Most of us are a bit confined at the moment, with a lot of extra time on our hands. If you’re looking for a new show to watch, start to finish, the Review Geek team has collected a few humble suggestions for you.
Note that our links and availability are based on the United States—shows may be available on different services in different countries.
Andrew Heinzman, Staff Writer
I picked these shows because they manage to trigger something primitive in my brain. They might make me laugh, they might make me cringe, or they might make me want to start a fight. Either way, they’re powerful enough to distract me from reality, and I hope that they can do the same for you. For reference, none of these shows are serial dramas. That stuff’s too big a commitment for my tiny brain.
- 90 Day Fiance (Hulu, 7 Seasons): Just watch it. I know you don’t want to, but you gotta watch it. 90 Day Fiance isn’t like The Bachelor, it isn’t full of rich sexy models or whatever. It’s about long-distance Green Card marriages, and it’s full of the vilest, manipulative, predatory Americans that I’ve ever seen. This show makes me laugh a lot, but it also makes me feel like I’m about to get in a fight. It makes me feel alive.
- Malcolm in the Middle (Hulu, 7 Seasons): A sitcom about a poor family with too many kids. This show has its stupid moments, but it’s also groundbreaking in terms of subject matter and performance. Unlike other shows (and especially sitcoms), Malcolm speaks bluntly about poverty and injustice and manages to innovate on the tired storytelling formats of the ’90s and 2000s. It still feels fresh!
- Even Stevens (Disney+, 3 Seasons): This Disney original series launched Shia Lebouf’s career. I’m not sure why it’s funny, but it’s funny. It even includes a couple light curse words. I can’t think of a way to describe Even Stevens, so I’ll say, “Malcolm in The Middle if Malcolm Was Stupid, Unhygienic, and Not Poor.”
- King of The Hill (Hulu, 13 Seasons): Some people say that King of The Hill is “too dry” or “too real.” And those people haven’t actually watched King of The Hill. See, this isn’t The Office we’re talking about. King of The Hill borders on psychedelia and is capable of rotting your brain. Its pop culture references are still pretty funny, and the episode where Peggy becomes a foot model ought to be canonized as an American classic.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, 7 seasons): I think that The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine are better than the original Star Trek. My brain is broken, and 1990s Trek feels a bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it’s just easier for me to watch. I’d suggest following a viewing guide for TNG or DS9, cause there are a ton of crappy episodes. Or, just hunt down any episode of DS9 that features Quark (who also plays the principal in Buffy, by the way).
- The Circle (Netflix, 1 Season): A reality TV show where each contestant is fully isolated and must compete to become the most popular person on a social media platform. When I watched this show, I kept saying that “I’d love to be trapped inside for two weeks!” Be careful what you wish for, I guess.
Again, these aren’t the most pleasant shows on Earth, but they’re very engaging and surreal. I hope that they give you that shot of dopamine or adrenaline that you need right now. (By the way, if you can afford to spend money right now, then you should watch Dinosaurs on Amazon. It’s a sitcom from Jim Henson studios that’s filled to the brim with relevant social and political commentary. I don’t know why it costs so much.)
Cameron Summerson, Editor in Chief
I watch a lot of high action and horror shows, so it shouldn’t be much of surprise that my list is full of exactly that sort of thing. If you’re not into guts, gore, and ultraviolence, then my list may not be for you. But if you are, then you might dig it. Hell, the odds are you may have even seen some of these, but if you’re anything like me, then you won’t mind watching again.
- The Walking Dead (Netflix, 9 seasons available, Season 10 is currently airing): You’ve undoubtedly at least heard of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead. Maybe you’ve even watched it. Maybe you watched it, then stopped watching it during the seasons 6-8 slum. Well, the good news is that the show is great again, so there’s never been a time to catch up. And, if you’re into The Walking Dead universe, you should also give Fear the Walking Dead (Hulu, 5 seasons) a chance. Be warned, though—it starts strong, flatlines, then gets pretty bad in the later seasons.
