We’ve all been there. It’s a boring day, and you’re looking for something to do…
All of the shows on this list are available for streaming online, either on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. Many of the shows on this list have already finished airing, which makes them ideal for binging, but some are still airing new content. In some cases, there are more episodes than there is time to watch in a single day – in such cases, this list could also apply to boring weeks or months. Obviously, because of the subjective nature of this list, it is not exhaustive; since the list needs to be a reasonable length, it simply could not be exhaustive. It does, however, offer some fun options in case you have some time to kill.
Whether they are an old favorite or a show that you’ve never watched before, you’ll enjoy these 13 Best TV Shows to Watch on a Boring Day:
13. The Office
Fans have debated whether or not the American spinoff of The Office (2005) is better than the British original (2001), but a lazy day is the perfect time to watch both series side-by-side on Netflix. The original Office, which had a shorter run, stars Ricky Gervais as David Brent, alongside his employees Tim (Martin Freeman) and Gareth (Mackenzie Crook). The American Office takes the premise and mockumentary style from its UK counterpart, but stars Steve Carrell as Michael Scott, who manages an office of lovable and strange employees, including Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) and fan-favorite Dwight (Rainn Wilson). The American show develops a slightly different tone, and its longer lifespan (nine seasons) allows it to show how friendships and relationships develop over time.
12. Happy Endings
Happy Endings (2011) was a new take on the classic “group of friends in the city” subgenre of comedies that can be traced back to the “original” group of friends, Friends (1994). The show begins with Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton)’s breakup, and how it affects their friend group. The show also explores friends who are in different stages in their lives, from the married couple Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) to the ever-single Max (Adam Pally) and Penny (Casey Wilson). What sets Happy Endings apart from the ever-multiplying number of shows is its pitch-perfect dialogue and endearing characters. The show’s writers and actors are simply top-notch, which takes a seemingly stale premise to the next level.
Happy Endings is available on Hulu. Fans of Happy Endings who have rewatched it too many times also have the options of New Girl (all seasons available on Hulu) and How I Met Your Mother (all seasons available on Netflix).
For a show about nothing, Seinfeld (1989) had a pretty long run. Over nine seasons, a comedian named Jerry Seinfeld (played by… Jerry Seinfeld) and his friends George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards) deal with the ups-and-downs of everyday life – while the premise sounds banal, the product is extraordinarily funny.
But Seinfeld isn’t just funny; it’s a classic that has impacted pop culture outside of television. The show’s “Festivus”, a secular alternative for Christmas (“for the rest of us”) is celebrated by fans each year on December 23rd. Seinfeld has also been highly influential to a number of sitcoms that came after it – if it’s a sitcom about the lives of friends in a city, it’s definitely influenced by Seinfeld. The cast of Seinfeld has also gone on to have influential careers in Hollywood.
10. Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series (1992) is the oldest series in the DC animated universe, beginning a shared continuity that would later bring DC superheroes and villains together in a single world. Over its 85 episode run, Batman (Kevin Conroy) works with Robin (Loren Lester) and Commissioner Gordon (Bob Hastings) to fight crime in the city of Gotham; all of Batman’s many adversaries make an appearance, including The Joker (Mark Hamill), Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin), and The Riddler (John Glover).
The show was and remains wildly popular, both among fans and critics – it won three Daytime Emmys and one Primetime Emmy (for Outstanding Animated Program). Its popularity helped to encourage other animated superhero shows, as well as animated Batman films, including Batman: Mask of the Phantom (1993). Whether you are a fan or just looking for an introduction to the DC universe, Batman: The Animated Series is a strong jumping off point.
9. Breaking Bad
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is the epitome of the television antihero; the high school chemistry teacher turned drug dealer teams up with his streetwise former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to create a methamphetamine empire. While White always claims that his criminal pursuits are to pay for his medical bills after he is diagnosed with cancer, and secure a comfortable place for his family, it’s clear to everyone but him that his pride and machismo are fueling his illegal ambitions.
Breaking Bad (2008) was acclaimed by critics and beloved by fans – and all five of its seasons are now available for streaming on Netflix. If you’re looking for a character-driven drama instilled with a dark sense of humor, then Breaking Bad is the show for you.
8. Mad Men
Mad Men (2007) spans the 1960s, showing just how much the decade changed the status quo in America. It following the lives of the employees at the advertising firm Sterling-Cooper, specifically focusing on a lead creative in the industry, Don Draper (Jon Hamm). The show strove for a high-level of historical authenticity, including incorporating fashion, technology, and current political events into the series.
