Let’s be real, what else is there to do these days? We’re all stuck inside, so we might as well be entertained while we do it. So, if TV is your entertainment of choice, here are some shows that you can binge watch right now on Netflix.
In times like these, any opportunity to laugh should be grasped with both hands. Laughter truly is the best medicine, so here are my recommendations of comedies you can binge on Netflix.
One Day at a Time
This half-hour sitcom centres around a Cuban-American family. I have written extensively about this show before (here and here), but it’s definitely worth you checking out. Full of heart and hard-hitting issues, and genuinely hilarious to boot. There are 39 episodes across 3 seasons to stream, so that’ll keep you occupied for around 20 hours. You are welcome.
The Good Place
This feel-good and zany comedy proves that it is possible to be funny and also politically correct. Take that, Twitter. Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, William James Harper and Manny Jacinto are utterly hilarious in their respective roles, each as funny as the next: whether it’s delightfully posh and snooty Tahani (Jamil), the lovably dim Jason (Jacinto) or the dreadfully sassy
robot not a robot Janet (D’Arcy Carden). The plot revolves around the inhabitants of a place called “The Good Place”, a form of the afterlife (essentially heaven). However, Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) ends up in the Good Place by mistake, and a series of madcap adventures ensue as she tries to conceal the error. The quest and goals of the main characters continue to change and shift with each season and, sometimes, each episode. Full of easy to love characters and laugh-out-loud moments, this should definitely be on your list. The Good Place celebrated its series finale in January, so the complete four-season story is available for you to watch through now.
I have posted a full review of dinnerladies available here, but it truly is the best of British comedy. Victoria Wood’s ability to write realistic conversation transports you instantly to a canteen with real three-dimensional characters.
Schitt’s Creek formed part of my recommendations as part of last summer (over here), but I still cannot get over how brilliant it is. The wonderfully out of touch Rose family alight in a small town and have to adjust. to a life without money. The whole cast are brilliantly funny and the writing is top notch. Five seasons are available on Netflix now, with the sixth and final season coming next month.
A procedural comedy revolving around the 99th precinct of New York, and the exploits of immature detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samburg) and his co-workers aggressive Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz), uptight Amy (Melissa Fumero) and his stern and serious boss Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). Six seasons are available on Netflix.
I mean, sure, Gilmore Girls probably can’t be counted as a comedy. Witty would perhaps be a more appropriate descriptor of this series, which revolves around Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series is renowned for its fast-paced dialogue, littered with popular culture references. The series ran for 7 seasons, plus a reunion series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, so the characters have plenty of growth and development over the duration of the series. This one is a long commitment, but the community of Stars Hollow is full of such large and whacky personalities, you’ll definitely be entertained.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt details the experiences of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) after she has been released from being held captive as part of a doomsday cult for 15 years. Once she makes it to New York, she befriends Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), who becomes her roommate, Lilian (Carol Kane), her streetwise landlady and starts to work as a nanny for out-of-touch socialite Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski). It’s created by Tina Fey, who also created 30 Rock, and possesses some more “out of the box” humour. The dialogue isn’t particularly clever, but the sterling delivery by the cast make this delightfully hilarious. All four seasons are streaming now, and an interactive special is anticipated for next month.
How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother revolves around Ted Moseby (Josh Radnor) telling his children the story of how he met their mother. It’s a story that takes 9 seasons to actually conclude and along the way, we enjoy a lot of time with Ted and his group of friends Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel). The show’s humour is distinctive and successfully manages to incorporate dramatic elements throughout its run. Its use of jump cuts also helps to make the storytelling interesting and engaging throughout the series. While the early seasons were reviewed highly favourably, the later seasons weren’t as well received, and the ninth season took place over one fateful weekend. The less said about the finale, the better. Having said that, How I Met Your Mother will always be a brilliant comedy series.
Miranda revolves around Miranda (Miranda Hart), who constantly finds herself in awkward situations. A lot of slapstick humour here, and it can be offputting if you’re not into it. However, if you’re wetting yourself laughing at the first episode like I was when I saw it in 2009, then this would definitely be the show for you. I’m also very jealous of you that you can enjoy it all with fresh eyes.
