Fresh off a surprise history-making Emmy win, Euphoria star Zendaya is back with a holiday special for the hit HBO series this month — and that’s not all that’s in store. With new outings from Pennyworth, Big Mouth, a final season for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and more, it’s time to buckle up for a binge-tastic holiday season.
What it is: Co-created by Nick Kroll and featuring the voice talents of comedy heavy-hitters like John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, 2020 Emmy winner Maya Rudolph, and Andrew Rannells, Big Mouth is a coming-of-age series about awkward teens discovering their sexuality through the raging hormones of puberty.
Why you should watch it: We’ve seen plenty of naughty comedies in the past, but none of them excavate the triumphs and traumas of pubescent adolescence quite as fearlessly or uproariously as Big Mouth, and that’s in part thanks to its animated treatment, where the limit is quite literally the writers’ imagination. Season 4 premieres Dec. 4 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 16 hours (for the first three seasons, plus a Valentine’s Day special)
What it is: Euphoria charts the lives of a group of diverse, troubled high schoolers and their rainbow of experiences living in the digital age — experiences befitting of the series title, yes, but others all the more tragic.
Why you should watch it: This dark, gritty, hallucinatory hit from creator Sam Levinson not only marks a career-best, attention-grabbing turn from its Emmy winning star Zendaya, but it introduces us to a whole new class of Young Hollywood along the way. Mining real-world ailments of drug addiction, sexual abuse, online harassment, and more, it’s not always an easy watch, but it’s a worthwhile one. The long-awaited Season 2 teases its premiere with a Christmas special on Dec. 6.
Commitment: Approx. 8 hours (for the first season)
What it is: This Showtime series has been around for so long that it’s hard to define here in all its glory. But at its core, it’s an hour-long dysfunctional family comedy-drama about six children (led through the first nine seasons by an excellent Emmy Rossum as Fiona) who are forced to grow up too fast while under the watch of their single, alcoholic father, Frank (William H. Macy).
Why you should watch it: It’s tricky to strike the balance between broad comedy and aching drama, but it’s a skill that Shameless has perfected since its 2011 debut. Credit where it’s due: Rossum is an absolutely fearless knockout who bested herself season to season. Sadly, Season 9 was her last with the Gallagher family, but the remaining ensemble more than made up for her absence last season, and they’re sure to do it again this round. You can’t help but love them – even when they don’t make it easy. Season 11 premieres Dec. 6 on Showtime.
Commitment: Approx. 107 hours (for the first 10 seasons)
What it is: Alfred Pennyworth is just a former British SAS soldier trying to make a living as a London bouncer when he becomes the target of the evil Raven Society, forcing him into an alliance with the super rich Wayne family and pitting them against a common enemy. If you ever wondered how Alfred first came to the Waynes and eventually Batman, this is a story for you.
Why you should watch it: We can all agree that the world has enough origin stories of the Dark Knight, but what about Bruce Wayne’s trusted right-hand butler Alfred Pennyworth? Creator Bruno Heller and star Jack Bannon give the iconic character his due treatment with Pennyworth, one of the sleekest and best-acted entries to the espionage thriller genre in some time. Season 2 premieres Dec. 13 on Epix.
Commitment: Approx. Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey (the pen name of collaborators Daniel Abraham and T Franck), this space-hopping science-fiction series follows Earth-bound United Nations executive Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), asteroid belt-dwelling police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), and officer of an ice freighter Jim Holden (Steven Strait) as they uncover a conspiracy that risks disrupting the intergalactic peace within disparate colonies and the survival of humanity as they know it.
Why you should watch it: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have enough social and political turmoil here on Earth to know that if and when we expand our humanly horizons to other planets in the solar system, tension is likely to continue. Fortunately in the case of The Expanse, it just makes for great, cult-favorite TV with timely allegorical themes to spare. Season 5 premieres Dec. 16 on Amazon Prime.
Commitment: Approx. 46 hours (for the first four seasons)
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: If we didn’t already love her for her stellar child actor work on Mad Men, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is an absolutely star-making vehicle for Shipka, and we’re here for it. Gruesome and ghoulish adventures await, all brought to life by a talented ensemble that includes next-gen heartthrobs Ross Lynch, Chance Perdomo, and Gavin Leatherwood, leading ladies-to-be like Abigail Cowen, scene-stealing character actors like Michelle Gomez, and others. Its fourth and final season premieres Dec. 31 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 28 hours (for the first three seasons)
Thumbnail images by Netflix, HBO, EPIX
While this month marks the return of long-running favorites like Ray Donovan and The Man in the High Castle, it also excitingly welcomes new installments from series we’ve been missing for well over a year, The Crown and The End of the F***ing World among them! Catch up on why you should be bingeing these series and more below.
