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The best shows to binge over the holidays

Best shows to binge over break
(Image credit: HBO Max; Apple TV Plus; Netflix)

The end-of-year holiday break is a time for rest and relaxation, family bonding … and a good new-fashioned binge watch. If you’ve got a respite from work and school, this is a good opportunity to catch up on all those shows you’ve been meaning to watch. 

The Peak TV era was already in full swing and the launch of several new streaming services just added to the binge-watching buffet. They all rolled out their own originals, in addition to unearthing deep cuts from their corporate libraries. Keeping up with your watch list is now basically Mission: Impossible. 

But we love TV, so we watch what we can, when we can. Sometimes, that means taking in a short season in one day or kicking off a multi-month viewing project.  Here’s our guide, based on the amount of time you have, on shows to binge over the holidays.

The best shows to binge in a day

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

A lot happens in 10 episodes, as we meet the titular American football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis) who is hired to coach a soccer team — even though he doesn't know a lick about the sport. Ted Lasso is an addictive binge-watch TV even if you (like me) barely care about professional sports, because of its excellent cast of characters. The show wouldn't be the same, though, without Sudeikis who thrives as Coach Lasso, an amazingly kind-hearted and folksy man who will win everyone over — even if he doesn't care about winning a game. — Henry T. Casey

Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV Plus

Murder on Middle Beach

Murder on Middle Beach

(Image credit: HBO)

The true crime genre has exploded in recent years, and its entries can feel cut from the same cloth. Murder on Middle Beach provides a distinctive, unique perspective, as the filmmaker, Madison Hamburg, digs into his own mother’s unsolved killing. As part of the investigation, he conducts raw, emotional interviews with his family members, including his father, sister, aunts and uncles. Hamburg even goes so far as to ask them, point-blank, if they did it. This a true crime tale told from the inside and the dysfunctional family dynamics, secrets and betrayals make for a compelling watch. — Kelly Woo

Watch Murder on Middle Beach on HBO Max

Saved By the Bell

How to watch Saved By the Bell reboot

(Image credit: Peacock)

Everything is getting rebooted, when nothing really needs to be. But sometimes, rarely, a reboot results in a real gem: the new version builds on and puts a novel spin on the old, while honoring it at the same time. That’s the case with Saved By the Bell, Peacock’s reboot/sequel series, which is a delightful balance of nostalgia, earnest storytelling and sly self-awareness. Original cast members make appearances, but it’s the new, more diverse generation that really stands out. And it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (the new theme song is terrible, though). — Kelly Woo

Watch Saved By the Bell on Peacock

Best shows to binge in a weekend

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn

(Image credit: DC Universe)

If you loved Birds of Prey (one of the few movies we saw in theaters this year), then you'll want to make sure you don't finish Harley Quinn's animated series too quickly. The series, which will be a hit with Batman: The Animated Series fans as well, is primarily focused on Quinn's quest to make a name for herself in crime — but without Mr. J, as her best friend Poison Ivy's managed to finally make it clear to Harley how toxic her relationship with the clown prince of crime actually is. — Henry T. Casey

Watch Harley Quinn on HBO Max

What We Do In The Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows season 2

(Image credit: FX)

Having roommates is difficult, especially when they're as awkward as this bunch. But the quite-odd couple Nadja and Laszlo, emotionally exhausting Colin Robinson, pretentious Nandor and servile Guillermo have a big secret they're bad at keeping. All of them (minus Guillermo) are vampires. This docuseries, which follows the roommates around their Staten Island, NY home, is a masterful success thanks to the cast and executive producers Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who managed to adapt their cult classic film of the same name for the small screen. — Henry T. Casey

Watch What We Do In The Shadows on Hulu

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

(Image credit: Sunrise)

Ask an anime fan what they'd recommend to a newcomer, and you'll almost always hear "Cowboy Bebop." That's because this gorgeous series combines elements from the sci-fi, Western and noir genres, complete with a hefty dose of comedy and an instantly endearing cast of characters. Cowboy Bebop takes place in the not-too-distant future, and follows a loosely knit team of adventurers — Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong, and a corgi named Ein — as they traipse around the solar system, doing odd jobs and getting on each others' nerves. It's occasionally hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, and always obscenely stylish. There are only 26 episodes (and a tie-in movie), but series director Shinichirō Watanabe wanted "to quit while we're ahead, when people still want more." — Marshall Honorof

Watch Cowboy Bebop on Hulu

Big Mouth

Big Mouth

(Image credit: Netflix)

If you can remember the struggles of going through puberty, chances are you’re going to relate to Big Mouth. Based on the childhood of Nick Kroll and his friend Andrew Goldberg, this potty-mouthed animated show hilariously follows a group of teenagers as they meet their “Hormone Monsters,” and discover their sexuality. Although Nick Kroll voices half the characters on the show, he’s joined by a stunning cast that includes comedian John Mulaney as well as SNL favorites Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. The highlights of this Netflix Original are its diversity and ability to openly discuss issues such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ and mental health. Though it’s definitely going to bring up embarrassing memories from your past, Big Mouth is guaranteed to join your list of go-to TV shows. — Denise Primbet

Watch Big Mouth on Netflix

Best shows to binge in a couple of weeks

The Crown

New TV Shows in November 2020

(Image credit: Netflix)