- American Horror Story (Hulu, 9 seasons/Netflix and Prime, 8 seasons): This FX horror show is great if you like variety. Instead of offering a linear story across the series, AHS is different each season. The first season is arguably the fan-favorite, but most of them are pretty solid. They aren’t all zingers, of course, so it’s nice to be able to skip and move on to the next one if you’re not feeling a particular season. And for what it’s worth, Roanoke is my favorite.
- Z Nation (Netflix, 5 seasons): This Sci-Fi Channel take on the zombie outbreak is amazing, but not because it’s some hyper-realistic depiction of what life would be like during the apocalypse. Instead, this is just a hilariously entertaining horror-comedy show that’s just a whole damn lot of fun to watch. The storyline is insanely fast-moving, too—a particular event that might take a full season to get through on The Walking Dead is a mere episode in Z Nation time. This show was unfortunately canceled, but at least you can watch the entire thing now. Oh, if you like this, you should also watch Black Summer (Netflix, 1 season), which is a sort of unofficial prequel to Z Nation.
- Ash vs. Evil Dead (Netflix, 3 seasons): If you’ve seen Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, or Army of Darkness, then you already know what to expect from the icon duo of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Ash vs. Evil Dead is set some years after the events of the first three films and follows Ash’s dimwitted excursions when the book is once again reawakened. The series was unfortunately cut short after three amazing seasons, but hey—it’s better than nothing.
- True Blood (Prime Video, 7 seasons): If you like vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, werepanthers, and all other sorts of other mythical crap like that, then True Blood is worth a watch. It’s set in a world where humans are aware of other species and navigates the political and emotional landscape of living in a world where there are other humanoid rights to consider. The first season or two start off relatively normal for a show like this, but it quickly gets pretty weird as they introduce all sorts of outlandish mythical creates. It turns into a pretty wild ride, but it stays entertaining throughout. [Note: While most of the shows on my list feature heavy violence, this is the only one to also have copious amounts of nudity. Most of this list isn’t for kids, but this one especially isn’t.]
- Into the Badlands (Netflix, 3 seasons): This series is a lot different than the others on my list, mostly because it’s not horrific or gruesome in any real way. This is a good old-fashioned martial arts beat-em-up with some incredible choreography and a surprisingly captivating storyline. I didn’t think it was something I’d actually like until I started watching it out of pure boredom one day, so I was pleasantly surprised at how good it really is. This one was also cut short due to AMC’s cancellation of the series after just 3 seasons, but at least they tied it all up by the end.
- Breaking Bad (Netflix, 5 Seasons): If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, you’ve at least heard of it. It chronicles the journey of Walter White, a chemistry teacher gone drug kingpin after a cancer diagnosis. This storyline is dramatic, captivating, and explores just how far a man will go for his family … or if he’s doing any of this for his family in the first place. To this day, Walter White is one of my favorite superheroes of all time. When you’re finished with BB, you can also check out what happened after the end of season 5 in the Netflix original movie El Camino.
- Frontier (Netflix, 3 seasons): This Netflix original stars Jason Momoa as outlaw fur trader Declan Harp in 18th century Canada (which wasn’t Canada back then). The woven storylines are all compelling, and the acting is excellent in this dark and violent action series. There are only three seasons right now, and they’re relatively short at only six episodes each, so you could easily power through this one in a couple of days if you wanted to. There were rumors that a fourth season of the show was going to come at some point, but now that’s looking unlikely. I guess Mr. Momoa’s quick rise to fame leaves little time for extras like this. Damn.
- The Punisher (Netflix, 2 Seasons): We wanted to keep this list to shows with several seasons each, but I can’t not mention The Punisher on Netflix. I’ve probably watched each season of this show somewhere between 7-10 times each, and I will likely watch it many more times as I dread the day Netflix has to remove Marvel shows from its catalog. But I digress. You probably already know Frank Castle’s story and how he became The Punisher, but you probably haven’t seen him like this before (unless you’ve already watched the series, of course). It’s gritty, dark, and surprisingly human—not at all like the (dare I say) corny or over-the-top Punisher films of yore. If you haven’t already, I recommend watching Daredevil (Netflix, 3 seasons) on Netflix first, as season 2 is where Jon Bernthal makes his debut as Frank Castle/The Punisher. Also, the acting on Daredevil, in general, is some of the best I’ve ever seen, so it’s worth a watch either way.
