14 TV Shows To Binge-Watch Before The New Year
The New Year is often a time for reflection; it's a time to look back on the past year, to celebrate your triumphs and learn from your failures. So, before the clock strikes midnight, ask yourself: "Did I ever finish that season of 'The Affair?'"; "What's that show about robots people keep telling me to watch?"; "Did I watch anything on TV this season that wasn't about zombies or White Walkers?"; "What am I doing with my life?!"
Alas, don't be hard on yourself. With over 400 scripted series on TV and streaming services in 2015, a few good ones were bound to slip through the cracks. It's like an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord out there. Simply put, we're in the era of "Peak TV" -- a time when there's just too many quality shows on the air and not enough time to watch them all. Of course, you have the power to change that in the new year.
The holidays are often viewed as a season of togetherness, but let's be real, it's also the only time you're going to get to binge-watch all of the great TV you missed this year, so what are you waiting for? If you start now, you might even be able to finish "Making A Murderer" before the ball drops in Times Square. Just in case you need some inspo, here are some recommendations for shows you need to add to your binge list:
"Jessica Jones" is Marvel's best show yet, and if you don't take my word for it, take this guy's. The Netflix series (available to stream now) introduced us to a perfectly imperfect comic book heroine we never knew we needed. With a stellar cast and its thoughtful, impactful take on abuse and rape, the show sets itself apart from most TV shows. Despite its bleak subject matter, "Jessica Jones" isn't afraid to show its heart and humor -- and that balance is the show's greatest strength.
"Making A Murderer"
Chances are, in the past 48 hours you've seen or heard someone talk about Netflix's harrowing new docu-series "Making A Murderer." If you're looking for a somber binge this New Years, then this is the show for you. The 10-part series analyzes the effect that prejudice, shoddy investigations and shaky evidence have on criminal justice proceedings through the lens of the Steven Avery, a blue-collar man from Manitowoc County, Wis. convicted of the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach -- a murder he said he did not commit. Just brace yourself: this is the kind of show that sticks with you long after you've finished watching it.
"Jane The Virgin"
"Jane The Virgin" is the best show on television, and frankly, if you're not watching it, then I have to question your sanity. Don't you want to feel happiness and joy? Jane Villanueva is the realest character on TV: a hardworking, single young mother. So, open your heart and let Jane, Mateo and the Villanueva women in. You will thank us for it later. Plus, Gina Rodriguez is going to be a huge star one day and you're going to want to say, "I knew her when she was that accidentally artificially inseminated mom on The CW!"
"Master of None"
Aziz Ansari's critically acclaimed Netflix sitcom had a near-perfect first season. "Master of None" is a smart, heartfelt and most importantly, hopeful take on the rom-com formula. Also, prepare to fall in love with Ansari's dad, the season's #1 scene-stealer.
If you're looking for a new show to suck you in and manipulate your emotions à la "Lost" and "Game Of Thrones," then "The 100" is the show for you. One of the best shows on TV, "The 100" is pure sci-fi genre television firing on all cylinders. This is a show that isn't afraid to take risks. It knows exactly what it is, and every narrative decision has a purpose -- and a consequence. Plus, these are some of the most well-written characters on television.
You betcha Minnesotan accents are fun to listen to, especially juxtaposed against some bloody murder. OK, all jokes aside, "Fargo" Season 2 is a triumph from start to finish: witty, provocative, painfully suspenseful and and at times almost too gory. Kirsten Dunst gives perhaps one of the best performances of her career as Peggy, a women who brilliantly transcends the oppression of her surroundings.
The breakout drama of 2015, "Mr. Robot" follows troubled hacker Elliot Alderson (played by the brilliant Rami Malek) as he gets mixed up in an Anonymous-like collective in an effort to bring down a Google/Enron-like conglomerate. It's an engrossing and deceivingly disarming trip. While Elliot suffers severe identity issues, the show never strays off course, delivering perhaps the best TV twist of the year. If you're looking for your new "Breaking Bad," USA's "Mr. Robot" with its artistry and originality, is it.
