Feeling the stay-inside vibe this weekend? This is all you need to pass the weekend by in a glorious TV trance. This story was originally published on January 12, 2013 (but we've added some new must-watch entries!).
We've been there. You've exhausted your Netflix queue, flipped through your entire spectrum of TV channels (twice), and seen every season of 30 Rock. It's tough, but don't despair. There's still uncharted territory out there! In fact, there's oodles of fun to be had from the comfort of your laptop this weekend. You just have to know what to look for.
These are our favorite finds on Netflix Instant Watch. Never heard of 'em? Good! Heard the word, but haven't gotten around to it yet? Now's the time.
We’re guessing you do because here you are, reading a list of Netflix streaming recommendations. As an aficionado and appreciator of the finer TV series in life, we think you’ll also love The Writers’ Room. In this fascinating interview show, Academy Award-winning writer Jim Rash (who’s best known for playing Dean Pelton on Community) sits down with writers of some of your favorite shows to discuss how they’re crafted. In the first six episodes, he talks to the writers and creators of Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Dexter, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. If you’re a fan of television and love hearing about how it’s created, this is for you.
Love The Sopranos?
Watch Lilyhammer. Steven Van Zandt plays a New York gangster named Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano who tries to start a new life for himself in the titular isolated Norway town after he’s forced into the federal witness protection program.
Cozy up with the wry Britcom Coupling. It's a clever and humorous exploration of looking for love when you’re absolutely terrified of everything that comes with it.
Cue up Netflix’s horror series, Hemlock Grove. Executive produced by gore-lover Eli Roth, the show focuses on the mysterious goings-on in the fictional titular town, which range from the supernatural to the just plain sadistic.
Love Breaking Bad?
Take a gun-running thrill ride with Sons of Anarchy. Loosely based on Hamlet, it brings the intra-familial intrigue of Shakespeare’s Danish royalty tale to a motorcycle gang unofficially responsible for keeping things going in the fictional city of Charming, CA.
Love The Office?
Watch the British gem that is Peep Show. Part The Odd Couple, part The Office (British version), and filmed through each character’s eyes, the offbeat sitcom is perfect for a weekend binge.
Tune your spidey senses into Psych. This playful show features the overly clever, extremely witty Shawn Spencer who uses his heightened powers of observation to serve as the resident psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Come for the ridiculous fake clairvoyant act, but stay for the lovable characters like Gus, O’Hara, and Lassie. And, did we mention that there’s a musical episode? Because there’s a musical episode.
Love Flight of the Conchords?
Get your New Zealand fix with Short Poppies, a mockumentary series created and written by Rhys Darby, who you’ll recognize from his role as Murray, the Conchords’ clueless manager. On Short Poppies, Darby plays David Farrier, an entertainment reporter. Farrier interviews people he deems "extraordinary New Zealanders," who live in a fictional town known as The Bay. With just eight episodes, this is the perfect Sunday Funday binge-watch.
Love Friday Night Lights?
That’s a silly question; of course you do. You’re a human being with emotions and a heart, right? Also, you’ve seen Tim Riggins. Texas forever. Unfortunately, we don’t have any updates on the proposed movie (yes, that would mean a book that became a movie that became a show would be made into a movie again), but we do have a series currently streaming on Netflix that will make you feel as many feelings as FNL.
Jason Katims, the brilliant screenwriter who adapted Friday Night Lights for the small screen, also turned the 1989 dramedy Parenthood into a poignant drama now entering its fifth and final season on NBC. Warning: You will definitely need tissues for this one, but the emotional roller coaster of watching the Bravermans is so, so worth it.
Love The Mindy Project?
Check out the short-lived but hilarious Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. Krysten Ritter plays the titular B, a hustler and legend in her own mind with a gorgeous apartment and a best friend/ex-boyfriend named James Van Der Beek. Yes, the Beek from the Creek. He plays a heightened caricature of himself complete with a tragic stint on Dancing with the Stars. Enter into the fray Dreama Walker, a small-town girl with a business degree who just wants to make it in New York City — plus a pervy neighbor across the air shaft — and you’ve got yourself a delightful little sitcom.
Love Twin Peaks?
After many requests, Netflix secured the rights to the newest British cult hit Happy Valley. Police sergeant Catherine Cawood is trying to cope with her daughter’s suicide, but things unravel when she spots the man she believes raped her daughter (which led to her death). She becomes obsessed with finding him, which uncovers an even larger mystery involving the kidnapping of a local girl.
Love Family Guy?
Or, any animated show for adults, really, including The Simpsons, The Critic, Bob’s Burgers, South Park, and Archer? Netflix debuted its first foray into original animated programming for grown-ups this week with BoJack Horseman. Will Arnett voices the titular character, a washed-up actor who starred in a popular sitcom called Horsin’ Around 20 years ago and has done nothing of note since. The world of BoJack is populated with humans and anthropomorphized animals alike, so it’s a bit surreal. Aaron Paul plays Todd, BoJack’s sycophantic perma-houseguest, and Alison Brie is Diane, who’s been hired to ghostwrite his memoirs. Can BoJack and his ragtag crew somehow turn his downward spiral of a life around? Watch and find out.
