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18 Drama, Crime, Sci-Fi, and Family TV Shows to Stream and Binge

Photograph by Colleen Hayes/NBC

18 Drama, Crime, Sci-Fi, and Family TV Shows to Stream and Binge

We’re grateful for: TV. This is what we’re watching—how about you?

EASY TO WATCH

  • <em>The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel</em>

    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    Miriam Maisel is a wealthy housewife who lives in on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband, Joel, and two kids. When Miriam realizes her lifelong talent for comedy, it rocks the stability of her relationships and comfortable life. The show touches on gender politics and Jewish culture while also delivering wildly funny scenes—Miriam’s grumpy father, played by Tony Shalhoub, has numerous delightful outbursts throughout and Miriam’s stand-up is as relatable as it is comical. The show is light, and the plot doesn’t require too much concentration, but the acting is incredible and has won the show and its cast numerous awards, including the Golden Globe for best comedic television series three years in a row. Season four will air at the end of 2020.

  • <em>Love Is Blind</em>

    Love Is Blind

    Yep: Strangers of opposite sex, who are placed in rooms with dividing walls, attempt to date one another. They see the other’s face only if they propose to them. The question—is love truly blind?—is really an afterthought to the entertaining drama that unfolds as the couples fall in love, meet in person, live together, and approach their wedding dates. Even if you’re not a reality TV fan, this show makes for great group text conversation.

  • <em>Flight of the Conchords </em>

    Flight of the Conchords

    Musical comedy from an awesome New Zealand duo trying to make it in NYC and dealing with dating, jobs, renting, evictions, love, and getting mugged. There are two seasons out and you can also listen to the associated albums.

  • <em>Ugly Delicious</em>

    Ugly Delicious

    Through travel, tastings, and celebrity interviews, David Chang leads us through an anthropologic probing of the authenticity, cultural history, and just straight deliciousness of popular dishes, from the kids’ menu to curry. Season two is just four episodes. In each one, Chang suggests that delicious food is a dynamic cultural pursuit—and it isn’t always pretty.

  • <em>The Good Place</em>

    The Good Place

    Kristen Bell plays Eleanor Shellstrop, a selfish saleswoman who unexpectedly ends up in the Utopian afterlife called “the good place,” where she tries to hide her past and become more ethical. The ridiculous premise of the show fades into a new normal with the insanely clever and hilarious writing. The comedy addresses some deep themes: what it means to be good, what it means to be human, and what paradise would look like.

CRIME

  • <em>Better Call Saul</em>

    Better Call Saul

    For the Breaking Bad diehards who couldn’t get enough, Better Call Saul is the critically acclaimed prequel, following the story of Walter White’s attorney Saul Goodman, aka Jimmy McGill, as he navigates his burgeoning law career six years prior to the events of Breaking Bad. McGill’s story is both humorous and heartbreaking, as he tries to live up to the name of his successful attorney brother but finds himself slipping into his con-man ways. Other notable Breaking Bad characters also appear, like Gus Fring and the Salamanca crime family, with brilliant acting throughout that many have argued is better than in the original. Five seasons are out; season six is set to air in 2021.

  • <em>Ozark</em>

    Ozark

    This is not your typical drug cartel crime drama because the main focus is on…accounting. Marty Bird is a brilliant financial planner who launders money for the second largest cartel in Mexico. After his business partner makes some serious missteps, Marty tries to save himself and his family by leaving their home in Chicago and moving to the Ozarks to clean money there. Once they arrive, it becomes clear that this town has plenty of its own criminal entities at work and the family’s presence has disrupted business as usual. Marty, played by Jason Bateman, and his wife, Wendy, played by Laura Linney, are constantly pivoting and problem-solving in real time to protect their family—which can admittedly be a little stressful, but with writing this smart, you can’t stop watching. Bateman’s and Linney’s performances are incredibly raw and real, and despite its darker themes, you’ll be hooked because you care deeply about this family, flaws and all.

  • <em>Justified</em>

    Justified

    A US Marshal with a Wild West style of law enforcement is forced to move back to work in his hometown in Kentucky—where he left no shortage of trouble behind. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) interprets the law by his own moral compass. Excellent characters, performances, story, and direction make this a great binge for all six seasons even for people who aren’t usually drawn to crime drama.

