DISCOVER: MPMG’s Most Binge-worthy TV Series Picks
Full of twists and turns, hilarity and heart, these streamable TV picks curated by the MPMG team will have you pressing play well past your bedtime.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon Prime
Set in the late 1950s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a young, Jewish American housewife living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The veneer of her carefully manicured life cracks wide open when her husband leaves her, and in a fit of drunken disbelief, she stumbles on stage at a nearby club and discovers a hidden talent for stand-up comedy. She soon pairs up with wannabe manager, Susie, and the unlikely duo conspire to climb the ranks of comedy together. Fast talking and sartorially dazzling, the show is just plain fun! It’s a joy to watch Midge and Susie follow their ambitions and overcome a host of never-ending setbacks, while addressing issues of infidelity, misogyny, and class with comedic levity. But Maisel‘s lovable cast of supporting characters—including Midge’s contrite ex-husband Joel and her parents, the flappable Abe and composed Rose—are what gives the show its heart.
Slings and Arrows – Acorn TV
A Canadian comedy classic, this star-studded show takes place at a fictional Shakespeare festival in Southern Ontario (wink), and is a beautiful celebration of the theatre and those who devote their lives to it. Bonus binge-points for Season 2, where the administrative subplot involves hiring an edgy marketing agency to re-brand the festival.
Killing Eve – Crave
Emily Grace Peck
Another masterpiece by tour de force Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Crashing, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Killing Eve creates a hilarious harmony between laughter and manslaughter with her excellent espionage adventure. It’s a joy to see Sandra Oh back on screen and commanding attention with a nuanced strength. Jodie Comer plays the vogue Russian spy, Villanelle, with a visceral satisfaction. Her sharp delivery and fantastical wit will have you chuckling until the last drop of blood leaves her latest victim’s body. With captivating dialogue, haute couture costumes and an international love/murder plot line, this sensational smorgasbord of a show has something for everyone to sink their teeth into.
Breaking Bad – Netflix
Breaking Bad is arguably one of the best television programs ever made, as evidenced by its extensive list of award nominations and wins. This brilliant show cleverly crafts a narrative in which the viewer instantly falls in love with Walter White, an average high school chemistry teacher who simply wants to provide for his family before he dies of lung cancer. To make some quick cash, he decides to put his knowledge of chemistry to the test and experiments making crystal meth with one of his former students. The result: Walter makes a series of poor life choices that are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. With each fateful decision, he slowly descends further into a dangerous world of crime that he seemingly can’t escape. Like the street drug that Walter ends up selling, Breaking Bad is highly addictive. If you love crime dramas / thrillers as much as I do, this is definitely the show for you!
Succession – HBO on Amazon Prime, Hulu and Crave
The critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning Succession follows the fictional, cut-throat world of the powerfully rich, highly dysfunctional Roy family and the operation of their global-media empire. The series (Season 3 to be released in summer 2020) offers “a piercing look behind the curtain of the elite”, and excels in portraying cringe-worthy characters with sharp writing, biting humour, and monstrous drama. Summer 2020 can’t come soon enough!
Fleabag – Amazon Prime
I fell head-over-heels for the British comedy-drama series Fleabag. My raving convinced my roommates to give it a try, and I rewatched the entire two seasons again with them. I was captivated by the character brought to life by writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who invites viewers into her charming, chaotic life as she grieves the passing of her mother and best friend – using unhealthy coping mechanisms – and grows in beautiful, unexpected ways. She instantly felt like an old friend, one who I wanted to care for and chastise at the same time. Fleabag is full of charm, humour, darkness, and heartbreak. It’s a love letter to everyone who doesn’t quite have their shit together, and I can’t recommend it enough.
The Good Place – Netflix
I have yet to meet a Michael Schur production that I don’t immediately fall in love with, and The Good Place is no exception. Exquisite comedic timing — courtesy of not only Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, but also newcomers like Manny Jacinto — is paired with surprisingly poignant emotional revelations within a beguiling plot that feels like a kaleidoscope. Even as each season winds down and you begin to wonder where the show could possibly go next, it continues to subvert both narratively and conceptually. Do yourself a favour and binge this show that somehow manages to make moral philosophy seem fun.
