The world's a little strange right now: capital cities are on lockdown, with people being told to stay home rather than go out. There are, as a result, more people watching Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, and other streaming services than ever before. But, once you've finished rewatching The Office for the 48th time, what then? You need another show to binge – and right here, we have a few suggestions on the best shows to binge-watch right now.
This, however, isn't simply a list of the best shows to watch right now. We've set out some criteria as to what a binge-watch really is. Firstly, the shows on this list are those that you can zoom through without thinking twice about clicking that "play next episode" button. Second, every one of these shows was initially released all in one go on streaming services. These are the shows that were MEANT to be binge-watched. (You won't find Friends, or Lost, or Parks and Recreation below as they were all released weekly.) So, without further criteria, here are the best shows to binge-watch right now.
10. The Haunting of Hill House
Available on: Netflix
A family move into an old mansion with the hopes of renovating it, but strange things soon start going bump in the night. As supernatural events spiral, tragedy strikes. Sure, this might sound like every other horror story – it's what comes next that makes The Haunting of Hill House so special. The family moves on, the kids grow up, and the series follows how familial traumas come back to haunt us many years later. Pay close attention to any scene shot in the mansion; in every frame, there are ghosts hiding away. It's like a creepy game of Where's Wally.
9. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
It's incredible how much life we're capable of breathing into inanimate objects. A charismatic friend can glue two googly eyes on a sock and keep you entertained for hours – so imagine the empathy we’re able to feel for Jim Henson's fully crafted animatronic puppets. The Dark Crystal series acts as a prequel to the '80s movie of the same name. It follows a race of beings called Gelfling who begin resisting their terrifying overlords, the Skeksis, after discovering the depths of their rulers’ corruption. It's basically The Muppets multiplied to the power of The Lord of The Rings – and it also happens to be one of the most ambitious filmmaking projects of the last decade.
8. Stranger things
Available on: Netflix
A show that, once upon a time, could have been passed off as a lengthy Stephen King adaptation directed by Stephen Spielberg: equally heartwarming, scary, and downright watchable. A group of bike-riding pre-teens stumble on adventure after one of their own is dragged screaming into a creepy mirror world called the Upside Down. There's a teenager with superpowers and an organisation working from the shadows. There's also a lot of shocks, synth, and hairspray, all of which powers Stranger Things – one of the best Netflix originals available to stream.
7. Good Omens
Available: Amazon Prime
David Tennant and Michael Sheen star in this six-part adaptation by Neil Gaiman of the seminal fantasy novel he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett in 1990. It’s the story of a strange bromance between an angel and a demon who first met while watching Adam and Eve flee the garden of Eden. Fast forward to the present day, and the apocalypse is looming. However, the demonic Crowley and goody-two-wings Aziraphale have gotten used to Earth (and each other) – thus springs a farcical story of two unlikely friends trying to save the world from their celestial employers.
6. Peaky Blinders
Super stylish and violent, Peaky Blinders is the story of a gangster family in Birmingham, 1919. This is the flip side of the Downtown Abbey coin – the dirtier, grittier, and sexier underbelly of British Post-war society where gang members sew razor blades into the peak of their caps. Cillian Murphy is fantastic as the leader of the Peaky Blinders, his character, Tommy Shelby, being both measured and reckless all at once, all while consistently struggling to keep the plates of his criminal organisation spinning. It’s loosely based on a real 19th-century gang called the Peaky Blinders but takes liberal artistic license to sprinkle in romance, betrayal, and even a Winston Churchill cameo.
5. Queer Eye
Queer Eye sees The Fab Five sweep into ordinary people's lives and transform them. However, unlike other shows in the genre, the hosts never mock their guests – or, as they call them, "heroes". Personal styling, grooming, interior design, culinary prowess, and personal culture are all shaken up, with each of the Fab Five spearheading a particular effort with firm kindness. They patiently chip away at emotional guards while, say, simply showing someone how to make the perfect gumbo. In the process, Queer Eye deftly explores issues like gay rights, racial equality, transgender issues, religion, masculinity, motherhood, and more. Come for the haircuts, and stay for the life lessons.
4. Killing Eve
Available: iPlayer (UK), Hulu (US)
Killing Eve is ruthless. The first season of this cat and mouse story – one that centres on an assassin and an agent pursuing each other across the globe – is penned by the great Phoebe Waller-Bridge (more on her later) and adapted from Luke Jennings’ novels. What sets Killing Eve apart from other thrillers is its subversion of spy genre stereotypes. First up, both leads are women – the pursuers, and not the pursued – and both have whip-sharp dialogue and complex personalities. The scripts dance between comedy and tragedy, each sharpening the other. Neither Eve nor her target, Villanelle, require elaborate context for their choices. Eve is simply frustrated by her job and hungry for more in life – such character justification in a spy flick is refreshingly real.
3. Russian Doll
Orange Is The New Black's Natasha Lyonne is having a really bad day in Russian Doll. Here, she plays a cynical New Yorker who, much to her dismay, keeps replaying her 36th birthday, and every time dies before the day's over. The series does an incredible bait and switch: what starts off as a slapstick Groundhog Day-esque comedy pivots into a poignant examination of repressed trauma. But, like the best tragic comedy, the balance between belly laughs and sad sniffles is perfectly executed. Russian Doll is written by Lyonne alongside Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, and their caustic wit is well-deserving of the thirteen Primetime Emmy nominations the first season received.
Available: Amazon Prime, Player (UK only)
Fleabag stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a disarmingly hapless woman whose experiences dating in London are hilarious, tragic, and unexpected all at once. One of the most delightful quirks is the way the BBC series regularly break the fourth wall, with Fleabag often turning an arched eyebrow to the audience to acknowledge how absurd her life truly is. Somehow, the second and final season is even better than the first, and rightly cements Waller-Bridge as a modern-day icon. If you're looking for a smart comedy, this is it.
The crime drama genre is crowded – serial killers have never exactly been out of fashion – but Mindhunter has managed to elbow its way into the genre's spotlight. The Netflix series follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they attempt to understand serial killers, diving deep into their damaged minds in order to work out how these criminals think. David Fincher – the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Gone Girl, Zodiac, and Seven – directs multiple episodes, while Charlize Theron acts as an executive producer. To say this is must-watch television is an understatement.