There’s nothing as exhilarating as crossing another show off our ever-growing lists. And sure, now is a great time to get into the newly-available Battlestar Galactica or go on a journey through all 319 (and counting) episodes of Supernatural. But for every ultramarathon of a binge watch, there’s a beautiful little sprint—a series you can watch in its entirety in a (relatively) short time period. Like, for instance, a single day.
Here’s a brief compilation of TV series that can be watched in 24 hours or less! While it barely scratches the surface of the quick watches out there, it captures a few moods people may be looking for during self-quarantine.
If you’re looking for under-the-radar comedy…
There’s been a Fleabag-sized hole in our heart since Phoebe Waller-Bridge confirmed we’d probably seen the last of our favorite chaotic café owner (at least for now). But the writer has a second hilariously cringey comedy that debuted around the same time as Fleabag. Crashing (not the Pete Holmes show on HBO) follows a motley crew of property guardians of an abandoned hospital in North London, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of Lulu (Waller-Bridge). It’s quick, funny, and perfect for Waller-Bridge fans eagerly awaiting her next project. Watch it on Netflix. (2 hours, 20 minutes)
Nobody really wants to revisit middle school… except Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. The comedians revisit the horror of their youth playing 13-year-old versions of themselves alongside real child actors. It’s cringey, hilarious, and luckily, returning for season two soon! Watch it on Hulu in a little over four-and-a-half hours. (4 hours, 35 minutes)
The series follows a group of friends in a fictional Latin American country who run a business that brings their clients’ horror fantasies to life. From performing an exorcism to creating an alien laboratory, it’s a show that only the minds of Julio Torres—whose SNL sketches “Papyrus” and “Wells for Boys” are modern classics—Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armison could think up. Watch it on HBO. (2 hours, 45 minutes)
This Way Up
The series follows Áine (Aisling Bea), an Irish woman pulling her life together after a stint in a treatment facility due to a nervous breakdown. It doesn’t sound like a comedy but I promise it’s hilarious. It’s a heartbreakingly funny examination of the complexities of mental health, sisterhood, and awkward love. Watch it on Hulu. (2 hours, 20 minutes)
The series opens as Dylan Witter (Johnny Flynn) is diagnosed with chlamydia and tasked to inform his previous sexual partners. But Lovesick, formerly Scrotal Recall (really!!) is a charming and hilarious series about Dylan and his best friends (Daniel Ings and Antonia Thomas) stumbling through love and heartbreak in Glasgow. It’s one of the longer series on the list, but definitely one that can be completed in 24 hours. Watch it on Netflix. (9 hours, 17 minutes)
If you’re looking for something of the sci-fi or fantasy nature…
You can’t mention a science fiction quick-watch without eulogizing Firefly, the beloved gone-too-soon space Western. Set in the year 2517, the series follows the adventures of the Serenity crew, led by Captain Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). It’s a cult classic for a reason and a perfect watch for these times. Watch it on Hulu. (11 hours, 10 minutes)
Imagine the Bible as a network TV drama. I’m only somewhat kidding, as this series is loosely based on the biblical story of King David—but with modern warfare, sex, and Sebastian Stan. It was an ambitious series, and maybe too big of a concept for the confines of network TV, as the Ian McShane-led series was shuffled around the NBC line-up before its untimely demise. Everything about the series is so bonkers to me (in the best way possible) that I often wonder if it’s something that only exists in my addled brain. Thankfully, Google and NBC.com are full of proof this fascinating series was real. Watch on NBC.com. (9 hours, 20 minutes)
Life on Mars
For those crushed it wasn’t included on my British crime shows guide, don’t worry, I got you. The twisty time travel series follows Sam Tyler, a police officer in 2006 who wakes up in 1973 after a car accident. While much of the series follows your average police procedural format, a major undercurrent to the series is whether Sam is really in the past or whether he’s died as a result of the car accident. Watch on BritBox. (16 hours)
Okay, this barely scrapes beyond the 24 hour guidelines due to its feature-length finale, but in truth, it deserved to go on for far beyond two seasons. Created by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynsk, the series follows a group of people from all over the world who are mentally and emotionally linked to one another. Sense8 was one of the most ambitious sci-fi series of the last decade and it deserved a long, twisty ride. Watch on Netflix. (24 hours, 45 minutes)
