With countless streaming sites housing a wide variety of engrossing and captivating content, figuring out your next TV binge can be quite daunting. Deciding what show to dive into is no simple task, as a plethora of programs are vying for your attention, and it can be difficult narrowing down your options. In recent years, television has nearly surpassed the silver screen in popularity, with the medium becoming accessible and affordable for viewers through streaming services, basic cable, and mobile apps you can use on the go. From sci-fi thrillers to crime dramas, comedies to cult classics, TV shows have once again risen to prominence and reign as the ultimate source of entertainment.
Whether you’re looking for a good laugh and want to watch a reverse Cinderella tale centering on the riches-to-rags Rose family in Schitt’s Creek (which needs to be a movie itself by now), check out the trouble-prone adolescents of Hawkins, Indiana in the smash hit Netflix series Stranger Things, or follow notorious chemistry teacher Walter White as he transforms into a ruthless antihero in Breaking Bad, the small screen is not lacking in provocative programs. With the pandemic and people working from home, binge-watching is more popular than ever, and usually the best series to binge are those which have already finished putting out episodes, or will soon; that way, you don't have to wait a year for some resolution and closure, and can binge away. These are some of the best TV shows to binge-watch right now.
MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAY
9/9 Stranger Things
With the heavily-anticipated fourth season set to make its premiere this summer, fans of the sci-fi horror series Stranger Things can catch up with the trouble-prone misfits of Hawkins, Indiana before the critically-acclaimed show returns. The mega-hit drama centers on Eleven, a girl with psychokinetic powers who shows up to the small fictional town shortly after local boy Will Byers disappears; she joins forces with Will’s close-knit pals to assist them in their efforts of tracking him to a frightening alternate dimension known as “the upside down.”
Related: Stranger Things: How the Netflix Series Pays Tribute to 80s Horror
Series creators the Duffer Brothers set the program during the 1980s, infusing references to the pop culture of that decade while drawing inspiration from Stephen King novels, John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg and Wes Craven films and video games like Silent Hill and The Last of Us. Netflix’s Stranger Things has been a critical and commercial hit, earning an international fan base while being the recipient of Primetime Emmy Awards, Critics’ Choice Television Awards and American Film Institute Awards.
8/9 Schitt’s Creek
Created and starring beloved Canadian father/son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, the renowned sitcom Schitt’s Creek follows the formerly wealthy Rose family’s hilarious trials and tribulations, as they relocate to the titular town after losing their business and fortune. The younger Levy came up with the idea after he wondered how affluent families, as frequently depicted on American reality television, would react if they lost all their money; he told Out, “I had been watching some reality TV at the time and was concentrating on what would happen if these wealthy families would lose everything. Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?”
The dynamite sitcom (which just kept getting better and better, until sweeping the Emmys its last year) features the additional talent of Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, and Emily Hampshire, all of whom portray colorful and endearing characters in Schitt's Creek, and its appearance on Netflix led to the show’s rise in popularity and a cult following.
7/9 The Wire
Heavily regarded as one of the best TV shows on HBO and of all time, the lauded crime drama series The Wire takes place in Baltimore, Maryland and focuses on the drug scene of the city as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement. Each of its five seasons introduces a different institution of Baltimore and its relationship to the police force, while retaining characters and progressing storylines from the previous seasons; the five subjects, in chronological order are: the illegal drug trade, the port system, the city government and bureaucracy, education and schools, and the print news medium.
The Wire creator David Simon expressed that despite being framed as a crime drama, the show is, “really about the American city, and how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed.”
Netflix’s esteemed biographical crime drama Narcos tells the riveting story of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine; the series details his interactions with drug lords, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents determined to see him behind bars, and various opposition entities. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura delivers a star-making performance as Escobar, with The A.V. Club lauding his layered and powerful portrayal, writing, “While the show never soft-pedals the havoc Escobar created, it makes him surprisingly sympathetic, thanks in part to Moura’s shred, affecting performance.”
The three season show earned widespread praise for its depiction of the history surrounding the drug lord, and fellow co-stars Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal also received appreciation for their roles as the tenacious DEA agents hot on his heels. A companion series starring Diego Luna and Michael Peña, Narcos: Mexico, debuted in 2018.
