If you haven’t been following the news, you’re probably enjoying your vacation on the remote island you’re currently on, and are in for a rude awakening when you return. If you have been keeping up with the news, you know that COVID-19 is getting really serious in the United States. Almost every college I know has switched to remote/online learning, governors across the country are shutting down schools, workplaces are mandating work from home policies, and cities all over the country are closing bars, restaurants, museums, gyms, and any gatherings over 50 people.
Luckily for introverts and lazy people alike, one of the most recommended ways to prevent further spread of the virus is to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Seriously, just don’t leave your house if you can. If this is our generation’s war (as I’ve seen some tweets call it), at least we can fight it by sitting on our couches instead of going into trenches. While you might think you should be doing your work or your online classes, I’m using this quarantine to do something actually productive: catch up on Netflix shows. Some are old favorites and others have been on my “To Watch” list for a while. This is the ultimate list for all the most bingeable shows on Netflix for whatever mood you could possibly be in during this quarantine.
If You Need True Crime
Let me preface this by saying I am not a huge true crime fan, but I totally understand the fascination with it, and if nothing else, it will definitely make you think about other things besides the virus. Netflix clearly knows this, and has been pumping out the most gruesome and can’t-look-away content for years now. The amount of true crime on Netflix could last you basically forever if this quarantine goes that long.
‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez’
Okay, this seems like kind of a sad one to start the list with, but Netflix keeps promoting it to me and it’s exactly what true crime lovers will, well, love (but also hate, given the subject matter—you’ll see in a sec). Without giving too much away, Gabriel Fernandez was an 8-year-old boy who was failed repeatedly by the systems that were supposed to protect him. If you need a good cry that isn’t about the pandemic, this doc will give you that.
Unbelievable is a miniseries about a serial rapist in the state of Washington and Colorado. It’s based off a Pulitzer-prize-winning article titled “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” (which you can read online) and tells how two detectives in Colorado manage to connect a series of rapes in the two states, even after detectives in Washington were already convinced that one of the victims was lying. It was too hard for me to watch because it’s pretty graphic (at least the first episode), so I only read the article, but the story lives up to its title—unbelievable.
This show just came out last month, so it’s the perfect binge if you’ve already caught up on everything else. In 1999, Dan Schneider, a pharmacist in Louisiana, was on a mission to discover who killed his son in a drug-related shooting. He also begins to notice the healthy young people who come into his store with prescriptions for Oxycontin. Schneider attempts to expose fraudulent doctors, the Opioid Epidemic, and Big Pharma itself.
If You Need To Laugh
One thing that’s going to get me through the next two-to-undefined-amount of weeks is some nice, lighthearted humor and quirky characters that I can rely on. Netflix has tons of old sitcoms, and is now producing a lot of their own content to make you laugh as well.
This is perhaps my favorite show ever. When the uber-wealthy and out-of-touch Rose family goes bankrupt, the only place where they can land on their feet is a town called Schitt’s Creek, which Johny Rose had gifted his son David as a practical joke. They have to learn how to live like “normal” people in the small town, and somehow manage to make a home for themselves. Each family member is more kooky than the next, and I will be quoting it and chuckling to myself until the day I die.
‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’
Kimmy is a “mole-woman” who was kidnapped and held hostage in a bunker by a crazy reverend for 15 years and has now relocated to New York, where she lives in a basement apartment with her musically gifted and lazy roommate Titus and eccentric landlord Lillian. Kimmy has to figure out how to be an adult in a real city and not let anyone take advantage of her kindness and naivete. I’ll warn you that once you hear the theme song you will never get it out of your head, but otherwise, this is the perfect show to binge if you want to smile.
‘The Good Place’
Let’s face it, we’re all going to hell. Unless, like Eleanor (Kristen Bell), we end up in The Good Place by mistake. Eleanor has to hide the fact that she’s actually not a good person from everyone there, but they help her realize that it’s never too late to change who you are, even after death. That’s good news for all of you procrastinators out there.