Sex Education – Netflix
Sex Education is a colourful, hilarious coming of age story in contemporary society. Featuring a variety of characters from many walks of life, the diverse privileges, struggles, and experiences portrayed ensure that anyone can find a character they relate to. Even minor characters are highly developed, making each intersecting storyline particularly engaging. The show also does an incredible job of representing a variety of sexualities, while providing commentary on the universal emotional pressures society asserts on young adult. The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan described Season 2 (which recently has come out) as “magnificent comedy that is good for both the heart and the soul,” and I couldn’t agree more!
Game of Thrones – HBO on Amazon Prime and Crave
The award-winning Game of Thrones offers brilliant acting and character development – particularly Tyrion Lannister and Isla Stark, to name two of my favourites – and an epic storyline with a multitude of subplots to keep you engaged. Each episode leaves you wanting more!
The OA – Netflix
One of the most daring feats of storytelling I’ve ever seen in a series, it gave the world a chance to see the truly wonderful mind of actor/screen-writer/director Brit Marling at work. I think even long-time fans of her feature-length films (Another Earth, The Sound of My Voice) still found much of The OA unexpected and fresh. Marling’s singular voice and focus as a storyteller makes this show great for binge-watching. One of the things that made this show so irresistible, for me at least, was its depiction of the formation of a family by people from starkly contrasting walks of life, how they manage to create space wherein they can cultivate a common language of healing. The first season is a must-watch IMO!
Schitt’s Creek – Netflix
I don’t binge TV shows often, but when I do, I watch five seasons in two weeks. Schitt’s Creek is the show I’ve most recently binged after quickly finding myself genuinely invested in both the storyline and the characters. The story follows the once wealthy Rose family after a bad business manager makes off with their fortune. In Episode 1, we are introduced to the Roses, now “reduced to living in a ramshackle motel in a town they once bought as a joke: Schitt’s Creek.” Although I planned to pace myself, that didn’t quite work out – the 20-minute episodes were the perfect length for some fun, digestible entertainment with heart. If you’re into dramatic comedies with a little bit of romance and heartbreak, this is the show for you!
PEN15 – Hulu and CBC Gem
PEN15 is a self-described “cringe comedy” featuring two adult women playing their middle-school selves that has earned a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating. The rest of the cast are actual middle-schoolers — what more do you need? Superstar debuts by comics/show creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle take you back to the year 2000 where gel pens, misplaced braces elastics, and chatroom boyfriends reign supreme. The truest depiction of the preteen experience I’ve seen on screen yet.
Fargo – Netflix
The original Fargo movie was one of my favourites and I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers. Although the series wasn’t written or directed by the duo, it stays true to their original dark comedy style. If you enjoyed watching the awkwardness of Billy Bob Thornton’s CBC Q interview, his character is not far off. It’s good enough to binge twice. I already have.
Arrested Development – Netflix
“Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” If you loved Schitt’s Creek, be sure to check out the original riches-to-rags TV family. Filled with endlessly quotable moments, surprising celebrity guest appearances, and convoluted plotlines that all come together at the last second, Arrested Development‘s outrageous humour makes for the ultimate comedy binge-watch.
Black Mirror – Netflix
This anthology series is a smart, thrilling, and poignant commentary on society’s relationship with technology. Like a modern-day version of The Twilight Zone, every episode offers a new dystopian take on what could happen when technology goes too far. Suspenseful and thought-provoking, this series conveys a deep message about the state of our world.
Euphoria – HBO on Amazon Prime and Crave
A simultaneously hyper-stylized and authentic portrait of the Gen Z coming of age experience, Euphoria follows the growing pains of six high school teens. The show tackles a number of tough topics – mental health, addiction, small-town conservatism, gender norms, and sexuality – with refreshing, and sometimes alarming, no-holds-barred honesty. Zendaya provides an unforgettable performance as the troubled lead Rue; a kid struggling with mental illness, who in the throes of addiction finds support and companionship in Jules, the new girl in town. A riveting storyline & captivating character development are undeniable factors in the show’s binge-worthiness, but it was the glowing, glittery, vividly kaleidoscopic visuals that had me saying “just one more episode!” well into the night. Stunning cinematography, striking wardrobe, and generation-defining makeup artistry tell the story as much as the dialogue, and the gorgeous visuals cast even Rue’s darkest moments with a halo of optimism. Both mesmerizing and hard to watch, this peek into the psyches of teens today packs a serious punch.