What it is: Based on the characters created by Tom Clancy in his famous “Ryanverse,” Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan came in hot and action-packed last August with John Krasinski front and center. Season 1 follows Krasinski as the titular Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst who’s pulled from the safety of his desk job and into the field to help locate and detain an extremist on the rise.
Why you should watch it: Believe it or not, creators Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland give this iconic Tom Clancy character due justice by casting Jim from The Office. The action hero’s greatest asset is that he’s a well-intentioned, brainy everyman caught in circumstances way above his pay-grade. Here, Krasinski, who also serves as executive producer on the series along with Michael Bay, leaves his pencil-pushing behind, solidifying himself as a multi-hyphenate Hollywood force. Season 2 premieres Nov. 1 on Amazon Prime.
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours (for the first season)
What it is: This unlikeliest of road-trip stories follows two teen outsiders named James and Alyssa. The latter is an angsty girl in search of adventure, and the former fancies himself a psychopath. On the one hand, James is ever-plotting Alyssa’s murder over the course of their trip to find her real father; on the other, he’s falling in love with her: What’s a 17-year-old to do?
Why you should watch it: If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, this series is a bit crass, but it also wears its heart on its sleeve. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman, this very bingeable, eight-episode series from Channel 4 and Netflix is nihilistic, romantic, hilarious, and surprisingly…charming. We’ve all felt like outsiders at one point or another, and while maybe not to the point of psychopathy, it’s easy to root for James and Alyssa, as played wonderfully by Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden. Also of note: The series was such a hit abroad that it as nominated for the Best Drama Series BAFTA! Season 2 premieres Nov. 5 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 2.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Every mad scientist needs a sidekick – this one just happens to be his fretful and largely incompetent grandson. Rick and Morty follows scientist Rick Sanchez after he moves in with his daughter’s family, the Smiths, and as he involves them (and specifically grandson, Morty) on intergalactic, reality-jumping, time-bending adventures.
Why you should watch it: From the minds of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, Rick and Morty is a show like you’ve never seen before. Brazenly dark and existential while also being charmingly unhinged and laugh-out-loud funny, the series’ 31 episodes will breeze by in no time. Season 4 premieres Nov. 10 on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Commitment: Approx. 11.5 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: This Showtime series has been around for so long that it’s hard to define in all its glory. But at its core, it’s an hour-long dysfunctional family comedy-drama about six children (led through the first nine seasons by Emmy Rossum as Fiona) who were forced to grow up too fast while under the watch of their single, alcoholic father, Frank (William H. Macy).
Why you should watch it: It’s tricky to strike the balance between broad comedy and aching drama, but it’s a skill that Shameless has perfected since its 2011 debut. Credit where it’s due: Rossum is an absolutely fearless knockout who bested herself season to season. Sadly, Season 9 was her last with the Gallagher family, but it’s in all an excellent ensemble. You can’t help but love them – even when they don’t make it easy. Season 10 premieres Nov. 10 on Showtime.
Commitment: Approx. 97.5 hours (for the first nine seasons)
What it is: Talk about a premise: The Man in the High Castle is created by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) and depicts a dystopian United States in a world where the very worst has happened: Nazi Germany won the Second World War and currently reigns supreme.
Why you should watch it: Fresh off Amazon’s Emmys-sweep with Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, now’s as good a time as ever to go back and discover some other standouts in the streaming service’s catalog. First thing we’d suggest is The Man in the High Castle. Epic and engrossing – not to mention timely – it takes viewers into an utterly foreign world that for some might hit a little too close to today’s political climate for comfort. Season 4 premieres Nov. 15 on Amazon Prime.
Where to watch: Amazon
Commitment: Approx. 30 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: While The Crown will ultimately chart Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her 1947 wedding to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, through to the present day, seasons 1 and 2 of this sprawling royal drama cover the first half of that period through the early days of her reign. Golden Globe winner Claire Foy stars as the titular monarch.
