Whether it is with your other half, best friend, your fur-babies or the popcorn bowl, binge-watching is the new date night. Online streaming service Netflix carried out a survey in 2014 and found that 73 per cent of people define binge-watching as “watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.” If this is your idea of a fun evening after a hard day at the office, here are 15 of our top TV shows to binge on.
1) Orange is the New Black (2013 – present)
Orange is the New Black became an instant hit when it first premiered on Netflix back in 2013. And what is not to love about it. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a thirty-something woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison after a foolish mistake with her drug-dealing ex-girlfriend comes back to haunt her. The show is based on ex-prison inmate Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. The show expands on the book and introduces some of televisions funniest and memorable characters in Galina “Red” Reznikov (Kate Mulgrew), Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren (Uzo Aduba) and Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson (Danielle Brooks). It is hard not to binge this show when Netflix decides to wait a whole year before giving us a full season in one go.
2) Nashville (2012 – present)
ABC may have canceled it but thankfully this country musical drama was picked up by American channel CMT for a fifth season, so our E4 readers can be happy knowing the show will return in the near future. In the mean time, you should binge watch the first four seasons. The series follows the lives of various fictitious country music singers like Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), a legendary country music superstar, whose stardom begins to fade as rising younger star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) aims to take the throne from her. The clear-cut writing and extremely blunt portrayal of Rayna’s business dealings show of this series amazing characters and real-life situations of Nashville.
3) Luther (2015 – present)
The BBC hit it on the head with this one. The crime drama follows the life of genius murder detective DCI John Luther (Idris Elba). He is a dedicated police officer who has paid a heavy price for his pull towards the darkness of the crimes he tries to solve. For Luther, the job comes first. His obsession with his crimes is a curse and a blessing for both him and those close to him. When he meets Alice (Ruth Wilson), a psychopath and murderer, her parents and dog have just been murdered. The following cat-and-mouse game between the two provides a fascinating, ongoing storyline that gives Luther an edge you don’t see on most procedural dramas.
4) The Fall (2013 – present )
Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), a senior police officer is investigating a string of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. When it is clear that she has a serial killer on her hands, the local detectives must work with Stella to find and capture Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) who is attacking young professional women in Belfast. The contrast between what is good and evil is what makes this show so addicting.
5) Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – present )
It has been going strong for 11 years and it does not look like the US medical drama will be ending soon. The series starts out with a group of surgical interns; Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), George O’Malley (T R Knight) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) as they begin working at Seattle Grace Hospital. As the series unfolds we see the lives of the surgical interns, residents, and attending’s as they evolve into experienced doctors, while trying to maintain personal lives and relationships. Filled with tears, laughter and a lot of drama, it may take you some time to get through, but is certainly worth the bother to see if Meredith will eventually get with her boss, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
6) Modern Family (2009 – present )
If your life was to be documented by a Dutch documentary crew, don’t you think hilarity and mayhem would ensue? For the lives of three different but related families, this is the case. Featuring gay couple, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Eric Stonestreet), and their daughter Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons); straight couple, Claire (Julie Brown) and Phil (Ty Burrell), and their three children, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould); and multicultural couple, Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara), and their son Manny (Rico Rodriguez) this show was set up to make us laugh from the start. It is fast, fresh and filled with quick-witted jokes and perfectly captures the experience of parenthood: chaotic and embarrassing.
7) Outlander (2014 – present )
Time-travel and romance, what more could you ask for? Outlander is a British-American series based on the historical time travel novels of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. The show beings in 1945 with former World War Two nurse Claire Randall (Caitrona Balfe) and her husband Frank (Sam Heughan) visiting Inverness exploring the standing stones at Craigh na Dun. Claire faints after she touches one of the stones and awakens in the middle of what appears to be a battle between Redcoats and rebel Scottish Highlanders. Someone who looks exactly like Frank rescues her from an attack. When she notices that the man is Frank’s ancestor she realises that she has travelled back in time to 1743. What a way to end the day.
