Binge Guide

10 TV Shows You Should Binge-Watch This December

by | December 1, 2015 | Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Dark skies by 4:00 p.m., temperatures below 30 degrees, and — best of all — crazed shoppers at every turn. Fortunately, there is no shortage of quality television to watch over the holidays, so to go with your December shopping list, Rotten Tomatoes has prepared your December bingeing list — a mix of new shows, returning shows, and what’s fresh on DVD and Blu-ray — some naughty, some nice!

Marvel's Jessica Jones: Season 1 (2015) 94%

What it is: The most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Jessica Jones, about a broken superhero (Krysten Ritter) who runs her own P.I. business. Battling PTSD, our anti-hero finds herself struggling to defeat Kilgrave (David Tennant), a super-villain who has inflicted unconscionable harm upon countless innocents.

Why you should watch it: Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a dark, psychologically complex, and thoughtful meditation on what it means to be a hero. It is also engrossing, action-packed, compassionate, and visceral. Jones is binge-worthy for a number of reasons, but what elevates this well-executed comic adaptation is having a powerful female centered alliance at its core.

Where to watch: Netflix

Commitment: About 11 hours.

Transparent: Season 1 (2014) 98%

What it is: Jeffrey Tambor plays a father who wants to live his life as a woman and needs to tell his adult children.

Why you should watch it: Tambor’s turn as Maura is award-worthy, but what is most surprising is how it’s just one facet of this family dramedy. All the members of the Pfefferman clan are struggling with their own demons and each storyline is full and fascinating to follow. It’s a study of faith, family, and dysfunction that is well worth the day or two it takes to binge-watch it.

Where to watch: The complete first season is streaming on Amazon Prime now, with season two scheduled to drop on Dec. 11.

Commitment: 10 hours for both seasons.

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1 (2015) 76%

What it is: A prequel to the AMC hit The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead begins in Los Angeles at the dawn of the zombie outbreak as the government employs survival tactics that fuel the apocalyptic fire.

Why you should watch it: Even though fans know what’s coming, somehow the prequel is even scarier than The Walking Dead. All of the shortcomings of the human race — fear, abuse of power, false trust — become factors in the death of society, as one already-dysfunctional family must stick together to survive. It’s not just zombies they must battle, though, but also the failing system that was designed to protect them.

Where to watch: AmazonGoogle Play, iTunes, Playstation Video, Vudu, and Xfinity (with subscription). Season one is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Commitment: Five hours.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10 (2015) 100%

What it is: A group of five slacker friends — known collectively as “The Gang” — run an Irish pub in South Philadelphia and get into all sorts of predicaments because they lack both common sense and social graces.

Why you should watch it: Sunny isn’t a sitcom for everyone; its characters are self-centered, misanthropic, and frequently obnoxious. That said, their resilience in the face of countless defeats is strangely endearing, and their adventures are so outrageous and hilarious that it’s almost therapeutic to watch them scramble through each half hour. With season 11 set to premiere in early January, now’s the perfect time to catch up with the Gang’s insane antics.

Where to watch: The first nine seasons are available to stream on subscription services Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, and you can rent or purchase episodes from all 10 seasons on Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation VideoVudu, and Xbox Video.

Commitment:About 42 hours.

Luther: Season 1 (2010) 91%

What it is: This BBC drama follows a brilliant Detective Chief Inspector (Idris Elba) who finds it difficult to strike a work-life balance as he struggles to toe the line between genius and madness.

Why you should watch it: Elba won a Golden Globe for his performance as DCI Luther, a sexy cross between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, in this gritty character study that adds a new dimension to the cop show genre. Plus, fans of The Affair will enjoy Ruth Wilson in her role as the seductive serial killer Alice Morgan. Catch up in time for season four, which starts on Dec. 17.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, PlayStation Video, Vudu, and Xbox Video. The first three seasons are also available on DVD.

Commitment: 16 hours.

Mozart in the Jungle: Season 1 (2014) 91%

What it is: Based on Blair Tindal’s tell-all book, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, this lighthearted comedy from Amazon Studios shows the inner workings of the contemporary fictitious New York Symphony, led by a young upstart conductor (Gael García Bernal).

