Binge watching has become a staple of watching television thanks to the introduction of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Needless to say, right now, there are times where we all could use a series to binge watch to occupy our evenings until we return to a sense of normalcy. Here are some recommendations for TV shows of different genres to binge. As with any list offered, these are my picks and not a definitive list.
Horror Series to Binge
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997, it was like nothing on TV at the time. BTVS flipped the script on horror movie tropes. Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) was not the typical horror female protagonist running for her life from monsters. She was the thing that monsters feared. As the title suggested, Buffy was the vampire slayer, but she didn’t just face vampires. In each episode, BTVS featured a different monster which represented through metaphoric narrative the struggles of being a teenager. Lasting 144 episodes over seven seasons, BTVS tackled first loves, the trials of being a teenager, school shootings, and death poignantly. BTVS was also the first television series to portray a romantic relationship between two women without sensationalism or exploitation. Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be streamed on Hulu.
BONUS: For further viewing, I suggest watching the 1992 film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The film takes place in a roundabout way before the TV show and is a little cringeworthy, but it has the same premise. The BTVS movie stars Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Hilary Swank, and Paul Reubens (who is best known as Pee Wee Herman). Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) can be found to rent or buy on iTunes and Vudu.
Period Piece Drama Series to Binge
Set in early 20th century, Downton Abbey focuses on the lives of the Crawleys, an upper-class British family and their servants. First aired on PBS, the drama series has 52 episodes over 6 seasons. Downton Abbey tackled inequality among social classes, the role of women in an aristocratic society, the harsh realities of life during the Great War (World War I), and the reluctance of modernization in a traditional society. One of the characters on Downton Abbey, Thomas Barrow, is revealed to be gay in the first episode of the series and in such, we see, throughout the course of the series, little pieces about attitudes towards homosexuality in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. While things from this subplot may not be historically accurate and the actor, Robert James-Collier, has made claims about playing a gay man has hurt his career, the show handles the subject with respect. Downton Abbey can be found on Amazon’s Prime Video service
BONUS: The 2019 Downton Abbey film is highly recommended viewing as it takes place a little over a year after the Downton Abbey series finale. There is also talks of a second Downton Abbey film sometime in the near future. Downton Abbey features the original cast of the series including the remarkable Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess. Downton Abbey (2019) can be found on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital.
Teen Drama Series to Binge
Originally my choice for this category was going to be Beverly Hills, 90210, however due to music licensing issues, there are a large number of Beverly Hills, 90210 episodes that are not available on streaming. Even though the theme song is mostly different from what originally was used as well as some other musical changes, all 128 episodes of the six season run is available to stream on Hulu. Dawson’s Creek focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers in a small port town in Massachusetts. Even though Dawson’s Creek followed the teen drama formula of the characters dealing with the dramatic baggage of high school students to the challenges of being a young adult in college, the show earned a place in television history by being the first primetime drama to feature a romantic kiss between two men. (Side note: Originally, Fox’s hit primetime drama, Melrose Place, was supposed to feature two men kissing in the season finale of Season 2, however, due to the threat of losing advertisers, the scene was cut.)
Offbeat Comic Book Series to Binge
The Umbrella Academy
My choice for comic book property turned television series is Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy. Based on the comic series of the same name written by My Chemical Romance’s lead singer Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy is about adopted siblings with superpowers trained to be superheroes by their millionaire adoptive father. When the siblings become adults, they go their separate ways but are brought back together by the death of their father and the reappearance of a sibling (Aiden Gallagher) thought lost sixteen years earlier. The series stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Mary J. Blige and more as well as Kate Walsh in a guest star role. The ten-episode first season premiered on Netflix on February 15, 2019 and is set to return for a second season to be determined.
BONUS: The Umbrella Academy is not the first time Ellen Page has starred in a comic book property. Page played Kitty Pryde in X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, all of which can be found on DVD, Blu-Ray, or Digital.
What recommendations do you have for binge watching? Let us know in the comments.
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one contributing writer and may not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.