25. Arrested Development
Arrested Development is a sitcom that follows the escapades of a extremely dysfunctional family, the Bluths. Once too wealthy for their own good, the Bluths lose their money in the pilot, yet struggle to accept their changed circumstances. Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth, the only rational member of his family, determined to keep everyone afloat despite their stubbornness and lofty ideas of how people should live.
Hilarity derives from his attempts to make his family act like normal people, from his uber-competitive older brother, his alcoholic mother, his spoiled twin sister, to his youngest brother who has dependency issues with his mother. Despite their ridiculousness, viewers can’t help but root for the Bluths as they attempt to readjust to life without superfluous riches. Even if watching them attempt to adjust means watching them hilariously flounder, most of the time.
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24. The Witcher
The Witcher is a fantasy series inspired by a book series of the same name. In this series, Henry Cavill plays Geralt of Riva — a magical monster hunter known by others as the titular “witcher.” This show truly embraces the roots of the fantasy genre, as it creates its own land, creatures, and lore. The acting is also noteworthy, as Cavill and his co-stars thoroughly sink themselves into the fictional world of the Continent, making it feel real to anyone watching. Their convincing performances, alongside the immaculate set design, flawlessly bring to life a world that was once just words committed to paper. Filled with epic action, passionate love, and incredible world building, The Witcher is a perfect choice for any fantasy lover.
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You is a psychological thriller that follows the mind of Joe Goldberg, a New York bookstore owner who becomes obsessed with an aspiring writer, Guinevere Beck. As the series progresses, Joe spirals out of control — stalking Beck and doing whatever it takes to ensure he is in her life and is her number one priority. Whether that means psychologically manipulating her and those in her life, or even resorting to violence, Joe is determined to have a claim to her. The show is a true thriller, as viewers watch what lengths Joe will go to in order to embrace his own delusions. In a culture that has embraced the true crime genre, this show stands out as a fictional tale with similar elements. Additionally, Penn Badgley gives an incredible performance in this — playing the nuances of Joe and his brain perfectly.
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22. Derry Girls
Derry Girls is a teen sitcom that focuses on the lives of a group of girls attending high school in Northern Ireland. While this show is a funny and lighthearted look at the highs and lows of life as a teenage girl, it also examines the ways in which Northern Irish politics and conflict affected the youth of Northern Ireland in the 90s. The show frequently uses real insert footage of politicians and news stories from that era, and also incorporates Irish music like the Cranberries.
In a way, Northern Ireland becomes a character throughout this series, as it takes on a life of its own. This show does a beautiful job of juxtaposing the innocence of youth with the horrors of political conflict, as the two are often shown alongside one another. Funny and sometimes morose, Derry Girls is a great watch for those interested in Northern Ireland, or for those who want to watch a sitcom that will remind them of the complexities of being a teenager.
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Ozark is a dark, crime drama starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. The basis is rather simple: Marty (Bateman) and Wendy (Linney) Byrde make the decision to move their family to the Lake of the Ozarks in order to become money launderers. However, what they think will be a simple scheme spirals out of their control as they become involved with local criminals and the cartel. Ozark has received an abundance of critical praise, even earning much of its cast Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. In fact, Bateman won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in 2019. This is not a lighthearted watch, but it is masterfully crafted and keeps people on the edge of their seats as this family delves further and further into the world of crime.
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20. The Good Place
Created by Michael Schur, a sitcom genius, The Good Place has earned its spot next to Schur’s other popular titles — The Office and Parks and Recreation. When Eleanor Shellstrop dies, she awakens in the Good Place, a Heaven-like world run by Michael (Ted Danson) who is an afterlife architect. Eleanor learns that the Good Place was designed to reward people who lived righteous lives on Earth, but quickly draws the conclusion that a mistake must have been made, because she did not live a life worthy of placing her in the Good Place. As Eleanor frantically tries to hide her past and maintain her spot in the Good Place, she meets new friends and forms bonds she never experienced. The Good Place is funny, full of plot twists, and is extremely poignant on more than one occasion. It’s a worthy watch, and extremely easy to sit down and binge.
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19. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Based on the Archie comic book series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows Sabrina Spellman as she navigates life as a half witch, half human. If that sounds familiar, it’s because this comic series was once adapted into a show under the name Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, the tone of the shows couldn’t be more different. The original looked at Sabrina’s life through the lens of a typical teenager going to a normal high school, and getting into quirky conflicts due to her powers. CAOS, however, is a much darker take on Sabrina’s life. This show has demons, the Devil, and a witch university where Sabrina gets into more trouble than she ever could at a human school. While its tone is dark, the show itself is extremely entertaining, making its four seasons a great binge.
