Best TV Shows to Binge Watch

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The way we consume our media has seen a fundamental paradigm shift over the last decade. It happened in incremental steps — TiVo, VOD, the rise of streaming networks; those advances and many more are all pivotal steps in restructuring the way we approach serialized storytelling formats. At the same time came the rise of smartphone and tablet culture, and the opportunity that comes when most people have a screen in front of their faces for the majority of their waking hours. Naturally, soon after came the rise of binge-watching.

This isn’t to suggest, of course, that people haven’t been bingeing television for decades. As long as there have been nerds and a means of recording, people have been mass consuming their favorite TV shows, whether on DVD or self-recorded VHS. But more recently, binge-watching has become not only something people do, but a driving factor that shapes the way some entertainment is formed on a core level. Netflix, in particular, is known for crafting their series in a way that compels viewers to digest the whole narrative in one or two sittings and, as a result, often blurs the lines between film and television story formats.


But whether you’ve been binge-watching your whole life or recently slid into the habit, there are some shows that are just perfect to mainline as quickly as possible. If you’re on the hunt for a new show to dive into, the Collider staff has put together handy list of our favorite shows to binge-watch below.

Need more bingeing options? Check our roundup of the Best TV Shows on Netflix and Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime.

The Boys

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Image via Amazon

Streaming on: Amazon

The Amazon superhero series The Boys is really the perfect combination of a “prestige”-type program with the engine of a well-oiled serialized network drama. Based on the comics of the same name, the show takes place in a world in which superheroes not only exist, but they’re celebrities. As it turns out, however, most of those superheroes are drunk with power, committing atrocities all the time with zero consequences. Enter The Boys: a ragtag group of regular ol’ humans with their own personal grudges against the superhero team known as The Seven. The show is extremely violent, darkly funny, and definitely not for kids – but it’s also more thoughtful than you’d expect as it tackles themes like capitalism, fame, and even sexual misconduct. And while it goes to some very dark places, above all The Boys is just tremendously fun. – Adam Chitwood

Hannibal

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Image via NBC

Streaming on: Netflix

I guarantee you’ve never seen a show quite like Hannibal, and if you’re into artfully told serial killer stories with strong sexual tension, you’re gonna love it. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, the show began as a Hannibal Lecter series of sorts—Mads Mikkelsen plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter who is called upon by gifted criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the Behavioral Sciences Unit of the FBI to help track down a serial killer. Will and Hannibal develop a wildly inappropriate, deeply bonded relationship, which only further complicates matters when Will begins to suspect that Hannibal might have a role to play in these murders. And for Harris fans, the show covers various beloved storylines from his Lecter books (like Red Dragon). One part crime procedural mystery, one part twist-filled psychological thriller romance, and one part full-on horror story, Hannibal is a wholly unique series that gets weirder and weirder as it goes on, but keeps you enraptured the entire time. You’ll soon start to wonder how in the world a show this graphic, this poetic, and this strange aired on NBC for three seasons. – Adam Chitwood

The Witcher

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Image via Netflix

Streaming on: Netflix

The Witcher is an absolute blast and a half. The fantasy series is indeed very fantasy—it’s more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and whole-heartedly embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side-quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill’s titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. The show’s first season follows three stories destined to converge: Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures; Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after the sacking of her city, but harbors secrets of her own. Steeped in lore and world-building but always engaging, The Witcher is a perfect kind of binge-viewing show. – Adam Chitwood

Schitt’s Creek

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Image via PopTV

Streaming on: Netflix

Imagine a less cynical Arrested Development crossed with an inverted Beverly Hillbillies, and you’re close to Schitt’s Creek—one of the most joyful shows on all of television. The Canadian sitcom tells the story of a wealthy family who loses everything when they’re defrauded by their business manager. The only thing they do own is a tiny, backwoods town the patriarch (Eugene Levy) bought for his son (Daniel Levy) as a joke gift back in 1991, and they’re then forced to move there and live out of a motel. They slowly begin to accept their new lives and even love their new town, despite their many, many quirks. The comedy is delightful, anchored by a phenomenal performance from Catherine O’Hara as the family matriarch, a former soap actress in denial about her social status. It’s also a delightfully forward-thinking series, as the son’s pansexuality is met not with scorn or judgment, but with a full loving embrace. Hilarious, witty, and oh-so-sweet, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect show for when you need a pick-me-up. – Adam Chitwood

