[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you are not feeling the start of the semester, and you’re ready to wrap yourself up in a blanket burrito and sit alone in a basement for a week just binging the best of television, this feature is for you. A handful of our writers have put together this list of the most bingeable shows of all time so that you can curl up on the sofa and get the much-needed break you deserve!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There are plenty of better TV shows out there, but I would argue that there is absolutely no TV show more binge-watchable than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, it’s a little cheesy by today’s standards, and the show’s quality across its seven seasons is far from consistent. But what this show lacks in coherent story arcs and special effects that stand the test of time, it makes up in lovable, well-realised characters and fantastic, sharp writing. It’s a credit to its team that Buffy somehow manages to function as an addictive teen drama, an impressively high-concept supernatural horror, and a witty slapstick comedy all at once. Its best episodes — and seriously, there are at least 20 all-time great episodes — manage to balance all of these aims at once, making for something that TV viewers had never seen before and lesser shows are still trying to replicate.
If you’re planning on binge-watching Buffy (and you won’t regret it if you do), here are a couple of things to keep in mind: a) the first season is mostly terrible, and you can either power through it or read the Wikipedia entry and skip straight to season two; b) do not read up on the series before watching it, as there are several big spoilers that will seriously hinder your enjoyment of the show going forward; c) the latter two seasons were aired on a different network after the show was booted from The WB, which is why those seasons are trying so hard to be ‘dark’ and ‘gritty.’ Despite all that, some of the series’ best episodes are to be found in its late run; and d) if you get really into the show, keep in mind that the story has been continued by Joss Whedon and company as a comic book that serves as the series’ canonical eighth season.
Daredevil tells the story of the superhero named… well, Daredevil. He is a lawyer by day, and crimefighter by night who was blinded at an early age due to exposure to a mysterious chemical — that same chemical gave him unparalleled senses.
Apart from the beyond-belief non-visual senses, Daredevil is relatively realistic and gritty for a superhero show. It is truly refreshing to have a relatable superhero, and that’s probably why this show is so addicting and easy to binge watch. Daredevil starts with just a quickly thrown together costume and his fists, but he fights small-time criminals with the ultimate goal of uprooting corruption and greed in the city of New York. He doesn’t fight epic battles against alien invaders, but he saves children from kidnappers and protects fleeing wives from their abusive husbands.
Daredevil promises a much more human experience than other Marvel titles. Once you start watching Daredevil I promise you will not be able to stop, and Netflix has your back: All 26, hour-long episodes from seasons one and two are available right now. What are you waiting for?
I’ve seen this series from start to finish more than 10 times. It’s gotten me through breakups, exams, weekends off, and all bits of life in between. Psych is simple in its concept: two best friends, Shawn and Gus, are consultants for the Santa Barbara police and always find themselves in some outrageous circumstance. Shawn has an unbelievable memory and Sherlock-like crime solving ability. Gus is his lifelong best friend and a type-A, tightly wound, lovable guy. Imagine The Mentalist as an hour-long comedy and you’ve got Psych. Shawn, the son of a cop, was just a little too goofy and rebellious to make it as a cop himself, so he started a psychic detective agency so that he could use his skills to help people, all the while bending the law. While his dad and Gus know the truth, to the rest of Santa Barbara, he is truly a psychic.
My love for this show is almost unhealthy. I first binged Psych two years ago, right as it was going off air, and fell in love with it. I got through the whole series in a matter of months and haven’t ever really stopped watching it since. The plots to each episode are excellent, and humour is perfect — but what really keeps pulling me back is the friendship between the two leading characters, Shawn and Gus. You can’t help but fall in love with them. Like many Psych fans, I would love to insert myself into the show and join in on their goofy antics. The whole series is available on Netflix and there are always reruns on the air. For anyone looking to go full hermit for a week, I cannot recommend this show enough.
