Looking for something to binge this December? The onslaught of holiday programming this time of year may feel overwhelming, but there are still plenty of non-festive options at your fingertips. Grab a cozy blanket and a cup of cocoa and get to binging! Here are seven returning series (and one new Netflix miniseries) that are all well worth your time.
What it is: This quick-witted spy drama (based on Mick Herron’s “Slough House” book series) follows a dysfunctional team of MI5 rejects, led by the crass, obnoxious, and notorious Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman), as they navigate the murky espionage world to protect and defend England from all sorts of sinister forces. Season 2 premieres December 2.
Why you should watch it: Oldman’s performance here disrupts audience expectations, leading to some hilariously dark instances on-screen. That said, the entire cast — Jack Lowden, Kristin Scott Thomas, Olivia Cooke, Saskia Reeves, Rosalind Eleazar, Dustin Demri-Burns, and Jonathan Pryce — is superb, the writing is strong, and considering the quick-paced six episode format of the series, the thriller offers a quick, yet fulfilling, binge-watch experience.
Where to watch: Apple TV (Subscription, Seasons 1-2)
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Based on Philip Pullman’s famed book trilogy, the series follows an orphan girl named Lyra (Dafne Keen) who ventures out on a journey searching for a missing friend, only to find herself butting heads with the Magisterium (the church that commands her world) and discover some hidden truths about her own identity, her family history, and the worlds that exist beyond her own. Season 3 premiered December 5.
Why you should watch it: As fantastical as the series is, real-world themes like religious bigotry and authoritarianism ground things, allowing His Dark Materials to flourish as both a compelling drama, and otherworldly genre series. James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson also star, and they’re phenomenal.
Commitment: Approx. 23 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: A comic book series with edge, Doom Patrol puts a modern-day spin on DC’s Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Negative Man (Matt Bomer), Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), Cyborg (Joivan Wade), and Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez) as they strive to fight evil, save the world — with added guidance from The Chief (Pierce Brosnan) — while also grappling with their own mental health. Season 4, Part 1 premieres December 8.
Why you should watch it: It’s violent. It’s adult. And it’s downright hilarious. Similar to other superhero shows based on dysfunctional teams — we’re looking at you, The Boys and Umbrella Academy — out to save the day, Doom Patrol isn’t fun for the whole family. As raucous as things get, the cast performances — led by Brendan Fraser, who is in the midst of a much-deserved renaissance — help keep things grounded, leading to a whole slew of heartfelt storylines.
Commitment: Approx. 28 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: Set in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, South Side is a comedy that follows two friends chock full of lofty life goals. Until they achieve their dreams of taking over the world, though, they’re stuck working at Rent-T-Own, a loan-out retail establishment that offers up everything from kitchen appliances to living room furniture. Season 3 premieres December 8.
Why you should watch it: The series is created by Sherman’s Showcase writers Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, who appear in various on-screen roles here and whose unique comedic stylings has been a hit with both critics and fans. South Side offers an authentic and humorous perspective of the Chicago neighborhood, which often gets a bad rap on the nightly news.
Commitment: Approx. 7 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: An anthology inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, this unique series explores hilarious, heartfelt, romantic, and uplifting stories that bring to life the immigrant experience in America. Season 2 premieres December 9.
Why you should watch it: When discussing the immigrant experience in America, conversations rarely move past the news headlines, political sound bites, or polarizing tweets. Little America — which was developed by Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon, and Lee Eisenberg — strives to change that by not just offering a human face to the tales being told, but doing so in a non-linear narrative. That means you can pick and choose the episodes you want to watch, in whatever order you want to watch them. This detail, along with the diversity in culture, aesthetic, and tone, puts the series in a category all its own.
Where to watch: Apple TV (Subscription, Seasons 1-2)
Commitment: Approx. 4 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Inspired by Tom Clancy’s bestselling Jack Ryan book series, the show offers a new take on the hero (played here by John Krasinski), following the CIA analyst as he’s thrust into the field to face all sorts of danger, including those clear and present. Premieres December 21.
Why you should watch it: When audiences first fell in love with Krasinski’s Jim Halpert on The Office, no one would have predicted that action hero would be in the cards for the actor. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has helped change that perspective. Because, simply put: John Krasinski kicks butt here. Let’s admit it, that’s exactly why we watch, and why you’re going to.
Commitment: Approx. 18 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Based on the celebrated genre books by Andrzej Sapkowski, the Netflix hit follows mutated monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill, who will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth in season 4) on his quest to kill otherworldly beasts for profit, while he struggles with the Witcher legacy in this vastly complicated world. Premieres December 25.
Why you should watch it: All four episodes of prequel series The Witcher: Blood Origin launch on Netflix on December 25, so continue your Witcher-world fantasy binge on Christmas Day if you like (we also highly recommend the video games). The limited series stars Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Sophia Brown (The Capture), Laurence O’Fuarain (Vikings), and guest stars Minnie Driver (Speechless). Re-watching The Witcher is not strictly necessary to understand the prequel series, but it’s always a good time to toss a coin to your Witcher, right?
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, Seasons 1-2)
Commitment: Approx. 16 hours (for the first two seasons)
Thumbnail image by Netflix