Jason Fitzpatrick, Founding Editor
There are some really fantastic lighthearted picks floating around in this roundup. If you’re in need of some lighthearted binge material you should take advantage of them. Michael’s suggestion to watch Galavant truly is the levity we all need. You should listen to him.
My TV tastes, on the other hand, run a bit on the drier darker side. If my Netflix recommendation queue had a genre plate it would be “Weird European Shows, Maybe Some Sci-Fi”. And hey, if that’s your jam then I’m your DJ—but I’ll mix it up today and if you stay for the whole set I promise to slip in some lighthearted tracks at the end.
- Dark (Netflix, 2 seasons): German language; subtitles recommended over the English dub. The show starts off as what seems to be a pretty standard missing person mystery in the fictional town of Windem, Germany. But it quickly turns into a twisty, turny, slow-moving sci-fi thriller with a story that unfolds across multiple timelines and generations told in tandem. If you want a show that will have you taking notes, this is it. (That’s not hyperbole. My wife and I practically set up a stereotypical catch-the-serial-killer wall with push pins and string to keep things straight.)
- Black Spot (Netflix, 2 seasons): French language, subtitles recommended over the English dub. The story takes place in the fictional and quaint town of Villefranche, nestled deep in a beautiful and heavily forested mountain range. There we find the intersection of the lives of the townspeople, the police chief Captain Laurène Weiss, an out-of-town prosecutor sent to investigate a string of murders, and the forest itself. It’s a worthy slow burn with twists and subplots in spades. You certainly won’t look at the depths of a primeval forest the same way again.
- Twin Peaks (Netflix/Hulu seasons 1-2, Showtime season 3): Let’s get one thing clear. This show put weird TV on the map. The original two seasons aired between 1990-1991 and became an almost instant cult classic. People were glued to their televisions 9PM every Thursday—you know back when we watched TV live and on a schedule. The show follows the lives of different people in the eponymous mountain logging town, including the now-iconic Special Agent Dale Cooper, as they all wrestle to both untangle or cover up the mystery of the death of town sweetheart Laura Palmer. I would urge you to push through your initial reaction towards the very dated introduction and the overall weirdness of the tone. The first two seasons are a force to be experienced and they changed television drama forever. After that, by all means, catch the 25-years-later third season on Showtime to get more Twin Peaks goodness, but the original two seasons are must-watch TV.
- Wayward Pines (Hulu, 2 seasons): Wayward Pines is about a Secret Service agent visiting a remote town to investigate the disappearance of two federal agents and, of course, he gets tangled in a mystery. There are two ways to watch this show. The first five episodes stand on their own like a perfect miniseries. If you get to the end and are completely satisfied, then just turn it off right there. But you’ll likely be hooked and that means you’re in for the roller coaster of the next fifteen episodes. I’ll tell you this, no matter the low points, it’s worth hanging in for one reason. The performance by actor Djimon Hounsou in the second season episode “Time Will Tell” is so profoundly good it transcends the show itself.
- The Mighty Boosh (Prime Video, 3 seasons): You will absolutely love or hate me for this recommendation and I accept my fate in advance. The Mighty Boosh is a TV show spun off stage and radio comedy performed by the eponymous British comedy troupe. The troupe is composed of Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Michael Fielding, Dave Brown, and Rich Fulcher. Together, with their madcap plot lines, they deliver a mix of comedy and musical numbers while living in a surreal world that oftentimes feels only loosely based on a recollected fever dream of the one the rest of us are living in. I implore you to stay for the whole wild ride, but if you start the first season and want to get off the train, please humor me and watch Season 2 Episode 5 “The Legend of Old Gregg” and Season 3 Episode 4 “The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox”. The two episodes are peak Mighty Boosh, and you’ll thank me—I hope.
