For years we’ve been wishing Hollywood would slow down so we could catch up on the TV shows. However, it was definitely a mistake to make that wish on a Monkey’s Paw. But since COVID-19 has closed studios around the world and forced us all inside, now is the time for us to actually make a dent in our backlog of series. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start though, because we have plenty of great suggestions for what you should watch so you’ll be up-to-date when they return. Here are 12 shows you should catch up on while social-distancing.
Notes: Runtimes are listed as either 30 or 60 minutes, but those are only approximations. Also, exact return dates for many shows are now in question. We do know all of these shows have been renewed and will return eventually.
If you missed out on season one last fall, this is the perfect time to catch up on “the Row.” The arrival of fantasy as a mainstream genre in the last few years has led to shows like this, which can take elements like fairies and magic, and shift them out of the pseudo-medieval time frame and into totally different eras. The first season does you a real solid by containing a self-contained mystery story. It manages to bring a satisfying conclusion to its introductory arc while also still feeling like a cliffhanger via intriguing world-building and dramatic hints at what comes next. (Riley Silverman)
Catch Up On: One season, eight hour-long episodes.
Glow is basically the Stefon of TV shows. It has everything: Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, laugh out loud comedy, genuine heartbreak and drama, robots serving drugs at parties, women wrestling as absurd racist stereotypes. But the best way to describe the half-hour show is that it’s fitting it stars Alison Brie, because it’s a lot like Mad Men. It’s a beautifully written workplace series anchored by a large, amazing cast that can just as easily make you laugh as they can make you cry. (Mikey Walsh)
Catch Up On: Three seasons, 30 half-hour episodes before the show’s fourth and final season.
Barry is one of the best shows of the last decade. I can say that without hyperbole as I watch a lot of TV and even at its lowest Barry rests high above most of the offerings we get. Bill Hader stars as an assassin who finds a new lease of life when he stumbles on an acting class. And though it sounds like a set up ripe for comedy—which it is—it’s actually a devastatingly dark meditation on grief, loss, guilt, and morals. The series also smartly uses male violence as a lens to explore PTSD, domestic abuse, and love. (Rosie Knight)
Catch Up On: Two seasons, 16 half-hour episodes.
It’s hard to recommend Euphoria in total good conscience, since it’s not the easiest show to sit through. It follows a group of suburban teens experiencing all of the terrifying woes that plague today’s youth. At the center is Rue, played by Zendaya, a drug addicted and mentally ill young woman trapped in a cycle of self-harm. She yearns for her best friend, Jules, a trans girl who sleeps with older men in a desperate attempt to validate her femininity. The show gets into heavy topics—sexual assault, suicidal ideation, domestic abuse, hazing—but it’s a story so beautifully told, it’s worth gritting your teeth and letting it put a spell on you. There are tributes to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson and David Lynch, some of the more incredible young acting you’re likely to see, and a fantastic soundtrack. It’s like an artsier Degrassi on ecstasy. (Lindsey Romain)
Catch Up On: One season, eight one-hour episodes.
HBO’s Spanish-language comedy Los Espookys is unlike anything else on TV. It follows a group of strange friends who love all things macabre. They turn their passion for the paranormal into an actual business, which brings them in contact with an even weirder cast of characters—some human, some not of this world. The show is both over-the-top and understated, as it blends silly premises with pitch-perfect deadpan humor. How good is it? Fred Armisen, who produces the show alongside Lorne Michaels, is amazing on the series, and he’s still only the fifth funniest character. (Mikey Walsh)
Catch Up On: One season, six half-hour episodes.
Imagine the Justice League, but as a bunch of corporately owned, violent sociopaths. Ok, so maybe that doesn’t sound so appealing actually. But Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’ comic book series The Boys very much is. It takes what could have been another gimmick “edge lord” concept that should only work for 13 year old boys, and makes a truly emotionally compelling and narratively satisfying series out of it. This one will leave your jaw on the floor at least once an episode. (Eric Diaz)
Catch Up On: One season, ten hour long episodes (before season two originally expected “mid” 2020).
Surreal, sincere, and silly all at the same time, Atlanta is one of the most interesting series that FX has created. Centering on Earn (writer, director, and exec-producer Donald Glover) as he deals with life in his hometown after dropping out of Princeton. Glover stars alongside an incredible cast including Bryan Tyree Henry as his cousin who’s on the edge of viral rap stardom, and Zazie Beats as his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. Though it may sound simple Atlanta is anything but, and is at its best when it leans into the weird and experimental. (Rosie Knight)
Catch Up On: Two seasons, 21 half-hour episodes (before seasons three and four both originally set for 2021).
Lost in Space
Need to escape? Then join the family Robinson as they head off on a treacherous adventure into the outer regions of space. Based on the classic novel that inspired the iconic TV show, this reboot throws the family straight into the future as they contend with maniacal threats, hostile planets, and being stuck with each other whilst they’re lost in space. Epic visuals, a stellar cast, and a central mystery that will keep you guessing, Lost in Space is a great binge watch. (Rosie Knight)
Catch Up On: Two seasons, 20 hour-long episodes (before the third and final season coming in the fall of 2021).
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Rumored to be based on the early life of Joan Rivers, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel explores the life of one Midge Maisel, a ‘50s housewife whose husband is a wannabe comedian. Only, she’s the one who’s actually funny in the family. Rachel Brosnaham deserves every award won for this show, but the true standout is Alex Borstein as her potty mouthed manager. This show is the right combo of funny and occasionally heartbreaking, and you’ll finish all three seasons in record time. (Eric Diaz)
Catch Up On: Three seasons, 26 hour-long episodes.
There’s a rare ludicrous amount of magic at work with a show like Fargo. On paper, it feels like it should never have worked. But Noah Hawley pulls off a genius-level marriage of visuals and writing. Each season is a standalone, yet slightly connected anthology story that weaves a tale of midwestern criminal enterprises. It balances story, pitch-perfect performances from its cast, while also managing to nail the exact Coen Brothers tone of its inspiration. If you haven’t given this little show a chance yet, get in before the fourth season starts! (Riley Silverman)
Catch Up On: One movie, three seasons, and 30 hour-long episodes (before the nearly-finished season four, hopefully sometime in 2020).
Succession is the perfect quarantine binge show. It’s utterly ridiculous and highly addictive, the sort of series you’ll breeze through in a few days with ravenous disregard for little else. It follows the wealthy Roy family, whose New York City conglomerate is constantly threatened by their father Logan’s hot temper. The Roy siblings—Connor, Kendall, Roman, and Shiv—all battle for Logan’s attention in a bid to run the company when he retires. The result is a lot of uncomfortable comedy, frenetic situations, and the occasional highly unfortunate tragedy. Come for sad boy Kendall, stay for the memes. (Lindsey Romain)
Catch Up On: Two seasons, 20 hour-long episodes.
Some fantasy shows over explain everything. They constantly hold viewers’ hands, slowing down the action and undercutting meaningful world building. Netflix’s The Witcher doesn’t suffer from this problem, because it takes you by the hand and throws you over a cliff to fend for yourself. It doesn’t have time to waste. The story, characters, universe, and performances are too good to worry about exposition. That approach makes for an exciting, compelling, entertaining journey. And eventually you’ll figure out what’s going on anyway. (Mikey Walsh)
Catch Up On: One season, ten episodes.
Editor’s Note: Carnival Row and Lost in Space are both Legendary productions. Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.
Featured Image: FX/Netflix/HBO