Why you should watch it: What makes Roman Coppola’s adaptation of Mozart such a spritely binge is the commanding and hilarious performance by Bernal as Rodrigo (based on the Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel), along with memorable turns by Bernadette Peters as the elegant Symphony manager, Lola Kirke as the oboe-playing ingénue, and Malcolm McDowell as the ousted old-guard maestro.

Where to watch: Season one is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Season two premieres Dec. 30.

Commitment: Five hours.

Hannibal: Season 3 (2015) 98%

What it is: Criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) assists the FBI in apprehending serial killers, but as the job begins to eat away at his mental health, he starts meeting with therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a cannibal who murders rude people and serves them at fancy dinner parties.

Why you should watch it: The third (and likely final) season of the critically acclaimed show comes to Blu-ray December 8. There really isn’t anything quite like Hannibal; it’s a crime procedural and a psychological thriller, filled with horror and just the right dash of romance and comedy.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunesVudu, and on DVD/Blu-ray.

Commitment: 27.5 hours.

Shameless: Season 5 (2015) 92%

What it is: Based on the award-winning BBC series of the same name, Showtime’s hit dramedy stars Oscar winner William H. Macy and tells the story of the scrappy Gallagher kids as they struggle to keep body and soul together despite the constant burden of a dysfunctional alcoholic father.

Why you should watch it: Shameless features a great cast, including a stellar Emmy-award winning performance by the ever-adorable Joan Cusack. Holidays have always been a time for dysfunctional family fun, and nobody does it better than the Gallaghers. Shameless comes back for a sixth season on Jan. 10 so now is the perfect time to binge.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation Video, Showtime Anytime (with cable subscription), Vudu, Xbox Video, and Xfinity (with cable subscription).

Commitment: 60 hours.

Defiance: Season 3 (2015) 80%

What it is: In this western-sci-fi mash-up, humans, aliens, and hybrids all fight for their rights and acceptance, while a human lawkeeper bonds with his adopted Votan (alien) daughter in 2046 Defiance (formerly St. Louis, MO).

Why you should watch it: Defiance’s backstory is wonderfully complex and reads like a lesson in mythology. The humor is addictive and the scenery and creature designs are breathtaking. The show’s inter-species tension is a clear commentary on cultural struggles, but not presented as a lecture on contemporary acceptance. Rather, it throws intense action, soapy character interaction, and some sexy stuff at you. And Grant Bowler (Nolan) is still one hot leading man.

Where to watch: All three seasons are available on Amazon PrimeGoogle Play, iTunes, Playstation Video, and Vudu. Season three hits DVD/Blu-ray on Dec. 22.

Commitment: 26 hours.

Downton Abbey: Season 1 (2010) 95%

What it is: The residents and domestic staff of a grand English country estate deal with household intrigue and societal upheaval in the first decades of the 20th Century.

Why you should watch it: With its lavish setting and British accents, this might look like your typical PBS prestige show at first glance. But Downton Abbey gives equal dramatic weight to the household staff and the Crawley family. Indeed, what makes the show so compulsively watchable is its richly nuanced characters, each of whom are bound by societal conventions but occasionally finds a way to expand their limits.

Where to watch: Seasons one through five are available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunesVudu, and Xbox Video, as well as DVD/Blu-ray. The sixth and final season premieres on PBS on Jan. 3.

Commitment: 43 hours.

  • Nerdbot

    Oh, Hannibal! Your cancellation still hurts.

    • Denial

      What!? They cancel Hannibal? I just watched the full season 2 yesterday and it was awesome! It gives me thrill to watch until the end. I thought the release of season 3 is on June.

      • Nerdbot

        They canceled long ago, sadly. Luckily, the third season finale works just fine as a series finale and if we’re luckier we could get some films to continue the story.

  • Josh Leitzel

    I’d recommend the shows Fargo and The Americans as well for people who have yet to watch either them. But yeah, Jessica Jones and Hannibal are both fantastic shows as well. It’s really a great era of television, and there are still so many series I have yet to get around to watching. And that’s not even including animation. Because if it were, you’d better bet your ass I’d be including Gravity Falls and Rick and Morty on this list.

