The 6 Most Addictive Shows on TV
Today, we’re able to consume television like no other generations before ours, binge-watching cable or Netflix marathons like the gluttons for entertainment that we are. But whether you’re watching an entire Netflix original in one sitting or suffering through week-long waits between new episodes, in this so-called golden age of television, it’s difficult to watch almost any series without becoming hooked on the characters, the stories, the atmosphere. It’s the perverse, undeniable thrill of binge-watching a great work of televised art, and it ought to be recognized as an actual addiction — after all, who hasn’t suffered just a little bit of withdrawal after catching up with or finishing a truly amazing series? If you’re looking for your next fix of must-see TV, look no further than these six ongoing series.
1. Game of Thrones
For a long time, the fantasy genre had a reputation for being nerdy, fringe entertainment. Our cultural obsession with HBO’s meticulous adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic (in scope and in length) A Song of Ice and Fire novels demonstrates how far the genre has come. Game of Thrones may have dragons and fictional lands, but its world feels so painfully, brutally real, grounded as it is in the vindictive royal passions and scheming that characterize so much of history. There are so many characters — be they good, evil, or anywhere in between — to latch onto, just as there are so many upsetting deaths to keep you guessing, and watching compulsively, to see what comes next.
When Joel and Ethan Coen blended dark film noir with a cheeky vision of the small-town Midwest in their 1996 film Fargo, they created a funny, tragic, involving, surreal world so specific it felt as though no TV series adaptation could recapture it. Credit Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley for the anthology series’ two fantastic and faithful seasons of the FX series, which gives fans new and old alike plenty of hushed allegories and darkly comic antics to chew on week after week. Just like the film, Fargo‘s deft balance of tone that makes it so different than anything else on television is exactly what keeps us coming back.
3. Broad City
Raunchy, endearing, and decidedly low concept, Broad City need only put its two leading ladies in the same room to create an episode of can’t-miss TV. Series creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer play struggling NYC stoners whose formidable chemistry as best friends (and more, if Ilana ever gets her way) forms the heart and soul of the series. Ilana somehow keeps finding new ways to be outrageous, but Abbi is the show’s too-often unsung hero for her abilities to turn cringeworthy awkwardness into unhinged laughter. Season 3 saw Broad City expand its horizons in baby-steps, making room for some continuity and shaking up both Abbi and Ilana’s professional and dating lives, all while remaining as consistently hilarious as ever.
4. Mr. Robot
Mr. Robot doesn’t need to depict the future or invent new gadgets to create a world of dystopian sci-fi paranoia — not when most of the machinations for that world already exist in the present-day. As seen through the big sleepy eyes of mentally unstable hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), Mr. Robot takes place in a world dominated by big business like E Corp (often nicknamed Evil Corp), dangerously close to armed insurrection and financial anarchy thanks to info-drunk hackers like himself. The show’s first season finale raised more questions than it answered, but we would have returned to the series’ second season even without the cliffhangers, to revisit the fractured characters that connect us to this uneasy vision of the modern day.
5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The second season of Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was released on the streaming service about two weeks ago, and it’s safe to say most fans have already binged their way through the 13 new episodes several times over. Following in the steps of 30 Rock, also from creator Tina Fey, the show is defined by its anything-goes approach to comedy, where hardly a moment goes by without a witty turn-of-phrase or flyby reference you’ll only understand your third time through the episode. The new season pushes the show further in its screwball tendencies, even making time for a sorta-musical episode, while still keeping viewers involved in its characters and their growth. After all, this is a series about a survivor of kidnapping, even if she is perpetually sunny and optimistic (not to mention lovable, thanks to Ellie Kemper’s inspired performance), and despite all the cartoonish goings-on, the series never shies away from the psychological impact of that event.
6. Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty is inspired lunacy, following a delightfully misanthropic mad scientist and his levelheaded grandson around a boundless multiverse whose only constant is complete, inexplicable insanity. The dysfunctional characters of the oft-unhappy Smith family give the show its heart, while most of its plots come from familiar science fiction tropes pushed to their absolute extreme, focusing especially on the repercussions of our protagonists’ actions to make each episode as existentially horrifying as it is hilarious. It’s all in fitting with the bleak worldview of prickly-but-still-sympathetic Rick, a worldview creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland at least partially share, that the universe is utterly random and the only meaning comes from what we apply ourselves. As impressive as that sounds, Rick and Morty never dares take itself too seriously, and like the titular pair, it thrives on a bizarre balance — of lowbrow and highbrow, depressing and delirious, alienating and involving.