This year was definitely the year for recommendations. With the sheer amounts of quality television coming out, whether true traditional network television, special cable series, or the creative champions at Netflix, finding something that clicks often takes a good friend coming over with a glass or wine or frantically texting for you to “stop what you’re doing and watch this.”
Here were the 13 I streamed like crazy this year and how I found them:
How to Get Away With Murder
In many circles, this ABC television show is now known simply as HTGAWM. It’s a huge acronym, but it will also save you from typing out the title every time you freak out over the reveals each episode. I will admit that I was planning to skip this show entirely, save for a desperate plea from multiple friends telling me how utterly incredible Viola Davis is. You guys, this woman is a National Treasure. Viola Davis portrays a hard, efficient, brutal defense attorney who also acts as a professor at a major University in Philadelphia. Each year, she picks a handful of students to intern at her law firm. However, this year the students are working to get away with a murder they are directly involved with. I did not see the end of Season 1 coming at all. You can watch Season 2 on ABC and Season 1 is on Netflix.
Until I moved to outside of Austin, Texas, I did not watch football. Sure, the occasional Super Bowl game was on the television, mostly to mask eating way too many nachos and drinking more beers than are typically allowed on game day. The television show The League doesn’t care if you’ve watched every game while doing a special dance in your official jersey and simultaneously worked on your Fantasy Football roster; all The League cares about is how much you want to watch horrible people doing very stupid things. For example, if your best friend died of an incurable disease, would you peacefully attend the funeral or hold draft picks for Fantasy Football? Think of The League as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but with smarter people with better jobs getting away with more. Some of my new favorite phrases such as “FOREVER UNCLEAN” and “Child Please” have come from watching The League. While the new Season is on FX, the older Seasons are on Netflix and should be power watched immediately simply to make you feel like you were a better human in 2015.
Olivia ‘Liv’ Moore was a promising medical student with a brilliant future. That was until a fellow student convinced her to go to a party on Lake Washington and she became a zombie. Working in the Seattle Medical Examiner’s office, Liv has full access to brains. However, whenever she consumes a brain she takes on visions of the previous owner’s life and usually grisly death. Like someone who really follows that “first do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath, Liv pretends to be a psychic and feeds information to the Seattle PD in order to put real criminals behind bars. This is all while working simultaneously with her incredibly nerdy (and totally attractive) boss Dr. Ravi, finding new ways to spice up brain food, dealing with her family and ex-fiance stalking around her, and trying to stop an evil zombie overlord from infecting or murdering everyone in Seattle. All in a days work, right? iZombie Season 2 is airing now on the CW and they do have a few of the episodes online. Season 1 is up on Netflix.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Associate Editor Jessica Greenlee got me into this one. After she reviewed both Seasons 1 and 2 this year, I knew I had to watch at least for the period clothing alone. What I wasn’t expecting was the sassy, brilliant, and sexual heroine, Phryne Fisher or her incredible assistant, Dot. Both women hold their own, solve murder mysteries, and give the police the evidence and thoughts they need to close the case officially. Set in Australia in the 1920’s, the murders are often brutal and the show doesn’t try to back away from social issues of the day. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Seasons 1-3 is streaming now on Netflix.
Making of a Murderer
This was one of the harder shows I binge watched this year. Fans of the podcast Serial will find themselves falling into that familiar back and forth agony of “but did he do it or not” questioning that plagues us. The important thing to take away from Making of a Murderer is not whether Steve Avery is guilty or innocent (and you’ll likely have an opinion) but rather forcing us to take a look at our criminal justice system and just how corrupt it might be.
Okay, so I know Broadchurch is another one of those downer shows, but it is so incredibly well acted that it’s worth the trauma. Broadchurch Season 1 focuses on a small seaside town discovering that not only has a child been murdered in their town, but that one of their own is the murderer. Season 2 goes through the British criminal justice system, the grieving of families, and what happens when one is starting their life over while still desperately wanting to answer questions from their past. David Tennant, Olivia Coleman, James D’Arcy and Eve Myles totally suck you into the goings on of the show. I’m still tearing up thinking about it. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix.