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18. The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off is a British baking competition show featuring amateur bakers as they compete against one another for the ultimate prize of flowers and a cake stand. I know, most shows give large sums of money, fancy equipment, or even vacation packages. The simple prizes is just one of the many details of Bake Off that make it so special, and heartwarming. While it is a competition show, the contestants are often good natured, seeming unfazed by stopping their own work to help a teammate, or give words of encouragement.
Watching this show feels like you’re receiving a giant, warm hug that reminds you to have faith in humanity. Plus, the first six seasons are co-hosted by baking legend Mary Berry — who radiates the kind grandma-like vibes that most of us need right now. Watch this if you need some comfort, but beware…you’ll be craving whatever they make by the end of each episode.
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17. Dead to Me
Dead to Me is a dark comedy that, while oftentimes is morbid and morose, finds levity in the celebration of friendship and love. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini play Jen (Applegate) and Judy (Cardellini), two women who meet in a grief support group and strike up a friendship. Jen is in the midst of mourning her husband (who was killed in a hit-and-run) and Judy is mourning her fiancé, who died of a heart attack. As the two bolster each other through the difficult process of mourning, the women begin to unravel one another’s secrets — ultimately threatening to destroy the support systems they’ve made. Through the lens of grief, Dead to Me finds a unique way to celebrate the depth of female friendship and its complex nuances. Funny, heartwarming, and full of twists and turns, this is a worthwhile watch.
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16. The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit took the Internet by storm as soon as it dropped in 2020, and left Anya Taylor Joy with newfound popularity, award nominations, and notoriety. This Netflix Original follows the story of Beth Harmon, a young woman on track to become the world’s best chess player during the Cold War. However, her own addictions and weaknesses threaten to take her accolades away from her. While the plot itself sounds simple, the way it is fleshed out is not. Taylor Joy puts her all into Beth, artfully portraying the pains of addiction and the stress that being perfect puts on young women. A visually compelling tale, The Queen’s Gambit is an exhilarating binge!
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15. New Girl
New Girl, simply put, is a sitcom classic. Zooey Deschanel shines as Jess, an elementary school teacher who, in the pilot, learns that her boyfriend has cheated on her, and as a result becomes single — and homeless. Desperate for a place to live, Jess moves into an apartment with three men: Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. Naturally, chaos ensues. At the heart of the chaos, however, there is always a sense of love, loyalty, and true friendship between Jess and her boys.
This show manages to make audience members feel like they know the characters personally, making their wins feel like personal victories, and their losses feel that much more heart wrenching. New Girl is imbued with romance, comedy, friendship, and everything else that makes life interesting. It’s the perfect binge for when you feel down, or just need some friends to get you through the day.
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14. Sex Education
Sex Education is a raunchy, heartfelt British comedy. This show primarily follows Otis Milburn, a high school student who is less than interested in sex, primarily because his mother — played by the genius Gillian Anderson — is a sex therapist, and is more comfortable talking about sex than any other parent Otis knows. As Otis’ friends become more curious about sex and find new struggles within their sexual identities, Otis decides to begin a sex consulting business of his own on campus. Sex Education is a unique comedy, as it tackles topics head on that most series are unwilling to broach. Additionally, its cast constantly shows off its range. Every actor on this show has mastery over comedic timing, while also handling serious topics with the depth and significance they deserve.
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Based on the novel by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is a one-of-a-kind adventure that grips audiences from the first episode. The show opens in 1945, with Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband taking a vacation following her time serving as a nurse in World War II. However, she quickly is caught in a time portal and is sent back to 1743. It doesn’t take long for her to meet Jamie Fraser, a Highlander whom she marries for protection — but ultimately falls in love with.
There is no doubt that this show is complex and full of constant twists and turns, but its complexities are what keep the world building — and its characters — fascinating. The love triangle also furthers the investment people feel in this story, as they feel just as stuck between two worlds and two lives as Claire is. While this show is certainly an investment, it’s ultimately worth the time it takes to watch, as every aspect of it is so beautifully created.
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12. Peaky Blinders
In its six seasons, Peaky Blinders has managed to cultivate its own cult following, and for good reason. Set after World War I, this series follows the Peaky Blinders crime gang and their personal lives, exploits, and tragedies. Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of Thomas Shelby, the gang’s crime boss, is full of depth and layers that make every scene he’s in compelling. While he is devoted to life as a crime boss, Murphy plays into the deeply human aspects of his character, sneaking in glances of vulnerability, and not shying away to show the protectiveness he has for those he loves. The layers all the actors provide their characters leaves audiences actively rooting for a group of crime mobsters; a feat not easily done. Peaky Blinders is a masterclass in writing, acting, and the story of the anti-hero.