The Vicar of Dibley
Is there anybody who doesn’t know The Vicar of Dibley? Dawn French is an absolute gem; if you need any convincing on that matter, then you need to watch this pronto.
Another classic of British television, Absolutely Fabulous is simply…well…fabulous!
A comedy list just wouldn’t be complete without Friends on it. Sure, it’s dated by these standards, and everybody has pretty much worked out that Ross is just about the worst character to have existed, but it’s still a nice, comforting watch when you don’t want anything to hurt your brain too much.
What’s even better than a comedy? Well, a musical one of course! What could be more life affirming and happiness inducing than a musical comedy?
So, I started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (yes, that is a sexist term) just as something for background noise, but I was soon completely consumed by it. Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) leaves her life as a lawyer in New York City to follow her summer camp ex-boyfriend Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) to West Covina, California. Once there, she starts a madcap scheme with new friend Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) to make Josh fall in love with her, despite his relationship with snooty yoga instructor Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz). While the premise is so-so, the most delightful part of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in addition to the exploration of mental health that it engages with in later seasons, is the fourth-wall breaking musical numbers, which frequently parody other songs. These musical instalments really enhance the action elsewhere in the episode and add to eccentric nature of the show. All four seasons are streaming now.
Welcome to the fever-dream show that is Glee: the show that has six seasons, but everybody pretends only had three. But good news! Now that Netflix exists, you can actively choose to pretend that there are only three seasons – just stop watching! Either that or numbly watch through the next three seasons as you feel your life force slip away. It’s up to you. Glee was the original musical TV show. If you want a dizzy, life-affirming show about the underdogs rising up with their gumption and their talent, then the first three seasons are for you. I don’t know who the next three seasons are for, but it wasn’t for me, I shall tell you that much.
What could be more escapist than fantasy? Absolutely nothing, I agree. Read on!
Once Upon a Time
Cursed fairy tale characters trapped in a town believing themselves to be other people? Snow White with a bow and arrow running around a forest? The Evil Queen wearing all manner of sassy, sexy leather outfits? Once Upon a Time displaces the fairytale characters we all know and love into a small town in Maine, while flashback elements reveal spins and tweaks to their well-known stories. As the series progresses, we encounter more and more characters that we know, such as the characters from Frozen, Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. This is the type of show that binge watching was made for: because nobody has a large enough brain to remember all of the plot points years later. So you might as well watch it in one go. Maybe give the seventh season a miss, though, because that was a bit of an unsatisfactory ending for a brilliant show. It’s much better to pretend that Season 6 was the actual ending.
Teen Wolf stars Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, an unpopular outcast, whose life changes when he gets bitten by a werewolf and becomes one himself. He is now required to lead a double life, which is not made any easier when his girlfriend Allison’s (Crystal Reed) father turns out to be a werewolf hunter. The show went on for six seasons, and hit a particular high point throughout its third run, though my memory of the later seasons are definitely hazy and need refreshing!
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
A gory and spooky reimagining of the character of Sabrina. No longer does she hang around with a talking cat and change her clothes with a magical sparkling finger in the mirror. Oh no. This Sabrina is a Satanist, and she must juggle her existence as a half-mortal, half-witch, while also trying to protect herself and her family from the evil forces that threaten them all. It’s also produced by Netflix, meaning that the storylines and arcs are much more cohesive than some of the network television shows that I have listed here.
Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
Running for three seasons, Shadowhunters tells the story of Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara), who discovers on her birthday that she is in fact a Shadowhunter: a race of human-angel hybrids who are responsible from protecting mortals from demons. To make things even worse, Clary’s mum Jocelyn is kidnapped by a rogue Shadowhunter.
This BBC series is an adaptation of the story of Arthur and Merlin from traditional legend. In this tale, Merlin (Colin Morgan) is a young warlock who comes to stay at Camelot in a world where the King Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head) has outlawed magic. Merlin is told by the last dragon (John Hurt), who is held captive underneath the castle, that he has a great destiny to fulfil: to protect Uther’s son Arthur, who will bring magic back to the realm. Unfortunately, Merlin thinks that Prince Arthur is a complete idiot. Arthur is similarly less than keen, but when Merlin saves Arthur’s life he is appointed as his personal servant, from which their relationship grows. Merlin was definitely a brilliant BBC series, with each series telling a brilliant storyline, culminating in spectacular finales. I am still not fond of what they did to Morgana’s character, but that does not erase the quality of this show as a whole.