    • Gandolfication

      The Americans is great…..although I’ve paused for now mid second season (I think because it became un-free for me). Jessica Jones is great. I tired of Hannibal pretty quickly. mads mikkelsen is good, but the rest is sorta boring I though.

      • If you like The Americans and you don’t mind subtitles from a foreign TV show, then I suggest Deutschland 83 on Hulu. It starts off rather amusing then gets quite serious toward the end. It’s only 8 episodes too.

        • Gandolfication

          Thanks. I have to confess that subtitles are usually a no-go for me these days. I would blame it on having 3 kids under the age of 8 (including a newborn), but really it has more to do with having to small a TV and probably post-school laziness. Sounds good though. I always plan to watch stuff like this when I’m ‘older’ except I’m getting there.

          • Well, my son also didn’t like subtitles early on, but he finally grew into it too. It is tedious sometimes, but usually it just takes a few minutes to get used to. I love them. I like hearing it in its original language and seeing their faces when saying it. Sometimes expression speaks louder than words, but I also understand not everyone thinks as I do.

            Good luck though and I hope one day you’ll get to enjoy it. 🙂

            I do have one further suggestion that is an American TV show that may also interest you. If you have Amazon Prime, try watching The Man in the High Castle. That’s like a serious WOW.

          • Gandolfication

            I was reading and watching reviews for this show and thought it sounded and looked pretty good. I tried a month trial of Amazon prime…but couldn’t justify the cost. If they distribute it beyond the Prime membership, then I’ll certainly check it out. I love that there are so many new ‘studios’ making quality programming now. Hulu has been getting in on the game too.

    • Chuck Stone

      I hate the Americans, and couldn’t bear watching another season past season 2. The idea that a 90 pound woman could beat a lifelong fighter, a green beret no less, was just ridiculous. Also it was supposed to be a period piece. As many murders as these people committed would never have gone unnoticed. Especially when FBI agents are murdered.

      • Josh Leitzel

        Those sound like nit-picks to me considering it’s an exaggerated television drama, but hey, if that’s how you feel then whatevs.

        • Chuck Stone

          But that is the whole premise of the show. These spies supposedly going unnoticed, but killing more people than the Manson family. They would have been the most sought after serial killers in America. It’s just ridiculous.

  • podaddy

    Fear the Walking Dead was ok, at best. In addition to Jessica Jones, I’d add Netflix series Daredevil and Bloodline. Definitely The Americans as someone has already noted and MOST definitely Fargo, the best show on TV, hands down. Manhattan is also fantastic and Sundance’s Rectify is probably the one show that gives Fargo a run for its money. Downton Abbey was a great show, but it enjoyed several years of being over hyped…if we’re going to go back five plus years, might as well include the most unheralded great show of all time, The Wire.

    • Gandolfication

      Americans is good, Jessica Jones is good so far, and I want to watch Fargo and Manhattan. I hear and read Daredevil is worth watching.

      And The Wire – but I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it.

      • jimmyleemang

        I have been meaning to watch “the wire” but I have so much other shows that I am watching. 5 seasons is a big commitment lol

        • shawnjenkster

          Worth it… trust me.. great show.

          • picvegita

            One of the greatest!

  • chris230391

    The Leftovers and Fargo. Both shows have been outstanding since their inception. Both can be done in around 20 hours each.

    • Gandolfication

      I’m going to watch Fargo eventually. The movie and the series.
      I passed on the leftovers, although I liked the premise and was more interested since it’s on HBO. But the reviews and such caused me to defer.

      • jimmyleemang

        I really really enjoy “The Leftovers”. Right now I think it is the best thing on TV next to Fargo. I think you should give it a shot. The season finale is this Sunday too

        • chris230391

          Agreed. Top two shows on television at the moment.

          • Cláudia Dourado

            The Leftovers, Fargo, and The Knick.

      • chris230391

        Leftovers is fantastic television and currently my favourite show. Definitely earns a position in my top 10 television dramas ever. You should really give it a shot, at least the first episode .