Game of Thrones

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Image via HBO

Streaming on: HBO Max

You know a show is going to be a good binge watch when you’re tearing your hair out waiting for new episodes week to week, and new seasons year to year. Building on the structure of shock drama and high fantasy in George R. R. Martin‘s best-selling book series, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss‘ adaptation Game of Thrones translates all the political machinations, royal intrigue, and apocalyptic fantasy underpinnings into TV gold. Backed by a game-changing budget from HBO, Game of Thrones might be the most spectacular sight to ever hit the airwave and that luxurious attention crafts a completely immersive world where anything can happen, anyone may perish, and each new twisted cliffhanger and moment of violent punctuation leaves you clamoring to see what’s next. — Haleigh Foutch

Parks and Recreation

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Image via NBC

Streaming on: Peacock

Parks and Recreation is a great show to binge-watch because the series evolved so heavily throughout its run. Showrunner Mike Schur was never content to just stick to the status quo, and this love letter to public service revels in shaking up its characters and their circumstances in compelling and engaging ways. Moreover, the tremendous arc of Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation Department deputy director to potentially President of the United States is executed perfectly. Aside from the rocky first season, there’s really not a false note to be found in this show, and its compassion for its characters and ever-changing circumstances makes it a great binge-watch at any time. – Adam Chitwood

Veronica Mars

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Image via WB

Streaming on: Hulu

Veronica Mars shouldn’t be as good as it is. There are so many ways a teen-centric private eye show can go wrong, and yet creator/showrunner Rob Thomas always keeps his series firmly planted in reality, grounded by a star-making performance from Kristen Bell. The titular high schooler never feels like a conduit for a middle-aged adult’s zingers, and that’s a testament both to Thomas’ writing and Bell’s maturity as a performer. On top of that, the mysteries are genuinely compelling, the teen drama alluring, and the ensemble is (mostly) filled out with charismatic actors who soak up the screen. Think The O.C. meets True Detective and you’ve got Veronica Mars. – Adam Chitwood

True Detective (Season 1)

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Image via HBO

Streaming on: HBO Max

Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Fukunaga’s engrossing anthology is a rabbit hole of a mystery that had viewers spending an exceptional amount of time trying to guess who the (potentially mythical) killer was. But the visually sumptuous exploration of this Louisiana-Set crime story is really about the two troubled men investigating it over time, played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. As True Detective’s story weaves through the horrors committed by The Yellow King, it also zeroes in on the complicated relationship between its two detective leads, which ultimately pulls it together after a wholly southern gothic crescendo. It’s an experience that is both engrossing and hypnotic, and it set a standard that its own Season 2 (with a new cast, directors, and setting) could not come close to matching. — Allison Keene

Stranger Things

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Image via Netflix

Streaming on: Netflix

Here’s where the lines start to blur between TV and film. A show like House of Cards is clearly built and presented like a traditional TV series, just one meant to be binge-watched. But the smash-hit Stranger Things is much more filmic in nature, not just in its reduced number of episodes, but the structure of each. They play like parts of a whole instead of standalone episodes, and bingeing Stranger Things is more akin to reading a great novel in one day than watching a bunch of TV at once. Indeed each season of the show is seen by its creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, as more of a film than a TV series, which makes it possibly the most satisfying binge-watch on this list. Even if the final episode leaves the door open for more questions, each of the first two seasons have a clear beginning and end.  Adam Chitwood

Breaking Bad

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Image via AMC

Streaming on: Netflix

Binge-watching Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould‘s definitive Golden Age series Breaking Bad can feel like an emotional marathon, but the payoff is well worth the tumult of the journey. A masterpiece of long-format storytelling, Breaking Bad is a series that veers left every time you think you have a read on it and is never afraid to swing for the fences with despicable human behavior and the far-reaching fallout from wicked deeds. As Walter White, the high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, Bryan Cranston is a revelation and he’s supported at every turn by an ensemble of prodigiously talented peers. Breaking Bad is a perfectly crafted show, each season feeling like both a tightly-contained unit of storytelling and a part of a bigger whole. It will keep your nerves on end and put a pit in your stomach for a breathless rollercoaster of character drama through crime and punishment. — Haleigh Foutch