Penny Dreadful combines the darker elements of literature, incredible acting. and the Victorian era; there was no way I wasn’t going to fall deeply and madly in love with it. While Season 1 of the show was deeply intriguing, Season 2 was even more surprising. Eva Green, Helen McCrory, and Patti LuPone gave stunning performances, but it was Billie Piper that stunned us all with her deliverance speech as the newly reborn Lily. You can stream it on Showtime Anytime.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Who knew that the story of a woman kept against her will in a cult for most of her life would be the feel good funny sensation of the year? Kimmy Schmidt follows a young woman finally freed from a doomsday cult as she rebuilds her life and takes on New York City. Her roommate, Titus Andromedon, and their landlord help steal the show. It also has a set of credits that you will sing along with and probably not skip through. This show streams on Netflix and Season 2 is expected soon.
This was probably the most NSFW show I ever watched in a dayjob breakroom. Lost Girl was a fantastic Canadian TV show about a bisexual Succubus and her friends. Weaving through the mythical creatures living side by side with humans in Canada, the Light Fae and Dark Fae both deeply want our Succubus, Bo, to choose their side. Instead, her focus is on finding out where she came from, protecting her friends and solving mysteries. The show recently ended and it felt like losing a group of your best friends. While Season 5 recently aired and is not yet available on Netflix , Seasons 1-4 are.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Didn’t think you’d see a Ken Burns documentary series on here, did you? Ken Burns does a fantastic job of going through the lives, losses and important facts of the lives of the Roosevelt family. This includes Teddy, FDR and Eleanor. It also goes through the lives of Teddy’s children, including his daughter Alice. Teddy was one of the first folks to capitalize on using the media to spread his beliefs, and his favorite niece Eleanor would become one of the most admired women in history. I found myself developing a serious crush on Teddy Roosevelt.
As a Fannibal, I may have already seen the episodes before this point a couple times, but Amazon Prime did me a serious solid in making Season 1 and Season 2 part of their streaming service for members. Hannibal continues to use the source material of Thomas Harris’ novels as well as the brilliant attention to detail of showrunner Bryan Fuller. Season 3 features St. Gillian (Gillian Anderson) and some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from Laurence Fishburne. Throw in the continued brilliance of Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen and I’m still mourning the fact that unless a miracle arises, Season 3 was the end for the show.
This was a late minute obsession for me this year. Though an amazing friend has been pushing me for a few months now to watch it, I kept assuming it was a David Cross comedy show; Mr. Robot is nothing of the sort. It follows a programer named Elliot as he quietly hacks criminals to bring them to justice. He doesn’t do it for money or recognition. He does it because it keeps him from feeling like his day job at a corporate security firm isn’t completely soul sucking. When a group of hackers known as FSociety invite him to help take down the biggest corrupt corporation in the world, Elliot finds himself torn between doing the right thing and making an enormous impact, all while trying to not be taken down by the 1% of the 1% that control the World’s finances. Rami Malek is incredible in the starring role, and Christian Slater really steps up his game. Sorry folks, but this is one you have to purchase to stream. However, Amazon bought the rights and plans to stream it for Prime members starting Spring 2016.
This was possibly the most binge-watched show in my social network this year. It seemed as if for about two weeks the majority of Facebook posts and tweets, not to mention incoming text messages, all focused on Jessica Jones and the sheer brilliance of the show. Jessica Jones, played by the miraculous Krysten Ritter, follows a hard drinking private investigator trying to get over the most traumatic experiences of her life. She also has super powers like strength and speed that make her dangerous. When a woman in the city is taken over by mind control and begins leaving clues for Jessica, our private investigator soon realizes that the man who both physically and mentally raped her is still alive and using his mind control powers to find her. The show is ladened with mind-blowing sex scenes, incredible acting and features complex characters that aren’t easily explained away as in many comic book worlds. David Tennant is terrifying as Killgrave. My only warning is that survivors of sexual abuse will likely find themselves haunted by a few scenes.
Happy Binge Watching in 2016!