Great news: it’s the time of year where it’s completely socially acceptable to spend any and all free time curled up in front of the TV with a cup of hot cocoa and keep warm with some of the best that TV has to offer. Luckily, December has that in spades with 10 returning programs that we can’t wait to catch up on in time for new episodes later this month. Among our recommendations: Amazon’s award-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, J.K. Simmons’ sci-fi spy drama Counterpart, the return of the animated superheroes of Young Justice, and more.
What it is: In 1950s New York City, Midge Maisel’s (Rachel Brosnahan) husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), admits to having an affair and leaves her. Rather than getting back, she gets even, and decides to pursue his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian — which makes sense, because she was the funny one all along.
Why you should watch it: Certainly the runaway comedy hit of the past year, Maisel won top honors at both the Emmys and Golden Globes and is well-positioned to do it again this award season. Brosnahan’s star-making performance (and her scene-stealing costars like Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein) anchor a series that is smart, funny, and full of heart — not to mention super timely. Quite simply, it’s a home run. Season 2 streams in full on Amazon Prime Dec. 5.
Where to watch: Amazon
Commitment: Approx. 7.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From creator Justin Marks, Counterpart is a sci-fi drama centered on Howard Silks, a low-level employee at a nondescript agency in Berlin who comes to learn his employer is actually guarding and operating an underground tunnel that connects to a parallel world that mirrors his own. The catch is that everyone has an identical-but-different counterpart in this parallel dimension, and his is a top-level spy intimately involved in the brewing war between both sides of the tunnel.
Why you should watch it: Counterpart is probably one of the great new shows that you’re not watching — and this is the perfect time to change that. Among the best-reviewed dramas of the past year, this espionage thriller is tense, gripping, and altogether unexpected in the best of ways. Plus, J.K. Simmons is in top form, pulling double duty as the central Howard and Howard Prime and offering a revealing study of cause, effect, and how our choices have repercussions out of our immediate control. Season 2 premieres on Starz Dec. 9.
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Based on the beloved Archie comic and from creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, this iteration of Sabrina the teenage witch has a dark and spooky twist, charting the titular witch’s (Kiernan Shipka) coming of age as she’s forced to choose between human normalcy and her magic’s haunting lore.
Why you should watch it: Sure, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may have just made its big Netflix debut this Halloween, but will premiere an hourlong Christmas special, “A Midwinter’s Tale,” this month. That makes it a perfect time to binge the first 10 episodes of season 1, which was an immediate sensation with lovers of Riverdale and the original Melissa Joan Hart–starring series alike. “A Midwinter’s Tale” premieres Dec. 14.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From creators Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan, Timeless stars Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter as a trio (a professor, a soldier, and an engineer) tasked with traveling through to save the world — and history — as we know it.
Why you should watch it: Christmas is coming early for the devoted fans of NBC’s sci-fi action drama that was resuscitated not once but twice. Though the network canceled the series after its first season, it quickly reversed the decision days later. The cancellation after season 2 stuck, but after more fan outcry NBC decided to bring the series back for a two-hour installment to wrap up loose storylines. Thrilling, entertaining, and featuring dazzling set and costume design pieces across its many time periods, Timeless is the kind of series that lives up to its name. Catch its anticipated final installment on Dec. 20.
Commitment: Approx. 18 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage leave their mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this hit Hulu series based on the comic of the same name, which follows a motley group of super-powered teens who unite to stop their supervillian parents.
Why you should watch it: By this point, you know what you’re getting with an MCU project — but Runaways still manages to have a few surprises up its sleeve. Led by a cast of a excellent young actors and featuring a unique spin on the hero-villain narrative (and exploring relationships between friends and family in the process), the streaming series is a welcome addition to the already well-trod Marvel empire. We can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store when it premieres Dec. 21.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Those poor, poor Baudelaire orphans — always getting caught up in events that are, well, unfortunate. Netflix’s whimsically dark series follows Violet, Klaus, and Sunny who, after their parents’ death, are put in the care of an evil distant cousin, Count Olaf, who’s set on getting his hands on their sizable inheritance.
Why you should watch it: Neil Patrick Harris is doing more than just stealing the show (as he did for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother) — he is the show, making each of Olaf’s master-of-disguise getups more beguiling than the one before. It’s just an added bonus that the sets, music, and just about everything else about this series are technically dazzling. Season 3 premieres in full Jan. 1.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 13 hours 9for the first two seasons)
Why you should watch it: We already expect the Johnson family of black-ish to fearlessly deep dive into hot topics with heart and humor, and grown-ish carries the torch on to the college campus. Plus, if Yara Shahidi’s take on Zoey in the former series didn’t make it clear enough, she gives an absolutely star-making turn as the leading lady on this spinoff. Season 2 premieres Jan. 2.
Commitment: Approx. 4.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: The city of Gotham was a mess well before Batman had anything to do with it, and this Fox hit depicts exactly how and why in this origin story of Commissioner Gordon’s rise to prominence and Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman — and the varied ne’er do wells they dealt with along the way.
Why you should watch it: Now that Gotham is rounding the bend into its fifth and final season, this is the perfect time to binge and catch up on all the DC Comics fun of this gritty and endlessly entertaining series. An assortment of characters both known and new, it’s especially grounded by Benjamin McKenzie’s take on a young Det. James Gordon. Season 5 premieres Jan. 3.
Commitment: Approx. 65 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: Before Runaways was charting the lives of teen superheroes coming into their own, there was the beloved (and until recently, much-missed) Young Justice, a Cartoon Network animated series from Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman that follows teen superheroes and sidekicks as they try to prove their worthiness of the Justice League.
Why you should watch it: It is with a great sigh of relief that the fan-favorite Young Justice returns from its elongated hiatus for an adventure-filled third season, titled Young Justice: Outsiders. This outing has the likes of Nightwing, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and others taking on meta-human teen trafficking, and even appears to have the team venturing off into space. Season 3 premieres on streaming service DC Universe on Jan. 4.
Commitment: Approx. 19 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: To reveal very much about the twists and turns of this complex cat-and-mouse drama would spoil the fun, but the impetus of the series is rooted in its pilot, in which FBI agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is called to a peculiar case where the highly pursued fugitive Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turns himself in and demands to speak to her — and only her. Promising that he has intel on some of the world’s most dangerous underground terrorists, they build an unlikely partnership.
Why you should watch it: The guarantee for first-time viewers of the long-running and much-loved Blacklist is that you’re in for one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Led by a stellar performance from Spader as the central criminal mastermind, the series has time and again reinvented itself and upped the ante with each outing. It’s a safe bet that season 6, which premieres Jan. 4, will do the same.
Commitment: Approx. 80 hours (for the first five seasons)