Sometimes, as the saying goes, you’ve got to look at the big picture.
Netflix has become a content machine, churning out shows, specials, and special shows faster than anyone can truly keep up with – that is, of course, unless your binge-watching. What a world we live in when you can legitimately say, “Nah, I’m not going out tonight, I’m sitting on my couch and watching eight straight hours of television,” and people will nod and accept it as a viable answer for a thing to do.
The issue, of course, is what to watch. Not everything the streaming service produces is actually that good, especially if you want to get sucked into a storyline so gripping you can’t seem to get out. Luckily, Netflix has a whole slew of programming literally designed to do just that. These are shows that are exponentially better when viewed as a whole rather than individual chapters. In fact, a lot of them can downright suck without watching them from start to finish.
We want to grab this list, grab your remote and Netflix and Chill in the most literal, non-euphemism way possible. Here are 15 Netflix Shows That Are Only Good If You Binge-Watch Them.
15. The Get Down
The Get Down is style and slickness in bingeable form, filled with color and light and thumping bass and loud music and it’s all is so over-the-top, my god, why is it so over-the-top.
This story of the rise of hip-hop in the South Bronx through the eyes of teenagers is done in Baz Luhrmann’s signature style, which means that everything’s exhausting, candy-colored, the dancing is beautiful, and the fight scenes are ridiculous.
Sadly, this can drag the show out, making it hard to care about the characters. Stay with it, though – the show nicely builds into something worth watching. There are only 11 episodes in total, and as the plot progresses, the story deepens and things become less ridiculous, ending in a truly satisfying conclusion for The Get Down Brothers.
14. Hemlock Grove
Welcome to Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, a lovely town filled with lovely hardworking people, nice scenery, werewolves, angel babies, fake-psychics, and a slew of murders.
This supernatural soap opera can be a little much for anyone to take in, especially if you just sit down for an episode or two. But give it some time, especially because the pace of the plot moves at the speed of a snail riding a sloth. The acting, especially by Bill Skarsgard, is top-notch, and the dreamy, strange atmosphere does become addicting after a while.
13. The Santa Clarita Diet
Do you like shows about zombie attacks? Great. How about suburban comedies? Now, what if we combined them together?
We have zero idea who Santa Clarita Diet was made for, since it’s not quite intense enough for horror fans and way too gory for lovers of typical sitcoms. A lot of people were turned off for both those reasons, but take a moment and turn it back on.
The show nicely builds upon itself, deepening both the characters and the world. The mystery of why a mild-mannered real estate broker would suddenly start eating people is nicely explained and you do start to care for the entire family. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy watching Drew Barrymore go a little crazy from time to time?
Narcos is one of those shows that everyone who watches it, seems to love it. However, if you’re one of the many people who tried to get through season one and just didn’t feel it, you might only be feeling confused about the devotion.
There is a reason though this has become a Netflix fan-favorite. Yes, the first season is mixed, at best, lacking in a lot of other ways. Keep on binging, though, as the action really picks up in the fantastic season two. The rise and fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1970s is as engaging as anything on TV. It’s not a quick drug trip, taking two seasons to tell the whole story. Settle in for the ride.
Season three, which premiered on September 1st, continued expanding the world and the history, is arguably the best season of the show, so if you took a break from your Narcos-watching habit, time to get back into it.
Has any Netflix show started as good as Bloodline and then fallen as hard?
The first season of this fantastic Kyle Chandler-lead show was gripping. The dual meaning of the title traces the dark secrets of the Rayburn family as well as the literal path of death and violence and follows then. The characters were twisted but heart-wrenching – no one is quite a hero, no one is quite a villain, and you couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
The later seasons, though, dipped and then fell. It’s still beautifully shot, but scenes lag and things stop making as much sense and by season three, you can’t help but wonder what you’re watching. The Rayburn family remains a group of antiheroes with a story to tell, and if you can make it through the weaker final episodes, it concludes on a note that may not be fully satisfying but does come to a good stopping point for this dark family album.
You either loved Love, or you didn’t.
This show tried to be charming by showing the charmless nature of dating. Men and women were placed under the microscope to show why being in love isn’t all fun and games (except, of course, when it is, bedroom-antics included.)
The issue is that Mickey and Gus, played by the truly fantastic Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust, aren’t easy to like. Hell, they’re not even great people. You wouldn’t want to grab a drink with either, much less go on a full date.
As the show progresses though, they do become more likable, the situations they find themselves in are amusing to downright hilarious, and they do grow as individuals and as a couple. Season two does an even better job of mixing in the comedy with the drama.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: this is a show about a good man forced to do bad in the name of saving his family and himself. We have all seen this show before.
Like a certain Bad predecessor, this is a slow build. Nothing about Ozark grips right away, from the muted tones, to the unlikable characters, to the unbelievable situations.
Yet, also like that predecessor, Ozark takes time to find its footing and draw you in. It’s done so slowly, so subtly, that by the time you’re invested, you’re so deep in it you feel like you’re on the run with the Byrdes. Jason Bateman makes a fantastic brilliant sadsack doing what he can to stay alive, and Laura Linney, as his not-so-faithful wife, is a chaos grenade waiting to go off.
8. Haters Back Off!
Maybe the most unknown entry on this list, Haters Back Off! premiered on Netflix last October to almost no fanfare and it’s slipped under the radar for most viewers.
