I enjoy binge watching TV on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. But like all good bingers, I don’t always know what to watch next. So here’s a list of various shows. I can’t guarantee they’re all available on Netflix, because Netflix eliminated Battlestar Galactica while we were mid-binge, but hey, nothing’s sure in life but death and taxes.
8. Battlestar Galactica. I am a Star Trek fan. Back in the days before everyone and their mother was watching space movies, that meant that I was a nerd. Everyone liked Star Wars, but only nerds went ahead and fell in love with Star Trek. I’ve watched every franchise, most to completion, and I own all the movies. Even Star Trek 5. But, when I first watched an episode of Battlestar, I was blown away. It’s like Star Trek, but without the utopia and gentle wisdom of Captain Picard. I’m not going to say it’s BETTER than Star Trek, but I will say that it’s better for binging. Star Trek episodes are much more intellectual and are generally stand alone. Battlestar episodes have lots of cliffhangers and way more action.
PG elements: Oh, this is a hard PG-13. Some graphic sex scenes, though no nudity. Language PG: they use the substitute “frak” for “fuck,” and they use it a LOT. Violence possibly R: Violence in every episode, fist fights, gun fights, fighter pilots. I mean, the premise is that killer robots are trying to annihilate all humans. It’s gonna be violent. Lots of pretty actors getting ugly wounds.
Feminist bonus? Oh, the female characters on this show are so strong it's mind blowing.
7. Last Man on Earth. There’s only 2 seasons of this, so it may not have enough material for a binge, but for busy parents, at least you’re not committing to months of viewing. This show is quirky, hilarious, well written and well acted. It’s also incredibly quotable. Bonus: If you enjoyed Kristen Schaal in Flight of the Conchords, you’ll love her in Last Man on Earth. I’ll be happy once it’s back on the air this fall, but sad to only watch 1 episode at a time.
Availability: Both seasons are on Hulu, but I’m not sure if it’s free Hulu or just Hulu Plus.
PG elements: Lots of sexual references but no graphic sex. Language totally PG. No violence.
Feminist bonus? It passes the Bechdel test and the women characters are well developed.
6. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I fell in love with this show on about the second episode. Ellie Kemper brings a great energy to the role of a woman who just spent the last 15 years locked in a bunker and is now fulfilling all her 7th grade dreams in New York City. We aren’t currently subscribed to Netflix, but as soon as we are, I’m binging the second season.
Availability: I believe both seasons are on Netflix now
PG elements: I’d probably watch this show with my daughter, if she were about 10 years old or older. Kimmy Schmidt’s social development stopped in 7th grade, so she doesn’t swear. No graphic sex. No violence
Feminist bonus? Kimmy Schmidt isn't exactly a feminist, but she is independent and "unbreakable"
5. Catastrophe. Oh man, this show is wickedly funny! The story of how a one week fling turned into a successful (?) marriage, Catastrophe is funny, quirky, and occasionally touching. Episodes often end on a cliffhanger, and both seasons end with a killer cliffhanger. The acting is great. The writing is hilarious.
Availability: Amazon Prime, both seasons
PG elements: Oh, this show should be rated R. There’s bad language. There’s a LOT of graphic sex, although no nudity (except maybe butts). There’s no violence. There’s a LOT of very sexual humor.
Feminist bonus? Not really
4. Dexter: Now, really only the first 3 seasons of Dexter are bingeworthy. I agree with most critics and fans that the show really gets bad after that. We watched to the bitter end, but it was pretty bitter. This is the story of a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. He’s a psychopath who lives in Miami and struggles to maintain his cover while sustaining his hobby. It’s surprisingly funny.
Availability: I believe we watched this on Netflix
PG elements: Definitely R. There is a lot of female nudity and a lot of extremely graphic sex. Language is also very bad. Huge amounts of violence: Dexter kills and dismembers someone in almost every episode.
Feminist bonus? Nope
3. Fringe: I was an enormous Fringe fan from the third episode, so I didn’t binge watch this originally. However, last year Husband and I started re-watching and it soon turned into our favorite binge. Fringe has lots of little details for attentive viewers. In every episode there is a man called the Observer, but he isn’t officially introduced until well into the first season. It’s very challenging to find him. Also, in the first season each episode has an hint or reference for the next episode. In addition, Fringe is just a really great show. The characters are phenomenal, the writing is great, and the themes are fascinating. The premise is that there is a shadowy group of terrorists using fringe science (from HG Wells writings to modern day cutting edge experiments) to destroy our world. Olivia Dunham is the FBI agent tasked with investigating these events, and she quickly assembles a bizarre and brilliant team. But they aren’t bizarre because they dress weird: they are bizarre because one of them is actually insane and the other, well, I can’t give too much away!
Availability: I can’t remember if we watched this on Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus.
Genre: Sci-fi, drama
PG elements: There is a lot of violence but it’s not worse than anything you can see on CBS at 8 pm. The language is PG. There’s very little sex. There are, however, a lot of gross images: people dissolving, people exploding, people’s orifices closing up.
Feminist bonus? Agent Dunham can kick your ass and rescue herself, but also has emotions and tenderness. Strong well rounded woman character? Yes please!
2. Doctor Who: Begin with the 9th Doctor, which is Season, what, like 111? This show has been on forever. But for a binge, you’ll want to start with the 9th Doctor, the latest “reboot” of the show. We started watching this soon after my daughter was born and we burned through it like crazy. If you don’t know the premise of Doctor Who, then get out from under your rock and watch it! He’s a Time Lord who travels through space time in his T.A.R.D.I.S. with various human companions.
Availability: Netflix and Amazon Prime
PG elements: This is almost G. There’s some violence, but no bad language or sex. If my daughter were old enough to follow the conversations (she’s only 4), I’d watch it with her. She’d probably find it boring now, but in a couple of years I think she’d like it.
Feminist bonus? The Doctor treats all life with great respect. That's a great message to put out there!
1. The Grinder: This show is only 1 season (though I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll get picked up by Hulu or Amazon or Netflix). It’s a short binge but well worth it. You can burn through this in a weekend and it’ll be a VERY happy weekend! Rob Lowe and Fred Savage play brothers and have just the best chemistry. Rob Lowe is an actor who has just left his insanely successful lawyer TV show, and comes to live with his brother, Fred Savage, who is an actual lawyer in a father-son law firm. The writing is very meta: each episode opens with a scene from Lowe’s TV show, and then goes on to mirror and mock that scene. Rob Lowe is a very convincing fish out of water, and Fred Savage’s frustration never gets old.
PG elements: There are some sexual references, but no graphic sex. The language is fine. There’s no violence. I’d almost call this G, but the themes are probably a little too mature for kids.
Feminist bonus? Not really