As someone whose job it is to read and write about entertainment news all day long (yes, it is the best job in the world), I have to watch a lot of content. I’m talking beyond the basic Netflix, Peacock, Amazon. There’s also Disney+, HBO Max, Showtime…and there still aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze in everything from Hulu!
The point is, like it or not, there are a ton of options out there when it comes to streaming TV shows—so much so that choosing new content to watch might seem a little daunting. Fortunately, I can help.
While lots of original, brand-new shows debut every week, there are also plenty of bingeable, must-watch options already sitting right under our noses. From The Righteous Gemstones to 20/20 (yes, seriously), here are 7 random TV shows you should cue up right now.
1. ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’
My Take: Alright, before you immediately go, “I don’t trust this guy if this is his first recommendation,” hear me out. I went into the first viewing of this show assuming I was going to hate it. While I loved the novelty of Glee at the beginning, it quickly became one of the most predictable and grating shows on network TV. So, I didn’t have high hopes for this show based around a girl who suddenly begins seeing the world around her in the form of elaborate musical numbers. BUT. I. WAS. WRONG.
This comedy, starring the quirky and charming Jane Levy, is so much damn fun and it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. (Plus, you don’t have to hear the characters go on and on about what a mash-up is.) Alex Newell legit makes me laugh out loud with his dry one-liners and look-out-they-might-get-stuck-that-way eye-rolls every time he appears on screen.
Oh, and did I mention Lauren Graham and freaking Mary Steenburgen sing and dance?!
Perfect For: When your brain hurts from staring at your computer screen all day and you just want something light and fun to help you unwind. Best served with a glass of (boxed) sauvignon blanc.
My Take: Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of comic books or superhero movies—except for the ones starring Tom Holland, sorry not sorry. But damn this show is good.
This must-binge series is based on a comic book and it follows a group of masked crime-fighters attempting to take down a ring of white supremacists in modern-day Tulsa. Not only are the show’s themes of battling racism and racial injustice relevant, but Watchmen also explores love, friendship, the complicated nuances of vigilantism and how to reconcile America’s racist history with our attempts to move forward in the present day.
Ohhhh, but did I not mention the two best parts? That would be Regina King (whose kick-ass, no-nonsense character drives the story) and Jean Smart (yes, the Jean Smart who proves here that she clearly can do it all; I mean, Designing Women to this?!). These two actors steal the scene every time they appear, as they deliver moving, powerful performances. And there’s a reason King won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Angela Abar.
Perfect for: When you’re feeling a little stuck creatively, romantically and/or spiritually and you want a swift kick in the rear. Pairs best with a spicy shiraz.
3. ‘The Righteous Gemstones’
My Take: I don’t know why the initial poster for this show made me want to run far, far away, but I am so glad I gave it a shot. The Righteous Gemstones is a must-watch ensemble comedy that brilliantly toes the line between clever commentary and absurdism.
John Goodman spearheads the cast as Eli Gemstone, the patriarch of the Gemstone Family and the pastor of a chain of megachurches. Danny McBride, who created the series, plays one of his children who can’t seem to stop himself from getting into trouble.
Without giving too much away, the first episode will be more than enough to sell you on this show. Just when you think you know what the series is all about, they pull the rug out from under you (in the middle of a strip mall parking lot, of all places). I actually yelled, ‘Whaaaaat?!’ after the last thirty seconds of the premiere episode. And obviously, I immediately started the second one.
Perfect for: When you and your significant other have been experiencing a little tension, because we all know quarantining isn’t easy on anyone, and the two of you just need a night on the couch laughing together. Forget the whole water into wine thing—may I recommend bingeing with a refreshing vodka soda in hand?
4. ‘Love on the Spectrum’
My Take: I am not often one to say, “Awwwww.” But…you guys…awwwww. This show gave me all the feels and then some.
Love on the Spectrum is a documentary-style dating series that follows men and women on the autism spectrum as they seek out love. While I feared the show might feel exploitative, I was happy to find that was not the case at all. Unlike other dating shows I’ve guiltily binged, this Netflix option managed to actually make me care about the people involved—and honestly portrayed just how difficult dating is for literally everyone.
It’s hard not to root for Mark to find his soulmate (who obviously has to be someone who loves dinosaurs) or hope that Michael finally meets the woman he’s going to marry (AKA his #1 goal in life). Even with five 40-ish minute episodes, I was left wanting so much more after each and every one.
Perfect for: Cozying up under a blanket on the couch when it’s just too damn cold to go out to meet your friends for dinner. Best watched with a glass of hot apple cider to warm you up (and to accompany the warming of your heart that will simultaneously be going on).
5. ‘Space Force’
My Take: It isn’t The Office and while I could watch (and have watched) Steve Carell spout his Michael Scott-isms for hours on end, I gotta say he’s pretty fabulous as General Mark Naird in Space Force.
While it doesn’t feature the same documentary-style POV as The Office, this fairly new Netflix series does retain an equal level of ridiculousness and comedy. The special sauce? A group of characters who are terrible at their jobs, constantly messing up, but persisting nonetheless.
Never in a million years would I have paired Carell with John Malkovich as the comedic duo steering this (not-yet-in-space) ship, but these two are great together. Carell’s deadpan delivery and awkward stiffness coupled with Malkovich’s eyerolling and incredulity are a winning ticket.
My one complaint? Can we please get more Lisa Kudrow in season two?!
Perfect for: Throwing on while you’re prepping dinner—just make sure you’ve got a clear view of the TV. I’d suggest enjoying a crisp pinot grigio while you watch.
My Take: 20/20 is by no means a new show—I’m currently watching season 42 on Hulu. But this is no longer your “Barbara Walters 20/20.” If you’re a fan of true crime, this series is a must-binge.
Each standalone episode walks you through a separate case, often involving murder. Watch out though, this show is not for the faint of heart. But how can you go wrong with episode titles like “Over My Dead Body,” “Gone in a Flash” and (of course) “The Secret in the Suitcase”? Some of the stories follow very famous cases, like that of Jodi Arias, but most involve mysteries that I’d never even heard about.
And while I love bingeing any and all murder mysteries, my favorite part has to be the commentary, specifically from the one and only Nancy Grace. She’s so good at suspenseful storytelling and she’s so ridiculously over-the-top that I get a little giddy every time she pops up on the screen. Don’t believe me? Take my favorite Grace-ism from a recent episode: “Little did they know, they were living right next door to a house of horrors.” A commentator after my own heart.
Perfect for: Rainy Friday nights when you’re feeling brave enough to watch something sinister right before bed. Nancy Grace pairs best with as much red wine as possible.
My Take: Also an older show, this twist-and-turn-filled crime drama gave me exactly what I was looking for: murder mystery and Olivia Colman.
That’s right, the star of The Crown and The Favourite is perfectly capable of playing a character who has nothing to do with royalty. She’s spectacular as Ellie Miller, a detective who, with the help of David Tennant’s Alec Hardy, tries to solve the murder of a young boy.
Now when I say this show has twists, I do not exaggerate. Each episode is like a roller coaster (both of the emotional and plot variety) with countless possible suspects. But that season one finale? I’m so excited for you to see it and we don’t even know each other—that’s how good it is.
Perfect for: When you have friends over for a movie night and no one can settle on what to watch so you decide to impress them with your knowledge of British crime dramas. I’d recommend enjoying this one with a martini. You’re gonna need it.