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11. Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is a heartwarming coming of age story, brought to audiences by none other than The Office’s Mindy Kaling. This show follows the trials and tribulations that Devi Vishwakumar faces as a 15-year-old girl, desperate to make the most of her high school career. She does her best to get through the issues that are typical for 15 year olds: crushes so severe they’re crippling, friendship drama, and the desperate need to beat your classroom rival at everything.
However, there are more complex conversations brought to the table by this show, like how to cope with severe grief, and how to live in one culture at home and have to assimilate to a different one at school. Never Have I Ever does a great job at showing how the issues teenagers face may seem like nothing to adults, but rather become a crippling weight for young people to carry. The perfect combination of hilarious, absurd, and extremely moving, this show will have you laughing one moment and reaching for a box of tissues the next.
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Officially the second-most streamed Netflix series ever, Wednesday has proven itself to be an immediate hit. Starring Jenna Ortega and created by Tim Burton, Wednesday takes a unique look at the iconic Addams family. However, instead of focusing on the family as a whole, this show shifts its focus to Wednesday Addams as she explores her identity outside of her family unit. As Wednesday begins attending Nevermore Academy — a boarding school for those with some sort of supernatural talent — she begins to navigate the intricacies of crushes, friendships, and of course: murder. Wednesday holds all the elements that have made other iterations of the Addams Family so beloved, while still adding a new layer of nuance to draw in audiences, both new and old. Wednesday is the perfect binge, and is officially confirmed for a season two!
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9. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is often regarded by critics as one of the best television shows that has ever been created. This show follows Walter White, played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston, a high school chemistry teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer. Faced with his imminent death and no way to ensure his family will be taken care of once he’s gone, he makes the decision to put his knowledge of chemistry to use by making and distributing meth. One of the best parts of this show is watching how masterfully Cranston acts White’s transformation from an innocent high school teacher to a drug lord.
Every detail of his performance — down to the most minute facial expression — adds to the masterful development of Walter, and is downright thrilling to watch. Additionally, the supporting cast — comprised of actors like Aaron Paul and Bob Odenkirk — elevates the show even further. It takes true mastery to make audience members root for the morally gray anti-heros that Breaking Bad tells the story of, but they do it successfully.
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8. Santa Clarita Diet
Starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant, Santa Clarita Diet is a truly hilarious and whacky comedy about a woman who becomes a zombie, and her family who is willing to go to desperate lengths to keep her fed. The show follows Joel (Olyphant) and Sheila (Barrymore), popular real estate agents living a calm and happy life as they raise their teenage daughter in Santa Clarita. However, when Sheila becomes a zombie, life spirals out of control as they must find ways to obtain Sheila food and well…not get caught for murder.
Olyphant particularly shines through in this role, as his comedic timing and dry sense of humor as Joel grounds the chaos of every scene he’s in. Barrymore also shines, playing a complex character driven by the need to survive and the need to protect her family — ultimately from herself. Although it got canceled after three seasons, Santa Clarita Diet is truly worth the binge.
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Bridgerton took audiences by storm with its initial release, and managed to improve upon itself and captivate even more audiences with its second season. Set in Regency era England, Bridgerton follows the Bridgerton family as each of their children find love and marry. Although it is filled with what makes any period piece appealing — romance, yearning, the push-and-pull of wondering if the couple you’re rooting for will ever get together — Bridgerton adds nuance to a genre that has been steadfast for decades.
The score is comprised of instrumental versions of modern and popular songs, it has people of color cast as love interests, and most notably, it has incredibly steamy sex scenes. This show provides a fresh take on the romance genre, while also paying homage to the classics that came before it. It’s a must watch, and certainly has more seasons coming soon to look forward to.
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6. The Crown
The Crown has been causing waves since its debut in 2016, and for good reason. Peter Morgan, the show’s creator, has taken his mission to detail the lives and scandals of the U.K.’s Royal Family very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he’s turned the heads of real Royal Family members themselves, with even Prince Harry recently stating he watches it to fact check as he goes. Commitment to overturning drama aside, the quality of the show is truly awe inspiring.
With the feat of having to cast new actors every two seasons, the show’s casting directors have yet to have a misfire. Specifically, the choice to cast Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher was immaculate, as their performances left audiences in awe. The commitment from every cast and crew member to create the best performance — and show — possible shines through every episode of The Crown, and makes it worth the watch.