Sci-Fi, you say? I wonder what programme could possibly be coming next…
Series 1 – 10 of the revived series of Doctor Who are available on Netflix now, so if traversing time and space with an alien with two hearts and a plucky companion is your bag, then have a look at this show! Each week features different locations and baddies – unless it’s a two-part episode – and a variety of mystical and awe-inspiring planets that may or may not, in fact, be areas in Cardiff.
What’s being stuck inside without a little something to get the pulse racing? These dramas are utterly captivating and engrossing titles on Netflix.
Orphan Black is simply a stunning TV show. I am blown away by it every time that I rewatch. Orphan Black follows the story of Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), whose life is turned upside down when she sees a doppelgänger of herself commit suicide in front of a train. Eager to escape her own life, Sarah takes over her twin’s life, learning that her name was Beth Childs, a police officer. Soon, more bizarre events start to unfold, and Sarah encounters more women who look just like her, and are also running from a mysterious assassin who is trying to eliminate each of them. Maslany also stars as Cosima, Alison and Helena, who are so incredibly distinct from each other it is simply mind boggling. Even more impressively, there are sometimes occasions where Maslany portrays one of the women pretending to be one of the others. It is truly a masterclass in acting, from the accents and the facial expressions, to the body postures. It is worth watching this tense, thrilling drama for her performance alone.
Dead to Me
I reviewed this particular gem in great detail here, but it is safe to say that I was entirely hooked by this drama. Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate star as Judy and Jen, who meet at a grief support group. The two quickly develop a deep bond, but Judy is keeping a dark secret and Jen becomes obsessed with unravelling the hidden aspects of her late husband’s life.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is one of the best book-to-film adaptations I have ever seen. Not only does it retain the vast majority of the elements from the book series, but it also incorporates new plotlines that link to events that occur in the latter half of the series. The heavy involvement of Daniel Handler in the development stages, as well as a prominent writer on the series, definitely helped to keep the show in line with his original vision. For the uninitiated, A Series of Unfortunate Events concerns the exploits of The Baudelaire Orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, whose parents die in a fire, forcing them to live with the villainous Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris). Count Olaf is interested only in the orphans for their money, and continually tries to harm the children so that he can have it in his possession. Throughout the series, the children constantly try to evade Count Olaf’s clutches, while having to deal with grossly incompetent adults whose responsibility it is to care for them. Meanwhile, the orphans learn more about the clandestine operation that both their parents, and Count Olaf, used to work for.
Another from my Summer recommended list, Sex Education is uncommonly gripping. It explores sexuality in a humorous and thought-provoking fashion, and the 1970s aesthetic is simply delightful. Words cannot do this series justice: watching it can.
You Me Her
Oh look, another show from my Summer watch suggestions! Hurray for past me. You Me Her has four seasons currently available on Netflix, and details the throuple relationship between college student Izzy (Priscilla Faia) and married couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Rachel Blanchard). As the three go down this uncharted road, dramatic situations and hilarious moments abound in this heartwarming and humorous comedy-drama.
I mean, this series speaks for itself, really! Who doesn’t love the Royal Family?…Okay maybe quite a few people don’t like the Royal Family. For those of us who are slightly in awe of this institution, The Crown is absolutely delightful. The way that the upper class communicate is just so delightful to watch. You’ll find yourself saying things like “I can’t believe she just did that” when a character does not curtsey upon entering a room. It’s a fascinating and utterly compelling insight to the family at the heart of the nation.