- Gravity Falls (Hulu / Disney+, 2 seasons): If you’ve made it this far through my recommendations and I’ve piqued your interest with the above suggestions but you’d like something that wraps them all up in a much lighter (and even kid-friendly) package, then you’re in luck. Gravity Falls is a BAFTA-winning animated mystery comedy series that is so much more brilliant than you would ever expect a Disney channel cartoon to be. If Twin Peaks and The X-Files had a baby, it would be this show. It stars Mabel and Dipper Pines, two very precocious twins that end up shuttled off to their Great Uncle Stan’s “Mystery Shack”, a delipidated but very mystery-filled road-side attraction in rural Gravity Falls, Oregon. They, as you imagine, spend their summer obsessed with the mysteries of the town. It’s not a “good enough to suffer through with your kids” recommendation, it’s a “so good you’ll binge watch it as a family” recommendation.
- Over the Garden Wall (Hulu, 1 season): This Emmy-winning show is a brief watch. Each episode is only 11 minutes long and the sum of the 10 episodes makes the miniseries more like a movie. None the less, it’s an absolutely amazing piece of work that follows the adventures of two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, as they leave the safety of their home and venture—over the titular garden wall of course—into the depths of a mysterious forest. It’s beautifully animated, features fantastic voice acting from the likes of Elijah Wood and Christopher Lloyd, and if I can say anything about the experience it’s to express sadness I’ll never watch it for the first time again. If you watch this show and don’t walk away randomly singing the song “Potatoes and Molasses”, you’re dead on the inside.
Josh Hendrickson, News Lead
Generally speaking, my TV preferences veer towards Sci-Fi and comedy. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that my absolute favorite show of all time is Doctor Who. You can stream that on … wait … it’s not on Amazon Prime anymore? It’s nowhere? Because HBO stole it for a service that doesn’t exist yet??? I can’t believe that! The whole point of streaming is supposed to be—
[Editor’s note: at this point, Josh spent a few hundred words explaining the issues with streaming services resembling cable. For your sake, we’ve removed that section. If you’re interested, you can read HTG’s article covering that exact topic.]
Fine. Well, obviously, as the local smart home expert, I’m going to delve into Star Trek for you. Oh come on, Andrew already did that? For crying out loud, this is total—
[Editor’s Note, we removed this crazy rant too.]
At any rate, I love shows that make you think, imagine, and laugh. Bonus points if it does all three. Here are my picks.
- Parks and Recreation (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, 7 seasons): You’ve probably heard of Parks and Recreation, and you might of think of it as “That show that’s like The Office only parks.” But while some aspects are similar, like talking heads, they’re very different shows. And, this will anger some of you, I don’t love The Office, but I adore Parks and Rec. If you’ve seen the show before, skip to season 3, where the show finds its legs. If this is your first go-round, try to power through the first two seasons. They’re not great, but your patience will pay off.
- Person of Interest (Netflix, 5 seasons): I don’t know whether to call Person of Interest a cop drama, a Sci-Fi show, or a secret reality. Someone created a machine that watches everyone everywhere to prevent national tragedies. But it ignores every day “irrelevant” people. Person of Interest starts as a show about saving those people. Eventually, it turns into a war between two AIs and a fight for the souls of humanity.
- The West Wing (Netflix, 7 seasons): Do you like shows that do the walk and talk? Well, The West Wing invented it. You’ll get a peek into a fictional White House during a Jed Bartlett’s tenure as president. No matter your politics, it’s easy to enjoy the dialog and intelligence of the show. And, depending on your politics, you’ll enjoy either the total successes or the complete failures of the administration. It’s good stuff.
- The Good Place (Netflix, season 1-3, NBC season 4): The Good Place is my favorite recent show. And, it’s already over, sadly. But that may be the best part about it—it didn’t stretch the show out until it turned terrible (looking at you, How I Met Your Mother). The show starts simply enough—Elanor died. But hey, she got into The Good Place! (Heaven, sorta) Buuuuuuuut, she doesn’t belong there. Crap. Now she needs to avoid getting caught, but it seems her mere presence is messing up heaven. And, so begins an amazing show with fantastic twists that’ll always leave you wanting one more. And, trust me, it ends on the perfect note.
- Scrubs (Hulu, 9 seasons): I have it on good authority that despite its comedic nature, Scrubs is one of the most “accurate” medical shows to grace TV. That’s evident by its recent viral status for an accurate portrayal of spreading germs. But it’s also a ball of laughs, from the Janitor’s antics to Cox’s Hugh Jackman rants. But, word of warning, skip the 9th season. The show ends perfectly in the 8th season, and they hoped to relaunch it with a new setup—it did not go well.
- Psych (Prime Video, 8 seasons): Do you want to watch Sherlock Holmes but with a really ridiculous premise? Enter Psych—starring Shawn Spencer, a man trained practically since birth to notice everything. But no one would believe he’s that smart (because he’s also pretty dumb), so he came up with a cover story to work alongside the police. He’s psychic! But if they ever find out the truth, they’ll put him in jail, and every crime he solved will unravel. It’s a premise so stupid sounding that I didn’t want to watch this show at first. But my wife watched it all the time, and I got sucked in. Boy, am I glad I did because it’s hilarious.
- Farscape (Prime Video, 4 seasons): Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with Farscape. Every few years, I decide to binge “the whole thing!” again. I try to do it and tap out around the point that the main character gets split into two copies of the same person who are both equally the original, and not clones. Confusing right? That’s Farscape. An astronaut, named John Crichton, was testing an experimental ship when he falls into a wormhole and ends up—somewhere. Before long he’s accused of crimes and on the run with other criminal aliens, trying to find a way home. Now, despite it’s “misfits lost in deep space” premise, it’s not Star Trek: Voyager (a good show) or Stargate: Universe (a bad show) or Space Cases (a good and bad children’s show). But it’s overall a good show, and one of the last great uses of Jim Henson puppets before CGI took over everything.
Michael Crider, Reviews Editor
When I’m watching TV, it’s usually either a sci-fi or a comedy of some kind, but I do have a soft spot for crime procedurals. I’ve picked out a few that combine plenty of episodes with wonderful casts and dialogue, so hopefully you’ll have lots to get through. Oh, and Galavant’s down there, because not enough people have watched it, and I keep hoping that Netflix will pick it up for a third season if I introduce enough new fans.
Please watch Galavant.
- Justified (Hulu, 6 seasons): This modern cops-and-robbers drama features wonderful character work, some of the best bad guys ever to grace TV, and razor-sharp dialog. Timothy Oliphant’s portrayal of bull-headed Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens is a highlight throughout, but even single-episode characters and blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameos are a delight. Watch it for a while and you’ll never want to leave Harlan County.
- Third Rock from the Sun (Prime Video, Roku Channel, Vudu Free, Tubi, 6 seasons): If you’ve enjoyed the Strange Planet comics that have been making the rounds on social media the last few years, you’ll love this show, because it’s the same setup with added farce. John Lithgow of Footloose and Shrek fame leads a cast of aliens who land in 1990s Ohio and blend in with the natives, with varying degrees of hilarious failure.
- Monk (Prime Video, 8 seasons): Ostensibly a weekly whodunit, Monk is a character study of its titular neurotic detective that straddles the line between comedy and grief. Tony Shaloub delivers a faultless performance as a genius thrown back into obsessive compulsive disorder after the death of his wife … which is much funnier than it sounds.
- Stargate SG-1 (Hulu, Prime Video, 10 seasons): A worthy successor to the original Star Trek, this TV sequel to the 1994 movie follows a team of humans that travel the galaxy via an ancient Egyptian portal. Alternately thought-provoking and hilarious, the real draw here is the world-building, mixing tropes of sci-fi with ancient civilizations and modern sensibilities. If 10 seasons isn’t enough, you can watch the sequel show Stargate Atlantis, too.
- Galavant (Netflix, 2 seasons): This musical deconstruction of fantasy is equal parts The Princess Bride and Futurama … with lots of singing. Give it a shot if you like musical theater (or the mocking thereof), and love seeing goofy guest stars belt out catchy tunes. Only two short seasons, you can run through the entire story of Galavant in a weekend.
