How much time have you already spent sitting in front of your TV this summer watching hour after hour of your favorite show?
Admit it, you are a binge watcher. This is not something to be ashamed of. We all do it and we all enjoy it. Plus, with the summer sun beating down on South Florida, there is not much we want to do outside except for the beach, so this is a perfect way to pass time.
Though, in order to successfully binge-watch, you have to know what you are getting yourself into. Some shows you watch because you have missed the most current season, while others you watch from the start. Some you watch because they are your favorite shows, while others are shows that you have never gotten around to. And with some, you have to avoid the Internet, because of all the spoilers that you could happen upon (I am looking at you, “Game of Thrones” fans).
With the myriad out there, it may seem difficult to decide what to watch and when, but have no fear. Below is a guide of the five best current shows and five best complete shows to add to your list this summer.
Orange Is The New Black
Netflix’s original series about the women of Litchfield Prison has become a fan favorite and made binge-watching a phenomenon. Netflix releases full seasons of this show at one time so that viewers can watch from beginning to end at their own pace. The show gives viewers a softer side of prison and explores the lives of the women in the prison, both currently and in the past. The show has been a hit among critics and viewers and should not be missed. Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox star.
Series Episode Count: 39
Time Spent Watching: 38 hours
Latest Season Episode Count: 13
Time Spent Watching Latest Season: 13 hours
Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope, Washington, D.C.’s top fixer, in the second part of Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday night lineup on ABC. There are so many twists, turns and cliffhangers as Olivia handles the tough business of top politicians—including her on-again, off-again love interest, President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn)—that viewers will not want to stop watching. While there are some powerful men on the show, the women are the ones to watch out for. Bellamy Young, Darby Stanchfield, Guillermo Diaz and Jeff Perry also star.
Series Episode Count: 69
Time Spent Watching: 50 hours
Latest Season Episode Count: 22
Time Spent Watching Latest Season: 16 hours
Game of Thrones
If you don’t know anything about this show, I commend you, but how is that possible? The HBO phenomenon follows the plotlines of an ensemble of warriors vying for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms and their struggles before and after. Do not grow attached to any of the characters because, as I am sure you have heard, anyone can die and no one is safe. Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage star.
Series Episode Count: 50
Time Spent Watching: 48 hours
Latest Season Episode Count: 10
Time Spent Watching Latest Season: 11 hours
When members of a wealthy British family lose the heir to theirfortune when he dies on the Titanic, they are introduced to a new set of family members who do not exactly fit in. The PBS hit takes a compelling look at the life of the wealthy as well as their servants. Dame Maggie Smith’s turn as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is enough to entertain viewers throughout the five seasons. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Joanne Froggatt also star.
Series Episode Count: 43
Time Spent Watching: 41 hours
Latest Season Episode Count: 9
Time Spent Watching Latest Season: 8.5 hours
How to Get Away With Murder
This new show from the aforementioned powerhouse Shonda Rhimes follows “Scandal” on Thursday nights on ABC. Academy Award nominee Viola Davis leads the show as Annalise Keating, a criminal defense attorney and law professor. She takes on five student interns who soon become entwined in a murder. The show is known to push all of the boundaries for primetime television and just finished its first season, so if you want to catch up for the fall, now is the time to do it. Alfie Enoch, Matt McGorry and Liza Weil also star.
Series Episode Count: 15
Time Spent Watching: 11 hours
Watching the mother-daughter/best friend relationship of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) grow and thrive throughout the seven seasons of this series is one for the ages. Viewers get to watch as Rory goes from public school to private school and then off to Yale University. While the bond between Lorelai and Rory is strong, watching the interactions between Lorelai and her mother, Emily (Kelly Bishop), demonstrates a different type of relationship that family members can have. Also check out a great early role for Melissa McCarthy, who is a main cast member throughout the series. Scott Patterson and Edward Herrmann also star.
Series Episode Count: 153
Time Spent Watching: 109 hours (or 4.5 days)
One Tree Hill
Smoothly transitioning from childhood to adulthood is never easy, and there are going to be many bumps in the road. This is exactly what “One Tree Hill” depicts. Over nine seasons, audiences see the teenagers of Tree Hill, N.C. evolve from stereotypical high school kids to adults with families of their own. While the show jumps four years at the end of the high school era, the execution is flawless. You’ll grow to love the characters and, in the style of the show, while people leave, sometimes they return. Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Lenz, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton and Chad Michael Murray star.
Series Episode Count: 187
Time Spent Watching: 132 hours (or 5.5 days)
Everyone knows the story about “Friends.” Six friends live in New York City and navigate their way through life and love. Binging this show will provide a rainbow of feelings: happiness, sadness, anger and a lot of laughter. You will get to see all of the best guest stars (Brad Pitt! Julia Roberts! Reese Witherspoon!) and understand just why everyone loves this comedy. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer star.
Series Episode Count: 236 Episodes
Time Spent Watching: 87 hours (or 3.5 days)
American Horror Story
So technically this show is still running, but it takes a different approach from most series as each season is its own unique story. “Murder House” is about a family that moves into a haunted house famous for its murders. “Asylum” follows an unfortunate reporter who gets stuck in an asylum against her will. “Coven” is about a group of witches looking to find its next Supreme. Finally, “Freak Show” is about a group of misfits who put on shows here in Jupiter and their struggles in society. My advice is to start with “Asylum,” move to “Murder House,” and then it’s a toss-up between the last two. Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson star.
“Murder House” Episode Count and Time: 12 episodes over 8.5 hours
“Asylum” Episode Count and Time: 13 episodes over 9 hours
“Coven” Episode Count and Time: 13 episodes over 10 hours
“Freak Show” Episode Count and Time: 13 episodes over 11 hours
Series Episode Count: 51
Time Spent Watching: 39 hours (or 1.5 days)
This over-the-top murder mystery series had a short-lived run with two abbreviated seasons from 2007 to 2009. The show follows Ned (Lee Pace), a pie maker with a talented gift – he can bring anything dead back to life with the touch of his finger. There are just two small problems: the next time Ned touches the newly awakened thing, it will die again, and if whatever is revived stays alive for more than a minute, something will die in its place. With the help of his friend Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel) and Detective Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), Ned sets out to solve the latest murders. Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene and Kristin Chenoweth, who won an Emmy for the second season, also star.
Series Episode Count: 22
Time Spent Watching: 15.5 hours
This article first appeared on Boca Magazine on July 10, 2015 and can be found here.