While The Crown is fairly historically accurate, Reign takes history more as a template and then runs with it. This American drama ran for four seasons, all of which are on Netflix, and chronicle the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary, Queen of Scots did, actually, have a fairly traumatic life, so it’s a wonder that it took this long to have a series based around her. From a young age, Mary was forced to live in France, owing to a marriage contract with the French dauphin, Francis. They married when Mary was 15, but Francis died only two years later. Mary returned to Scotland and eventually got married to Lord Darley and had a child by him. Lord Darley was then murdered and the man believed of murdering him, the Earl of Bothwell, became Mary’s next husband just a month later. An uprising against the couple caused Mary to be imprisoned within Scotland and forced to abdicate her throne in favour of her one-year-old son. After attempting and failing to get her throne back, Mary fled to England in search of protection from her relative, Queen Elizabeth. She, instead, was imprisoned and, eventually, executed as a result of her claim to Elizabeth’s throne and her status as a Catholic. I have a lot of feelings about poor Queen Mary, and indeed Queen Elizabeth (I wrote about it, at length, in my review of Mary, Queen of Scots). Accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting, the four Marys, so called for the fact that all of them were called Mary (it’s not a very creative name), Mary is screaming out for an adaptation. The fact that the executives in charge of commissioning the drama described the presence of Mary’s multiple husbands making the show “sexier” doesn’t exactly fill you with hope as to the subtle nuance that may be at play within this show. In fact, you might as well throw out the history book altogether at some of the events that happen here. However, it is thoroughly diverting. Adelaide Kane is a delightful Mary, and all of the scenarios are delightfully realised. A truly compelling, emotional and fun show.
Everybody loves a quest, right?
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Okay, yes, this is an animated show. That doesn’t make it any less intelligent than a lot of the other shows down here. I get that animation can be offputting, but She-Ra is absolutely brilliant in exploring the relationships at the heart of the programme. The fact that it is female-led, features LGBTQ+ representation and deals with the effects of warfare and genocide is absolutely brilliant. The captivating relationship at the core is the abusive to-and-fro between Adora and Catra, who seem to be magnetically drawn together as the series progresses. The final season arrives next month.
Sometimes, you just need to sit and mindlessly watch things. These shows are definitely low on the cognitive demand front.
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
This show is ridiculously addictive. Caroline Quentin and Piers Taylor (she’s an actress, he’s an architect) who explore a variety of homes in diverse and awe-inspiring locations with simply stunning architectural design. All of the houses that they show are simply stunning, and it’s a wonderful cure to wanderlust just to travel to all of these different places, and yet not suffer any form of jetlag. Another wry observation is the fact that loads of these very wealthy people seem to buy very large houses and then make their children share bedrooms, which strikes me as cruel. One spectacular building, which possesses an elevated swimming pool that one can access out of the children’s bedroom window, also houses all four of the children within one bedroom with two sets of bunk beds. Meanwhile, the parents get a whole separate wing, a balcony the size of a house and a great deal many communal areas. It’s an interesting logic, and a recurring theme that none of these houses, despite being beautiful, have a practical number of sleeping spaces. Having said that, it’s delightful to watch and it’s a wonderful talking point with the person sitting next to you (even if that person sitting next you is imaginary. Hi there, Clive), as you utter phrases like, “Oh no I don’t like that” and “Oh look at that skylight!”. Also, Piers is terrible at drawing. That’s an odd comment to make out of context, but he really does like to draw as often as possible within episodes, but really his drawings are the opposite of helpful. But he clearly really loves it, because sometimes he even brings coloured chalks to demonstrate what he’s talking about: even though what he’s talking about is ridiculously simple.
Too Hot to Handle
Let’s be real here: Too Hot to Handle is a poor man’s Love Island. However, Netflix really released it at the most appropriate binge-watching time. It is the laziest way that I have ever spent a day, but I cannot say that I am apologetic about it. The premise is quite simple: 10 ridiculously attractive singletons alight in a villa with the promise of, should they find love, they win $100,000. But there is a twist. Virtual assistant Lana puts in place the rule that there is to be no sexual touching between the candidates, with the consequence being a deduction in the prize fund. Cue a bunch of shocked faces and arguments as some contestants insist upon breaking the rules regardless. The intention is for the restriction of sexual activity to force the candidates to make meaningful connections with each other beyond the physical. Those who undergo personal growth win at the end. Utter tripe, but infinitely watchable.
So there you have it, friends! Here are my recommendations to what you can binge, right now, on Netflix! I hope there’s something you discover on this list that you love, or even if it’s something that you’re reminded of. These times are tough for us all, so whatever it takes to get you through it, you do it. Excluding violence or murder, guys. That’s not okay. Stay safe, everyone!