This is a newer Netflix-produced show that just came out with season 2. If you haven’t seen it, get started now because it is adorably awkward and funny. Otis, the main character, starts a sex therapy clinic at his school, despite never getting close to the actual thing himself. To everyone’s surprise, he is extremely successful and makes a lot of unlikely friends. It will remind of the best and worst parts of high school and nothing too stressful happens so it’s the perfect feel-good binge.
If You Need A Good Cry To Get It Out
I’m the type of person who doesn’t cry about real things happening in my life and then sees a dog get a new toy in a commercial and absolutely breaks down. These are scary times, and you might feel like you need to cry about them, but you just don’t seem able to. Watching TV is always a good excuse to get tears out of your system.
I’m pretty sure Shonda Rhimes made this show for the exact purpose of cathartic release. All 15 seasons of the medical drama following Meredith Grey and the other interns, residents, and attending doctors are available on Netflix, but if you want to cry, just go straight to any episode where a main character dies, which seems to happen about once a season.
Something about angry straight men getting cheered up and set back on track by five gay guys really cues the waterworks. All Antoni does is show them how to make guacamole and I start tearing up. The pureness of this show is unmatched and I highly recommend if you need to restore your faith in humanity.
If You Want A Feel-Good Show
If there was any time for TV to come through and cheer us up, it’s right now. These shows will help you relax and remember there was a happy time before all of this chaos, and there will be a time after.
Gilmore Girls is one of those shows that you will continue to rewatch for the rest of your life, with your mom, your sister, your friends, and maybe your future daughter. Once you know the characters you can basically watch any episode at any time and feel immediately comfortable. Let’s pretend the reunion episodes never happened and Stars Hollow is still having their cute small-town festivals every five minutes.
‘The Great British Baking Show’
What could be better than British people getting stressed over tiny cakes and pastries and Mary Berry making jokes about soggy bottoms? Nothing beats this show unless you start projecting your real-world stress onto whether the dough has proofed for long enough. Otherwise, you will pretty much love every contestant and will be happy for every single person when they win and sad for every single person when they lose.
If You Want To Watch Every Episode In The Next Four Days
I’m not sure why you would want to finish a series in a day when you may very well be here for a long time, but if you really need that distraction, there are some seriously bingeable shows on Netflix right now, and they’re calling your name.
I just started this show (I know, I’m behind), and I am appalled, horrified, disgusted, and in other words, absolutely addicted. Joe Goldberg sees a girl, Beck, at his bookstore and decides then and there that they are meant to be together and that he is the only one that can “save” her. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be with her, including kill her boyfriend. I haven’t watched season 2 and don’t want to look it up so that’s all I’ll give you, but it’s already one that I can’t get enough of.
This show is such a gem, and the fact that Netflix didn’t bring it back for a third season is an actual crime. The series is a satire of the ‘true crime’ genre craze. Two students conduct a “mockumentary” investigation of the vandalism pranks (i.e. drawing penises everywhere) occurring at their local public high school. American Vandal is hilarious and super easy to watch in one sitting, especially because the stakes are so low.
‘Dear White People’
Dear White People makes you feel every emotion all at once—laughter, sadness, anger, guilt, and more, and by the end of those five minutes, you’ll be obsessed. The fictitious Dear White People is a spin-off of the 2014 film of the same name and follows the lives of African-American students at a fictional Ivy League school. Each character in the show is so interesting and intense, and it’s easy to become immediately invested in each of their stories.
‘Parks and Recreation & The Office’
These are the shows you’ve already watched fully through probably more than once. The shows you throw on while folding laundry, cooking dinner, and trying to fall asleep. Whichever one you prefer, turn it on when you need to relax and watch an entire season in one sitting. The good thing is that you can scroll through IG while watching and not have to worry about missing anything too important.
