February marks the final seasons of some of our favorite shows, chief among them Bates Motel, Girls, and Reign. Catch them while you can! We wrap up when, why, and where to watch these three — plus four more favorites — before they take their final bow.
What it is: Set in the present day, this prologue series shows Norman Bates’ childhood growing up alone with his mother, Norma, after his father dies under mysterious circumstances. Its fifth and final season premieres Feb. 20.
Why you should watch it: This is the story of Psycho’s Norman Bates like you’ve never seen it before. Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, we all know how the story ends, but watching actor Freddie Highmore slowly seep further into Norman’s murderous psyche over the last four seasons has been as unnerving as it is entertaining. You fall in love with him in an odd way — though you’ll never love him quite as much as Vera Farmiga’s Norma. Farmiga’s powerhouse performance is a masterclass in camp that will leave you rooting for her and her doomed family as they draw ever nearer to their predetermined end.
Commitment: About 30 hours
What it is: Showtime’s Billions dramatizes the high-stakes world of Wall Street when Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney, sets his sights on bringing down hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod for insider trading and other illegal proclivities.
Why you should watch it: Paul Giamatti has built a career on playing the everyman, and here, he’s fighting for him. Giamatti’s turn as the hard-hitting U.S. attorney Rhoades would be reason alone to watch (scenes of unexpected BDSM and all), but Billions also boasts a timely, engrossing premise and firecracker performances from Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff that meet Giamatti mark for mark.
Commitment: About 12 hours
What it is: The equally beloved and maligned brainchild of Lena Dunham, Girls follows the whirlwind dramas of making ends meet, falling in love, and being a good friend while living in the Big Apple — as told by four privileged white girls in their mid-20s.
Why you should watch it: Everyone and their mother has an opinion on creator and star Dunham’s hit HBO series, and if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s about time you do, too. Showcasing the highest highs and lowest lows of floundering hipster 20-somethings living in New York City, Girls tapped into the cultural zeitgeist from its start, thanks to its promise to be “the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice — of a generation,” and its unabashed willingness to test viewers’ limits. Whether they love the show or just love hate-watching it, people are watching it, and going into its sixth and final season, there’s no better time to join this borough.
Commitment: 25 hours
What it is: Based on the original Swedish series, Real Humans, Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley’s English adaptation takes place in a near-future where artificial intelligence takes the form of humanoid servants called Synths. Of course, such miraculous technological developments come with larger social and political consequences.
Why you should watch it: Taking a note from Ex Machina and other prestige A.I. outings before it, Humans is a sci-fi psychological thriller for the thinking viewer. Top-notch performances and enticing plot twists will keep you glued.
Commitment: 6 hours
What it is: The first eight-episode installment of this brooding British anthology series is the story of husband and wife Tony and Emily in the aftermath of their son Oliver’s abduction while on family vacation. Season 2 is a new kidnapping, new family, and new formula, beginning at the end of a missing persons case when Sam and Gemma Webster’s daughter, Alice, returns 13 years after her disappearance.
Why you should watch it: Nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and one Emmy, the first installment of this British limited series from Harry and Jack Williams became an international hit and critical success with its 2014 premiere on Starz. While its anthology format means you don’t have to binge season 1 before season 2’s premiere on Feb. 12, the first eight hours will sufficiently get you in the mood for a slow-boiling crime and family drama. Plus, Starz is releasing the second season all at once, so you can make that a 16-hour binge. We have faith in you.
Commitment: About 8 hours
What it is: David Attenborough narrates this Emmy-winning nature series, providing the perfect complement to crystal-clear images of nature’s most enticing and sometimes unknown wildlife in their natural habitat.
Why you should watch it: Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the great deserts, rainforests, and other intimidating locales depicted in BBC’s awe-inspiring Planet Earth, you certainly know what this documentary series is all about. Even a decade later, the series stands as the cream of the crop, a step above its contemporaries. And with clips already leaking to the U.S. after its European debut late last year, the upcoming Planet Earth II on Feb. 18 may well be the thing to finally best its predecessor. Each frame is a work of magic.
Commitment: About 9 hours
What it is: This CW drama follows the (highly fictionalized) misadventures in love and life of Mary, Queen of Scots (played by Adelaide Kane). Season 4 premieres Feb. 10.
Why you should watch it: If you love sinking your teeth into a soapy period drama, then you’ve come to the right place. Set in the mid-16th Century, this Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie Sengupta series is custom-built for your inner teen: high drama in the royal family plays out as a love triangle forms between Mary, Prince Francis (whom she’s to wed), and his half-brother, Sebastian (to whom she’s inexplicably drawn). Mix in the variety of both the innocent and salacious delights of Mary’s royal peers (portrayed in part by Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs, Toby Regbo, Celina Sinden, and Anna Popplewell), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for addictive, girl-power TV. Season 4’s 16-episode outing marks the series’ last; catch up before it ends with a bang.
Commitment: 43.5 hours