A fitting series for what feels the end of the world. Good Omens follows an angel (Michael Sheen) and demon (David Tennant) who, after centuries of watching over Earth and becoming a bit fond of it, seek out to stop the impending Armageddon. But there’s one major hiccup: someone’s misplaced the Antichrist. Neil Gaiman wrote the series so you know it’s a faithful adaptation to his and Terry Pratchett’s beloved novel. Watch on Amazon Prime. (5 hours, 30 minutes)
If you’re looking for a spooky anthology…
Haunting of Hill House
Mike Flanagan’s loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s famed novel of the same name was such a surprise hit that it sparked an entire Haunting of anthology series. The series follows the Crain family, who move into the titular house in the early ‘90s. Moving between two timelines, the series follows the five Crain siblings as adults, contending with their traumatic past at Hill House, and as children, depicting the events leading up to their final night at the house. This series is perfect for anyone who wants the daylights scared out of them but are also looking for a really good cry. It’s the best of both worlds. Watch on Netflix. (9 hours, 30 minutes)
Embedded deep within several of his novels is Stephen King’s horror universe, a generally subtle indication they’re set within the same world. Castle Rock takes that several steps further. Set in the titular (fictional) Maine town, the series weaves the characters, themes, and spooky energy of King’s novels into a season-long mystery. Watch it on Hulu. (16 hours, 30 minutes)
As the title suggests, the series is a horror-fueled imagining of a real historical mystery. Based on the book of the same name, the first season is a gruesome fictionalized account of Captain John Franklin’s lost arctic expedition in 1845. Season two of the series, known as The Terror: Infamy, follows the menacing “bakemono” that haunts a Japanese-American community during the early 1940s. Watch on Hulu. (8 hours)
American Horror Story
You can’t bring up a spooky anthology without getting to a few staples. While very uneven, there’s a reason Ryan Murphy’s anthology horror series is so beloved. From its all-star repertory players to it’s pure ambition, you never quite know where the series is headed… and that’s what makes it so addicting. Watch it on Netflix. (The distinct stories vary in length, all averaging about 9 hours)
If you’re looking for a gone-too-soon hit…
It’s a fact that the MCU didn’t have nearly enough Peggy Carter content, which is why we loved the idea of seeing Hayley Atwell reprise the beloved character on her own series, set after Captain America: The First Avenger. While only running two seasons, the series follows Peggy as she returns to work at the Strategic Scientific Reserves, while also secretly working for Howard Stark—her future SHIELD cofounder. Watch it on Disney+. (12 hours, 40 minutes)
Probably one of the biggest cult favorites of the last decade, Pushing Daisies follows a pie maker named Ned (Lee Pace), who possesses the ability to bring people back to life with a single touch—with a few major caveats. The series follows Ned, his newly revived childhood crush, his coworker, and a private detective as they work together to solve murders. It’s an incredibly sweet show that should have lived beyond two seasons, but it’s the perfect mood-booster binge. Watch it on The CW Seed. (15 hours, 40 minutes)
Before breaking our hearts week after week, Dan Fogelman was best known for this beloved, underrated medieval musical series, featuring music from Alan Menken! The series follows the titular knight (Joshua Sasse) in his quest to take on the nefarious King Richard (Timothy Omundson). The series is truly a goofy delight. Watch it on Netflix. (6 hours, 20 minutes)
A new addition to the gone-too-soon pile, the AMC series follows a former surfer named Dud (Wyatt Russell), who, after facing several downturns in life—the death of his father, a near-death experience himself, and a crumbling family business—takes refuge at a mysterious lodge in an attempt to turn his life around. The series was an unfortunate casualty in an era of too-much TV but it’s definitely time to remedy that and give the incredible series a go. Watch it on Hulu. (15 hours, 40 minutes)
An ex-cop and his former criminal BFF open up a private investigation business. Operating without PI licenses, the pair solve crimes while trying to avoid getting caught themselves. It was a procedural with a bit of an edge, which made it stand out in a very crowded field of procedurals. Watch it on Hulu. (9 hours, 30 minutes)
This is but the tip of the iceberg of quick watch TV series. Give these a go and then celebrate the wonders of streaming with the many, many others out there.
Feature Image: Amazon Prime
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