  • <em>Tiger King</em>

    Tiger King

    The makers of Tiger King originally set out to make a documentary about the cruel practices of big cat ownership in America. What they got instead: a wild ride following the character Joe Exotic, a private zoo owner, and his intense feud with his nemesis, animal activist Carole Baskin, which culminates in a criminal trial for attempted murder. While every person on this show is extremely unlikeable, the narrative draws you in from the start, with crazy events unfolding in each episode. [Editor’s note: Staff was divided on whether we should include this show, and we are ready to hear about it on Slack.]

DRAMA

  • <em>Big Little Lies</em>

    Big Little Lies

    Based on a novel of the same title by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies could be called a murder mystery. But it’s more about five women whose children are entering kindergarten together—their friendships, marriages, and secrets. The setting, in the wealthy community of Monterey on the California coast, provides plenty of eye candy. And as if Reese Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman weren’t enough, Meryl Streep joins the cast for season two. You won’t want to miss a second of her disturbing and mesmerizing performance as Nicole Kidman’s character’s mother-in-law. The series—and its soundtrack—have received multiple awards.

  • <em>Friday Night Lights </em>

    Friday Night Lights

    We’re all missing sports right now, but Coach Taylor is here to make sure everything is going to be all right. This show starts off incredibly strong, and while the writers’ strike in 2008 derailed it for a bit, it was given a second half comeback with the introduction of Michael B. Jordan as Vince Howard and the consistently stellar performance by Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor (for which he won an Emmy in 2011). Follow along with the Taylors as they navigate being a high school football family in rural Texas. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. (If you know, you know.)

  • <em>Skins</em>

    Skins

    A British teen drama that explores all kinds of controversial issues, like sex, drugs, abuse, mental health, death, bullying, and more. The first generation—the show follows a few groups of high school friends over two years each—had us hooked, but all seven seasons are binge-worthy. The topics are heavy, but Skins has some fun with them, too.

  • <em>The Good Wife </em>

    The Good Wife

    The Good Wife is seven seasons of a primetime network drama—each with more than twenty episodes. It’s incredibly absorbing and addicting, and it might take over your life. Which might be a welcome thing right now.

  • <em>Devs</em>

    Devs

    If you loved the gorgeous, tech-gloss-meets-beautiful-forest aesthetic and throat-clutching suspense of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina but might have loved it even more without the oppressive sexism: Turn on Hulu and start streaming the new series Devs. It’s a thriller set in a slightly-in-the-future Silicon Valley, in and around the campus of a dominant tech company that’s intent on becoming even more dominant with a new machine. It’s beautiful, imaginative, creepily credible, and well-acted. Nick Offerman makes an affable but terrifying tech overlord. His performance gets at how tech has obscured its potential consequences from itself and the world with its outward air of casual openness, and by incorporating images of the natural world. The characters are particular; the forests, co-opted to con us into complacency, are lush; and the night scenes owe an exquisite debt to the photographer Gregory Crewdson. And the suspense…is killing us.

  • <em>Six Feet Under </em>

    Six Feet Under

    One of the more underrated HBO shows of its time (The Wire and The Sopranos got a lot more love), this show about an LA family running a funeral business has great performances, especially from a pre-Dexter Michael C. Hall. The ending of the show is one of the best and the development of its cast over the course of the series stands out. If you liked Mad Men but never watched Six Feet Under, try it. The Leftovers is also a good one in this terrain.

SCI-FI

  • <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em>

    Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Arguably one of the best series of all time in one of the best franchises of all time. (Don’t agree? Talk to our IT team, thanks.) It was never intended for bingeing, and with 178 episodes, it’s more of a long-term commitment. The first two seasons deal mostly with science fiction concepts, and it starts off slow, but in the third season it opens up. The relationship between Captain Picard and Commander Data is particularly well done.

  • <em>Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency</em>

    Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

    This self-described “holistic detective” solves cases by tapping into the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. Things work only when he goes with the flow and with whatever he thinks the universe is hinting at, rather than having a plan or intention. The show has mysteries, cults, secret organizations, time travel, and wacky characters. It’s based on the novel series by Douglas Adams.

BONUS: WATCH WITH YOUR KIDS

  • <em>Avatar: The Last Airbender </em>

    Avatar: The Last Airbender

    It is a cartoon. And it was originally on Nickelodeon. And if you can get past that, you’ll discover a fantastic story- and character-driven series à la Game of Thrones. The series presents a complex interwoven story line with multiple characters. At times, it does remind you that it’s a kids’ show. But it also tackles some very adult themes, like life, death, responsibility, and redemption. If you watch with your children, you’ll see the teachable moments—and also that it’s compelling enough to keep the whole family engaged.

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