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Image via The WB

Streaming on: Hulu

Joss Whedon reinvented the rules of genre television with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the timeless teenage drama that chronicled coming of age through the conquest of literal monsters, big and, on at least one occasion, very very small. Twenty years later, Buffy is still an absolute delight to watch, charting the long-haul coming of age of a group of beloved characters from the angst of high school to the disappointments of early adulthood. At the same time, it’s a thrilling monster series, delivering one hellish creature after the next with fantastic practical effects and pure passion for genre storytelling. Buffy is my OG binge, long before the term became a thing. I think I used to call it “marathoning Buffy,” watching the seasons back to back on my well-worn DVDs. Even so, it never grows old. — Haleigh Foutch

Twin Peaks

Image via ABC

Streaming on: Hulu and Netflix

While there’s certainly never been a better time to mainline David Lynch’s landmark network series (as well as its jaw-dropping revival run), you certainly don’t need much more of a reason to watch than for the series’ unique combo of semi-traditional and propulsive genre pleasure and pure Lynch-brand surrealism. Led by Kyle Maclachlan at his charmer height and nestled in a magical realist dreamscape somewhere in the foggy pacific northwest, Twin Peaks is likely the most accessible of Lynch’s oeuvre, but it’s also possibly his most personal. Emotionally affecting and deceptively deep beneath the glittering madness, if Twin Peaks isn’t quite Lynch at his best, it’s certainly at his most iconic. — Aubrey Page

The Haunting of Hill House

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Image via Netflix

Streaming on: Netflix

Hush and Gerald’s Game filmmaker Mike Flanagan delivers his most ambitious Netflix project yet (and that’s really saying something when you’re talking about someone who successfully adapted Gerald’s Game) with The Haunting of Hill House. Inspired by Shirley Jackson’s seminal ghost story, the series carries over almost none of Jackson’s narrative (though occasionally too much of her prose), and focuses instead on the haunted lives of the withering Crain family. Bouncing back and forth between the summer the Crain’s spent in the titular haunted mansion and the years of grief and family trauma they endured in the aftermath. Flanagan has proven in previous works that he’s got a knack for upsetting visuals and well-composed scares, but his great success in The Haunting of Hill House is the way he ties the scares into a rich, intertwining tale of family tinged with tragedy. Led by a spectacular ensemble, the series veers between emotional revelation and moments of horror that give you full-body chills. It’s the most moving and honest portrayal of mortality and grief this side of Six Feet Under, but it’ll give you a whole lot more nightmares. — Haleigh Foutch

Archer

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Image via FX

Streaming on: Hulu

It’s rare that a TV show runs for seven seasons (and counting) and remains fresh, but Archer is consistently hilarious, stylish, and surprising. Binge-watching the FX series is ideal as creator Adam Reed is incredibly fond of frequent callback jokes or running gags. Watching H. Jon Benjamin’s highly skilled and incredibly incompetent spy bumble his way through various missions is a delight each and every time. The show also has a penchant for reinventing itself a season at a time, focusing on one long story arc for the duration of an entire season, which also makes binge-watching this animated series an out and out pleasure. Seriously, Archer is basically one giant joy-manufacturing machine. – Adam Chitwood

Westworld

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Image via HBO

Streaming on: HBO Max

God knows, the tantalizing mysteries of Westworld were delicious when doled out at a weekly pace and it was a delight to have enough time between each chapter to work out the pieces of the puzzle Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy lovingly crafted. That said, the series also rewards tearing through the episodes, especially as a rewatch that allows you to see the full scope of the twisting, time-bending narrative. Set in an Old West theme park where robots are at human disposal for whatever dark urges they may possess, Westworld is a pitch-perfect hybrid of pulpy fantasy and cerebral sci-fi, packing in HBO’s signature sex and death spectacle alongside a heavy dose of complex brain-twisters, and whether you’re watching it week to week or all in one go, both vantage points offer new facets to appreciate. — Haleigh Foutch

