Let’s pause to mourn a few of our TV losses this year, shall we? Good night, sweet Mad Men. Downton Abbey, may you live on in our memories. Hannibal, we hardly knew ye.
When you’ve invested hours of your life in following your favorite show, it leaves an awfully big hole when it’s gone. It’s inevitable, though: Just as you can count on death and taxes, every TV series must eventually come to an end.
So what do you do now? With a nearly endless selection of both new releases and old favorites available at a tap of your touch screen, finding another binge-worthy show can feel a bit overwhelming. You can’t possibly see everything. How can you know what’s worthy of your precious time?
Don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of 10 binge-worthy shows, from the latest, must-see series to hidden gems and forgotten classics. While TV binging is largely a matter of taste, all of our choices that were reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes have an above-average rating. In fact, nothing on our list scored below 75 percent, so you can be confident that critics and other viewers found these shows worthwhile.
Since all of these shows are excellent, we’re presenting them in unbiased alphabetical order:
Bojack Horseman (2014-present)
Available on Netflix, Bojack Horseman is adored by critics, and once you dive in, you’ll understand why. It’s a cartoon, but don’t be fooled into expecting a Family Guy-style romp through raunchiness. Bojack is a deeply surprising look at depression that still manages to be funny. It has a very specific way of looking at the world, but after a few episodes, you might find yourself changing your outlook to match it.
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)
You’ll be amazed at how fresh and modern the jokes in this classic series feel. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore crackle with chemistry as the couple at the center of one of the earliest — and best — sitcoms, but it’s the workplace scenes that will have you cracking up. 1963’s “That’s My Boy??” is a landmark episode for its place in the civil rights movement as well as its flat-out hilarious sight gag of a punchline. Don’t search for its history until after you’ve seen it to avoid spoilers. Check out Dick Van Dyke on Hulu.
Doctor Who (2005-present)
This venerable BBC hit has been around for 50 years, but all but the most hardcore sci-fi fans can skip the old stuff and start with Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. For those who have managed not to hear about this newly geek-chic show, The Doctor can keep on going for decades with a different actor playing him, thanks to his ability to “regenerate” instead of dying. Plots range from rip-roaring space adventures to historical time-travel episodes. If you want to test out a sample episode, watch “Blink.” This frighteningly clever stand-alone classic is guaranteed to get you hooked. Available on iTunes.
Freaks and Geeks (1999)
If you’ve never seen the one and only season of Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss is about. Follow a group of burnouts and nerds as they struggle through adolescence in this charming, genuinely funny drama. Almost every actor in it went on to greatness (or at least a solid career), and you’ll blow through the 18 episodes on Netflix in no time.
Lost was always the ultimate binge-watch — it was just made in an era before watching all six seasons at once was a possibility. The big-budget pilot’s incredibly visceral depiction of a plane crash onto that deserted island might be the most stunning visual image from the series, but the memorable characters and mysteries of the island will keep you coming back for more. Each and every episode features the kind of cliffhanger that will keep you up way past your bedtime, and watching the series in a few extended sittings (instead of over several years) will allow you to make a better judgment about how well the overarching story holds together by the finale.
If you’re wondering what the world might be like if Marvel made movies with more dialog and fewer explosions, Misfits on Hulu might be your next binge. The show follows the adventures of a group of teens who, thanks to a freak storm and lightning strike, find themselves with super powers. They’re not your typical heroes. Flawed young criminals who were thrown together to serve out their community service time, they learn to use their powers for some world-saving while still making soap operatic errors in judgment in their personal lives. Witty writing, an attractive cast and fab British accents will keep you tuning in to all five seasons.
Mozart in the Jungle (2014-present)
Acclaimed Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal stars as an eccentric maestro of a New York City orchestra in this funny, sexy, half-hour dramedy. It’s a quirky soap opera that takes place behind the scenes of the classical music world — a captivating setting that helps elevate and add interest to the romantic plots. You don’t have to love orchestral music to enjoy it, though musical theater fans will adore Bernadette Peters’ supporting performance.
Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
One of the most creative TV series of its time, Quantum Leap has a cult following to this day. Scientist Sam Beckett figured out how to travel in time, but only by “leaping” into the bodies of other people and solving their problems. The show has humor and heart, neatly exploring major social issues and events of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. By far the best episode is “The Leap Home” and its immediate follow-up, but its emotional impact requires watching all the episodes leading up to it for the big payoff.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-present)
It’s rare that a comedy feels binge-worthy, but this Tina Fey creation is the exception to the rule. Kimmy Schmidt was kidnapped as a teen and kept in an underground bunker by a religious zealot for 15 years, and the series begins with her re-entry into the modern world. Its hilarious take on contemporary life, and outstanding performances made this a break-out hit for Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, get on it: Season 2 is coming in April. And if you’ve already seen it, you know you want to dive in again, if for nothing else than the sheer pleasure of hearing the world’s catchiest TV theme song.
The Wrong Mans (2013-2014)
This dark British comedy is a Hulu original and features James Corden before his late-night success. When a hapless office worker witnesses a murder, he gets caught up in an international crime ring, along with an uninvited sidekick. The plot has loads of unexpected twists and more cliffhangers than the average half-hour show as the mystery deepens with each episode.
No matter what your taste, one of these shows should satisfy your itch for your next big binge. Clear your calendar, grab a snack and settle into your couch for the long haul. All you have to do is press play.