There is no greater pleasure than binge-watching a truly gripping show – there are no commercials, no having to wait an entire week for a new episode. It’s all immediately available for our gluttonous viewing pleasure.
Given that we're in the dog days of summer, there’s no better time to binge… that is, unless you’re riveted with Bachelor in Paradise. While you’re waiting your favorite shows to begin their new seasons this fall, there are some epic shows that are just a stream away. Here are 10 Addicting TV Shows That You Have To Binge Watch – starting today!
10 Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
If you haven’t seen Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) foray into the world of cooking crystal meth – the time to start is now. At the beginning of the series, Walt is a well-meaning, soft-spoken high school chemistry teacher who works two jobs in order to provide for his pregnant wife and high school son, who has cerebral palsy. After being diagnosed with lung cancer and facing the insane costs of treatment, Walt uses his chemistry talents to make the world’s most pure crystal meth, a desperate ploy for a man desperate to his family’s financial future.
But as Walt soon discovers, manufacturing drugs is not as easy as it looks. In each season, Walt must lead a double-life, keeping up appearances with his family and dealing with dangerous and oftentimes mentally disturbed distributors. This is in addition trying to be one step ahead of his DEA agent brother-in-law. The writers of this show do a phenomenal job of introducing complex themes and plot lines, all the while keeping you emotionally invested in the outcome of the main characters. And while many shows leave its viewers disappointed with their lackluster endings, Breaking Bad ends on a high note.
You can continue to watch the adventures of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Walt's sleazy criminal lawyer, in Better Call Saul, a prequel spin-off that debuted early this year.
9 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Every generation gets a show that has it all. In the late '90s and early '00s, that show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It had drama, romance, fantasy, teen angst, and one of the best ensemble casts ever in a teen drama series. What sets Buffy apart from other teen dramas of its kind is the complex growth – sorry 90210 and Dawson’s Creek! - that each of its beloved characters goes through, including Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the chosen warrior at the center of the show. The show was unique in that many characters often straddled the line between good and evil. The show also took a human approach as to what happens when the subjects of bullies become villains.
Don’t let the silly title fool you: this cult hit is brilliant. Each episode featured Sarah Michelle Gellar fighting a new “Big Bad” while spouting Joss Whedon's infectious, snappy dialogue. In between ass-kicking scenes, Buffy and friends dealt with the normal everyday pressures of being a teenager in high school, coping with break-ups and loss while searching for their own self-identities.
8 Lost (2004-2010)
The title of Lost has two meanings, referring to both the literal "lost-ness" of its characters - castaways stranded on an island after a plane crash - as well as their understanding of "The Island," on which a number of strange phenomena keep occurring, suggesting that it's more than just a mass of land in the South Pacific.
The show had a mass following, and every week there were blogs debating the meaning behind the clues, connections between characters, and intertwined storylines. To many fans’ dismay, they still had more questions than answers at the end of the series. It’s one of the shows people re-watch again in hopes to make sense of everything that happened., but perhaps it was the writers’ intentions for the viewers to draw their own conclusions to the mysteries of the island.
7 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-present)
Outrageous, crude, and downright hilarious: that explains It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in a nutshell. The show follows five narcissistic and cruel friends as they unleash havoc on the world.
At the center of the show is five friends, including twin siblings Dennis and See (Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson), their two friends Charlie and Mac (Charlie Day and Rob McElhenny), and their uncle Frank (Danny DeVito), who together operate an Irish dive bar in Philadelphia. Each episode follows the gang devising a new crazy scheme. In one of the most notable episodes, Charlie, Mac, and Dennis try to become independent oil brokers by siphoning gas out of people’s cars and selling it door-to-door. In this troubled operation, the intellectually-stunted Mac is “the brains”, which is terrifying in of itself; the short, aging Frank is “the muscle”; Dennis is “the good-looking one”; Dee is "the useless chick”; and accident-prone Charlie is “the loose cannon.”
It’s easy to watch one episode after another of Sunny, as you just can’t wait to see what this band of moronic misfits do next!
6 Friends (1994-2004)
Unlike the previous shows on the list, Friends is not shocking or suspenseful, nor does it have complex plotlines or character twists. But that’s the part of its charm. Viewers can sit back, relax, turn off their brain, and enjoy roughly 22 minutes of their six favorite twenty-somethings living life in The Big Apple.
