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The Most Binge-Worthy TV Series To Stream

"Yes no, maybe ... I don't know ... can you repeat the question?"

As should be obvious by our recent coverage, we at The Mary Sue support the writers’ strike and hope that the writers get everything they want and then some. With industry execs putting so much emphasis on quantity over quality these days, this moment of action and repose is sorely needed.

Yet it also creates an opportunity for us to sit back and enjoy the stacked backlog of shows available on streaming services. You may be upset that you won’t have new seasons or episodes of your favorites, but I guarantee you, there is so much out there worthy of your attention—content which proves that putting time and care into a project will make it so much better!

These are the TV series I deem most worthy of a good binge, based on how much they stand out compared to all the other shows out there. If you enjoy any of them, or want to add your own suggestions, make sure to head to the comments!

1. High Maintenance

I wrote a longer piece about all the reasons why I love High Maintenance, but really, it feels like such a massive hug of a show. Though the premise might sound a little zany—a weed dealer cycles through NYC, giving us an examination of his clients’ lives—it’s one of the most accepting, soulful shows out there.

Ben Sinclair gives a phenomenal performance as The Guy, one of my most favorite TV characters ever. He’s just such a kind, wise character, and even when the going gets really, truly weird, he never outright judges anyone for their scruples.

Where to watch: Max

2. Schitt’s Creek

I’m currently on my yearly rewatch of Schitt’s Creek and it’s going just as pleasantly as the first time. Unlike a lot of sitcoms, this show consistently delivers a great deal of personality, wit, and believable character development. You never really get bored watching Schitt’s Creek—everything flows seamlessly.

The Rose family—Moira (Catherine O’Hara), her husband Johnny (Eugene Levy), and their adult children David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—is delightfully ridiculous, and even at their most absurd, you can’t help but love and root for them. Seeing them come to love the town they’ve been forced to move to, and leave their own positive impact on it, is really special.

Where to watch: Netflix

3. Insecure

I still can’t believe Insecure is over, I would have happily taken more seasons! Alas, creator and star Issa Rae is onto bigger things (like playing President Barbie in Barbie), and we’ll support her all the way, of course. Doesn’t mean I won’t still yearn for more of this show in the meantime.

Insecure follows the lives of Issa and her friend Molly as they enter their 30s in Los Angeles. It’s a beautiful reflection of many things: being authentically oneself, especially as Black women; LA as a city, chaotic and nasty as it can be; how “becoming who you’re meant to be” is seldom a straightforward process, let alone an easy one; and how important our friendships are in the middle of it all.

Where to watch: Max

4. Malcolm in the Middle

I still maintain that this is the best American sitcom ever made, and if you want to fight me over this, I’ll square up happily. I’ll meet you in the pit for Malcolm in the Middle. This show really is that good.

It’s funny, it’s earnest, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet it also doesn’t throw its heart away for the sake of cheap laughs and gags. It was also pretty progressive for its time; like any show from the 2000s, I’m sure there was probably an off-color joke here or there, but I really can’t remember anything egregious about it for the life of me. It was just good comedy.

Where to watch: Hulu

5. Mozart in the Jungle

The tagline of this show is “Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music.” What more could you want?

Starring Lola Kirke and Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle gives a fascinating look into the world of symphony orchestras. It’s based on the book of the same name, which was in turn based on author Blair Tindall’s experiences. It’s full of passion, a very visceral love of music, and characters you grow to adore profusely. Plus, it’s just cool to watch the orchestra in action, especially in the block party episode!

Where to watch: Prime Video

6. The Bear

I was kind of upset to hear that The Bear had been renewed, honestly! And that’s only because its first season was SO GOOD that I wanted to preserve its perfection in time. Alas, we’re getting even more of a good thing. What woe, what a shame, etc.

For real, though: all that hype you heard about The Bear was entirely justified, even if this is a hard one to binge purely because it can be anxiety-inducing. Jeremy Allen White leads the cast as Carmy, a chef who returns home to Chicago to work at his family’s sandwich joint while coping with a horrible loss. The tension is almost constant, with the few moments of repose only serving to heighten one’s appreciation for the high-quality writing and characterization present throughout the entire show. If you haven’t watched The Bear, now is absolutely the time to finally try it.

Where to watch: FX, Hulu

7. Looking

Of all the shows on this list, Looking is the only one that flew by without me even realizing, and I mean that as a compliment. This is such a viscerally human show that it tugs my heart just to think about it. Just like with Insecure, I would have happily watched many more seasons of this show. But I was pleased with the way it ended, so I suppose it’s better off contained as its own little thing.

Looking follows the lives of three gay men in San Francisco—played by Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett—and their friendships with one another, their complicated love lives, and their hopes for the future. I’m probably biased because I still hold a torch for SF. But I’ll always encourage anyone and everyone to watch this show.

Where to watch: Max

8. Merlin

Okay, this might be an awkward one on this list, but honestly? Merlin is underrated as hell and I’m surprised it doesn’t have a bigger fanbase and more longevity. It’s a fantasy show that doesn’t rely on gross, reductive tropes, yet while the series is “family-friendly,” it’s neither patronizing nor childish.

Sure, the dialogue isn’t on the same level as Game of Thrones, but you know what? This is a cool fantasy show that doesn’t rely on rampant, unnecessary violence against women to forward the plot. More to the point, it’s a joyous, fun, whimsical show that makes me feel happy when I watch it. Merlin gang rise up, 2k23.

Where to watch: Prime Video

9. Fleabag

This is another show that truly deserves all the hype it’s gotten and continues to get. Fleabag really is that good. It’s so good that I’m afraid to rewatch it—because I know it’ll just get me all emotional again.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge truly is that bitch. She understands how important it is to examine female friendships as well as female solitude. She understands the intricacies of familial pain and the consequences of living with yourself after all’s been said and done. And, arguably most importantly, she knows how to be wickedly funny throughout it all.

Where to watch: Prime Video

10. Freaks and Geeks

I’ve rewatched this show (well, binged, rather) at least 10 times in my life, and it never gets old. It’s just timeless. There’s something incredibly special about Freaks and Geeks that’s allowed it to remain so perfectly contained and lovable even after so much time has passed. Created by Paul Feig, the series follows the outcast freaks (Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Busy Philipps, Jason Segel) and geeks (John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Samm Levine) at a high school in 1980.

Yes, it’s a shame we never got more than one season of it. But that one season will change your life, I truly believe that.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Hulu, Paramount+

(featured image: CBC / HBO / 20th Century Television)

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Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).