You can actually tell if you’ll like this story about a narcissistic, talentless girl who’s doing her best to become YouTube famous, no matter who she destroys along the way, by watching some of the YouTube sketches it’s based on.
What makes this great bingeable content as a Netflix show compared to a YouTube marathon is that, unlike her short skits, the series shows real consequences for her awful actions.
Haters Back Off is cringe-worthy funny. Colleen Ballinger is pitch-perfect as the deluded Miranda Sings (not surprising, since she’s been playing the character on the web since 2008) and the show is as painfully amusing as it is just painful, in the best kind of way.
7. The OA
The OA is about spirituality versus science, about the power of belief, about the joy of discovering who you really are away from the standards and strangulation of society’s norms… we think.
Wait, what was the show about again?
There was truly a lot of hate about The OA, but this could be said about everything Britt Marling has ever done. And if you step into this world for an episode or two, you may walk away with a bad taste in your mouth. But to watch it from start to finish, learn the backstory, embrace the beauty and the weirdness, created a truly remarkable experience.
It’s an amazing trying to guess if the story is about angels, about what happens between life and death and the power of premonition, or if it really was all one big lie. Almost a year after it’s premiered and fans are still thinking about it.
The ambiguous ending is one the best things about the show, and season 2 has been green lit so hopefully more answers to come. But until then, we loved sitting down with this girl and hearing her story, from start to finish, as quickly as possible.
6. Marco Polo
Don’t watch the pilot of Marco Polo.
Or, you know, do watch it, so you know what’s going on, but don’t put too much faith into it. It’s pretty terrible, filled with bad dialogue and extreme heavy-handedness in every scene. Keep pushing through, because it only gets better, especially if you like fictionalized historical dramas with a body count as high as Marco Polo’s ego.
The show is big, bold and takes lots of impresses swings, even if it doesn’t always connect. Netflix clearly wanted this to be a tentpole of its streaming service, and it never quite got there, but it is a hell of a lot of fun, and it even got a solid second season for more brutality.
Yes, sadly, the show was then canceled, leaving everything on a ridiculous cliffhanger, so don’t expect a fulfilling conclusion. Truly sad, because the adventure was just starting to get good.
We love Will Arnett. We love Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz, who created this one as well. We love them together. So why didn’t we love this show more?
Sadly, unlike in their previous work, Arnett’s character was less loveable man-child and more, well, frustrating man-child. His character prickles with almost every line and while you want to care for him, he makes it seemingly impossible.
At first, that is.
As the show progresses, he softens and you find yourself rooting for, and even, liking Chip. Season two becomes even better for bingeable watching, as the whole six episode arc is told over as a new day. It’s not the best work they’ve done, but it’s not worth flaking on this one either.
High-concept, beautifully shot, and featuring lots of discussion about the deeper meaning of life: sounds like a work of the Wachowskis to us. And like a lot of their previous catalog, nothing is meant to be stand-alone, and you can’t take anything as an individual piece but only part of the whole.
This makes Sense8 the perfect binging series, even if the lack of character development or insane plot twists may drive you insane.
The more you watch of this show, though, the more you notice. Sense8 is filled with Easter eggs that you’d absolutely miss with half-an-eye or half-an-interest in the series, like Daryl Hannah’s subtle reoccurrences in the background of scenes or the importance of the number eight. It rewards eagle-eyed viewers and no better way to do this than throwing yourself fully into this weird, wonderful world.
3. House of Cards
Remember when House of Cards was a show about a small-time politician doing anything to rise in the ranks, before it went completely off-the-rails insane?
Granted, you can slowly digest the first season no problem, one episode at a time, thinking, enjoying, getting those chills as Frank spoke directly to you. As time goes on though, and the episodes become crazier, it becomes a little harder to do just that. Then, a lot harder. Then, impossible.
However, this show still succeeds, truly succeeds, in a binge-watch format. You get to see the duo’s manipulations go from idea to implementation and while no less ridiculous, it is a lot of fun. Frank and Claire are full-on villains now and it’s always fun to see a villain’s evil scheme play out, even at the expense of the entire country.
2. Arrested Development
The last long-awaited season of Arrested Development was originally conceived as a choose your own adventure, where viewers could dip in at any moment and get a taste of what the Bluth’s were up to. That was later scrapped as it’s insanely hard to tell a full story that way. Instead, we were told to watch them in order and view a series that happens over the same period of time, told from the perspective of individual characters.
If anything was ever made to be binge-watched, it was this. Understanding of what’s happening begins to dawn, references are understood and jokes are funnier. The more you remember, the better this season is.
Now, creator Mitch Hurwitz has specifically said that you should not binge this season. We disagree. The last season of Arrested Development was made to be done in bulk. Enjoy every moment with the Bluths.
1. Orange Is The New Black
Orange Is The New Black changed the face of television, showing that shows about women and about minorities could become a major part of the cultural zeitgeist. Why it took this long for this to happen still remains a painful mystery, but here we are.
To keep up with its own success, Orange had to get bigger and take on more risks. While not as crazy as the previously mentioned House of Cards, it’s moved in ways that people haven’t always loved. A prime example is the last season, told over a few days, during an intense prison riot.
If you viewed Orange the same way you had previous seasons, savoring every moment, you may have felt disappointed. We say, try it again, this time, binge-style. The tension, the relationships, the whole plot arc happens faster, almost in real time, and the energy is there to be enjoyed. This way, the whole time in prison actually becomes a lot of fun.
What’s your favorite show to binge watch? Sound off in the comments!
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