20 Must Stream TV Shows

Binge watch– defined as the act of bingeing on a TV show and ignoring daily responsibilities, showers, and social interaction. Also known as Netflixing.

The video below demonstrates it SO well.

You may be binge watching on a plane, in the car, at home in bed with the flu, or simply because you want something amazing to watch. You may be stuck indoors (again) this winter.

Whatever the reason for binge watching. I have a list of 20 TV shows you can binge watch available on Netflix, Hulu or HuluPlus, and Amazon that will take you from frozen tundra with a side of flu to another place where there is drama, comedy, or both.

Since not everyone loves the same thing I made a list with lots of options and categorized them into three simple categories. Unlike Netflix who wants to show me categories like “Independent Films with a Strong Female Lead,” or “Critically-acclaimed Quirky Dramas that no one really likes.” Ok, the second one isn’t for real, but it totally could be.

The main reason I created this list is not only so you find binge-worthy content, but so that you can cut the cable cord and instead spend a fraction of the cost on streaming content on services that are inexpensive, can be used for a free trial period, or free!

20 Shows to Stream

Must Stream TV

Drama

1. Sherlock

Quite possibly the best show EVER. Hour and half long episodes that are limited to three episodes per season these play like mini-movies instead of traditional TV. The show comes from the UK-and it brings a dry humor and excellent production quality that you don’t normally see on US tv shows. The acting is superb. It’s created a huge fanbase for ‘Sherlock’ played by Benedict Cumberbatch who inhabits modern day Sherlock with some of the same sensibilities we know and love from the popular character but also brings his own modern day take our beloved hero.

Season 1 & 2 available on Netflix, Season 3 is currently available on PBS (episodes 1 & 2 were aired in the past two weeks) and PBS.org. Amazon Prime members can watch Season 1 & 2 free.

2. Misfits

Another UK show, it is based on the concept that regular people (in this case young offenders who are doing community service) are imbued with superpowers from a freak storm. While it has all the fun and action of any superhero story the characters are very realistic and the scenery and the storylines are fairly gritty. There’s always a thread of humor though, and while nothing beats the original cast all the seasons are worth watching.

Season 1-5, available on Hulu (free) or via Amazon.

3. Scandal

Olivia Pope is DC’s ‘fixer’, a consultant who comes in and helps politicians and big wigs deal with everything from affairs to murder. Tough as nails, but perfectly dressed Kerry Washington owns the screen every time she appears as Olivia. Her team of ‘gladiators’ are a bunch of nearly ‘bad’ guys and gals who she has ‘fixed.’ They manage to smooth talk and sneak around to fix problems for their clients. Everything is not as it seems though as all the characters have a ‘past’ that we learn about as time goes on. And while Olivia has many secrets we learn early on (spolier-ish alert) that she and the President are hot and heavy, off and on again loves. The strength here is in the storylines and the depth of the characters.

Netflix for Seasons 1 & 2, Amazon for Seasons 1-3. Season 4 is on hiatus, but ABC.com has some episodes available.

4. The Killing

Gritty and raw performances this show about serial murders will draw you in with amazing performances and a need to know what really happened. While I’m not usually a fan of this type of show (there are some rather gory images) the performances drew me in and we couldn’t stop watching. This show is not formulaic or action-packed at all times, and the mysteries the show centers on will keep you guessing until the end. It follows both the police officers assigned to the case of a young girl found dead as well as her family and how they cope with her loss.

Season 1 -3 are available on Amazon and Netflix. Netflix has picked up The Killing for Season 4 (the final season) after it was cancelled by AMC.

5. The Walking Dead

If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to. I know zombies and gore seem like the last thing that would make good quality tv, but the zombies and the ‘end of the world’-type apocalypse are merely the backdrop for a character driven drama. It brings the drama and occasional laughs through our hero, Rick, and his interactions with those around him. Season 1 will draw you in as Rick discovers a world changed when he wakes from a coma, and discovers a world that is both quiet and beyond scary as we learn what it means when the world is overrun with zombies.

Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix and Amazon. Season 4 (the current season) is available on AMCtv.com.