- Archer (Hulu, 10 seasons): A James Bond spoof on the surface, the dialogue and world of Archer is so much deeper than you’d expect from an animated comedy. Even the most well-read will have to keep Wikipedia handy for some of the show’s humor, but the cast and relationships start to grow on you almost immediately. Later seasons, which take place in temporary noir, adventure, and sci-fi settings, are less endearing.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix, 8 seasons): If you’re looking for a new sci-fi to watch with your kids that won’t bore you to tears, this is it. The show’s colorful robots and appealing alien designs are fine on their own, but its unfolding story and light humor are surprisingly solid for an ’80s reboot. The seasons are short—over 8 of them there are less than 80 full episodes.
Suzanne Humphries, Staff Writer
The Magicians NBC-Universal
When I come across a TV show with a well-thought-out world and characters that quietly beg me to listen to their story, how can I say no? I can’t help but root for the tragic and disadvantaged. I’m also a sucker for writers who are willing to push the boundaries of their characters because that’s where something interesting begins to happen. And, seeing those characters push through horrible struggles and emerge victorious (and stronger) is always worth it. And, sometimes I like absurdist humor.
- The Magicians (Netflix, 4 seasons): A beautiful fantasy show in which Quentin Coldwater accidentally discovers then enrolls in Brakebills University, a school that teaches magic. Quentin and his friends (and their magical abilities) go up against serious monsters and global threats from a fantasy dimension previously only thought to be in a book series Quentin read as a child. This show is immensely creative and full of plot twists, so it’s nearly impossible to predict. High production value and impeccable casting make it easy to get sucked in. Trigger warning for violence and sexual themes; definitely not for kids.
- Lost Girl (Netflix, 5 seasons): The show follows a bisexual succubus, Bo, as she learns about her special powers and the supernatural world that was hidden from her for her entire life until now. Conflict stems from her refusal to join neither the light nor dark sides that dominate that hidden world. Bo uses her powers (and those of her friends) to solve crimes and fight off threats and monsters along the way. This Canadian supernatural drama deserves more attention for its immersive world-building, sex positivity, and interesting use of Irish mythology.
- What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu, 1 season): Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi are at the helm of this documentary-style comedy horror show (based on their film of the same name) centering around four vampires that have been roommates for centuries (and who are, frankly, narcissistic idiots). BAT!
- iZombie, (Netflix, 5 Seasons): Liv Moore, an overachieving medical student turned zombie morgue attendant, eats the brains of recently deceased victims to help solve their murder cases. Actress Rose McIver is nothing short of enchanting as she acts her way through the various personalities, and the show’s overall arc of zombies versus humanity mirrors her own efforts to put her own post-human life back together.
- Jessica Jones (Netflix, 3 seasons): Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the show follows former superhero Jessica Jones as she runs her own detective agency (Alias Investigations) in Hell’s Kitchen. With its noir feel, Jessica’s no-patience-for-your-bullshit attitude, and David Tennant’s a-ma-zing performance as season one’s Killgrave, I can’t recommend the show more. Be aware, the show touches on dark issues, so keep the kiddos away.
- Watchmen (HBO, 1 season): Nothing I write about this show will do it justice, because it’s Simply. That. Good. Based on the DC Comics series of the same name, the show is “technically” a sequel to the comic series, taking place 34 years later. The show is set in an alternate universe of 20th century Tulsa, Oklahoma. It focuses on police detective Angela Abar’s story, which is wrapped around vigilantes and a terrible white supremacist group waging war against minorities and those friendly to them. With a powerful score by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and musician/producer Atticus Ross (and with that black and white episode), you won’t regret watching this show. Oh, and it’s not for kids. Like at all.
- Portlandia (Netflix, 8 seasons): This sketch comedy show pokes gentle fun at its namesake city: Portland, Oregon. Actors Fred Armisen (of SNL fame) and singer Carrie Brownstein carry the show across standalone and recurring sketches. Armisen’s and Brownstein’s characters are love/annoy, and its many guest stars, like Edward James Olmos, Aubrey Plaza, Kyle MacLachlan, and Jack White add weird yet funny touches to the show. Put a bird on it!
Yeah, that’s a pretty hefty list that covers a pretty wide range of shows. It’s unlikely that anyone will like all of it, but there should at least be something for everyone. Hopefully, anyway.