Some of you are headed to Panama City Beach or whatever, and that’s great. But some of you are going to an even better place during spring break: your house (specifically, your couch). Semesters made spring break come really early and it’s weird, so for those of you who thought the first week of March was a strange time to go to the beach and instead are spending the week at home with your couch and your cat, we have a staycation solution for you: Netfiix Instant Stream.
Netfiix, for the uninitiated or those who have been living under a rock, is this magical thing where TV shows and movies of all stripes come to hang out at your convenience. If that sounds like paradise, just wait: there’s a streaming service, where you can watch hours and hours and hours (and hours!) of TV. Seriously, though – feeling nostalgic for some Disney movies? “Pocahontas” is on Netflix. Are you the only person on the planet who hasn’t watched “Arrested Development”? It’s on Netflix. Remember when Justin Bieber made a docu-concert? NETFLIX.
Some networks are still denying patrons their awesome shows via Netflix, so you won’t be able to find “True Blood” or “Game of Thrones” or “Justified” or “Modern Family,” but, for the most part, Netflix is a treasure trove of TV just waiting to be consumed by you in rapid succession over the next 10 days.
Here are 15 of our picks:
Sci-Fi, Quirky, Period Drama, ANYTHING British TV
“Downton Abbey” | A.k.a. that TV show your best friend won’t stop talking about. You know how Maggie Smith is a total badass as Professor McGonagall? Well, she’s even more of a badass in “Downton.” Add in other excellent performances and a gorgeous early-20th century setting and you’ve got yourself a wonderful afternoon of Netflixing. A couple of warnings, though: Netflix is like a year behind, so only the first two series are available. Also, whatever you do, DO NOT Google “spoilers.” Don’t do it. DO NOT DO IT, especially if you want a reason to keep existing.
“Doctor Who” | A.k.a. that TV show your boyfriend won’t stop talking about, “Doctor Who” is an absolute must and a half for anyone who proudly calls him or herself a “nerd.” It’s corny sci-fi at its best. In order to get the whole experience, you should probably start from the beginning and go through all the iterations of the Doctor, but this-gen Whovians will probably tell you it’s okay to skip ahead to David Tennant’s run and then go back and play catch-up later. Watch enough episodes of this and you, too, will be drunkenly approaching telephone booths like they are the TARDIS.
“Skins” | A.k.a. “Degrassi” for Brits. The series, which MTV unsuccessfully tried to bring overseas, follows the drama-packed lives of attractive British high schoolers as they party, do drugs, sleep with each other, back stab each other, etc. It’s mostly important because this is what introduced the universe to Nicholas Hoult. (Bonus gem for “Game of Thrones” fans: Joe Dempsie a.k.a. Gendry is also a series regular during the first generation.)
Serious Dramatic Award-Winning TV
“Breaking Bad” | An hour-long drama about a wrinkly chemistry teacher turned meth dealer shouldn’t be as widely appealing as it is, but, uh, if you’re not already watching “Breaking Bad,” then you’re doing something wrong. There’s a reason Bryan Cranston is winning – and should win – all the Emmy awards ever, there’s a reason people started standing at your door and yelling, “I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS,” and there’s a reason there are now 7 tabs open on your computer after various Google searches of “Aaron Paul” and “perfect human” and “does Aaron Paul have a girlfriend” and “when will Aaron Paul break up with his girlfriend.”And that reason is on Netflix Instant Stream.
“Mad Men” | Speaking of reasons to keep living – Jon Hamm. It’s impossible for any television show to be completely flawless, but after five seasons, “Mad Men” comes pretty damn close. The acting is meticulous, the characters beyond engaging and the period-piece costuming is what vintage fashionistas dream of. Oh, and Jon Hamm is drop-dead sexy, even when he’s playing conflicted, sleazy, complicated, perfect, flawed ad-man Don Draper.
“The West Wing” | Before Aaron Sorkin made movies about social networks or HBO shows about a news station, he made an hour-long drama about the White House. “The West Wing” ended almost forever ago (2006), but its web of political intrigue, biting Sorkin-esque wit and phenomenal powerhouse acting make it now and probably forever relevant. Plus, it’s one of those ensemble dramas that are fun to watch even if just for the later satisfaction of seeing characters pop up on other shows.
Supernatural Guilty Pleasure TV (a.k.a. Lots of Shirtless Hot Guys TV)
“The Vampire Diaries” | Before you write this off as a “Twilight” knockoff, please consider 1) Ian Somerhalder and 2) the so-bad-it’s-great soapiness of The CW’s shows, which means 3) lots of shirtless Ian Somerhalder. The core premise is predictable: Plain Jane Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, of brief “Degrassi” fame) has fabulous hair and a fabulous life and then her parents die in a car crash and she is depressed. She meets sexy Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), who has even more fabulous hair than her and who also has a huge secret – he’s a vampire. He also has an equally sexy vampire brother, Damon (Somerhalder), who, of course, also falls for Elena, even though she’s whiny and annoying. The show eventually evolves (especially after the first season) into serious guilty pleasure material. It’s a hot mess of supernatural babes and ridiculous mythology, but it makes for a great rainy day marathon sesh.
