Tis The Season For A Netflix Binge Watch

It's the most wonderful time of the year - a few days off from work to sit at home and enjoy time with my one true love, my Samsung Smart TV. I kid (sorta…), but as the months become colder and winter fully sets in I love to plan for a winter TV binge to keep me occupied when the world is a lot colder and a little grayer outdoors. 
Since the advent of Netflix, Hulu, Prime TV and HBO Go, I have chosen one TV show to binge between during the winter and if you too want to partake in this tradition, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite binge-worthy shows for your consumption. Here goes!
I remember saying to my friend who recommended I binge it after the completion of Season 4 “I won’t like that.” And believe me – I WAS WRONG. The Walking Dead isn’t about zombies – it is about what happens in life when there are no rules, no laws and no leaders. It’s about human instinct and family, in the most unlikely of circumstances.

The first season is actually a great little appetizer to get you interested in the long haul of the show – it is 6 episodes and lays the groundwork incredibly for the coming years. What I love most about the show is the storytelling and the belief that NO character carries the show – everyone is expendable. It makes for an on the edge thriller episode after episode. 

Fair warning – when you get to season 7 it is a little rough, the writing is not as strong and the our heroes are often facing adversity for what seems like forever. Power through – it is worth it to get to the current day! 
Ok so you’re not in it for the drama and need a little laughing this winter season? I have the perfect show for you – Parks & Rec. What you’ll come for – the amazing comedy styling of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. What will make you stay: the inability to NOT smile while watching this show. I recently listened to Michael Schur, one of the writers and producers of the show on The West Wing Weekly podcast, talking about how the show loves making people laugh but they also knew that it was ok to have two minutes of seriousness in each episode, where comedy didn’t need to happen and that would make it relatable. I loved that because it hit the nail on the head as to why I loved this show. I immediately related the characters to people I worked with … on a much more realistic scale.

The show is about a part of the government and in turn politics, but not the horrid politics we’re dealing with in real life today. Politics that is bi-partisan – more about local government and a group of people, who for the most part (save Ron Swanson) care so much about their city of Pawnee, Indiana that they are willing to go above and beyond to make it a special place for the residents. 

There’s a reason this was named the smartest comedy on television – and definitely worth the hours for your 6 season binge. Season 1 is a little rough – power through, you’ll thank me – and Little Sebastian – for it. 
If you’re into something raunchy and heartwarming – yes I know those two things don’t go together, but stay with me – than Shameless is the binge for you. Following the down on their luck Gallagher family living on the South Side of Chicago, this show gives you literally a range of emotions. What do you get when you mix drama, comedy, thriller and sometimes what feels like reality? Drealledy? That is Shameless. You’re literally going to laugh, cry, fear and relate to it like you’re living it.

I grew up in the pre-gentrified Long Island City. Watching Shameless was like watching the people I knew – they loved hard and they make incredibly stupid decisions but in the end family, either the one you’re born into or the one you create, will always be there for you. 

The show is potentially leading into their final season in March so this is a great time to do a binge because you can potentially watch live as the show wraps up in early 2019! Side note – as you watch you’ll notice Jeremy Allen White (Lip) and Shanola Hampton (V) are the most underrated actors on television and it is going to make you rip roaring mad that you’ve only seen William H. Macy get accolades for this show.

I know I’ve weighed you down with a lot of dramas on this list, but I feel like the winter is made for dramas, it’s like red wine in the winter, it just makes sense. Sons of Anarchy is like a hearty red wine, thick, with a range of flavors and emotions throughout its 7 seasons. The show, which wrapped in 2014, seemingly from the outside is about a motorcycle club. But spending 4 to 5 episodes with this drama shows you there’s much more than meets the eye. 

My personal love for this show comes from the incredible acting with actors who were … and still are … EXTREMELY underrated. During the time the show was on the air it won one Golden Globe for Katey Sagal, who plays the brilliant leading lady on the show. What it deserved was accolades for all actors, writing, direction and production. As you delve into each season you will ask yourself WHY ON EARTH did you not watch this in real time? You’ll also wonder how the holy hell Kurt Sutter (creator and writer of the show) thinks this stuff up. 

I'm bummed because this is no longer on Netflix - but if you have Hulu you'll be all set! 

Ok I am going to do it, I’m recommending this show … with the current political climate, I’m sure this might be the last thing on your list but I think if that’s your sentiment then this show should be your must watch. Why? Because it will restore your faith in the justice system – and give you a little education on issues. Yes, this show started in 1999 and ended in 2006 but you will likely be surprised to learn (if you are a little politically averse like I was before bingeing this show in 2015) that we are STILL facing many of the same issues in our country today.

The show is written by the BRILLIANT Aaron Sorkin, who, if you’ve never seen something he has created before (TV show, film or play) then you basically have yet to enjoy any REAL entertainment. The acting is incredible and features Allison Janney in her first big television role. Allison Janney, the woman who hasn’t met an Emmy she hasn’t won and 2018 Oscar winner. Allison Janney, who I consider television’s Meryl Streep. 

Seasons 1 to 4 I would say are potentially the best 85 hours of television ever. Season 5 is a little rough but power through! And if you’re worried you won’t have anyone to talk to about the show since you’re watching it over a dozen years after it ended, I would recommend listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast while you binge! You get to hear the actors today talk about their experiences way back before Facebook and smartphones existed. 

The West Wing has been, to this date, my favorite binge and is hands down my favorite show in the history of television. 

Ok! So those are my Winter Binge Watch recommendations. What ones do you recommend? I am looking for something to dive into this season! 

<3 Kristen 
(Megan's friend who LOVES television a little too much)