8) Game of Thrones (2011 – present)
Sex, murder, comedy, treason, incest, dragons, it must be Game of Thrones, but to sum it up is a challenge. The best way to describe this harrowing and fantastical tale is several noble houses fight a civil war over who should be king, while exiled princess, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) tries to find her place in the world. If that is not enough, the kingdom is threatened by an uprising supernatural threat in the north.
9) Boardwalk Empire (2010 – 2014)
In the era of prohibition, Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is hell-bent on making his seaside resort the bootleg capital of America. Based in Atlantic City, the rules do not apply Nucky is the guy you want to know if you want to get your hands on some alcohol. He makes it big by selling to the biggest gangsters in the US like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and ‘Big Jim’ Colosimo. Everything is going great until former protégé James “Jimmy” Darmody (Michael Pitt) takes matters into his own hands, setting the Feds on Nucky’s tail. It is fascinating, engaging and slowly shows how and why the characters are the way they are.
10) The Good Wife (2009 – 2016)
If ever there was a show that perfectly enraptures the strong, hard working woman, this is it. Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguilies) has had to return to her career as a lawyer in order to provide for her children after her husband, Peter (Chris Noth aka Mr Big in Sex and The City) is jailed following the exposure of his political corruption and sex scandal. With a strong cast and tightly written scripts, The Good Wife is one of the perfect drama’s to binge watch. It is different from other legal dramas as it brings in aspects from real-life political/sex scandals that have been sensationalised in the media.
11) The Affair (2014 – present)
You will be kept on the edge of you seat with this mystery/psychological drama. Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson) are caught up in an affair which is a train wreck from the get go – look out for Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson, who plays Alison long-suffering husband. You won’t be able to stop looking, waiting for them to be caught out. Being told from both sides of the affair, it is deliberately slow paced and brings you into the world of deceit and the meaning of being alive in a web of lies. Grab the popcorn and prepare for emotions to run wild.
12) House of Cards (2013 – present)
Another Netflix hit, House of Cards is about ruthless pragmatism, manipulation and power. Because Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) was passed up for Secretary of State, he starts an elaborate plan with wife Carrie Underwood (Robin Wright) that will put him in a great position of power, the President of the United States. Spacey plays the ‘devil’ perfectly and what sets this aside to other political dramas is his constant breaking of the fourth wall. He is so menacing and it is as if he is talking to you personally. So chilling.
13) Entourage (2004 – 2011)
It is the lifestyle of the young and famous. This comedy revolves around the life of upcoming heartthrob Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his close net of friends. Funny and true to life, we catch a glimpse into the lives of actors as they take on roles and career moves that may or may not be a good idea. Vincent tends to get a bit out of control and does not listen to his representatives, which sometimes gets him in trouble. Entourage is a fun, thrilling, dramatic, comedy show that will not waste your time.
14) Madam Secretary (2014 – present)
Another empowering series about women in a high position. We certainly need more of these. In this instance, our main character is the United States Secretary of State. Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) tries to balance her work and family life, which proves to be a struggle considering her new job. Do not expect to be educated on American politics as this drama is not 100% accurate. But it is entertaining. The chemistry between Elizabeth and her head of staff, Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth) is fantastic as is with the portrayal of Elizabeth and her husband Henry (Tim Daly).
15) Chicago Fire (2012 – 2016)
Pass the water bucket, we have hot men in uniform. But that’s not all Chicago Fire has to offer. Following the death of a veteran Firefighter, the loyalties of the Chicago Fire Department are split as two Lieutenants, Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) – who you might remember as Billy Kennedy in the Australian soap Neighbours or starring alongside Hugh Laurie in House – and Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) who blame themselves for his death. It is exciting, fast-paced and plenty of characters to become attached to. This is the best type of show where you can curl up on your sofa and watch the cast do some pretty amazing things. Look out for Sex and The City’s Steve Brady (David Eigenberg) in the show!
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