Why you should watch it: Oh, how we’ve missed The Crown! As one of Netflix’s most decorated series, this period drama should be mandatory viewing for anyone with not just an interest in world history and the British monarchy, but an interest in first-rate prestige TV. Exquisitely acted, written, directed, and designed, The Crown was upon its premiere Netflix’s most expensive series to date – and it proves well worth the investment. Before the likes of Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter take the reins in the third season’s depiction of the Queen’s later years, catch up on Foy’s episodes – you won’t be sorry. Season 3 (its first new episodes since December 2017) premieres Nov. 17 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 20 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Ray Donovan ranks as one of the finer character studies in recent memory, with Liev Schreiber playing the central Los Angeles–area “fixer” with smoldering grit and Jon Voight as his no-good ex-con father. Ray may be the man whom L.A.’s rich and famous call to get out of trouble, but upon the return of his father, Donovan, a family man himself, develops problems of his own.
Why you should watch it: When Ray Donovan premiered on Showtime in 2013, it promised the arrival of an exciting new anti-hero. It’s since stayed true to that promise and hasn’t let up, bringing us into the hidden underbelly of Los Angelean elite and slowly unveiling the many layers of a complicated and troubled man. Season 7 premieres Nov. 17 on Showtime.
Commitment: Approx. 62 hours (for the first six seasons)
Thumbnail image courtesy of © Netflix, © Amazon Prime Video
(Photo by FX)
Fall TV is upon us, and there is so much coming your way this month! Check out 13 shows you should catch up on over the long Labor Day weekend and beyond.
Why you should watch it: To get ready for the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga. There’s a lot riding on Mayans M.C. — and there’s a lot to look forward to when it premieres September 4. The new series follows Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo), who’s newly released from prison and now a new prospect in the titular biker gang. Fans of Sons of Anarchy know well enough what’s in store for them with this much-anticipated spin-off: a character-driven, tightly woven, violent (at times even grisly) drama. The new series also stars Edward James Olmos, Clayton Cardenas, and Sarah Bolger.
Commitment: Approx. 66 hours
Why you should watch it: You don’t become one of the longest-running live-action comedies of all time by sitting on your laurels and getting lazy about the laughs. It’s Always Sunny lays them on thick and fearlessly week to week for 12-going-on-13 seasons strong. That’s a lot to binge — so get to it! Season 13 premieres September 5.
Commitment: Approx. 50 hours
Why you should watch it: While Iron Fist was admittedly not as well received as its Marvel-on-Netflix counterparts, if you’re a fan of the universe, it’s definitely worth tuning in to orient yourself in the world of Marvel’s The Defenders, which also includes Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Luke Cage (Mike Colter), who also recently had a second season in which Danny Rand appears. We recommend at least binging Iron Fist season 1 and The Defenders before the former’s September 7 season 2 premiere. Here’s hoping Danny Rand’s new solo outing learned from its missteps the first round.
Commitment: Approx. 48 hours for the three seasons
Why you should watch it: By transporting us to a gritty world of sex, drugs, and an American Dream that’s foreign to most audiences today, The Deuce further proves Simon’s talent for creating series that are absolutely singular and authentic. Plus with talent like Gyllenhaal and Franco attached, it certainly ranks within prestige TV’s must-watch club. Season 2 premieres September 9.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
Why you should watch it: It’s tricky to strike the balance between broad comedy and aching drama, but it’s a skill that Shameless has perfected since its 2011 debut. Credit where it’s due: Rossum is an absolutely fearless knockout who bests herself season to season. (Soak up this performance while you can — Rossum recently indicated on Facebook that this season might be her last.) It’s an excellent ensemble, and you can’t help but love the Gallagher family (even when they don’t make it easy), but watching the actress and Oscar-nominee Macy go toe-to-toe as the central headstrong daughter and father just gets better with age. Season 9 premieres Sept. 9.
Commitment: Approx. 89 hours
Why you should watch it: Now going for eight seasons strong and a favorite of critics and audiences alike, this anthological series never ceases to spook. And with returning favorites like Jessica Lange (who won two Emmys for her work on previous seasons) and Ryan Murphy mainstay Sarah Paulson, among many others (Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, and Emma Roberts), Apocalypse is shaping up to be its best outing yet.
Commitment: Approx. 70 hours
Why you should watch it: It’s not often that an alcoholic horse and a fictionalized Hollywood full of as many flawed humans as talking animals teaches you about yourself, but this one does — trust us! While it’s an acquired taste for any viewer, there’s reason BoJack’s blend of pitch-black humor and weighty human circumstance has gained such a cult following over the last four seasons. Catch up before season 5 premieres September 15.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 24 hours
Why you should watch it: There’s no doubt that television has been attracting some top-tier talent to the small screen over the last few years, and a series like 9-1-1 — with an ensemble including Angela Bassett, Connie Britton, and Peter Krause paired with a producer like Ryan Murphy — is that trend seen at its very best. Fun, over-the-top escapism abounds in this drama series, but never at the expense of its heart.