Are You the One
Reality show Are You the One? is superficial, dramatic, stuffed with tropes, and not to be missed. In the MTV show, 10 men and 10 women are put into a mansion. Each of them has a “perfect match.” Think OkCupid, but matchmakers interview the participants beforehand as well as their family, friends, and exes. The catch? The participants don’t know who in the house is their match. Over the course of several weeks, the 20 individuals must whittle down their potential couples.
At weekly matchup ceremonies, they hazard a guess at potential pairs. Here, they’ll find out how many of their guesses are correct, but not which ones. If every couple is correct, they’ll win $1-million (split 20 ways) and, theoretically, true love. If at the end of the show they don’t guess all 10 couples correctly, they’ll walk away with nothing. While it markets itself as a “social experiment,” the show is nowhere near scientifically legitimate. The basic formula for the show is (unlimited free alcohol) + (20 hormonally charged twenty-somethings) = trouble. Are You the One? is as ridiculous as it sounds — and that’s why I like it. The show leans unabashedly into tropes. Intentionally or not, this skewers our collective fascinations with reality show farce.
On Are You the One?, participants have to genuinely be in search of love — until love gets in the way of everyone else’s financial gain. Consequently, the individuals aren’t always authentic or even likeable. They scheme, manipulate, pick fights, and betray others in service of themselves. But sometimes they’re lovely, funny, and touching. They’re utterly human, and so you root for them. It’s The Bachelor and Big Brother all in one, with a bottle of Malibu in its hand. With three seasons under its belt, Are You the One? should last you through the summer.
Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” If these words don’t ring any bells of nostalgia for you, then you need to hurry the fuck up and watch both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Sure, these are technically two separate series, but they take place within the same universe so I’m going to treat them as one. Both are created by producers-slash-visionaries Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, and both are pinnacles of outstanding television.
Taking place in a world where people have the power to manipulate the elements with their energy, these series focus on the adventures of two reincarnations of “the Avatar”: one who can manipulate all four elements and connect to another “dimension” called the Spirit World. Avatar: The Last Airbender (A:TLA) centers around Aang, a preteen Airbender who wakes up from 100 years spent frozen under ice to find that most people believe they have been abandoned by the Avatar. Meanwhile, The Legend of Korra (LoK) takes place 70 years after the events of A:TLA and focuses on the growth of Korra, a brash teenage Water Tribe girl who runs away from her sheltered upbringing to a big city.
Though LoK is commonly seen as less of a masterpiece than A:TLA, it has the excuse of being a shorter series, with less time to explore ideas in-depth the way its predecessor did. Anyone who is a fan of animation, martial arts, Eastern philosophies, history, or TV in general really must watch these. Even if you’ve watched them already, I’d say they’re worth another go around — currently, I’ve watched both series about four times, and each time they get better. Collectively, it only takes about 46 hours to watch both series all the way through — so get on it!
It’s been said that Adventure Time is a magical cartoon show for children that also works for adults. Steven Universe is a more satisfying Cartoon Network product, complete with a linear storyline. The show revolves around boy hero Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems, who watch over as he grows and learns the role he plays in the future of the Earth. The Crystal Gems are genderless aliens (taking on the form of women) who came from outer space to protect Earth from rogue Gems many years ago, and during their time one of them fell in love with a man named Greg Universe. They had a child, who became the first ever human-Gem hybrid, and that’s how Steven came to be.
Plot aside, the real strength of this show comes out in its themes. Steven Universe is an incredibly progressive show for children that deals with gender and sexuality with a lot of kid-friendly metaphors. Also, the show has very good physical representation, with the animation team taking advantage of their creative freedoms to show a lot of different body types, with each playing to the strengths but also recognizing their flaws in a healthy, organic manner. This might just be the best show as an intro to intersectional feminism, and the fact that it’s aimed at children doesn’t hurt how impactful all the lessons can be for viewers of all ages.
The show starts a little slowly as it builds up the universe (pun intended) that it exists within. However, with each episode being just 11 minutes long, it isn’t hard to breeze through the fun beginnings until the storyline takes over once everything has been established. The show has finished season two, and is the perfect television show to complement how fun and magical you want your summer to be.
What happens when you mix one part Corner Gas, two parts Trailer Park Boys, and a whole lot of sass? You get a fantastic Canadian TV show, Letterkenny, that’s what.
Letterkenny is a show named after a small Ontario town filled with characters that play into long-held Canadian stereotypes. The setting feels like Dog River in Corner Gas, with farmland as far as the eye can see, and a town bar where everyone meets to get, and I quote, “absolutely interplanetary.” However, if you’re looking for a show with the squeaky-clean humour seen in Corner Gas, I’m afraid you’re definitely in the wrong place.
While I’ve never lived in a small town, I’ve certainly met the many types of characters present in the show, such as overly enthusiastic hockey players, and farmers with more wit than Yogi Berra. It’s that wit that makes the show: the main characters Wayne and Daryl can verbally beat down anyone with lethal one-liners, and with their fists if push comes to shove. All that, combined with the brashness of Trailer Park Boys, makes for a great time. This show has great physical humour working in tandem with hilarious line delivery. If you’re looking for some premium Canadian content to watch this summer, here’s your series.
There are six episodes, each around 30 minutes long, so it is incredibly easy to binge watch this show in one afternoon. I recommend that you watch the credits as well, as there are awesome bonus scenes after they finish rolling.
Doctor Who (2005)
Vincent Justin Mitra
Doctor Who is the 2005 revival of the British sci-fi show which originally ran from 1963 to 1989. The show follows The Doctor (an alien who looks human) while he travels in his spaceship/time machine (which looks like a police telephone box) with the help of his companions. The show stands out for its constantly changing cast of characters and the driving concept of The Doctor as someone “never cruel or cowardly” and “never giving up, never giving in.”
This is a great binge-show because there is so much variety in tone and location from episode to episode. Stories have been set in the Wild West, a space station, Victorian London, 1930s New York, New New York, an alternate universe, outside the universe, the end of the universe, an asteroid orbiting a black hole, and Utah, with stories that range in tone from grand to personal, zany to spooky, tragic to uplifting. Plus, having finished its ninth season this past December, there’s a huge number of episodes available, and that’s not even counting the classic, pre-revival episodes.
The episodes are mostly stand-alone, often only loosely connected to each other or the story arc for that season, and the title character changes his face and personality rather often. You can start at the beginning, or you could hop around to whichever episodes look interesting and still get more or less the same experience. If you have Netflix, then getting through the eight seasons since the revival will be a breeze. To get a good overview, I recommend starting with “Blink” from season three, “A Christmas Carol” from season six, and “The Empty Child” from season one.
Game of Thrones
The drama of Westeros was meant to be binged. The first time I watched this show was just as season three was about to air on HBO. From the moment the intro began I was hooked. The amount of detail placed into the opening sequence is insane. It is one of the few opening sequences that makes me feel bad if I miss part of it.
Aside from the detail of the show — which requires multiple viewings to fully grasp — the way the cliff-hangers are spaced throughout the season you can’t not binge it. You need to know what happens and having to wait a week between new episodes is the actual worst (I was there for part of season three and then season four and five I HATED IT.) If you are just starting out you will be fine, unless you go full hermit and watch all five seasons in just under a week, as each season has a total runtime of about 10 hours. But that is a problem for future you to figure out, because it will happen.
One thing to keep in mind when watching this show is that it is not for the emotionally fragile, or anybody who gets squeamish at the sight of blood, guts, and gore. The creators didn’t hold back on any of the sex, violence, or need to keep characters around only because they are ‘important’ that was present in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire.
If the 9.5/10 IMDb rating doesn’t convince you of how well-done this show is, nothing I can say will. Just remember that if you get hooked on Game of Thrones, you will start to get super involved in fan theories and obsessively trying to find out as much as possible while avoiding spoilers. It is a roller-coaster that sends you up one side of the Wall and down the other, but I wouldn’t change anything about this show, or deny its binge-ability.