If You’ve Been Behind On TV And Want To Catch Up On What Everyone Is Talking About
You know those shows that your friends keep texting you about and you seem to run into you everywhere you look but haven’t managed to get around to watching because of something called, uh, work? Well now you have no excuses, so start watching. You will finally have something to discuss at your Zoom cocktail party this Friday.
Making The Circle sound watchable and worth your time to a person who has never seen it is a fun little game I like to play about every single day. Basically, it’s a game show in which eight contestants can only interact with each other via a social platform called The Circle. There are catfishes, con-artists, romances, bromances, and so much more, and the winner gets $100,000.
‘Love Is Blind’
If you haven’t seen Love Is Blind, actually stop reading this list right now and go watch. See you in 10 hours. The premise of Love Is Blind is that men and women go on speed dates in pods while unable to physically see each other, in order to test if love truly is blind (say that last part in Vanessa Lachey’s voice). Some couples get engaged in the pods (sight unseen!) and the show follows them on their honeymoons and then to their weddings at the end of 30 days. Whether the cast is legit or just there because they’re influencers remains to be seen, but either way, it is a recipe for disaster.
Did the world get enough content out of Cheer? I feel like not. I could listen to Jerry mat talk every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. Cheer is a six-episode docuseries following the Navarro College Cheer Team as they make their bid for Nationals in Daytona, Florida. The cast is basically America’s heroes, and they have some of the most inspiring, intense life stories you’ll see all year. Let’s not forget that they have more athletic talent in their pinky fingers than I’ll ever have.
If You Want To Watch Political/Historical Drama To Distract Yourself From Current Political/Historical Drama
Maybe in 50-100 years, they will make a TV show about this moment in history. While that’s a nice thought, it doesn’t really help the immediate situation. However, while this is not scientifically proven, they say the best method for distracting yourself from the current political and historical crisis is to throw yourself into another period of political and historical crisis that conveniently has a TV show about it.
The Crown is the period piece I always wanted. Winston Churchill? English monarchy? Amazing outfits and hair? Say less. The show is about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It can be slightly hard to follow if you’re not a history buff or don’t know who everyone is and what was going on during the 20th century in England, so get your Wikipedia page ready on your phone while you watch.
‘The West Wing’
If only I could be a fly on the wall in the West Wing of The White House right now. But I can’t, so instead there’s The West Wing, which is a political drama about the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlet, and which is regarded as one of the most influential shows of all time. Each episode basically follows the president throughout his day as he guides his team through legislative and political challenges (among longer, multi-episode story arcs). Wow, watching the president actually do his job? What a concept.
Outlander is the historical drama of all historical dramas. It’s 1946, and Claire, who was a nurse in World War II, is visiting Scotland with her husband. But while there, she is transported back in time to 1743 and lands among a group of Scottish rebels. She knows how history plays out and tries to help their cause, and also falls in love along the way. It’s basically two period pieces for the price of one, and has its fair share of love, war, and amazing costumes.
If You Want To Learn Another Language Through TV
Maybe you’re a betch who studied abroad and you want to reminisce on that time you were able to say “llámame” to a hot bartender. Or maybe these cheap prices are really making your travel bug itch. Please do NOT travel, but the next best cure is to watch a show in a different language. It will have your brain working overtime and make you feel slightly more intellectual as you click ‘next’ on the eighth episode in a row.
‘Call My Agent!’ (French)
Call My Agent! is centered at the A.S.K. talent agency in Paris. Each agent has to deal with the hijinks of the actors, writers, and directors that they manage, as well as the inter-office drama, which is heightened when the CEO unexpectedly dies. The actors in the show that the agents manage are all doing cameos, which I imagine would be really cool except that I don’t follow the French film industry so don’t recognize any of them. I am actually obsessed with this show and eagerly awaiting the next season, but in the meantime, I just tell every I know to watch it so we can discuss it.