      • Selassie Pickney

        The Leftovers is awful. Don’t waste your time. They will never tie up all the loose strings because the writers didn’t have a plan going in.

        • Gandolfication

          Thanks! Appreciate that and now won’t bother with that one.

      • 9No

        Give The Leftovers another shot, the reviews are great this season, and I think the show is amazing from the beginning. Love it!

        • Gandolfication

          He could Uber it.

    • Cláudia Dourado

      The Knick is also an exceptional show. One of my all-time favorite tv series.

  • Danbob

    It’s all about LUTHER

    You never realized how formulaic Cop/Murder dramas are until you see one that isn’t. It’s flat out amazing.

  • shawnjenkster

    I have recently watched The Wire, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones start to finish. I am currently looking for another show to start. Do you recommend Gotham, Fargo, True Detective or something else? Also considering restarting Entourage or Weeds bc I only got into a season or so of both.

    • Lisa Anderson-Park

      I recommend Fargo, hands down some of the best writing, originality, and casting I’ve ever seen! I’m extremely picky about what I commit to watching hourly each week since there are so many shows, so little time! This one is so good that having to wait a week for the next episode in S2 is painful. You can binge watch S1 starring Billy Bob Thorton. There is nothing like it. It’s a delicious buffet of comedy, drama, nostalgia, action, murder that is serious about not taking itself too seriously. I’d watch the movie first if you haven’t seen it but not necessary.

    • Cláudia Dourado

      I also recommend Rectify, Six Feet Under, The Knick, The Leftovers, The Americans, Mad Men, Mr. Robot, Deutschland 83, Hannibal, Louie, Sherlock, Friends, Black Mirror, Steins;Gate, and Baccano.

      • Josh Leitzel


        Fuck man, you have some A-class taste right there. Such a freaking great show. And have you heard about the “Beta” version of episode 23 that aired yesterday? It completely changed the course of the second half of the episode and brought them to a completely different world-line. It’s intended to be a build-up to the new Steins;Gate 0 visual novel coming out next week, which details what happened in the beta timeline (the one that sends that video message back in time).

  • Shrike Hyperion

    GOT, Homeland, The Leftovers, Kingdom (Navy St.) Ray Donovan S3. Boom.

  • 412 Sports

    Season 2 of Leftovers (and the final few episodes from s1) makes the initial grind through the despair worth it. The payoff is a series like none other. And yeah, a list w/o Fargo is incomplete.

  • Terry Lynn Corsello

    Person of Interest- a superior show in every way – but start from the beginning! It’s fascinating and watching it in a row you will pick up so much more.

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm is still the most hilarious comedy on Prime.

  • Tom Carrolan

    The Americans is just engrossing from Season 1 onward — evenly so per episode as it builds. Fargo Season 1 is very good and a prerequisite to the great Season 2…

    • Chuck Stone

      The Americans stink. Completely unbelievable. It pissed me off.

  • NameNamerson

    I don’t know if it’s love but Jessica Jones. omg

  • Tiago Goulart

    Watch Hannibal guys!

  • Darren Robinson

    The River
    The Affair
    Big Bang Theory
    Just kidding. Big Bang Theory is awful. On par with 2 and 1/2 Men.

    • You can’t stream the season of the Big Bang Theory. This isn’t a list of favorite shows.

  • Wow. You missed a number of superior shows. The Man in the High Castle, The Americans and Deutschland 83. You should also add HBO’s Rome, which actually has much more substance than Game of Thrones, which I see mentioned further down in the comments.

  • Michael Dean

    Not a mention of “Deadwood” ? How quickly they forget.

  • dawko


  • Coleman Vander Meer Balogh

    William H Macy is not an Oscar winner.

  • Naoyu C. Mi

    You had me ’til you brought up “Defiance”, the only show in your list (I think) that’s been cancelled.

    Watched seasons 1 and half of season 2 and had to quit from boredom.

  • Chuck Stone

    Jessica Jones was the absolutely most engrossing of the bunch on this list. I couldn’t stop watching it. Luther also was fantastic, though I wish Season 4 was out on Netflix instant. BTW all seasons are good. I personally hated Shameless, and thought Sunny was ok. Different strokes I guess.

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