Tis the season to be binging
So you have officially been on winter break for a week now... and are already out of things to do. What do you turn to? Netflix, of course. However with so many options both new and old, navigating the rows and rows of titles on the popular streaming platform can be overwhelming and make for one impossible decision.
But do not worry, because I have so graciously spent my first week of vacation finding the best binge-worthy shows, so that you do not have to.
Probably one of the best TV Drama series to date, BBC's Sherlock takes the cake when it comes to most binge-able series on Netflix. In my humble opinion, no one can top Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's portrayals of the legendary sleuthing pair, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. While each episode hits a running time of nearly an hour and a half, each of the four seasons only contains three episodes; we will not mention the fever-dream that is season three, episode four. With Sherlock, you are never bored- Cumberbatch's cutting wit and serial sarcasm provide comic relief to the gruesome mysteries him and Freeman solve throughout the series. The long-term story building? The overarching series plot? Immaculate. I have never been so enraptured by a television show before, and Sherlock is quite literally the only show I can stomach more than once without remembering/predicting everything... in fact my most recent Sherlock binge was my third RE-watch. With Sherlock, the English certainly do everything better because the BBC channel really did hit a jackpot with this masterpiece.
2. Emily in Paris
Taking a sharp turn from the high-stakes of consulting detectives, the light-hearted, cheeky chick-flick-esque series detailing a young marketing consultant's escapades in Paris, France brings a ten episode moment of levity from the exhaustion of a global pandemic. Emily in Paris follows Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) as she attempts to both navigate the luxury and refinement of Parisian culture and incorporate her "American ideals" into her marketing business. While the time spent in Emily's workplace is interesting on its own, what with the snippy coworkers, politics of public relations and social media dilemmas, a young adult show set in Paris would be incomplete without a "harrowing" love story. Collins' character finds herself in cheesy yet endearing love triangles, and her portrayed awkwardness when it comes to flirting and relationships are hilarious...yet somehow relatable. I am unashamed to say I binged this entire show in a matter of hours and still got hung up on the finale's cliffhanger.
3. Outer Banks
Within the realm of teen "trash tv" is Netflix Original Outer Banks. Released in the height of the global quarantine, Outer Banks follows five rag-tag teenagers on treasure hunt that puts their lives and their island on the line. Truly a race against time, the main characters John B, JJ, Kiera, Pope and Sarah must find the island's secret store of gold before not only a scary real estate developer but also a band of modern-day pirates...oh, and the island's own police force. Think Dawson's Creek meets The Amazing Race for this one. Outer Banks did not resonate quite as well with the high-brow critics as it did with its younger target audience, but it certainly did make waves in popular culture, especially on the social media platform TikTok. For weeks on end kids made short videos dressing as and impersonating the main characters, proposing theories about the next season of the show and celebrating the carefree, technology-lacking lifestyle of "The Pogues." While it may not have been a critically acclaimed series or automatic Emmy-nominee, Outer Banks was definitely influential in its own way. It transported young adults into a world where instead of staring at our phones all day, kids explored marshes and went surfing with their friends, something that very much resonated with the distance-learning crowd. To the show's credit, those writers do know how to create really good cliff-hangers.
4. The Politician
Whether you know it or not, you are probably very familiar with Ryan Murphy's cinematic universe- and The Politician is his most recent addition to it. The Politician follows teenager Payton Hobart on his journey to become President of the United States, and his journey through the nuances of life. The show has two seasons so far, with the first portraying Payton's attempts to be elected President of his Santa Monica high school, and the second escalating to his New York district-representative role. Throughout the series, Payton tackles a WIDE range of issues, including his autism, personal relationships, political corruption, climate change, entrapment and overall white-collar villainy. The Politician is in just the right period of time, and its topics are perfectly representative of our own current political climate. This may not have been my fastest-moving binge watch but every episode brought something new to the table, and the dialogue felt a little like the rapid conversations of Gilmore Girls. Despite the spacey and quirky plot, The Politician was a bright star of my binge-watching marathon. And hey, I will never say no to the stunning vocal performance of Ben Platt. One does not simply cast a Broadway star as their lead and NOT have them sing.
5. Julie and the Phantoms
Say what you will about children's shows, but this new Kenny Ortega led series deserves ALL the hype. Seriously, the ratings say this is geared towards a young audience, but I have yet to see someone under the age of sixteen rabe about this show. Ortega returns to his roots with Julie and the Phantoms, a musical series that follows Julie Molina and her three-ghost band. Very reminiscent of High School Musical, the themes of musical passion, likeable mean girls, hallway dance numbers and brunette heartthrobs meet the unrestrictive platform of Netflix to create pop culture's most recent fan-favorite. Julie and bandmates Luke, Reggie and Alex confront more mature issues head on rather than in passing reference, all while being accompanied by catchy and banger-worthy original songs. I watched this entire show in one day. Twice. And the vocal talent? Unbelievable. Ortega won the lottery with the whole cast, but especially rookie leads Madison Reyes and Charlie Gillespie, who share a purely electric chemistry on screen. Really- Reyes' voice is what Mariah Carey wishes she still sounded like. If you are looking for an unexpected obsession, you will find satisfaction in Julie and the Phantoms.