You know the feeling: it’s the eve of your holiday family celebration and there are too many cooks (too many cooks!) in the proverbial kitchen, hogging all the screens and bemoaning anything that may be even remotely worth watching. So what’s a person to do when such a farce comes to pass? Utilize their very good deductive reasoning skills (or, you know this list) and find something that’s sure to suit the tastes of whomever it is you’re with.
That’s exactly why we created this list: to show your friends and family some of the past few years’ best television series, impress them with your ability to find something pitch perfect for binge-watching that still holds some appeal.
When You’re Put in Charge of the Little Ones
Adventure Time: It’s kids’ stuff, but not. You know? There’s more to Adventure Time than what at first meets the eye. I mean, heck, they had an ant named General Gamergate on the series recently to tackle the “but but but” about the gaming journalism ethics debate — so you know there’s going to be some stuff that goes way over the kiddles’ head (and right into yours). Boom! Easy. So fun. Handled.
Regular Show: I mean the first word we’d used to describe this show is “misadventures” and that should be enough to get you on board. Who doesn’t love hijinks, tomfoolery, and total nincompoopery? NO ONE THAT’S WHO. And that’s not even considering the fact that the show revolves around a blue jay named Mordecai and a raccoon named Rigby (who are best friends). Did we also mention it features the voice work of Mark Hamill and Linda Cardellini? Put it on and you’re guaranteed a few laughs or seventeen.
Sanjay and Craig: No, this isn’t a case of brown-nosing — though who doesn’t love an extra dash of Hardwick in their holidays, amirite? — Sanjay and Craig is very funny kid-centric television viewing. Just throw the kids in front of the screen and ta-da! Instant funny fun-times for the kids, and a few guffaws for you with minimal effort/child wrangling.
When Mom and Aunt Kathy Want to Spend Some QT Catching Up on “What’s Cool These Days with The Kids”
Parks and Recreation: Is there a safer bet than Parks and Recreation? No, probably not — but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to binge. With its sweet but outrageous sense of humor, Parks and Rec will most assuredly tickle the elder ladies’ funny bones without offending them or making you answer too many questions about what’s happening.
Veep: Perhaps this one is best served up to the family after a couple glasses of wine (if they’re sheepish about swears and cut downs). Luckily we come from a family of foul-mouthed sailor-y types who love to make fun of one another so Armando Iannucci’s series about Vice President Selina Meyer is perfect. And sure to give your family members a new nickname or two for some of those other family members that annoy them. Ain’t family the best?!
When Your Cousins Want to Laze Around after Holiday Dinner
Broad City: Not only is this single season an easy digestif for your post-holiday tummy aches, but it’s hilarious as hell. Abbi and Ilana are absolutely ridiculous — but in a totally relatable way. Just watch the damn funny show already, I mean look at that clip up there! How good is that clip? Stoner antics and silly business in a big city: what’s not to like?
Orphan Black: Do we even need to GIVE YOU another reason? Conspiracy thriller, semi-science fiction clone drama with one of the best actresses working on television playing ALL OF THE PARTS, and so brilliantly so that you forget it’s simply one tiny Canadian? YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS SERIES. So does everyone you know.
When You & Your Friends Pile Into a Single Bed to Nurse Hangovers Together
You’re the Worst: We’ve already expressed our deep and unbridled love of all things You’re The Worst, but now it’s time for you to do some of that work, too. There’s a very good chance your friends missed this very good show. And well, what better time than when you don’t want to move from the fetal position to introduce your friends to the very messed up and delightful world of Jimmy and Gretchen?
High Maintenance: Not a tradition television series — it’s a web series! — but who better to traverse the brave new world of media than with your broheims, eh? Particularly when it’s about a drug dealer and his crazy (and sometimes shady) customers. Plus they’re short, which is perfect for all our ADD attention spans. People are terrible, but often hilarious, and — oh yeah — literally everyone smokes weed these days.
When You and Your BFF Want Nothing More than to Drink Wine and Veg (and Maybe Cry in a Good Way)
Playing House: Two best friends raising a baby together. Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham are brilliant buds with a hilarious streak as wide as the Mississippi River. It will make you laugh, cause you and your besties to imagine yourselves as Bosephus, and actually has enough heart in places to make you tear up a bit. Plus the guest stars are incredible (Zach Woods, Keegan-Michael Key) — so you should definitely drink to that. And the series was just renewed for a second season — and thank goodness for that!
Transparent: Grab your best friends and hold ’em close, because Jill Soloway’s brilliantly refreshing and funny-sweet series about Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) and her family following the revelation that she was transgender is nothing short of astounding. If you want to laugh, to cry, to wax philosophically between episode breaks about the fluidity of gender and sexual identity as it evolves in these modern times? Well, Transparent is for you. Transparent needs you — and you need it.
When You Just Want to Be Alone and Indulge Your Feelings
My Mad, Fat Diary: Now this one’s a tricky get — it is a British show currently only airing on E4 — but if you can find a way to legally obtain it, it IS worth it. Rae Earl has the sort of inner monologue your teenage self only dreamed about — plus a way kickin’ 90s wardrobe to boot. It’s not all laughs, though: the show has serious heart and you’re definitely likely to shed a tear (or ten) throughout its two previous seasons.
The Affair: Noah and Allison had an affair. But oh, it is so much more complicated than all that. This juicy and delicious series is made all the more thrilling thanks to its method of storytelling. Each episode is told in two parts — Noah’s point of view and then Allison’s — and it is amazing how different their interpretations and memories (particularly so far removed) are when retold. Plus it’s got Pacey FREAKIN’ Whitter in it (uh, we mean Joshua Jackson) so you know it’s going to be addictive. Also can we please put Ruth Wilson in EVERYTHING? I mean, really. Go get your friend’s Showtime Anytime password and get into it.
When You and Your Significant Other Want to Be Ahead of the Curve
Black Mirror: We just cannot say this enough about this show. It is The Twilight Zone for a Millennial era of modernity moving too fast and it is a brilliantly eviscerating portrayal of these not-so-far-off hypothetical situations and dystopian futures at that. Get thee to a Netflix account, tout de suite.
The Fall: This is very spectacular television. It has Jamie Dornan. And Gillian Anderson. And it’s basically everything good about thrilling, serial killer dramas. Plus season one is on Netflix already, with the second one on its way (it’s currently airing in the U.K.), so get ON IT.
What shows would you suggest for a holiday season binge-watch? Leave your thoughts in the comments!