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5. Black Mirror
Black Mirror (2011-) is…well, hard to describe. Composed of mini movies that all follow entirely different plots with different characters, Black Mirror examines various possibilities of what the future could look like. However, the common thread between all these episodes is how technological advances have the capacity to send the world into a dystopian tailspin. In an extremely popular episode that stars Bryce Dallas Howard, people exist with a rating system that constantly hangs over their head. You gain and lose points based on social interactions, and those points act like a credit score of sorts; meaning your likability is based entirely on how others perceive you in a single moment. Terrifying, right? Despite its flair for developing deeply disturbing ideas, Black Mirror is still entertaining, unique, and well crafted.
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4. Grace and Frankie
Starring real life best friends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie is a funny, heartwarming, and optimistic examination of what life can look like — even once you believe your best years are behind you. Season 1 kicks off with Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) finding out their husbands — who have been law partners for most of their adult lives — have been having a decades long affair, and are officially ready to leave their marriages to be officially together. Thrown into a tailspin by the news, Grace and Frankie — despite their long running dislike for one another — agree to move into the beach house that the four of them bought together as a vacation home.
As they adjust to their new lives, Grace and Frankie find that while they are opposites, they simultaneously balance each other out in a refreshing way. The two women help each other move forward from their failed marriages, but more importantly support each other in becoming more confident, capable, and happy. It’s truly a treat watching these ladies develop an unbreakable bond, and serves as a reminder to audiences that it’s never too late to chase happiness you didn’t think existed.
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3. Russian Doll
Starring Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll is a trippy two season Netflix Original. On Nadia Vulvokov’s (Lyonne) 36th birthday, she finds herself stuck in a time loop. No matter how many times she dies, she finds herself back in the exact same spot at her own birthday party, with full memories of the previous times she’s died. As she searches for why the universe is messing with her, she meets Alan — a perfect stranger who is in the same position as her.
Nadia and Alan prove to make the perfect foils to one another: where Nadia is a cynic, constantly accepting that the worst is happening because the world is the worst, Alan is riddled with anxiety to correct the chaos around him, and within himself. Amidst the craziness of the Russian Doll universe, this show is ultimately driven by its study of what being a human desperate for control looks like. Despite its focus on death and complex childhood trauma, Russian Doll manages to look for hope in humanity, and find it,
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2. Stranger Things
A Netflix Original, Stranger Things has managed to carve a spot for itself into the canon of pop culture, and has done so by creating four unique seasons that always manage to leave the viewers in awe, and wanting more. Having initially aired in 2016, Stranger Things started out as a story about four friends in a small Indiana town risking their safety to find their friend, Will Byers, who seemingly vanished into thin air. With the help of his family and the town’s chief of police, the kids discover an alternate dimension — deemed the Upside Down — where Will is trapped. While the sci-fi elements of this show are extremely well done and the lore of the Upside Down is thorough and fascinating, the real heart of this show is its characters.
Taking place in the 1980s, Stranger Things uses its setting to perfectly display the type of friendship that only children can have. Whether it’s the kids riding bikes to each other’s houses to play Dungeons and Dragons, or using walkie-talkies to communicate privately, or even planning matching Ghostbusters costumes, this show is ultimately a tribute to the steadfast friendship four boys share. No amount of danger — supernatural or otherwise — stops these kids from fighting for one another. That steadfast loyalty remains through the trials and tribulations they face for four seasons, and is the true heart of the show.
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1. Gilmore Girls
Starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, Gilmore Girls tells the story of a single mom and daughter living in their small Connecticut town, Stars Hollow. Although it aired from 2000-2007, Gilmore Girls has arguably become more relevant and popular today than it was during its initial run. The plot itself is fairly mundane, as it follows Lorelai (Graham) and Rory (Bledel), a former teen mom and her now teenage daughter, as they navigate the messiness of love, family, school, and careers. However, the show stands out due to its vibrant, well developed characters that can’t help but make viewers feel like they’re a Gilmore themselves.
Its magic lay in how every character — whether it be Luke, the grumpy but caring diner owner who becomes a steadfast companion to Lorelai, or Paris, the overachieving, perpetually stressed frenemy of Rory — grows to feel like a personal friend to its audience. Between the warm and comforting appearance of Stars Hollow, the endearing idiosyncrasies of Stars Hollow’s residents, and the love that Rory and Lorelai share, this show makes people feel like they’re at a home they never knew existed until they hit play.
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