7. The Wire
All five seasons of The Wire (2002) are available on Amazon Prime. The Wire has garnered near universal critical acclaim, along with a number of nominations and awards. The show’s complexity has also led to it being the topic of academic articles, books, lectures, and even university courses.
Following some detectives – Dominic West as McNulty and Wendell Pierce as Bunk – in the Baltimore Police Department, The Wire is an unflinching look at the city of Baltimore, and gradually increases its scope to include crime, industry, politics, schools, and media. The show creates dynamic and realistic characters who struggle to navigate (or rebel) against the systems that have been put in place. Idris Elba’s performance as Stringer Bell, a methodical and brilliant drug dealer, helped to put him on the map.
6. Justice League Unlimited
Justice League Unlimited (2004) is the final series in the DC animated universe that began with Batman: The Animated Series. The show follows Justice League (2001), and some fans even see Unlimited as a continuation of the same show.
Unlimited, however, expands the scope of characters from the original founding members to include lesser known heroes and villains from the DC universe. Over a hundred characters from DC comics appear in the show. Given that the live-action Justice League (2017) movie won’t be out until next year, what better way to prepare for its arrival than by watching the television show?
5. Gilmore Girls
With a new four-episode special season of Gilmore Girls (2000) premiering later this year, it’s the perfect time to catch up on all of the show’s previous seasons (which are currently available on Netflix). The fast-talking show stars Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as Lorelai and Rory, a mother-daughter duo in Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
After becoming pregnant with Rory at sixteen, Lorelai decides to leave her conservative parents and raise Rory on her own; sixteen years later, Rory’s desire to go to an expensive private high school, Chilton Academy, brings her wealthy grandparents back into her (and her mother’s) life. Over the show’s seven seasons, Lorelai and Rory change and grow a lot, so any fans interested in the new episodes will need to watch (or even review) the preceding years.
4. Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders (2013) centers on Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his mobster family in 1920s England. The Shelby brothers, along with their Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory), deal in gambling and contraband – and usually, breaking skulls. Over the first two seasons, they contend with communists, the IRA, Travellers, other crime families, and the police. Tom Hardy, who like Cillian Murphy also played a baddie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, plays another crime lord, Alfie Simmons, bringing Scarecrow and Bane head-to-head. All joking aside, Cillian Murphy’s performance is exemplary, and the period costumes and sets are wonderfully in contrast to the show’s anachronistic, punk rock soundtrack.
The first two seasons of Peaky Blinders are available on Netflix; the third season will become available on Netflix on May 31. The show was just renewed for an upcoming fourth and fifth season, so it’s best to start watching now!
3. Parks and Recreation
Some fans might tell you to start watching Parks and Recreation (2009) about halfway through season 2, skipping the first season, which falters before the show hits its stride. The full series is available on Netflix for fans who want to watch a specific episode or the whole thing. However, whether you start from the beginning or go straight to Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe), Parks and Rec will keep you laughing while watching its characters grow in new and unexpected ways. It is difficult to pick a favorite character from the employees of Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation department – Leslie (Amy Poehler), Ann (Rashida Jones), Donna (Retta), Tom (Aziz Ansari), Andy (Chris Pratt), April (Aubrey Plaza), and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) are all given their time to shine. Plus, where else are you going to see ‘Lil Sebastian?
2. Netflix Marvel
Netflix’s partnership with the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced some of the most exciting television content in recent years. Both seasons of Daredevil (2015) and the first season of Jessica Jones (2015) are now available, with Luke Cage (2016) set to premiere later this year. While each show has its own creative team and tone, there are also characters and themes that crossover since each show is set in New York City and centers on the growing influence of super-powered vigilantes.
Additionally, each show is helping to build towards the upcoming The Defenders (2017), where Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) will team up in order to protect the Big Apple. If you haven’t seen Daredevil and Jessica Jones, then it’s the perfect time to catch up before Luke Cage, Iron Fist (2017), and The Defenders (2017) hit Netflix.
1. Arrested Development
Arrested Development (2003) is an ever-increasing number of inside jokes posing as a highly dysfunctional and hilarious family. The first three seasons originally aired on Fox, and are now on Netflix; the fourth season (and upcoming subsequent seasons) were ordered by Netflix after the show’s initial cancellation, in large part because of the cult following that it amassed.
If you don’t know why there’s always money in the Banana Stand or how many “nevernudes” there are, then you’ve made a huge mistake. You could fix that mistake by watching Arrested Development. And even if you’ve seen it, the show is full of so many quick remarks and throwbacks that you can discover additional jokes each time you watch it.
What’s your favorite show to watch on a boring day? Tell us in the comments!