Season 3 came out last week, and I have not shut up about it since. I would describe it as Gossip Girl, but instead of the Upper East Side, the show follows the scandalous lives of Madrid’s elite. However, that does not do it justice, because there’s a whole murder mystery aspect to the show. Elite is everything. The whole cast is so hot, and they just keep getting hotter every episode. I love it more every second and cannot look away.
Dark is a total mindf*ck and you probably need to watch it twice in order to fully understand it. It has been described as a German Stranger Things, and takes place in the aftermath of a child’s disappearance. The disappearance exposes the secrets of the small town and reconnects four estranged families to each other and to their pasts. The story takes place on three different timelines (1950s, 1980s, present) and there’s a lot of time travel involved. I can’t tell you that I was able to fully explain what happened after I finished it, but I can tell you that I loved it.
If You Want Crime Drama
Even if true crime is slightly too much for you to handle (I am right there with ya), that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice, fictional crime drama. These are for those of us who were way too into Pretty Little Liars in high school. Whether its murder, money-laundering, drug rings, or kidnapping, crime dramas are the most addicting shows, especially when you’re not sure what’s coming next.
Three suburban Michigan moms are tired of having to struggle to afford everything in their lives, so they decide to rob a supermarket in order to finally get the money they need. It would be okay if they just stopped there, but the supermarket robbery turns out to be way more trouble than they bargained for, and personally, I think they solve every problem they face with one bad decision after another, but I guess that’s how the show moves forward. Good Girls is a little lighter than your average crime drama, but every episode still keeps you wanting more.
Another white suburban couple who gets into way more trouble than they realized. Marty Byrde has to move his fairly ordinary family from Chicago to a resort community in the Missouri Ozarks after his money-laundering operation goes awry. But in Missouri, Marty gets involved with the wrong people, and soon finds himself needing to appease a drug boss. Season 3 just came out on Netflix, so you probably want to get started now.
Thank the lord for British TV. This crime drama has three seasons which revolve around the death of 11-year-old Danny Latimer and its aftermath. The show follows the detectives and Danny’s family as they battle with media attention, grief, and increasing suspicion of everyone in the town. I haven’t watched it yet, but everyone I know who has raves about it, so it is definitely next on my list.
Lost Girls, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released on Netflix only last week, is the story of Mari Gilbert as she attempts to make law enforcement care about the search for her missing daughter. In the process, she discovers a collection of unsolved murders of young sex workers in Long Island. The movie is based on the book of the same name and looks so intense that I will need to watch it in broad daylight and not in the dark hours of the middle of the night like I usually do.
The first season of this mystery crime series, which just came out on Netflix, is based on Harlan Corben’s novel of the same title. Adam Price has a seemingly perfect wife and family, but when ‘The Stranger’ arrives to tell him a secret about his wife, everything quickly begins to unravel. When his wife finds out what happened, she mysteriously disappears, leaving Adam to pick up the pieces. The Stranger threatens to expose the secrets of many characters in the show, and it becomes evident that people are hiding a lot more than you think in this quiet suburban community.
If You Want Dating Content To Distract You From The Fact That You Can’t Date RN
The best thing about dating shows and rom-coms is that you get to feel what it’s like to fall in love without actually having to put in the work to do it. Usually when I watch this type of content (save The Bachelor), it has me feeling some type of way. But in the current state of things, the hindrance to your love life could not possibly be your commitment issues, it’s the virus! Perfect time to ghost all your Ship matches and watch guilt-free.
‘He’s Just Not That Into You’
He’s Just Not That Into You follows four couples/women who are at different stages in their relationships as they try to figure out what their next move is and answer the burning question: if the person they’re dating is actually into them. I watched this movie the day it got added to Netflix, and I have two observations: 1) the trend of putting 8-10 beautiful people in a movie and forcing the viewer to do the work to remember all the connections is definitely out and 2) most of the movie’s plot points center around the characters barely knowing how to use a cellphone. Oh, to be back in 2009 again.