In case you haven't heard, CBS' "Supergirl" is a show so bright and unabashedly optimistic that it truly has the power to save us from ourselves. It's charming, exhilarating and positively feminist. Not only does "Supergirl" bring frank discussions of gender and feminism to the small screen on a weekly basis, but its exploration of heroism is by far one of the most impactful narratives on TV. A single episode of "Supergirl" will leave you with a case of the warm and fuzzies, so eight episodes in a row will have you seeing the glass half full well into 2016.
"Outlander" follows British army nurse Claire Randall (Caitronia Balfe!) as she's reunited with her academician husband after World War II. The couple travels to Scotland to rekindle their marriage, but after witnessing a local Pagan ritual, Claire mysteriously finds herself transported from the 1940s to the mid-1700s, landing right in the middle of rebels-vs-redcoats shenanigans -- and into the brawny arms of a highlander dreamboat named Jamie (Sam Heughan). What makes "Outlander" great TV, however, is the way the show presents itself through the female gaze, an egregious overlooked viewpoint in modern drama. Make no mistake: both women and men will enjoy this historical epic.
You're going to want to catch up in time for Fox's "X-Files" revival starring Fox Mulder and Dana Scully themselves, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Before Mulder and Scully get back in action, you can stream some of the series' most iconic episodes on Hulu. The truth is still out there -- and you can watch it unfold from the beginning.
"Transparent" is a beautifully nuanced family story. Throughout Season 1, we saw Maura come out to her friends and family as trans. However, now that she’s out, Maura comes face to face with something she never thought she'd have to deal with: her privilege. After living 70 years as a privileged cisgender white man, Maura dives a little deeper into the trans experience. Meanwhile, each member of Pfefferman family remains wonderfully self-involved, searching for fulfillment but not quite ready to be satisfied. So, if you're looking for a good cry to kick off the new year, stream "Transparent" on Amazon.
"Man In High Castle"
Based on a dystopian novel by Philip K. Dick, "The Man in the High Castle" shows us an alternate reality where the Axis, not the Allies, won World War II. The year is 1962. The Eastern United States, controlled by Germany, is a rigorously policed Aryan state, while The West is all Japanese hegemony and conformity. (Fun stuff!) But when a Westerner comes into possession of a forbidden newsreel, produced by an elusive subversive known as the Man in the High Castle, that shows the Allies winning the war, things get rather twisty and intriguing. It's a thrilling adventure definitely worth the ride.
"The Great British Bake Off"
Everything about the BBC's "Great British Bake-Off" (known to American viewers as "The Great British Baking Show") is a British cooking competition that’s entirely devoted to baked goods -- and it's an absolute delight. Its fifth season is currently streaming on Netflix, and if you love shows like "Chopped" but hate the competitive nature of them, then this is for you. No joke: "The Great British Bake Off" is the most genteel competitive reality show of all time.
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
If you're looking for a laugh and some instantly quotable memes in the new year, look no further than "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's Netflix comedy is all about overcoming adversity through humor, and it's like a sunny ray of sunshine on a cloudy, rainy day. But it's also not afraid to get a little dark when it needs to. After spending 15 years in an apocalypse bunker, Kimmy (the wonderful Ellie Kemper) isn't just an out-of-touch 29-year-old, she's a victim. And while it's easy to laugh at Kimmy’s ineptitude for millennial slang and modern technology, her ubiquitous cheeriness is also a front for her own darkness. Kemper's optimistic, resilient Kimmy is very different than sardonic, feminist heroine Liz Lemon, but both are unconventional female characters struggling to blaze their own trails in a male-dominated world, and frankly, we need more independent women like them on TV.
Oh, and just try to watch this video of Titus Andromedon singing his breakout Season 1 hit "Pinot Noir" AND NOT WANT MORE.