Finals are over, the grades are in, the presents are unwrapped, the booze is drunk, and the tree has begun to wilt. You look at your laptop, refreshing Facebook every moment and endlessly scrolling through Buzzfeed, shoveling the last remnants of holiday cookies into your mouth. The year is new, and so is the boredom. You’ve read every “Best of” list and seen enough disgustingly adorable holiday pet photos to last you a lifetime (okay, enough to last until next year). You’ve tried your hand at a couple resolutions: “I’m going to be a self-aware and informed woman and read Americanah,” you say to yourself, waltzing down the aisles at Barnes & Nobles. “I am going to run a triathlon!” you think triumphantly as you pound away on the treadmill to Martin Garrix, “after all, I am an ‘Animal’,” you grin, pleased with yourself.
But then three days later, 20 pages into being overwhelmed with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and three days into your triathlon training, you’ve returned to the couch, scrolling through endlessly hilarious recommendations on Netflix. “New resolution: watch everything on Netflix!” you think glumly, “at least I’ll accomplish something?” But where do you start? Don’t worry my dear couch potatoes, here are three binge-able (it’s the only way to watch TV, duh) television shows to last you through the end of winter break and then some. Filled with murder, mystery, political analogies, terrific writing, perfectly timed humor, they are sure to warm any hardened heart.
Okay, Battlestar Galactica (or BSG, as all the cool kids call it) has always gotten some flak for being that show all the nerds in pop-culture shamelessly reference (see: Dwight in The Office, everyone in The Big Bang Theory, the episode “One Moore Episode” in Portlandia). But it is so much more than that. In the 2004 re-imagining of the classic 1980s sci-fi series, creator Ronald D. Moore creates a world of despair, war, and chaos that pushes characters to their limits illustrating the power of humanity when forced into survival mode (think Walking Dead but in space and with human robots). Not only does Moore weave a compelling story of human survival, but he does so by drawing intricate and relevant political parallels to issues of the time, including the efficiency of the Bush administration as well as the War on Terror. BSG uses its classic science fiction trappings in a way that creates a world distant yet similar enough from ours that it unabashedly sucks you in, makes you obsessed with Cylons and forces you to consider your own political and ethical standings. And did I mention how fantastically sci-fi it is? With a cast led by the formidable Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice, Stand and Deliver) and ER veteran and Dances With Wolves star Mary McDonnell (she plays a female president with cancer #strongfemalecharacter), the acting is, quite literally, out of this world. Once you step past the ever-so-nerdy title and watch the show, you’ll be sucked in forever (and then maybe you’ll write your college application essays about BSG characters, a thing that I totally 100% did not do…) Check out seasons 1-4 on Netflix, you won’t be sorry (I am so sorry in advance for creating your addiction).
This British import is hands down some of the best adapted storytelling out there, starring the incomparable Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, August:Osage County) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit series) as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. This version of Sherlock Holmes’s story is set in modern day London, complete with cell phones (and some rather cheeky text messages) and lots of surveillance technology. Sherlock first aired on the BBC in 2010 and has enjoyed two phenomenal seasons, with the third set to air on January 19th on PBS (although it’s already started in the UK, and guys, it’s brilliant). Sherlock differs from the conventional structure of television shows, and instead of its seasons consisting of 12 to 20 40-minute episodes, each season contains three 90-minute episodes, each of which is inspired by and shares its title with the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels. Cumberbatch and Freeman are excellent portrayals of Holmes and Watson– actually, they are outstanding. And the writing is even more superb. Sherlock actually uses modern technology to stay closer to Doyle’s original material instead of straying away from it (yeah, we’re looking at you, Elementary). For those of you familiar with British television or Doctor Who, that should be no surprise considering that Sherlock was created and written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. If you’re looking for consistently perplexing mysteries with a side of eccentricity, Sherlock is your show. No seriously, it’s so good. Just ask Tumblr (#Sherlocked). Check out seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix!
If you haven’t seen Veronica Mars, shame on you! VMars aired on the WB (RIP!) and then the CW for one season before it was wrongfully cancelled for The Pussycat Doll Show (yeah, I know, I’m still bitter). Recently, Veronica has seen a revival in the form of a movie as a result of the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever. VMars stars Kristen Bell as the title character and features Jason Dohring, Percy Daggs III, Enrico Colantoni and Tina Majorino as some of the most fast-talking, witty and hilarious characters that ever graced television. The series picks up soon after the death of Veronica’s best friend, Lily (played by Amanda Seyfried), and follows Veronica as she deals with the fallout from Lily’s death. Veronica then dedicates her wit and knowledge to solving all the mysteries from tough to not-so-tough in the rich world of Neptune, California. She’s the Southern California answer to Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, and man is she a good one. Veronica Mars is the perfect concoction of the classic genres of noir and teenage drama. Full of quick one-liners, smart dialogue and even smarter and socially conscious mysteries, Veronica Mars is a force to be reckoned with. Spanning three seasons, this is a quick (and awesome) watch, and if you hurry you’ll be all caught up in time for the March release of the Veronica Mars movie, but not in time to fix the immense regret you’ll be feeling about not being a Kickstarter donor (trust me, its a badge of honor). She’s smart, she’s fierce, and she’s the strongest female character under 20 you’ll see on television, wielding her wit instead of a sword. The series is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime but it is also easier to find online than hay in a haystack. Oh, and it’s better than getting a pony for your birthday. (P.S. For those of you who are caught up, check out the newly released trailer for the movie and please post your fangirling squeals in the comment section below.)
So get to it, you have two more weeks or 336 hours. Thats 336 episodes of television! Godspeed, couch potatoes.