Commitment: Approx. 7 hours
Why you should watch it: Young Sheldon provides something that we haven’t seen before: a reinterpretation of a beloved multi-camera sitcom character as a single-camera, family-friendly, and heartwarming dramedy. Better yet, because this is a prologue series to Jim Parson’s Sheldon, our protagonist’s mother, Mary, is played by Zoe Perry, the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who stars as the same character on The Big Bang Theory! It’s a small-screen first. Season 2 premieres September 24.
Commitment: Approx. 8 hours
Why you should watch it: Will we ever live in a world where there’s too much Marvel? So long as the universe’s crop of series are of the caliber of The Gifted, we’re inclined to say no. Just like the very best releases from the X-Men franchise, this series is heavy on the action, while also packing an emotional punch — and it even delves into political territory, dramatizing prejudices against the “other,” anti-establishment activist movements, extremists groups, and more. Season 2 premieres September 25.
Commitment: Approx. 9.5 hours
Why you should watch it: There’s something inherently appealing about a marriage of the fish-out-of-water and opposites-attract formulas, and the effort holds up for this latest small-screen reboot. With Scott added to the mix, we’re in for even more fun this season. Catch up before season 3 premieres September 25.
Commitment: Approx. 30 hours
Why you should watch it: Nothing short of a phenomenon upon its premiere in 2015, Empire is classic Lee Daniels: engrossingly soapy, slightly camp, meticulously performed, and endlessly entertaining. Taraji P. Henson does some of the best work of her career as the scene-stealing and wig-snatching Cookie Lyon. She alone is worth the watch, but it helps that she has an excellent ensemble at her back, led by Howard who acts as the very best foil to her scheming. Season 5 premieres September 26.
Commitment: Approx. 48 hours
Why you should watch it: The Good Place is certainly among the best network comedies of recent memory. An always-charming Bell and TV royalty Danson play off of each other in a way that — what the fork!? — simply works. We can’t wait to see the good places they take us come season 3’s September 27 premiere.
Commitment: Approx. 9 hours
The fall TV overhaul may be behind us, but, don’t worry, there are still plenty of must-see shows returning this month. From sitcoms to sex dramas, Westerns to medieval war sagas, there is something for everyone this November. Find out which series you should catch up on.
(Photo by CBS)
What it is: A family sitcom about recovering alcoholics, teen pregnancies, and other assorted curves life can throw may not sound like it’s mingling with laughing matters, but Mom works! Anna Faris leads as Christy, a mother of two who gets sober and moves to the Napa Valley to start her life anew. Allison Janney also steals the show as her mother, Bonnie, a fellow recovering addict who finally has the chance to be present for her daughter (and grandkids). In that sense, Mom is a comedy about making up for lost time.
Why you should watch it: This multi-cam sitcom from industry titan Chuck Lorre is five years strong thanks to the fact that it’s rough around the edges in a real-world way. It’s not too sweet, and it has standout (and, in the case of Janney, Emmy-winning!) performances across the board. They may not be a typical family, but for 30 minutes each week, they will be come a part of yours. Season 5 premiered November 2.
Commitment: Approx. 31 hours
What it is: Based on Steven Soderbourgh’s 2009 vignette-filled feature film of the same name, The Girlfriend Experience is an anthology drama series about the unexpected and complicated lives of sex workers. Season 1 follows a law student named Christine Reade (Riley Keogh) who moonlights in the profession. Season 2, which will follow two different story lines, premieres November 5.
Why you should watch it: While sex alone is likely a titillating enough calling card to pique many viewers’ interest, The Girlfriend Experience is about much more than its elevator pitch implies. Ultimately, it’s a meditation on feminist power, on the relationship between sex and manipulation, and the moral ambiguities of its protagonists’ careers (and those who employ them). Rich with finely realized performances and void of an imposing male gaze (Amy Seimetz is onboard as co-creator, co-director, and co-star), the series’ first season packed an emotional wallop while making you think. Season 2 will boast hourlong episodes (versus last year’s half-hours) and two parallel, concurrently running stories.