Created, written, and starring the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the British dramedy Fleabag centers on the free-spirited and sexually liberated title character, who attempts to cope with life in London while trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy. The protagonist often breaks the fourth wall in order to provide exposition, internal monologues, and entertaining commentary to the audience, and is adapted from Waller-Bridge’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe one-woman play of the same name.
Both seasons of Fleabag were met with widespread critical acclaim, with each garnering a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score and earning numerous awards and accolades; Waller-Bridge’s performance won the talented actress a Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy Award, and British Academy Television Awards (among a slew of more honors). According to Metacritic’s aggregate of decade-end lists, Fleabag was the second-highest ranked show of the 2010s, and remains an adored comedy staple.
Based on novelist Elmore Leonard’s stories and characters, the Western crime drama Justified was one of the best original TV shows on FX. Justified stars the great Timothy Olyphant as hardened deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is reassigned to his childhood home in the poor, rural coal mining towns of eastern Kentucky and must combat the criminals and familiar faces he grew up with. His unconventional enforcement of justice often makes him a target to lawbreakers (both new and old foes) and leads to his reputation as a problem child to his U.S. Marshals Service superior.
Leonard praised the casting of Olyphant as Raylan, describing the actor as “the kind of guy I saw when I wrote his lines,” and ranked Justified as one of the best adaptations of his work. Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter, and Nick Searcy also appear in the absorbing series, which throughout its run earned commendations for its compelling performances, direction, and outstanding writing. The series concluded in 2015 after 6 seasons and 78 episodes, but FX recently announced that Olyphant will return for the sequel limited series Justified: City Primeval.
3/9 Peaky Blinders
Featuring a dazzling ensemble cast led by Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, and Tom Hardy, the British gangster drama Peaky Blinders focuses on the exploits of the Peaky Blinders crime gang in the direct aftermath of the First World War. The fictional gang is loosely inspired by the real urban street gang of the same name, who were a dominating force in the city of Birmingham, England from the 1890s to the 1910s.
Related: 12 of the Best British TV Shows of All Time
Creator Steven Knight’s family lived in Birmingham, and growing up was told stories about their childhoods and the violent lives of the infamous gang members, being informed on everything from how they would dress, what they did and how they acted, people’s feelings towards them and what life was like during that period in history. Peaky Blinders has been heralded by critics, with Den of Geek calling the series “the most intelligent, stylish and engrossing BBC drama in ages.” The sixth and final season premiered in February, with a spin-off film currently in the works.
2/9 Twin Peaks
Mark Frost and David Lynch created the 1990 mystery-horror serial drama Twin Peaks, which centers on an investigation by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (portrayed by the splendid Kyle MacLachlan) as he teams up with local Sheriff Harry S. Truman to solve the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The series is considered a landmark turning point that changed television, and is often listed as one of the greatest TV programs of all time.
Frost wanted to tell “a sort of Dickensian story about multiple lives in a contained area that could sort of go perpetually” and the show was originally supposed to be set in the Plains region of North Dakota before opting for a Pacific Northwest setting. Twin Peaks was shockingly canceled after two seasons in 1991, but went on to develop a cult following and widespread appreciation from the media; following a 25-year hiatus, the show returned for an experimental and successful third season at Showtime in 2017.
1/9 Breaking Bad
AMC’s groundbreaking neo-Western crime drama Breaking Bad was created and produced by Vince Gilligan, and famously follows dispirited high-school chemistry teacher Walter White who turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s financial future after he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. The series stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn, and deep dives into how a fatal diagnosis can irrevocably impact the lives of these people and their loved ones, while shining a light on their own wavering morality.
The revered drama concluded after five seasons, with the series finale being one of the most-watched cable shows on American television. Breaking Bad received unanimous widespread praise during its run, and in 2013 entered the Guinness World Recordsas the most critically-acclaimed TV show of all time. The hit show spawned the prequel series Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk, and the Netflix sequel film El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, in which Aaron Paul reprised his role of Jesse Pinkman.