It’s that time of year again! TV doesn’t exactly grind to a halt during the holidays, as some networks fill their primetime hours with holiday programming, but most of our favorite TV dramas and comedies will be going on hiatus for the next few weeks, if not longer. Lest you think that means you actually have to step away from the television, rest assured, this is actually a great time of year to watch those shows you’ve been meaning to check out, or lose yourself in a nostalgic binge-watch. Netflix is a perfect resource for such an activity, as the streaming video service has no shortage of great TV shows available streaming, and we’ve scoured the service to find some of the ones that are well worth watching. Here they are (numbered for count, not rank!):
(1) Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is about a high school science teacher who learns he’s dying of cancer and decides to start cooking meth in an effort to stockpile some cash for his pregnant wife and their son before he goes. The story of Walter White starts out good and only gets better with each season. It is as good as people say it is, so if you’ve been on the fence about watching it, now’s the time. All but the second half of the fifth and final season are available streaming on Netflix. (Watch it.)
(2) Sons of Anarchy - Kurt Sutter’s gritty motorcycle drama is currently wrapping up its sixth season, but you can get caught up on all the dramatic and sometimes really violent dealings of the SAMCRO men and their old ladies through Season 5 on Netflix.
(3) The Walking Dead - AMC just got us to the halfway point of the fourth season of the popular zombie drama. Netflix will get you through the first three seasons, the first of which introduces us to Rick, a sheriff who wakes up after months in a coma from a gunshot wound, to discover the world’s been overrun by a zombie epidemic. Survival becomes the never-ending goal.
Arrow’s on my own personal list of shows to get caught up on over the hiatus. The DC comic adaptation starring Stephen Amell as the titular archer superhero Green Arrow is currently amidst its second season on The CW. If it’s as good as everyone says it is — or gets, as I hear the first season takes a little while to get going — now would be a good time to check out Season 1. (Watch it.)
(10) Supernatural - Got a lot of time on your hands? You’ll need it if you want to get through all eight of the seasons Netflix has for Supernatural. This supernatural thriller centers on two grown brothers who hunt demons and investigate paranormal mysteries.
(11) Buffy the Vampire Slayer and (12) Angel - Joss Whedon’s beloved vampire-focused series are both available streaming on Netflix in their entirety. Whether you’re due for a rewatch or ready to see what all the fuss is about, these are great options for binge-watching. Start with Buffy, as Angel doesn’t come into play until later. And be sure to give it until the second season of Buffy before deciding whether or not you’re going to stick with it, as it takes a little while for the show to warm up, but when it does, it’s fantastic.
Looking for more fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural? Try (13) Continuum, (14) Fringe, (15) Heroes, (16) Alphas, (17) Farscape, (18) Firefly, (19) Dollhouse, (20) Merlin, (21) Eureka and (22) Being Human.
Another show that lives up to the hype, Scandal stars Kerry Washington as a Washington DC “fixer” who uses her legal expertise and her team of “gladiators” to help their high profile clientele deal with their various public image issues. Of course, their clients’ messes tend to pale by comparison to the ones Olivia Pope and her people are dealing with in their own personal lives. Scandal is dramatic, suspenseful and soapy in all of the best
so-wrong-it’s-right ways. (Watch it.)
(24) Pretty Little Liars - PLL centers on a group of teen girls whose clique falls apart when their leader mysteriously disappears. The ABC Family teen drama mystery thriller is currently midway through its fourth season. Netflix will let you get caught up through Season 3.
(25) Grey’s Anatomy - Like Scandal, Grey’s comes from Shonda Rhimes, only this series confines its drama to the hospital, centering on the lives and world of a group of surgeons. Netflix has nine seasons available streaming.
Looking for something a bit female skewed? Also consider (26) Gossip Girl, (27) Nikita, (28) The Vampire Diaries, (29) Once Upon a Time, (30) The Secret Life of the American Teenager, (31) Switched at Birth, (32) The Carrie Diaries, (33) Beauty and the Beast, (34) Army Wives, (35) Drop Dead Diva, (36) Revenge and (37) Glee.
(38) American Horror Story
The first two seasons of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s over-the-top horror drama are available streaming on Netflix. The first season (“Murder House”) tells the story of a modern-day family that moves into a house with a dark and twisted history. American Horror Story: Asylum is set in the past in an institution for the criminally insane. These seasons (as well as the currently-airing third) operate independently in terms of their story, so watch them in order or out, but if you have to pick just one season, go with AHS: Murder House (Season 1), as it’s arguably the better of the two available on Netflixthe. (Watch it.)
(39) Dexter - Netflix only has the first four seasons of Dexter available streaming, with Seasons 5-8 coming in January. But that’s ok, as Seasons 1-4 of the serial killer drama starring Michael C. Hall are the ones most worth watching, particularly Season 4. John Lithgow as “Trinity” is chillingly amazing.
(40) The Following - Get caught up on the first season of Kevin Williamson’s Fox drama before Season 2 premieres next month. The first season centers on Kevin Bacon’s character Ryan Hardy, an FBI agent brought back to work to track down escaped serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). To complicate matters, Carroll has a cult-like following of people willing to die (and kill) for him if necessary. The show crosses into melodramatic territory at times, but it’s fun, dark and twisted for those not averse to violence.
With the third season of this popular UK series headed to PBS Masterpiece in January, getting caught up on this properly hyped mystery drama should be high on your list. The modern-day telling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character and his sleuthing side-kick Watson is a must watch. Or watch because Benedict Cumberbatch is mesmerizing. And each season is only three episodes. (Watch it.)
(46) Doctor Who - Looking for a bit of sci-fi in your drama? Netflix has the first six of the seven recent series of Doctor Who, which centers on the adventures of a space and time traveling doctor and his companion.
(47) The Fall - Set in Belfast, this gritty and captivating murder mystery stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan and follows the shady dealings of a serial killing grief counselor and the detective who’s trying to track him down. The first season’s only five episodes, but be prepared to not be able to stop watching (and then start tapping your foot waiting for Season 2 with the rest of us).
(48) Torchwood - What’s that? You’ve already seen all of Doctor Who? Even if you haven’t, Torchwood’s still well worth a look. The spin-off series follows Gwen Cooper, a police detective who stumbles upon and eventually joins a secret organization called Torchwood, led by the adventurous Jack Harkness.
Netflix has some really great UK offerings. Also consider (49) Luther, (50) The IT Crowd, (51) The Inbetweeners, (52) Prime Suspect, (53) Skins, (54) Derek, (55) Shameless (the series on which the Showtime dramedy is based), (56) Being Human (the series on which the Syfy drama is based) and the original (57) The Office.
(58) Orange is the New Black (TV-MA)
One of Netflix’s newest original series, Orange is the New Black is inspired by a true story and follows a Brooklyn woman’s experience entering the correctional system and trying to acclimate herself to prison life. It takes a little while to get going but gets funnier and more dramatic as the first season ensues. (Watch it)
(59) House of Cards. Another Netflix original, House of Cards comes from David Fincher and stars Kevin Spacey as the cunning Congressman Francis Underwood, who plays politics like a game of chess, and he’s looking to win at all costs. Robin Wright’s Claire serves as the Lady Macbeth in this story, which is more of a slow-boil drama that builds on itself and grows more addicting with each new episode. Catch up on Season 1 before Season 2 debuts this February.
(60) Arrested Development - Mitchel Hurwitz’s original comedy about a wealthy family who lost everything (and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together) aired on Fox a decade ago, and Netflix revived the series, green lighting a fourth season that debuted earlier this year. Revisit the previous seasons or get caught up on what’s been going on with this whacky, self-absorbed Bluth family with Season 4.
Comedian Louis CK puts his stand-up act to work, playing himself as the awkward single-dad living in New York, just trying to figure it all out. If you like the comedian, you’re probably already watching this FX comedy, but if you haven’t given it a shot, and you can relate to an average guy’s humorous perspective on life, dating, parenting and everything else life throws in his path. (Watch it.)
(65) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Eight seasons is a lot of shenanigans to navigate through, but that’s what Netflix is offering here. Catch up with the Paddy’s Irish Pub gang as they scheme to get ahead, stepping all over each other in the process, and often falling flat on their faces.
(66) New Girl - The popular Fox comedy is currently partway through its third season, and you can catch up through the first two seasons via Netfix. The story begins when Zooey Deschanel’s character Jess gets cheated on, leading her to take residence in a loft full of guys. While Jess is at the center of the show, this starting-over comedy eventually morphs into a friends-focused ensemble story about a bunch of roommates dealing with personal and professional issues.
Need to laugh? Also consider (67) Futurama, (68) The Office, (69) Family Guy, (70) How I Met Your Mother, (71) Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23, (72) Archer, (73) Parks and Recreation and (74) Psych. Also (75) Adventure Time. Ok, it’s a kids’ cartoon, but it’s kind of awesome, even if you’re a grown-up.
Weeds was easily at its best in its first couple of seasons, when the series centered on a beautiful suburban widow who’s trying to maintain her comfortable lifestyle by secretly peddling marijuana in her posh upper-middle-class community. The show goes a bit off the rails in its later season and never quite gets back on them, but Mary Louise Parker is fantastic as the determined Nancy Botwin, who discovers her own strength and inner bad-ass as she wanders further and further down the dark and sometimes comically twisted road of weed dealing in this series. Watch it.
(77)Greek - College is hard. It’s also funny and full of drama, which makes it the perfect setting for a dramedy. Netflix has all six “chapters” of the ABC Family series available.
(78) Battlestar Galactica - All four seasons of Ronald D. Moore’s sci-fi reboot are available streaming on Netflix. Even if you don’t consider yourself a sci-fi fan, BSG has plenty of character drama to go around as we see what’s left of mankind attempt to escape the clutches of the humanoid “Cylons” who have annihilated most of the human race.
Looking for more gone but not forgotten series? Netflix has no shortage of them:
(81) Desperate Housewives
(84) Prison Break
(87) The X Files
(91) Rescue Me
(92) The Wonder Years
(93) Saved by the Bell
(94) The Ghost Whisperer
(96) Better Off Ted
(98) That 70s Show
(99) Friday Night Lights
(100) Knight Rider
(102) Ally McBeal
(103) Brothers and Sisters
(104) Ugly Betty
(105) Xena Warrior Princess
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