Winter weather, impromptu layovers and family chill time is the perfect storm for a Netflix binge session or two. Navigating the diverse palette of digital offerings can be tricky and, at times, overwhelming. The ever evolving rotation of film and TV changes as often as the weather. To give you a better idea of where to start, here is a recap of a dozen shows available this season for your consideration.
Freaks and Geeks (NBC) - While Twitter is alight with celebrity protests and the news is busy debating whether or not Sony should have called Obama first before pulling The Interview out of theaters, anyone and everyone is free to enjoy the early work of Rogen and Franco via Judd Apatow’s brilliantly nostalgic 70’s high school series. Heart felt and deeply entertaining, you’ll fall in love with this ensemble cats of well-drawn, nuanced characters that are hardly freakish.
New Girl (FOX) - Missing your crew in the midst of quality family time? Bask in the humor and zany antics of this oversized loft full of thirty-somethings. A situational comedy that opens with a newly single Zooey Deschanel moving into an apartment with a group guys she met on Craigslist, it has a f.r.i.e.n.d.s. for the new millennium vibe. Grab some eggnog, put a dollar in Schmidt’s douche jar and try to figure out the rules to the series’ invented drinking game, True American.
The League (FX) - Those seeking stress relief and levity from the intesity of playoff season look no further than this hilarious take on sports culture and friend group politics. With a stellar ensemble cast of fabulous in their own right comedians, it is a light hearted, fin half hour comedy steeped in laugh-out-loud moments. Nick Kroll steals the show as a soulles attorny hellbent on besting his gang of guys at every opportunity.
Louie (FX) - Based on his wildly popular stand up routine, Louis CK plays a fictionalized version of himself as a single parent raising two young girls in Manhattan. The comic’s witty, non-precious child rearing style is endlessly entertaining and refreshingly wise. A shining example: While dealing with daughters fighting over the fairness of mango pops, he offers this pearl, “Listen. The only time you should look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to make sure you have… as much as them.”
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix) - Netflix’s original comedy series follows an utterly likable Taylor Schilling into a women’s correctional facility after her voluntary surrender in connection with a drug smuggling incident from her past. Based on a true story, the character’s journey is fraught with humor and eye-opening, empathy for her fellow inmates, casting the world of prison in a surprisingly humorous light.
Breaking Bad (AMC) - Unequivocally, one of the most addictive shows ever produced, Vince Gilligan's sprawling epic tale of a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White’s, downward spiral to inimitable drug lord will have you hooked within the first episode. Carve out some serious time. With all five seasons of genius performances from Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and a best-of-the-best ensemble cast offered, you’ll want to ingest the entire series in one dose.
House of Cards (Netflix) - Now is the time to catch up to this brilliant, fast paced Macbethian drama (Season 3 drops in February 27th.) Under the darkly masterful direction of Executive Producer David Fincher, with its mile-a-minute, razor sharp dialogue, every facet of this political drama is first class. Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood is the ultimate man you love to hate and hate to love, as deliciously conniving and fiendishly charismatic as they come.
Scandal (ABC) - As Washington spin doctor Olivia Pope, Kerry Washington deals with the controversy and secrets of the Executive Branch and congressional elite in this buzz worthy American political thriller from Shonda Rhimes. A pop culture fave from the creator of Grey’s Anatomy it is as deftly executed and entrancing a series as one would come to expect from the venerable showrunner.
Sherlock (BBC) - Crush worthy Brit Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern rendering of Sherlock Holmes is pitch perfect. Set in modern day London, the blustery set pieces make a befitting choice for winter nights. Get lost in this mysterious and intelligent fresh take on the elementary classic.
The Walking Dead (AMC) - If you have entered a mall or an airport around the holidays, you may relate to a post apocalyptic zombieland. Based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, it boasts the title of most watched cable show in history. While steeped in the genre of horror, at its heart, the series is a rich, character-driven epic that explores complex themes such as hope, survival, the true definition of family and what it ultimately means to be human. The zombies eventually come to function as an outside force of nature, like the weather. The real drama lies in the lack of humanity found within the living.
The Mind of a Chef (PBS) - Follow host David Chang around the globe, from the comfort of your own couch, as he discovers signature dishes and culinary favorites from world renown chefs. Executive Produced by Anthony Bourdain, episodes are divided by location and food type, with an exploratory trip around one international city or key ingredient per show. Whether its experimenting with new ways to cook with ramen noodles or seeking out the best omelet in Barcelona, this part cooking part travel doc is distinctive and captivating.
The Mortified Sessions (Sundance) - The televised offshoot of creator David Nadelberg and Neil Katcher’s “Mortified” storytelling project, this unique series takes celebrities down the memory lane of their most embarrassing childhood and adolescent moments. A tapestry of cringe inducing failures and hysterical anecdotes, it features an eclectic range of well reputed quests from Ed Helms and Mo’Nique to Alanis Morissette.
What are your favorite shows to binge watch? Tell us in the comments below.