Who knew that following the lives of the British Royal Family could be so entertaining? First released in 2016, this Netflix Original follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s onwards. The screenplay was written by Peter Morgan, who co-wrote the screenplay for Academy Award nominee Bohemian Rhapsody ( about an entirely different Queen). With the release of the show’s fourth season in late 2020, the show continued to gain traction with the introduction of the late Princess Diana, though this led to controversy regarding how accurately the show portrayed Prince Charles and Diana’s relationship. Nonetheless, you’re going to be shocked at how addictive The Crown is. Fair warning though, side effects may include countless attempts to imitate the royal accent (success not guaranteed). — Denise Primbet

Watch The Crown on Netflix

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

(Image credit: Netflix)

This may seem hard to believe, but BoJack Horseman got very mixed reviews when it debuted on Netflix in 2014. Some critics didn't understand why funny animal non-sequiturs had to break up the heartfelt drama; others didn't get why all the heartfelt drama was getting in the way of the funny animal non-sequiturs. Still, BoJack Horseman found its audience, and brought us one of the funniest and most tragic shows of the 2010s. The titular BoJack (Will Arnett) is a washed-up sitcom actor whose alcoholism, egotism and nihilism constantly threaten to overwhelm him — and occasionally do. But by leaning on his group of oddball friends and rivals, he learns that becoming a better person is a lifelong process. — Marshall Honorof

Watch BoJack Horseman on Netflix

The Venture Bros

Venture Brothers

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

Dean and Hank Venture are chaos magnets, but it's not their fault. Their father, Dr. Thaddeus S. "Rusty" Venture, is the biggest fail-son this side of political dynasties, having grown up in the public eye as a boy-adventurer, and failing to be the super scientist his father was. Fortunately, brawny bodyguard Brock Sampson is capable of protecting them from all the weirdos who want to make a name by being Venture's nemesis. Cancelled after its most recent season — which was one of its most compelling — The Venture Bros. is a hilarious look at people who want to be heroes and supervillains, but fail to actually impress with their powers. — Henry T. Casey

Watch The Venture Bros. on Hulu

Community

Community

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Television)

"Six seasons and a movie!" became the rallying cry of Community, which did manage to secure six seasons — although we're still waiting on the movie. Joel McHale stars as Jeff Winger: a disbarred lawyer who must work his way through a bottom-of-the-barrel community college before reentering his profession. There, he befriends a diverse and equally zany study group, including beloved actors like Chevy Chase as the prickly Pierce Hawthorne, and Yvette Nicole Brown as the overbearing Shirley Bennett. The show starts off with typical sitcom hijinks, but eventually goes to some very weird places, such as a paintball-themed Star Wars spoof, a clip show of episodes that never actually happened and a reality-splitting die roll that creates seven separate timelines. — Marshall Honorof

Watch Community on Netflix

The Good Place

The Good Place

(Image credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

This NBC series explores the answer to an age-old question: what happens to us after we die? Starring Kristen Bell, the show follows a group of misfits as they try to navigate through the afterlife. While The Good Place is bound to teach you a lesson or two about ethics, there are laughs and twists at every turn - after all, there’s a reason why Barack Obama named it as one of his favorite TV shows of 2020. If that doesn’t convince you, then know that The Good Place comes from Michael Schur, the comedic mastermind behind The Office, Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So, if you’re a fan of any of those, The Good Place is definitely a must-watch. — Denise Primbet

Watch The Good Place on Netflix

Best shows to start and binge for months

90 Day Fiancé

How to watch 90 Day Fiance in order

(Image credit: TLC)

Reality TV is junk food, but who among us doesn’t want to indulge during the holidays — especially at the end of a trash fire year? The great thing about 90 Day Fiancé is that A) it’s easy to get into and B) there’s a lot of it. The franchise comprises 31 seasons of television, as well as digital series. And while I’ve suggested how to watch 90 Day Fiance in order, you can really drop in anywhere and be immediately entertained (and maybe appalled). This show has it all: drama, comedy, unforgettable characters and even heart-tugging moments. — Kelly Woo

Watch 90 Day Fiancé on Hulu

Star Trek

Star Trek

(Image credit: CBS)

It's easy enough to recommend Star Trek, but newcomers always ask the same question: "Where to start?" If you have a truly enormous amount of time on your hands, you can always do what I did and watch it all. With nine separate series, thirteen movies and a collection of shorts, the Star Trek franchise would run for about a month, if you watched it all back-to-back. You probably shouldn't do that, but bingeing the entire series is a rewarding experience, particularly since newer shows call back to older story arcs, characters and settings frequently. The original series is a good place to start, since it was the first Star Trek series to air, but so is the prequel series Enterprise, the fan-favorite Next Generation, or the slick new Discovery. — Marshall Honorof

Watch Star Trek on CBS All Access

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy

(Image credit: ABC)

If it feels like Grey’s Anatomy has been around forever, well, that’s because it has! The medical drama premiered in 2005 and is currently airing its 17th season on ABC. The first 16 seasons, meanwhile, are all on Netflix. If you watch two episodes a day, it’ll take you six months to get through all the episodes — taking you right up to the point when most people have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Pass the pandemic by watching brilliant doctors save lives (and get into messy love triangles). Bonus: Grey’s Anatomy is soundtracked by some of the best songs you'll hear in any TV show. — Kelly Woo

Watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix