Happy Tuesday! I hope you are all staying safe, staying away from crowds when you can, and washing your hands regularly. I spent yesterday updating my blog calendar to provide more timely content given what’s happening in the world right now. Since we’re all going to be home a lot more, this will inevitably mean more TV time. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 best HBO & Netflix TV shows to binge while you’re stuck at home.
For my list of top 10 shows, these are series that have more than one season that you can actually binge for multiple days. But wait there’s more! I also included 6 additional shows on this list: 3 with just a single season, and 3 on other streaming services that I couldn’t not include.
Have any suggestions for top HBO or Netflix TV shows that didn’t make my list? I’d love to know what you’re streaming in the comments. Please share!
When You Want The Classics
1. Sex and the City (HBO)
I don’t think I need to explain this one, but SATC works wonders on making me feel better. On a bad day, when it’s raining, when I miss my friends, and I guess now when I’m at home trying to social distance. Turn on the TV, make yourself a cosmo, and co-watch via FaceTime with your BFF.
2. Entourage (HBO)
While we’re on the subject of nostalgia and the better days of hanging out with friends, you may as well turn on Entourage. Although I admit the later seasons got terrible as they ran out of things to talk about, Entourage has enough seasons to keep you entertained, particularly when you’re multitasking and just need some background noise.
3. Mad Men (Netflix)
I mean, is there anything better than Jon Hamm in a suit? No. I love Mad Men not only for the actors, but the storyline, the costumes, and the range of cultural events they show throughout the series. Plus, other than Sex and The City, its’ the closest I’ll get to NYC for a bit.
When You Want to be Serious
4. Dexter (Netflix)
I got on the Dexter train after the show already ended, but better late than never, right? Long story short, Dexter is a vigilante serial killer who also happens to work at Miami Police Department. Somehow even though he’s doing the same thing as all these killers, you’re somehow rooting for him since he’s killing off “the bad guys.”
5. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Chances are you may have already seen every episode of Game of Thrones. Or maybe you stayed away from this show because it’s all anyone talked about on Monday morning for eight years. Either way, now is as good of a time as ever to watch GOT.
Matt and I re-started the season on and off pre-COVID quarantine, and every time we re-watched an episode, we always found something new that we didn’t catch before. Also let’s be real, there’s so much that happens in each episode that by the end of the series you’re kind of like, “How did we get here?!”
6. Bates Motel (Netflix)
Bates Motel is a modern prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Norman Bates (played creepily well by Freddie Highmore) has the weirdest relationship with his mom (Vera Farmiga). It’s part thriller, part drama, and so good. It follows the life of Norman as he slowly mentally unravels prior to where Pyscho starts.
The three shows in this section are all very heavy, and I personally don’t recommend watching episode after episode. (One time I thought someone was going to put a needle in my throat a la Dexter at the gas station, so I had to take a break from the series.) So in between these darker HBO and Netflix TV shows, supplement with the following.
When You Want a Laugh
7. Jane the Virgin (Netflix)
I had a really low standard for this CW series, but Jane the Virgin turned out to be one of my favorite shows. And I’m not talking about just between HBO and Netflix TV shows. I mean EVER. I cried when it ended. It’s a satire on Latin American telenovelas (aka soap operas) and so each show is set up with a narrator guiding the screen play along for each episode.
The show follows Jane raising her son after she gets accidentally artificially inseminated by an alcoholic doctor. And that’s just the first episode! True to telenovela form, I often found myself crying and laughing in the same episode. The real question is – are you #TeamMichael or #TeamRaf?
8. Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)
I don’t think I’ve ever binged a show quicker than Schitt’s Creek. A wealthy family loses everything after their finance guy messes up, and the only thing they’re left with is a town the dad bought his son as a prank – Schitt’s Creek. It’s a hilarious comedy about a displaced family trying to now fit in to a town in the middle of nowhere, but over time they all find their place. (There are two episodes left of the current season, on the PoP Network.)
9. New Girl (Netflix)
I love shows like New Girl because you don’t have to necessarily watch any of these episodes in order. This is a great show to put on in the background while you work from home. Jess and the rest of her quirky roommates all provide comic relief for today’s situation, and it’s always lighthearted.
10. That 70s Show (Netflix)
Technically That 70s Show could also fall in “The Classics” section of this post, but I put it here solely for the laughs. Ashton Kutcher still might be the dumbest TV character of all time (in a good way), and nostalgia like this may be just what you need right now. Just like New Girl, I like that you can watch separate episodes if you don’t want to binge from start to finish.
One Season Favorites
The Jinx (HBO)
I’ve watched The Jinx at least three times and it’s just as good every time. I am really into true crime documentaries and podcasts, so if that’s your jam then you’ll enjoy this, too. Two filmmakers go on a quest to interview Robert Durst, a NYC real estate heir and murder suspect since 1982.
This has already been in the news so it’s not a spoiler alert, (and they won an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary) but they catch his confession on camera, marking a pivotal moment in many unsolved murder cases over the years.
The Night Of (HBO)
This show left me feeling a lot of emotions. A young and innocent Pakistani college student is in the wrong place at the wrong time and sentenced to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. As the show progresses, you see his demise and despite his innocence, unsure of where he should be when the series ends. I don’t want to explain too much of this show, but just know it was nominated for 8 Emmy Awards.
Next in Fashion (Netflix)
Next in Fashion is Project Runway meets Queer Eye. Alexa Chung and Tan France host this reality competition between fashion designers, and the top designer gets a capsule collection sold on Net-A-Porter. It’s not a groundbreaking show, but it’s entertaining and a nice change of pace to trashy reality shows we can’t seem to escape. You won’t lose brain cells on this one, and if you love fashion, you’ll enjoy this.
Other Streaming Favorites
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But the characters grow on you. Much like Mad Men, you fall in love with the story, the costumes, and the retro era of NYC in the 1950s. Midge has a perfect life on the Upper West Side until her husband and wannabe comedian cheats on her. She then gets absolutely drunk, goes to the comedy club, and crushes an impromptu set.
From there, the show follows the ups and downs of newly single-Midge trying to start over from her picture perfect life. Lots of laughs, but also serious parts make this show an A+.
Happy Endings (Hulu)
Oh man, I think Happy Endings is such an underrated show and I’m still sad it got cancelled. Think of it as a modern version of Friends set in Chicago. Here’s the super quick 4-1-1: Alex leaves Dave at the altar on their wedding day, and from there on out it’s a hot mess between all of the friends trying to keep their group together.
Cougar Town (Hulu)
To be honest, I haven’t watched every single episode of Cougar Town. However, Courteney Cox’s obsession with wine in this series led me to put this show on here as a wild card pick. It’s basically just a motley crew of wacky neighbors, ex-husbands, and friends all trying to figure out life together. Watch this is you need something lighthearted, and don’t forget the wine.
What are your favorite HBO and/or Netflix TV shows to binge? Leave them in the comments below, and stay safe!