It’s October, so you know what that means — cooler temperatures and shorter days. Perfect for cozying up with a pumpkin spice latte and a new favorite show. Not sure what to binge-watch? Rotten Tomatoes has you covered with juicy drama, ’80s nostalgia, Hollywood glamour, and good ol’-fashioned murder.
What it is: Bemidji, Minnesota, 2006. A mysterious drifter (Billy Bob Thornton) passes through town and, after a chance encounter with a timid insurance salesman (Martin Freeman), engages in a bit of casual violence with unexpected, far-reaching consequences, leaving a tenacious deputy (Allison Tolman) and a policeman from Duluth (Colin Hanks) to sort through the mess.
Why you should watch it: If you’re a fan of the eponymous Coen brothers film that inspired this series, you’ll find the same dark humor, eccentric characters, and existential disquiet here. Yes, there are a few clever nods to the film, but the series stands on its own, thanks to strong writing, an Emmy-winning cast, and a firm directorial hand. Fargo feels like a 9-hour movie, and it might as well be; once you start it, you’ll be hooked.
Where to watch: All ten episodes of season one are available for rent or purchase on Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, and Vudu.
Commitment: About nine hours.
What it is: A complicated affair between a waitress and a teacher — both married — is at the heart of this 2014 drama series that tells the narrative from the separate perspectives of its individual characters.
Why you should watch it: The Rashomon style of circular storytelling (showing alternative versions of the story from each character’s perspective) makes for an interesting brand of television, paired with intense performances from a strong cast. The story gets twistier as it heads toward season one’s controversial ending — and there is no denying that it’s a crazy ride getting there. Season one is Certified Fresh at 95 percent.
Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Playstation Video, Showtime Anytime (with cable subscription), Xfinity (with cable subscription), and Vudu.
Commitment: Ten hours.
What it is: Twenty-something virgin Jane has her life turned upside-down when she is accidentally inseminated with her boss’s sperm.
Why you should watch it: Certified Fresh at 100 percent, this inventive dramedy with a telenovela twist features a strong ensemble cast, spearheaded by its charming lead Gina Rodriguez. True to its telenovela roots, Jane The Virgin is so rife with plot twists and character revelations that practically every episode ends with a cliffhanger. Season two premieres October 12 on The CW.
Where to watch: Season one is currently on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu, and will be coming to Netflix on October 12.
Commitment: 15.5 hours.
What it is: This HBO dramedy follows hot young movie star Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his childhood friends as they make their way through the glitz and grime of Hollywood life.
Why you should watch it: Based on executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s own showbiz experiences, each of the eight seasons is jam-packed with tons of celebrity cameos and thinly veiled industry secrets — and with the Entourage movie out on DVD this week, this is the perfect time to watch. You’ll feel like a Hollywood insider by the time it’s all over.
Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, HBO Go (with cable subscription), iTunes, PlayStation Video, Vudu, Xbox, and Xfinity (with cable subscription).
Commitment: 48 hours.
What it is: Based on the legends of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), Vikings focuses on his rise from farmer to warrior to raider of England and France to King of the Vikings.
Why you should watch it: It features the same gorgeous trappings of other lush history pieces, such as The Tudors and Rome, but as a History production, Vikings feels much more realistic, leaving you with the impression that you now have historic insight into Viking culture and how they might have lived.
Where to watch: Seasons one and two are currently available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, and Vudu. Season three comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on October 6, so now is the perfect time to get caught up on the entire series.
Commitment: About 22 hours to attack the whole thing.
What it is: It’s the 1980s in New Jersey and a middle-class college kid (Craig Roberts) works as an assistant tennis pro at a fancy country club owned by a rich jerk (Paul Reiser).
Why you should watch it: Come for the crimped hair, but stay for the characters. In addition to a breakout performance by the very likeable Roberts as David Meyers, this David Gordon Green-directed dramedy features hilarious turns from Reiser as a moody corporate raider, Ennis Esmer as the sleazy head tennis pro, Jennifer Grey as David’s mom (in perfectly high-waisted ’80s mom jeans), and Richard Kind as David’s father who can sometimes be too honest for his own good.
Where to watch: The pilot is currently available on Amazon. The rest of season one will drop exclusively to Prime members on October 9.
Commitment: 6 hours.
What it is: Da Vinci’s Demons is a historical fantasy drama that follows the adventures of a young and lustful Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley) as he strives to make a name for himself in Renaissance Italy.
Why you should watch it: What it lacks in historical accuracy it makes up for in sexy fun and adventure — not to mention the creative glimpses we get into the workings of Da Vinci’s brilliant mind. The third and final season premieres on October 24, so this is the perfect time to jump in.
Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, Starz Play (with cable subscription), Vudu, and Xfinity (with cable subscription).
Commitment: 18 hours.
What it is: Inspired by classic fairy tales, Grimm puts a supernatural twist on the crime procedural. The show follows Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a detective who discovers that he is a descendant of elite hunters called the “Grimms” who must protect humankind from dark mythological forces.
Why you should watch it: It may have gotten off to a shaky start according to the critics, but season two and three are Fresh at 100 percent. Dark, spooky, and thrilling, Grimm has developed an impassioned niche audience, rewarding its fans with a thoroughly entertaining and fun show that is both humor and horror. If you love tension, splendidly weird and not-so-happy fairy tales, this is the perfect show to catch up on before it returns this fall.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and Xbox.
Commitment: About 50 hours.
What it is: With aspirations of becoming the leader of the free world, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is relegated to the utterly powerless role of Vice President, which — while only a heartbeat away from the excitement and prestige of the Oval Office — is a never ending string of pointless press opps and the frantic damage control that follows.
Why you should watch it: Who doesn’t love, lurve, loooove Julia Louis-Dreyfus? She’s reason number-one to watch this relevant, quick, and brilliantly funny show whose cast, direction, and writing leave you thoroughly entertained — and in awe of just how much a TV comedy can shed light on our political culture. Created by acclaimed British satirist Armando Iannucci, Veep is everything you want a binge to be: hilarious, smart, and endlessly absorbing.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, HBO Go, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, and Xbox.
Commitment: 17.5 hours.
What it is: In this British fish-out-of-water story, Martin Clunes is the misanthropic Doc Martin Ellingham, a hotshot surgeon who gives up his practice to become a small-town physician after developing a fear of blood.
Why you should watch it: A smash for ITV, Doc Martin is just starting to pop onto the radar of American audiences, thanks in large part to the series’ availability on streaming. With a rural backdrop that captures the Brtis’ love of scenery, Doc Martin features the kind of character we love — a flawed genius with zero people skills. The push-and-pull relationship between Doc and the local school’s headmistress Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz) is reason enough to suck you in.
Where to watch: All six seasons are available on Acorn TV, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Netflix and season seven hits AcornTV Monday, Oct. 5. Seasons one through five are also currently on Hulu.
Commitment: 46 hours.