Commitment: Approx. 6.5 hours
(Photo by Showtime)
What it is: While this comedy series has been around for so long that it’s hard to define it without giving away seven seasons of spoilers, but at its core, it’s an hour-long dysfunctional family comedy-drama about six children (led by Emmy Rossum as Fiona) who were forced to grow up too fast while under the watch of their single, alcoholic father, Frank (William H. Macy).
Why you should watch it: It’s tricky to strike the balance between broad comedy and aching drama, but it’s a skill that Shameless has perfected since its 2011 debut. Credit where it’s due: Rossum is an absolutely fearless knockout who bests herself season to season. It’s an excellent ensemble, and you can’t help but love the Gallagher family (even when they don’t make it easy), but watching the actress and Oscar nominee Macy go toe-to-toe as the central headstrong daughter and father just gets better with age. Season 8 premieres November 5.
Commitment: Approx. 77 hours
(Photo by Netflix)
What it is: As an experienced comedian’s comedian, Maria Bamford finally gets the star treatment she deserves with Mitchell Hurwitz and Pam Brady’s half-hour semi-biographical comedy about a standup comedian who, after a breakdown and subsequent institutionalization, begins readjusting to an ever-changing world and ever-changing mental state.
Why you should watch it: Forgive the pun, but Lady Dynamite is explosive. It’s brave. It’s mental illness like you’ve never seen before — and in Bamford, it features a leading lady like you’ve never seen, either. With an eye for the surreal, the absurd, and the slapstick found in one standup comic’s everyday life, Lady is wacky, brilliant fun. Plus, it features a who’s who comedy roster of supporting players and cameos that will surely be even more impressive in Season 2, which bows November 10.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
What it is: Set in Wyoming’s fictional Absaroka County, this crime drama fits right in with the Westerns of the world, from Unforgiven to Hell or High Water. (Better yet, we’ve gotten to enjoy it for five seasons instead of just two hours!) The pilot picks up one year after the death of our titular hero’s wife, and through his grief, he digs deep into his work and sets his sights on getting reelected to the gold star.
Why you should watch it: Based on the bestselling Walt Longmire Mystery series, this A&E-turned-Netflix original is built on nostalgia for the all-American hero, and star Robert Taylor as Longmire is up to snuff going into its sixth and final season. Like the very best of classic Clint Eastwood and other gunslinging heroes of yesteryear, Taylor’s Longmire is stoically gruff, reserved, and a helluva shot. Need proof? Look no further than his early-series comparison between the small Absaroka’s issues of crime, poverty, and racism and those found in New York City: “Corruption, violence, greed, and murder — but Absaroka County has something that New York City will never have: They have me.” Good luck to those who stand in his way. Season 6 premieres November 17.
Commitment: Approx. 45 hours
(Photo by TBS)
What it is: Part relationship drama, part coming-of-age comedy, part noir-tinged mystery thriller, Search Party is undefinable —but that’s what makes it so good. It’s the story of Dory (Alia Shaukat), Drew (John Reynolds), Elliot (John Early), and Portia (Meredith Hagner), who, on account of their own self-interest and general aimlessness, entangle themselves in the potentially sinister disappearance of their college classmate.
Why you should watch it: Brooklyn-dwelling millennials have been beguiling subjects for many a film and TV auteur since Lena Dunham’s Girls, but never before have they been so exactingly (and excruciatingly) brought to life than in Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter’s incisive TBS satire-crime mystery cocktail. Season 2 premieres November 19.
Commitment: Approx. 4 hours
What it is: In the mood for a meaty, generations-spanning period drama that has violence, politics, sex, and true-to-history recreations to spare? Look no further than Vikings, Michael Hirst’s brilliant follow-up to The Tudors. The heart of the series is legendary rags-to-riches viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his rise to power, and how he passes that power to his children and their children thereafter.
Why you should watch it: Vikings is complex, calculated storytelling at its best. Gorgeous, lush sets and production design, committed and gritty performances all around — it is a wonder that the program doesn’t garner acclaim on par with Game of Thrones (though it certainly draws comparisons). But somehow, there’s a viewers’ pleasure to being in on a well-kept secret. Join the club before season 5 returns November 29.
Commitment: Approx. 36 hours
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!
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.
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.
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.
Commitment: Five hours.
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 Video, Vudu, and Xbox Video.
Commitment:About 42 hours.
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.
Commitment: 16 hours.
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.
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.
Commitment: 27.5 hours.
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.
Commitment: 60 hours.
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.
Commitment: 26 hours.
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.
Commitment: 43 hours.