No one wants to get all serious and melancholy on New Year’s Eve. Not on purpose, anyway. We’ve had our head in the news and current events all week but let’s step back for just a few minutes and enjoy some banality. After all, it’s not really New Year’s until you’ve read at least one Top 10 post, is it?
You might have a couple of days of this time of year and want some suggestions for some good shows to binge. So here are the Top 10 binge-worthy shows (in no particular order) of 2016, from a self-described tv junkie.
- Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) – This half-hour dramedy stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters. Bernal is the young, talented eccentric conductor brought in to revitalize the New York Symphony. Part sitcom, part soap opera, part romantic comedy this show has 3 seasons for you to binge. The episodes are short, the characters are quickly endearing and the writing is witty. In the end, this is a show about love in all it’s crazy forms.
- Man in the High Castle (Amazon) – Based on a Philip K. Dick story of the same title, this suspense drama is about an alternative universe where the Germans and the Japanese won World War II and now occupy the United States. As demoralized Americans struggle to cope after the war, a plot of intrigue, espionage and escape begins to unfold. There are a lot of storylines to keep up with and the “pay-off” is still developing after two seasons, but if you’re into spy thrillers and alternative timelines this is a great show to binge. So far there are 2 seasons.
- The OA (Netflix) – This show is weird. 30-something Prairie has been missing for seven years when one cold winter’s evening she shows up suddenly on a bridge. We meet her just in time to see her jump. She wakes up in the hospital and from there the show becomes a mystery/thriller/supernatural adventure. The strange nature of this hour-long drama drives the viewer to keep watching. You’ll want answers. You may or may not be satisfied with the ones you get but the ride breathtaking.
- The Americans (FX) – A Cold-War era spy thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings seem like the perfect 80s American family. In reality they are embedded KGB spies. This show perfectly captures the essence of American life during the Cold War. As the couple befriends the FBI agent living across the street the show becomes a mixture of cat and mouse and drama. With four seasons to binge, this show does an amazing job making care for the protagonists almost as much as you hope they get caught. This is a great show to binge on a dreary afternoon.
- Westworld (HBO) – Based on a 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name, IMDB describes this show thusly- “Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness.” There is a mystery to unravel and the cast is excellent, but it does meander a bit. It’s pace makes it a great show to binge. In fact, binging is probably the best way to watch this fascinating thriller.
- The Path (Hulu) – Breaking Bad fans will be happy to see Aaron Paul back on the small screen as Eddie Lane, a long-time cult member who is beginning to have doubts about his Scientology-like religion. This creates complications as he is married to one of the top executives in the cult. Season two begins in January, so now is the perfect time to catch up on this engaging drama/thriller. It seems especially relevant as Leah Remini’s recent docu-series exposing the horrors of Scientology is burning up the tv charts. The Path’s religion – Myerism – is an almost exact replica of Scientology.
- Atlanta (FX) – There isn’t a great way to describe this show. Community’s Donald Glover left a hit show in the prime of his career because he thought he had more creative projects in him. It seemed like a crazy thing for a young artist to do at the time, but if Atlanta is any indication he clearly did the right thing. Atlanta follows Ernie (Glover) as he struggles to manage his cousin’s growing rap career in the underground Atlanta rap scene. Nothing much happens…and that’s the point. It’s an odd, amusing, realistic peek into the world of a young black man struggling with growing up and making a living. If you’re still on the fence, Episode 7 will make you a believer when you see Paper Boi struggling to understand an angry, feminist SJW on a local cable show panel.
- Colony (USA) – L.A. is invaded by unseen forces (aliens? We’re never really sure) and has become a walled-in city. A former FBI agent and his wife (a secret member of the resistance) struggle to find their son outside the formidable wall. This show has action, intrigue and mystery. It only has one season but returns this winter to USA, so now is a great time to get caught up.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW) – This show won an Emmy for it’s lead, Rachel Bloom. The half-hour musical comedy (yes, it’s a musical) is hilarious and endearingly odd. Bloom plays a young New York City attorney who is unhappy with her life and on a whim moves to West Covina, CA to be close pursue a man she once had a crush on in summer camp as a teenager. Each episode is full of fun musical numbers and nutty situations. The content is decidedly adult, so don’t watch this with the little ones. My favorite thing about this show is that Bloom isn’t the typical starving waif of a starlet. She is a curvy, regular-looking Broadway actress and the show allows her to embrace that. The cast is excellent and the writing is original. This show is deserving of all it’s Season 1 accolades.
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) – If you’re a fan of Tina Fey and 30 Rock you’ll love this show that stars Parks and Recreation’s Ellie Kemper and 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski. After 15 years trapped by a cult leader (Jon Hamm) in an underground bunker, Kimmie Schmidt must now figure out her way in the world and head to New York to start a new life. Broadway vet Titus Burgess is pitch perfect as Kimmie’s roommate and oddball best friend. This show is eminently quotable and provides guaranteed laughs each episode. Some of the content is adult so be careful when watching with any kids under 14.
Honorable Mention: Stranger Things (Netflix) – probably the best show of 2016. I only left it off the list because I figured most people had heard of it by now and I wanted to give you some options you might not have considered before. But if you haven’t seen this show…WATCH IT….NOW!
Hopefully you’ll find one or two new shows in this list to keep you entertained during your holiday down time. Happy Binging!