Eleven years after its last episode, Friends is still going strong in syndication. The chemistry between the characters is what makes the show hold up today. Besides the unrealistic living situations – there’s no way a struggling actor or coffee shop barista could afford those spacious Manhattan apartments – Friends hits home for a lot of people in their twenties. For many, this part of their life is about self-discovery, bouncing between jobs, finding their companion, and forming a group of friends who become their family. The show is cheesy at times, but its heart keeps viewers coming back for more.
And the best part is that you can watch all nine seasons on Netflix right now!
5 The Walking Dead (2010 – present)
How will Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) ever make it through the zombie apocalypse? The premise of The Walking Dead alone is addicting. Pair that with the impossible situations Rick and crew get themselves into every season, and you got a recipe for success.
The show has its share of sluggish episodes, but during those times, it looks at religion after the apocalypse, the morality of survivalism and the question of what makes life worth living when the world seems to be coming to an end. The series is particularly compelling because no one — no matter how high they are listed in the credits — is safe from the zombie apocalypse. The writers seem to relish in killing off cast members.
If you haven’t jumped on The Walking Dead bandwagon, you have plenty of time to binge-watch before the season premiere this fall. A spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead, with a new cast and story is premiering next week on AMC.
4 Orange is the New Black (2013-present)
Orange is the New Black is a dramedy about Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman living a quasi-normal life when her past rears its ugly head. A decade earlier, she was briefly a drug mule for her lover Alex Vause, who gave up Piper in order to plead down her prison sentence. The story is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, who wrote a best-selling book with the same title.
The first season’s narrative explored what happens when a pretty white woman from an upper-class background goes to prison. The show now focuses on the cast at large, as they search for meaning in unforgiving circumstances – and it’s the better for it. The show takes a deeply human and funny look into the way sex, love, power, and fear shape the lives and viewpoints of its characters. It humanizes criminals, and transforms them into real human beings that viewers care and root for. Orange probably isn’t for everyone, but for those who get caught up in this world, it’s truly addictive.
3 Game of Thrones (2011 – present)
War, power, death, sex, violence, suspense … what isn’t addicting about Game of Thrones? Even when scenes leave viewers horrified, we keep on coming back for more!
Game of Thrones has a large scope, as it explores the would-be kings and queens of Westeros, an expansive fantasy kingdom created by George R.R. Martin. Just like The Walking Dead, all bets are off when it comes to which main characters will survive and which ones will be killed off. The series five finale left many in jaw-dropping shock as one fan-favorite character unexpectedly took a few blades in the heart. Winter is always coming, and viewers are left in anticipation of what new dark events are in store for the show’s characters.
If there is one show where binge-watching would be a true benefit for existing and new viewers, this one would be it. Game of Thrones only has 10 episodes per season, and then fans have to wait another nine months until it returns. That is a long time to remember all of the details and nuances of such a complex show.
2 24 (2001-2010)
Tick tock of the clock – each episode of 24 was one of the most suspenseful hours on TV in the first decade of the 2000s. The brilliance of the show was that each of the 24 episodes in a season followed one hour of counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) life, culminating in one full day by the end of the season finale. Suffice it to say, lots of things happened to Jack in one day.
Over the course of the show, Jack deals with assassination attempts, nuclear attacks, bio-terrorism, torture, traitors, other bad guys, and a careening love life. The show moves at lightning speed with unpredictable twists and turns around every corner. It’s the epitome of addicting. This is one show you can’t help but binge-watch, as each episode typically ends with a dramatic cliffhanger. Fans loved it so much that they even brought it back for a 12-episode miniseries, 24: Live Another Day, four years after the show ended.
1 Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Battlestar Gallactica is a juicy “space opera,” chronicling the journey of the last surviving humans after their Twelve Colonies of Kobol were annihilated by the Cylons, a race of cyborgs, created by humans, who gained sentience and formed their own empire. The survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled 13th colony – Earth.
Don’t let the nerd title fool you – Battlestar Gallactica is full of suspense, cliffhangers, twists and turns, and some pretty hot sex scenes. It’s also not your typical “space opera” like Star Trek because it omitted humanoid aliens and “technobabble.” Instead, it focused on the morality of its characters in their war with the Cylons. Time magazine proclaimed that the show was a gripping allegory on the war on terror, as it featured religious fundamentalists, sleeper cells, and civil-liberties crackdowns. Even viewers have noted the parallels between the Cylons and Al Qaeda. All of these elements together are what make the show a piece of addicting art.
But this is just a taste of what's available from television in the age of Netflix and HBO. Given the amount of TV shows available for viewers, some people have suggested we're living in the golden age of television. Do you agree? Did we miss any of your favorite shows? Let us know in the comments below!