a complex series about people’s capacity to change. Death is one of its major themes, in particular how personal concerns ultimately become meaningless at the end of the road. If you choose to binge, we recommend watching alongside this companion series review from Emily Todd VanDerWerff.
Another show with an antihero baldy as its star is Breaking Bad — a series that was already heralded by many as one the greatest TV shows ever made, and recently made a victory lap with the release of a film sequel, El Camino.
Breaking Bad is another crime genre series, but it’s far more of a character study than a look at a life of crime. The Sopranos does this as well, but Breaking Bad lets us see a man transform, or rather slowly decay, into a toxic meth kingpin. Creator Vince Gilligan and his team of writers have been rightfully praised for the level of detail imbued into their writing, which carries over into their other Breaking Bad-related projects.
Where to watch: Netflix
Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul is a Breaking Bad spin-off series that charts the transformation of Jimmy McGill into crooked lawyer Saul Goodman. Another character-study based show, this series utilizes all the tricks Gilligan and his team learned writing Breaking Bad for five seasons. Both shows suggest that good folks are only a few terrible events away from breaking bad themselves.
With the arrival of season six potentially delayed, now’s the time to catch up on the show’s five acclaimed seasons.
What can be said about The Wire that hasn’t been said already? If shows like The Sopranos revolutionized television, then The Wire transcended the medium itself. Few TV shows or films can stand shoulder to shoulder with The Wire, and there has yet to be another show that’s given such precise insight into the state of urban decay in America.
The Wire one of the first shows to give equal perspective to the police and the criminals they’re chasing. Doing so gave insight into the moral grays of all tiers society, and showcased the cyclical nature of the cops and robbers game.