“Teen Wolf” | Speaking of ridiculous, MTV’s answer to the Twihard generation is a reboot of the movie “Teen Wolf.” The writing, effects and acting are all pretty subpar, but that’s what makes it so damn addicting. There’s something about Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) that is adorable-(were)puppy appealing. Plus, at 12 episodes a season, you can totally sit down and just watch the entire series in a day and then spend the next day on Tumblr looking for great “Teen Wolf” GIFs because there are so, so many great “Teen Wolf” GIFs.
“Supernatural” | The sometimes-spooky, always-hot series about the monster/angel/demon/anything hunting Winchester brothers (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) is like The CW’s little show that could. It’s almost been cancelled like 4 times and the current season is a total 180 from where the show looked like it was heading back in season one, but “Supernatural” is still awesome. If you don’t watch it for the geeky-cool mythology-monster-of-the-week fun facts, watch it because the Winchesters are really hot and they like classic rock’n’roll.
Comedies That Aren’t “The Office” (Because it Sucks Now) TV
“Parks and Recreation” | The obvious go-to NBC comedy is “30 Rock,” and the obvious go-to to make yourself feel cool for not going to the go-to NBC comedy is “Community,” but the Amy Poehler-led “Parks and Recreation” is just as hilarious and oddball as its comedic brethren. It’s a little hit and miss in the first season, but stick with it, because once Rob Lowe and Adam Scott join the main cast as Chris “Lit-trally” Traeger and Ben “perfect boyfriend is perfect” Wyatt, “Parks and Rec” is gold.
“Psych” | USA comedies (and USA dramas, and USA dramedies, and USA everythings) are usually kind of “meh,” but “Psych” is the exception. The buddy-cop comedy is endearingly dorky and chock-full of more pop culture references than a “Community” episode. The earlier seasons are best, because after like 5000 episodes, it really seems ridiculous that no one has caught on that Shawn (James Roday) isn’t actually a real psychic. But, whatever. It’s TV. More so, it’s USA network TV, so we’ll make an exception (and not just because they did a “Twin Peaks” tribute episode).
“Louie” | If you don’t have cable TV, then “Louie” is probably that show that keeps popping up at the Emmy awards and you’re like, “Who is this guy trying to steal away all the awards from Alec Baldwin or Steve Carell or Ty Burrell,” but, um, “Louie” is actually pretty good. JK – it’s pretty great. As stand-up comedian and the titular Louie, Louis C.K. embraces FX’s brand of dark humor, which might divide audiences, but it’s led to serious critical acclaim.
Stuff You Can Watch on Netfiix without Confessing to Your Friends That You Actually Watched It TV
“Once Upon a Time” | The ABC fairytale dramedy isn’t really terrible TV. It’s sometimes overly cute and sometimes feels so dumbed down that it’s almost gag-worthy, but it’s not terrible. The creators worked on “Lost,” so there’s a heavy series mythology and lots of wink-winks to the island drama. Plus, it’s always fun to get nostalgic about childhood fairytales and revel at the liberties OUAT takes with our beloved princes and princesses – who would have thought that Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella would go out for a girls’ night? And Belle falls in love with Rumplestilskin? The second season is currently airing, and it’s definitely an upgrade from what Netflix is currently offering, but the aforementioned mythology (it can get seriously tangled, even though Rapunzel hasn’t shown up yet… bad pun is bad) requires you zoom through the first 22 eps before you can get to Sleeping Beauty and Mulan teaming up to be lady badasses and the introduction of a seriously hot Captain Hook. (No, but really – he’s super hot.)
“Pretty Little Liars” | Chances are, you already know a lot about “Pretty Little Liars.” It’s the less-sexy “Gossip Girl,” based on the less-good YA literature series. The whole “it’s on ABC Family” might throw you off, but seriously – this stuff is good. The clothes! The drama! The clothes! The shirtless guys! The clothes! It’s highly unlikely that PLL will ever win any awards of significance, because the writing sucks and the acting sucks and ABC Family generally sucks, but, if nothing else, you can easily plan out a week’s worth of outfit ideas in the span of one episode. (Plus, the horrible writing and acting grows on you.)
“Laguna Beach” | Throwback time! Go ahead and clear your mind of Honey Boo Boos and Kardashians and embrace the First Children of reality TV: the annoying spoiled brats of “Laguna Beach.” Relive the bitchiness of pre-fashion designer Lauren Conrad and pre-nobody Kristin Cavallari. Swoon over Stephen and try to forget that he dated Hayden Panettiere. Live vicariously through these golden-haired, golden-skinned California gods and goddesses, because it’s highly unlikely that your high school experience was that cool.
There are hundreds of other Netflix options and not nearly enough time to write about them all here, so tweet us your spring break TV-coma plans @SpeakeasyMag!