Love Downton Abbey?
If you’re especially attuned to the burgeoning role of women beyond the domestic sphere in Downton, cue up Call the Midwife. Imagine Sybil’s can-do nursing skills transported to a group of midwives in a convent in East London in the ‘50s. That’s exactly what you’ll find in this engrossing BBC series, which airs new seasons on PBS.
Also try The Forsyte Saga. Featuring Homeland's own Sgt. Nicholas Brody (a.k.a. British actor Damian Lewis), this show about a stuffy English family through the generations has all the period-piece drama of Downton, presented in a far more engrossing, realistic manner. Don't be thrown off by the massive time jumps in the first few episodes — once this show falls into place, it's unbelievably hard to turn off.
Love Pretty Little Liars?
First of all, read the books instead. They’re even more engrossing than ABC Family’s frothy mystery about Rosewood. When you’re done with those (or concurrently), cue up Skins. The British show made international headlines for the reckless lifestyle promoted by “Skins parties” and sent the U.K. into a nationwide panic about the hedonistic pursuits of Millennial teens. No matter what your takeaway, Skins will suck you right in.
Love True Detective?
If you love a slow-build, extremely tense, psychological thriller, watch The Fall. Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, here causing much inner turmoil when you find yourself attracted to a deviant sociopath) is a serial killer terrorizing Belfast, and Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is the detective trying to catch him before he strikes again. Season 1 is only five episodes, so you’ll burn through them in no time. Luckily, they’re filming the second season right now.
Love Gossip Girl?
Guilty pleasures: We all have them. Gossip Girl (well, the first few seasons) was one of ours. The South Korean series Boys Over Flowers follows the whole fish-out-of-water setup, only this time Lonely Boy is Jan Di, the daughter of a dry cleaner who finds herself falling for the spoiled rich kid whose clique runs their elite private school. It’s somehow even more addictive than Gossip Girl — maybe it’s the amazing vintage Bieber haircuts all of the boys sport. And, because of the subtitles, watching it feels a bit more highbrow. Get watching. XOXO.
Love American Horror Story?
Dive even deeper into the uncanny valley with The Returned. The cult French show follows the lives — and afterlives — of a sleepy town where nothing is as it seems. Long-dead relatives return to life; residents try to leave — only to be thwarted by roads running in circles. There’s a serial killer on the loose, but no one seems to care. It’s a slow, eerie build but oh, is it worth it.
Love Silicon Valley?
Try turning your machine off and on again, then booting up The IT Crowd (that’s a joke you’ll get when you start watching). This hilarious British sitcom chronicles an odd couple of IT guys trying to do as little work as possible in their dungeon of an office at a horrible corporation. Chris O’Dowd (before he became a household name in Bridesmaids) plays Roy, the ringleader, while Richard Ayoade is Moss, his introverted, nebbishy foil. And, just like the Pied Piper guys on Silicon Valley, Roy and Moss’ world is rocked when a female enters their daily routine. Fire up the Internet and get watching.
Love The Killing?
You've undoubtedly heard of Top of the Lake — everyone, or at least everyone in this office, is talking about it. Like Twin Peaks and The Killing, it centers around a mysterious, troubled young girl and a small town with a lot of secrets to hide. Recipe for a good time, right?
If you're a fan of dark cartoons, this one is a must-watch. In the same way that Archer plays with the spy genre, The Venture Bros — which actually pre-dates Archer, but never seems to get as much recognition — is a vintage-inspired take on superheroes and stock characters.
Love Law & Order?
You'll go crazy for Swedish crime show Wallander. Though it doesn't cover sex-based offenses in particular, this thriller reminds us of SVU (our favorite iteration, obviously) because of its focus on the cops' and detectives' personal lives. There's also a Masterpiece Mystery version, but we recommend starting out with the original Henning Mankell.
Well, this is basically the exact same concept, but British. And that's usually a good thing. Doc Martin follows the antics of a curmudgeonly MD after he moves to a provincial town, abandoning his prestigious London surgical post for unknown reasons. Weird diseases, even weirder people.
Love Curb Your Enthusiasm?
Check out The Larry Sanders Show. This early-90s HBO comedy featuring a different guy named Larry also reminds us a bit of 30 Rock, with its focus on on-screen/off-screen drama in the television business.
Love Parks & Recreation?
If you're a fan of all things dysfunctional, British sitcom Black Books is perfect for you. Focused on a perpetually down-and-out bookstore owner who regularly puts a mid-afternoon drink over customer service, this show should be heartbreaking — but instead, it's hilarious. Plus, if you're missing the glory days of TV, you'll dig the distinct early-2000s vibe.
British series House of Cards is chock-full of political drama and underhanded scheming, guaranteed to get your blood pumping. It's also great if totally inappropriate and unethical sexual relationships are your thing. This is a great pick if you've already binged through the American version, but are still hungry for more!