6 TV Shows to Binge Watch During the Quarantine
It’s a well-worn joke already, but there’s some truth in saying that now is probably the best time to be confined to our homes, as we’ve moved past the era of boxset binging to one in which the wonder of streaming leaves almost everything at our fingertips whenever we want it.
If you’re looking for something to fill more time than the couple of hours you’d spend watching a movie, there are few better things to turn to than a TV series.
From anthology series and crime dramas to warm-hearted comedies with casts you’ll fall in love with... read on for our list of six of the best TV shows to binge watch.
The 6 Best TV Shows to Binge Watch
It can be easy to forget that critics have been talking about a ‘golden age of television’ since the early 2000s, when cable networks began taking risks on long-form dramas and outside-the-box comedies. And while some have for several years been claiming the golden age is coming to an end, the number of great shows being pumped out is showing no signs of slowing down.
This is great for viewers, but it does create a problem. As some have found out, there’s almost too much to get through.
Now, dependent on how long this lockdown lasts, we might prove these worries wrong. But to keep this list manageable, we’ve limited it to more recent shows. So classics like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and my personal favourite The Wire will have to settle for honourable mentions.
With no further ado, let’s get into our list: the top six binge-worthy TV shows to watch while social distancing.
1. THE GOOD PLACE
Brought to us by Michael Schur, who co-created the wonderful Parks and Recreation as well as excellent ongoing cop comedy Brooklyn 99, The Good Place is among the best televisual comfort food you’ll ever encounter.
Its premise is simple but genius, following self-described ‘Arizona dirtbag’ Eleanor Shellstrop after she mistakenly finds herself in ‘the good place’, this universe’s answer to heaven.
What unfolds is a beautiful, heartwarming sitcom, with intricate worldbuilding and an absolutely stellar cast, with D’Arcy Carden particularly standing out as omnipotent good place ‘Siri’, Janet.
By the time the series ends after four all-too-brief seasons, you’ll fall in love with these charming characters as close friends. Just don’t blame us if you cry once it’s all over.
2. BLACK MIRROR
At the other end of the spectrum from the optimistic ‘things will work out’ attitude of Michael Schur’s shows, Black Mirror can be absolutely devastating. It brims with acerbic wit in its blacker-than-black comedy, even as it yearns for worlds in which the horrible things it shows us don’t happen.
Beginning on Channel 4 in 2011 before being picked up by Netflix in 2015, and shocking the airwaves in its very first episode with a prime minister’s porcine encounter that turned out to be a little too close to real-life rumours, this show has provided some of the best speculative sci-fi of the past decade.
It’s an anthology series, so not all its episodes are classics, but not knowing what you’ll get when the next one queues up is part of the fun. And at its best it shows horrifying implications of fantastic technology, earning comparisons to the iconic The Twilight Zone. And with projects like 2018’s feature-length Bandersnatch, it pushes the boundaries of what binge-worthy TV shows can be.
3. STRANGER THINGS
For something both scary and heartfelt, there are few better shows than Stranger Things. Netflix had had original hits before, of course, but if any show proved its worth as a content creator, it was this.
First airing in summer 2016, Stranger Things became nothing short of a pop-culture phenomenon, with creators the Duffer brothers gleefully throwing Stephen King’s horror stories, Steven Spielberg’s coming of age movies and more ‘80s nostalgia than a Flock of Seagulls cassette tape all into a blender.
What emerged was pure televisual joy, with enough supernatural mystery to hook you and strong enough characters to keep you around. Now three seasons in, Stranger Things remains one of the very best shows on Netflix.
4. THE MANDALORIAN
Moving from original properties to adaptations, Disney’s The Mandalorian is just one recent example of what creators can do on TV when they’re given the chance to play in an established universe.
Star Wars has been an enormously popular franchise since the first movie opened in 1977, so it might be surprising that there’s never been an ongoing live-action series set in that world. While comics and books have been big since the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the 2000s gave us solid animated shows like The Clone Wars, we had to wait until 2019 to see what live-action Star Wars could be on the small screen.
Luckily, it’s a treat: heaps of fun with memorable characters, and home to one of the most adorable memes of the last few years in ‘baby yoda’. If a fun, high-production-value space adventure is your thing, don’t miss The Mandalorian.
5. BOJACK HORSEMAN
While critics have raved about BoJack since at least its second season, it hasn’t quite hit the popular consciousness like some other shows have. To be fair, it’s easy to see why. With its focus on the titular washed-up former sitcom star and the wacky characters that surround him, this off-beat, adult-oriented animation’s emotional depth almost sneaks up on you.
Given the premise of this show, we might have seen some of the excellent animal puns and hilarious farcical situations coming, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted that it would become not just one of the best shows on Netflix, but one of the best depictions of mental health struggles in all TV.
6. BETTER CALL SAUL
A strong contender for best show on TV right now, Better Call Saul just wrapped up its fifth season and is due to finish up for good sometime next year.
There’s no better moment to get involved, then, as you’ll be able to get hooked just in time to catch what’s sure to be a breathless finale.
When a prequel to Breaking Bad focused on Walter White’s sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman was announced, there was little reason to expect much. How could anything follow one of the best crime dramas of all time? Let alone a series focused on a character who was always largely there for comic relief.
How amazing, then, that Saul is now widely regarded as the equal of its esteemed predecessor - and sometimes even as better. While it arguably takes a while to find its footing, it has evolved into one of the most intricately written, beautifully shot shows ever to hit TV.
Building on its famous parent show perfectly, Saul deepens the universe and our connection to many of its key players, all without ever losing its focus on the slow-motion, all-too-understandable descent of one decent, or decent enough, man into greed and corruption.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best TV shows to binge watch - and that it helps fill your time while social distancing. If you need more inspiration for fun things to do in quarantine, why not check out our other blogs?