6. House of Cards

House of Cards is a Netflix original series is amazing. Kevin Spacey is amazing in his role as Frank Underwood a scheming congressmen from South Carolina. While most of the drama unfolds on screen without commentary his character occasionally breaks the ‘fourth wall’ and speaks directly into the camera. His wife played by Robin Wright (who won a Golden globe for her performance) is his steely partner in life. Underwood is a power player that schemes his way into better political position throughout the season.

Season 1 is available in full on Netflix. Season 2 will be available on February 14th in full. Netflix releases the series in a way that makes binge watching easy.

7. American Horror Story–

American Horror Story is not something I would normally watch either-I’m not a big fan of the ‘horror’ genre in general. This show crafted by the brilliant Ryan Murphy is a thrilling and chilling show to watch. Each season is a stand alone, though the same actors are in several seasons. The 1st season takes places in a haunted house, the 2nd season in a mental hospital, and the current 3rd season is centered on an antebellum mansion that houses a group of witches with flashbacks to the 1800s. The series is based around the characters and their actions-while the ‘horror’ part of the series is well-executed the series is focused certain themes each season.

Season 1 & 2 are available on Netflix and Amazon. Season 3 (current season) is only available on FX or the FX app.

8. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad ended this past year, but that shouldn’t stop you from streaming it if you haven’t already. The show centers on our main character Walter White’s transformation from loving family man and high school teacher. White turns to a life of crime to ensure his family has enough money to live off of after being diagnosed with cancer. The series starts off slowly-and to be honest a bit boring, but once things start moving you won’t be able to stop watching. White is joined by a former student, Jesse Pinkman as his co-partner in his new sideline of cooking meth. Creator Vince Gilligan has said he conceived of the show to be a series that would take our main character ‘from protagonist to antagonist.’

Season 1-5 available on Netflix and Amazon, though the second half of season 5 (truly the last ‘season’ of the show) is not yet available.

9. Orange is the New Black

Another Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a drama centered on the life of Piper Chapman who ends up in prison after giving herself up to authorities on charges of drug running in the past. Piper is our main character and you start with her journey to prison, but we’re soon introduced to a multitude of the characters in the prison where she is housed. The cast of this series is AMAZING with some of the most complex female characters on TV. It’s part comedy, part drama-and it does both extremely well. The show takes you behind the scenes of prison life and brings to life characters that inhabit the prison with personal stories that are moving, sad, and above all entertaining.

Season 1 is available on Netflix. Season 2 is currently in post-production set to be released sometime in Spring.

Comedy

10. How I Met Your Mother

Hard to believe but this comedy series has been around since 2005! The show brought Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) back into the spotlight as a comedic actor and brings together an amazing ensemble cast for a premise that seems a bit silly. In flashbacks we learn all about Ted Mosby and his friends (Barney, Robin, Lily, and Marshall) and their life as young New Yorkers. Through the series we follow Ted’s misadventures in romance and the final season (airing now on CBS) wraps up the story of how he met the mother of the teens he’s telling the story too. As odd as the premise sound the show is loaded with comedic gold in the form of the actors who play the 5 key roles. There are plenty of things you will learn in Season 1 that circle back again in later season, so sit back and start with Season 1 and you’ll have plenty to watch for weeks to come.

Season 1-8 are available on Netflix and Amazon. The current season, Season 9, just wrapped up on CBS.

11. Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is a show I tried once and was very ‘meh’ about, but when I was sick a few months ago I binge watched season 1 and 2 all at once. It’s an adult comedy in the form of a cartoon, but it still delivers. It centers on family man Bob and his burger joint business in a small town. The family members all have their own quirks that result in funny and outlandish characters that most of us can relate to on some level. It’s one of those shows you have to give a chance to-and my bet is you’ll either laugh out loud literally.

Seasons 1 & 2 are on Netflix and Amazon. Season 3 is currently airing on Fox and can be found on Fox’s apps.

12. Portlandia-

Did you watch the clip above from Portlandia? That’s the show in a nutshell. Quirky and offbeat Portlandia takes place in Portland and is a sketch comedy series from the brilliant Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. From skits featuring a feminist bookstore to the hour long special about brunch the comedy captures real life in sequences that are seriously funny.

Seasons 1-3 on Netflix and Amazon.

13. Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23

Krysten Ritter plays Chloe as the ‘B,’ as a moral-less party girl who invites June (Dreama Walker) as the girl next door who moves to the big city whose perfect life plan is turned upside down. The girls are total opposites that end up living together after Chloe sleeps with June’s fiancee (on her birthday cake no less). But the real breakout is The Beek (James Van DerBeek) who plays ‘himself’ as a caricature of who he really is with hilarious results. Sadly the show was cancelled after Season 2.

Seasons 1&2 on Amazon.

14. Community

This ensemble show features some of the best comedy writing on TV. Start at Season 1 because there are a lot of jokes that pay off big in later seasons. The show centers on a small community college and a group of 7 students who form a study group. The characters are flawed and human, the writing is crisp and funny, and there is often so much funny thrown around you have to rewatch episodes to get it all in! Showrunner Dan Harmon was ousted for Season 4-and it shows in a less than stellar Season 4, but he’s back for Season 5 is on NBC.

Seasons 1-5 available on Hulu and HuluPlus and Amazon.

Kids

15. Fraggle Rock

Yes, that quintessential show from your childhood is available on Netflix, and well worth the watch. It’s like reliving your childhood only better since you get ALL The jokes and you can watch your kids laugh along (and sing along) with one of your favorite shows.

Available on Netflix and Amazon.

16. Mythbusters

Was it an episode where the Mythbusters made something amazing? Or was it one where the Mythbusters blew things up? In any case once you start watching you won’t want to stop. Not only is it fun and funny but you learn too! Be aware there is some mild cursing.

Available on Netflix, Amazon, and current season is available on Discovery.

17. Phineas & Ferb

‘There’s 101 days of summer vacation…” and this colorful cartoon shows us how two stepbrothers aim to fill it by building crazy contraptions all summer long. What seems like a kid show is actually a really fun show for the whole family.

Available on Netflix or via the Disney Channel app, new episodes and repeats are available on Disney Channel.

18. Avatar:The Last Airbender

While it is a kids show this show is an amazing show for the whole family to watch. The story is both accessible to kids and interesting enough to hold parents’ attention. The story centers on 12 year old Ang, the last Airbender, who has to bring peace to a world that has been at war for a long time. Each ‘tribe’ in the show is based around an element, and those in that tribe can ‘bend’ or use the element to create or destroy. Ang must learn to use all the elements to bring harmony back to the world. The story has somewhat spiritual overtones including the concepts of reincarnation. There is also quite a bit of humor brought into the series through the fantastical elements of the world they live in and the young age of the main characters.

Find it on Amazon.

19. LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu

We love LEGOs and when LEGO added the now defunct Bionicle series to their toys and added books and movies they found a new market. The Ninjago series ties in with both their toy line and a series of books expanding a simple set of LEGOs into a story that captivates young kids and LEGO fans alike.

Available on Amazon and Netflix.

20. The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes–

The Avengers go from big screen to small in this cartoon series that includes all your favorite Marvel superheroes. The series follows our favorite heroes as they battle all kinds of villains. This show captures the fun and action for your littlest superhero fans.

Available on Netflix.

Honorable Mention:

It should really go without saying but if you aren’t already a Who-vian, you should be. Doctor Who is an excellent show, especially in recent seasons. Watch it on Netflix.

Where to Watch

What are some of your favorite shows to stream?

Kelly

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

About Kelly Whalen


Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

  • Heather!

    We just binged on *The Walking Dead*, but before that it *Sons of Anarchy*. I had heard so many good things about it, and those reviews are the only reason I stuck with it past the first couple of episodes, which I thought were awful. That’s a shame, because there may be a lot of people who felt the same way and didn’t continue. If you haven’t seen it, I do recommend it if you like hard, gritty drama. It’s written by many of the same people who wrote *The Shield*–one of my favorite all-time shows!

    Oh, and I can’t forget *Love/Hate*! It’s an Irish drama, but there’s talk of a U.S. release. Watch for it…it’s fantastic!

  • Pingback: 48 Binge-Worthy Shows to Stream on Netflix (w. giveaway) | Tech Savvy Mama

  • http://www.adisneymomsthoughts.com Beth Green

    I love that Fraggle Rock made your list! I loved that show! There are also several shows I’m not familiar with! Thanks for the list!! :) #TypeAParent

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      So fun to watch it as an adult! There’s so much I missed as a kid.

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