community
Image via NBC

Streaming on: Hulu and Netflix

Sure, we got our six seasons, but we’re still waiting on that movie. In the meantime, a Community binge watch is always a delight. Dan Harmon‘s irreverent comedy series had its ups and downs over the seasons, but it was always one of the sharpest and most unusual comedies on television, and it never shied from skewering the conventions of the half-hour comedy structure or completely shattering the mold altogether. Ostensibly about a study group at a consummately unimpressive community college, Community waltzes through genres with complete chameleon freedom, but never loses sight over the long term arcs. Ultimately, binge-watching Community kind of feels like hanging out with a group of your weirdest friends, and what’s not great about that? — Haleigh Foutch

Castle Rock

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Image via Hulu

Streaming on: Hulu

Castle Rock pays homage to the master of horror, Stephen King, by telling stories within his created world, populated by his famous sometimes infamous characters, locations, and supernatural forces. This is not a simple wink-and-nudge kind of homage but rather an original tale that feels like it came from the pages of a King story itself. Longtime fans of King’s work will find themselves pulling double duty by trying to keep track of all the story and character references while also keeping up with the fantastic mystery at the core of Castle Rock. More casual fans might just discover that they really like all the little nods and references, ultimately deciding they’d like to dig into King’s collected works a bit more. That’s a win-win. Showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason sure know how to craft a King-ly story, and J.J. Abrams is no slouch when it comes to unpacking the mystery box.

Like many of King’s tales, Castle Rock has a dark mystery, and a darker evil, at the center of a small town. The main crux of the mystery story in this first season centers on the disappearance of young Henry Deaver back in 1991, and the current appearance of Skarsgard’s The Kid in 2018. It’s that simple. But like any King story, the real meaning is found not just in the mystery but in how the people involved in it react to events, how they treat each other, and ultimately how they’re judged for their actions. Castle Rock is a can’t-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries.  — Dave Trumbore

Weeds

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Image via Showtime

Streaming on: Netflix

Before binge-watching was a thing, there was Weeds, Showtime’s half-hour dark comedy about a suburban single mother who turns to dealing and selling weed as a source of income. Mary-Louise Parker is endlessly watchable in the lead role, and it’s no surprise that creator/showrunner Jenji Kohan would go on to create another highly binge-able show in Orange Is the New Black. Weeds was unique for a half-hour series, regularly taking ambitious leaps in story and focusing as much on shocking plot twists as it did on characters. Some say it never should have left the suburban location, but there’s still quality to be found in the later seasons of the series when the Botwin family took their empire on the road. – Adam Chitwood

Broadchurch (Season 1)

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Image via BBC America

Streaming on: Netflix

A young boy in a quiet English coastal town goes missing, and then is found dead on the beach. From there, the villagers of Broadchurch see all of their worlds turned upside down by the investigation into the killer, who belonged to this tight-knit community. Broadchurch’s success, at least in its first season, is in the way its crime story comes second to the character drama it dives into, thanks to an exceptional cast. From the two sparring detectives (played by David Tennant and Olivia Colman) to the grieving mother (Jodie Whittaker) trying to pull her family back from the brink, the series’ picturesque setting is juxtaposed sharply with the darkness within it, leading to a shocking and brutal conclusion (that should have ideally ended the series). — Allison Keene

Rick and Morty

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Image via Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Streaming on: Hulu

There are pros and cons to bingeing Rick and Morty. On the pro side, it’s a sometimes painfully hilarious series that delivers a crazy amount of laughs per episode along with surprisingly robust character arcs. On the con side, you may break your brain. Rick and Morty is hard sci-fi with sharp edges, and the bingeing pace can make it hard to keep up with one mind-bending concept after the next. The thing is, you won’t be able to help yourself. While it’s fun to sit with an episode for a while to break down the layers and implications of everything that buzzes by on-screen in each tight half-hour episode, the series is so propulsive, engaging, and utterly twisted, you just can’t ignore the compulsion to hit play on the next bit of insanity. — Haleigh Foutch

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