Essential Netflix: Binge-Worthy Shows to Get You Through the Rest of Winter
We are reaching the final stretch of gloom, you guys. I know, it’s hard, but fortunately there’s Netflix to get you through. Below in alphabetical order are my favorite Netflix binges to get you through the rest of winter and into a glorious spring.
13 Reasons Why
I have to admit, I kind of avoided this one for awhile thinking it was a show for the YA audience. Nope, couldn’t have been more wrong. 13 Reasons Why takes us through the last days of Hannah, a teenager who commits suicide and leaves behind a “note” in the form of 13 tapes, each one laying blame to one of the parties she holds responsible. The tapes get passed around to the 13, who have to live with the guilt of their actions while also deciding whether or not to pass the tapes along to the next person in the chain. Throw in the potential multimillion dollar lawsuit that could be brought upon the school for its failure to protect Hannah, and this series becomes a stark look into who and what is responsible when a child takes their own life. Kate Walsh gives an amazing performance as Hannah’s mother, wading through her grief while trying to answer the question staring her in the face: why?
Okay, so I feel like American Vandal is a brilliant show hiding in a stupid facade. However, one show into it, husband and I found ourselves sitting around spouting our whodunit theories. It truly is one of the best true-crime satires I’ve ever seen. Focused around a high school burnout who has been accused of spray painting falluses on 27 cars, I challenge you to not walk around asking, “Who drew the dicks?” even one episode in.
Better Call Saul
This one is for real, y’all, and not just because I love me some Kyle Chandler (clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose). Told through a combination of present day scenes and flashbacks, Bloodlines weaves the twisted tale of a family of adult siblings brought back together to deal with the black sheep and a web of family secrets. Throw in Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini, and Ben Mendelsohn, you’ll find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of the Rayburn family that you just hope to get out of alive.
Perhaps the best TV show ever created. I devoured it.
Freaks and Geeks
Y’all know I LOVE me some Gilmore Girls! This is my series of choice to have playing in the background while I’m writing my posts (only because I’ve seen the series all the way through about 15 times). Despite its pop-culture heavy content, Gilmore Girls has held up over the years — except perhaps some of the fashion choices. I missed this show when it was on network TV, when I probably would have related to Rory (the show began airing in 2000), and I skipped right to Lorelei as my spirit animal. The relationships make the show special, and those are timeless (even if the fashion isn’t).
The Good Place
OMG, I was so excited when this show came onto Netflix! I have now seen the entire show three times through. I watched the first run on TV by myself. Then I was so excited that I forced my husband to watch it on Netflix (he loved it). Finally, I watched it again with my mother on my most recent Ohio visit. When lazy, entitled, selfish, Arizona woman Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) enters “Heaven,” she’s amazed – but soon discovers that due to a mixup, she was incorrectly assigned. Instead of informing the authorities, she decides to try (with the help of her new friends) to become a better person and earn her place in Heaven. And of course, Ted Danson is amazing, brilliant, and handsome. Probably my favorite comedy since Parks & Rec went off the air.
House of Cards
I know. I know. Kevin Spacey is a bad dude. He’s a bad dude in the show, though, so I feel like I can still watch it. Plus, Robin Wright is a damn goddess. She should not be punished for the bad behavior of her costar. This is the first show in years where I YELLED at the television. It has slumps in season 3 and picks up steam again in season 4, but the show as a whole is well worth sitting through the slower moments.
Jon Hamm. I’ve said enough.
Orange is the New Black
First of all, Jason Bateman can do no wrong. Can we just get that out there? Secondly, Laura Linney is a damn goddess and I will throw down with anyone who says otherwise. Seriously, though, this drama hits the ground running into the life of a money launderer and his family who move from Chicago to, you guessed it, the Ozarks and are forced to try to clean $8 million in three months. Punishment for failure? Death by Mexican drug cartel. With twists that you’ll never see coming and a masterful performance by Julia Garner as Ruth, this series is not for the faint of heart and packs a dramatic punch.
Parks & Recreation
This is my go to, all time favorite anytime show. It bumped The Office which bumped Friends. There are so many great things about this show, it’s hard for me to list them all. The first season is kind of weak, seeming to make Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope in the image of Michael Scott from The Office. However, once they found their stride, this show became one of the funniest, most heartfelt sitcoms of the last 20 years. Plus, there’s Chris Pratt, Audrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Retta, Jim O’Heir, and, oh yes, Nick Offerman as the stern and mustachioed Ron Swanson — how could you lose?
Now, Portlandia is weird. The first time I tried to watch this series, I just couldn’t get into it. However, on my second go round, I found it quite entertaining. I’ve never been to Portland, but just imagining Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s version makes for hours of fun. My personal favorite is the bookstore ladies, but don’t just take my word for it, check it out yourself.
Yaaasss, as a child of the ‘80s, I can get down with this show. There’s something so…home-like to this show for me, it’s like being embraced by my own childhood (while simultaneously being scared by things jumping out at me.) A kid named Will gets trapped in a strange Poltergeist-esque world (think the Jabberwocky mirror from Alice in Wonderland). His mom — a stunningly vulnerable Wynona Ryder — and local sheriff — hot dad-bod himself, David Harbour — try desperately to find him. In the meantime, his Goonies-like gang of friends conduct their own investigation and stumble upon their own Firestarter-esque girl (Millie Bobby Brown). Enter Matthew Modine as the mad scientist and holy crap, do we have a story. Justice for Barb! (you’ll get that later. Go watch the show!)
Please keep in mind, these are only the shows that I’ve actually gotten around to watching. There are so, so, so many more shows that I need to watch! Jessica Jones, Atypical, Sense8, The OA – the list goes on forever. If you’d like recommendations for more, please send me a message or email me – I would love to hear from you. Also, if you have recommendations that didn’t make the list, I’d love to know about those as well!