Dating Around is Love Is Blind’s less cool brother who laid all the groundwork in order for Love is Blind to succeed. The producers set up an NYC-based single on five blind dates, and then they choose the best match for their second date. Unlike Love Is Blind, the episodes are only 30 minutes and each storyline is contained in its own episode, so you don’t have to watch the whole season to figure out what happens. It’s a little easier to digest, and you don’t have to get as invested. The stakes are definitely lower, which makes this a good show to put in the background of whatever you’re doing.
There’s no need to explain the concept of The Bachelor at this point, but the exciting news is that it’s now on Netflix! For some reason, only Season 13. How hard is Jason’s agent working? I guess you can watch this if you’re nostalgic for the good ol’ days and mourning the postponement of production of every Bachelor franchise show for the next few months.
‘To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You’
Ah yes, Netflix released the long-awaited sequel of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Valentine’s Day, so if you haven’t watched it yet, now’s the time. Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship is going swell, but when another mans comes to collect on his love letter, Lara-Jean goes into crisis mode. Because like, obviously your 6th-grade crush is real and true love and if he comes back into your life, you can’t miss out on that opportunity!
If You Want To Learn How To Cook
This quarantine might be the time to learn some of those adult life skills that you’ve been putting off, aka learning to cook and not just microwaving Trader Joe’s frozen food for every meal (as tasty as it is). Luckily, the days of calling your mom to ask how to preheat an oven are almost over; Netflix has your back. There are shows to inspire you and to teach, so get watching and cooking and then you can post your homemade meal on IG to brag.
‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’
The four-episode show is the visual companion of Samin Nostrat’s 2017 book. Each episode focuses on one of these essential ingredients to successful cooking, as Nostrat travel to Italy, Japan, Mexico, and California to showcase how chefs are perfecting these elements around the world. Nostrat teaches you how to incorporate each element along the way, and the show has been lauded for its higher proportion for female chefs and home cooks compared to most cooking shows. It’s food, it’s travel, it’s happy, it’s everything you’re looking for.
‘The Chef Show’
God, for some reason I was seriously obsessed with the 2014 movie Chef, in which Jon Favreau goes on a road trip in a food truck with his son, and they bond for life. There’s one scene where he makes the most delicious looking grilled cheese and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Anyway, I guess the movie inspired Jon to actually get into cooking, which is even more amazing, and he created The Chef Show for Netflix, where he and celebrity chef Roy Choi travel around the world (sometimes with other celebrity guests) to celebrate different flavors and cultures, and to learn the best techniques for their favorite recipes. Another wholesome travel and cooking series? Yes, please.
Each episode of Chef’s Table is a mini-documentary centered around a world-famous chef. The show attempts to tell the world these chefs’ stories, and what inspires them to make the food they do. I love the show because it really makes you think about food differently. Food is an art form, and the chef is an artist, rather than just sustenance and fuel. As with most cooking shows, each story is contained in one episode, so you can watch it without feeling like you have to binge or even know what’s really going on.
Wow, congrats if you made it to the end of this list, and I really hope it helps answer the dreadful “what should I watch?” question. The last thing I’ll say is that even in quarantine, you don’t have to Netflix and Chill alone. There is a chrome extension called Netflix Party which allows you to sync your screen with other viewers and gives you a chat box where you can discuss the show. There’s also an app called Airtime that lets you video conference with your friends, and you can watch videos live in-app so you can all react together. With Netflix’s help, we are going to make it through this.
Images: Free stocks / Unsplash; Beth Dubber, Eric Liebowitz, Gavin Bond, Sam Taylor, Tyler Golden, Adam Rose, Alex Bailey, Nick Briggs, Manuel Fernandez-Valdez, Jackson Davis, Jessica Kourkounis, Bettina Straus, Melissa Moseley / Netflix; The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, The Pharmacist, You, The Great British Baking Show, The Circle, Love is Blind, Cheer, Call My Agent, Dark, The Stranger, Dating Around,The Chef Show / Courtesy of Netflix; Giphy (9).