We’re only a few weeks into 2014, but between the cold weather and the post-Holiday letdown, it may already seem like you’re in a bit of a rut. We can’t keep the polar vortexes and blizzards at bay, but we can suggest a way for you to shake up your nightly television viewing routine. These five shows are all just getting started for the season, and can help make these long, cold winter nights a little more entertaining.
1. The Following, FOX
The Following isn’t for the faint of heart. This twisty, violent drama — starring Kevin Bacon as an FBI investigator on the hunt for a serial killer and his cult of devoted followers — is consistently suspenseful and often a little scary. The series gained a strong following of its own last year. You can see the second season premiere online at Hulu.com now and watch future episodes Monday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.
2. Community, NBC
If you’re looking for more lighthearted fare, you can try the smart ensemble comedy, Community. It follows a group of community college students, played by Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, and Chevy Chase, who form unlikely friendships as they try to figure out their place in the world. Dan Harmon’s critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged show is favored by fans for its smart pop culture send-ups of common television tropes. You can watch old seasons on Netflix and catch the fifth season when it airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
3. Downton Abbey, PBS
Do you like a side of tragedy with your British period dramas? Then you’ll love Downton Abbey. The fourth season of the popular series – which follows the inner-workings of an aristocratic family and their servants during the early 20th century — has already aired in its entirety in England. But stateside, it’s just getting started — and you’ve still got time to catch up. Every episode is chock full of romance, drama, and gorgeous views of the English countryside. You can get swept up in the series — which has taken the world by storm – Sunday nights this winter on PBS.
4. True Detective, HBO
Unlike the other TV shows on this list, True Detective is a brand new miniseries drama that just premiered on HBO. It stars Woody Harrelson and recent Golden Globe-winner and Oscar-nominee Matthew McConaughey as two state detectives on the hunt for a serial killer. The first season, which spans the course of 17 years, is already earning rave reviews from critics. It offers up the high production values and stellar storytelling that fans of other HBO series have come to expect. You can watch new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
5. House of Cards, Netflix
Last year, Netflix released its first original series designed to capitalize on viewers binge-watching tendencies – House of Cards. This political thriller, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a political powerhouse couple who will stop at nothing to rise to the top, was an enormous success with viewers and critics alike. This Valentine’s Day, Netflix will release all 13 episodes of the second season. You can catch up on the first season now on Netflix.