Whether you're in the midst of a Snowmagedon, a Polar Vortex, or you simply don't want to get out of bed, wintertime is the perfect time to lose yourself in your favorite series on Netflix, Prime or Hulu. I first discovered the joys of binge-watching last winter when I was home sick. Bored I tuned into the much talked about Orange is the New Black. I was hooked immediately and started this torrid affair with the iPad on the pillow next to me and all the wild and crazy characters for the following 24 hours. When I felt better I continued to watch. I was hooked. It was as simple as that.
I don't watch much network television anymore. The news is on in the morning and that is about it. My children watch Netflix, but I never did until that fateful day. When that series ended - I would have to wait until June for the second season - I needed more. I had a new addiction that I needed to feed. By majority vote from an informal poll I took on Facebook, was House of Cards. My binge-watching days were far from over. Over the course of the past year I have indulged and thoroughly enjoyed Weeds, The Good Wife, and How I Met Your Mother, all of which aired on TV and I somehow missed.
I decided that it was much better to watch two or three episodes back to back for an hour, than one, riddled with commercials for 30 minutes. So, this is for all of you who don't want to leave the warmth of your own homes - beds, or couches with popcorn and all, here are 13 series to completely lose yourself in this winter.
1. House of Cards
If you haven't yet seen this series, I highly recommend it. The cast, the writing, the setting, the plot are tremendous. Kevin Spacey gives an incredible performance the as ruthless, cunning Congressman Frank Underwood. His wife, Claire, played by Robin Wright, will stop at nothing to have it all. Set in Washington D.C. this political drama will have you at the edge of your seat gasping and cheering as the series penetrates the dark, shadowy world of greed, sex and corruption in Washington D.C. Claire Underwood's wardrobe to die for.
2. The West Wing
For those who love political drama and are left wanting more after House of Cards, why not revisit The West Wing? This series brought us to a place we had not been before. We were given an intimate look at an American President and the inner workings of the White House. We experienced crises, triumphs, idealism and hard realities of the world. The series was noted on many levels and won 26 Emmys, including 4 for Outstanding Drama Series. And Rob Lowe isn't bad to look at.
From the creator of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, Scandal is a captivating drama with its fill of illicit relationships, unchecked power and shocking political intrigue. Here's your chance to get a sneak peek of what goes on behind the closed doors of Washington's elite. Watch as the plot unfolds. A former White House Communications Director, Olivia Pope, starring Kerry Washington, starts her own crisis management firm only to realize her clients are not the only ones with secrets. Kerry isn't too bad to look at.
4. Orange is the New Black
This series chronicles the true story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend. Based on a memoir, Orange is the New Black comes to us from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan. Part comedy, part drama, we watch as Piper must adjust to a new life in a world beyond her imagination. Here we meet the most fascinating characters and despite their flaws and shortcomings, we fall in love with them. Provocative, "Orange is the New Black" pushes the limits and tells it like it is. Don't bother with the memoir. We liked the series better.
When you've finished Orange is the New Black, this is the perfect series to turn to. Meet Nancy Botwin (Golden Globe winner Mary-Louise Parker) as she faces both sudden widowhood and poverty. Determined to do whatever it takes to keep her social status, she ends up being the neighborhood pot dealer. Deeply subversive and hilarious, creator Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black) creates a series that is quirky, intoxicating and even compelling. Watch as everyone's favorite pot-selling-soccer-mom and her family handle the Mexican Mafia, illicit love affairs, illegitimate love affairs and relocation. You'll fall in love with the Botwin family and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. And then you ask yourself, should marijuana be legalized or not?
6. The Wonder Years
This was everyone's coming of age show. Now on Netflix revisit your favorite characters, Kevin, Winnie, Wayne, and Paul as Kevin Arnold recalls growing up during the late 60s and early 70s, a turbulent era which made the transition from childhood to teenhood particularly interesting. It should be noted, however, for those of you familiar with the series, due to licensing issues, many of the songs that made the show what it was have been replaced or left out completely. Here the music was so significant both in the overall presentation and what it stood for in American history.
7. Gilmore Girls
This drama centers around the relationship between a thirtysomething single mother and her teenage daughter who live with Lorelei's parents in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham has an extremely close relationship with her daughter Rory, played by Alexis Bledel. Human relationships are at the center of this well played out series. Melissa McCarthy fans who've not seen this show, will delight in her on screen breakthrough in the role of Sookie.
Many of us spent our Thursday evenings with Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler and Joey experiencing the same twenty-something trials and tribulations. We laughed along to a is a classic comic treatment of the post-college years, as they (and we) were just trying to figure it all out. Though some parts may seem a bit dated, it's still as laugh out loud funny as it was when it was on the air.
9. Twin Peaks
David Lynch's creative, quirky and often off-beat series had us coming back for more and yet scratching our heads at the same time. The premise of the series is that a young FBI agent disappears while investigating a murder miles from Twin Peaks that may (or may not) be related to the future murder of Laura Palmer. Sometimes it made sense. Sometimes it didn't. I wonder if we'll "get it" the second time around? Kyle Maclachlan, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn starred. Maclachlan was particularly easy on the eyes.
10. Mad Men
Set in the 1960s in New York, this smart, sexy, and provocative drama Mad follows the cut throat lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising. Living in an ego-driven world, key players make an art of the sell. AMC’s award-winning drama made history as the first basic cable series ever to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in four consecutive years. You will be riveted by the seductive and intriguing world of Sterling Cooper & Partners.
11. The Good Wife
Julianna Margulies is both wife and mother who must re-enter the workforce after her husband's very public scandal lands him in jail. Pushing aside the betrayal and crushing public humiliation caused by her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) must start over by revisiting her original career as a defense attorney. Over the seasons we watch her grow, both personally and professionally. She is joined by a great cast of characters, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Eli Gold, played by Alan Cumming. Politics, lust, love, greed, a dash of humor and some great storylines makes me wonder why I waited so long to check out this underrated drama. I love this side to Alan Cumming I had not seen before. I keep hoping that Eli will break out into Cabaret. And Chris Noth... think of him as Mr Big but with substance this time.
12. How I Met Your Mother
The year is 2030 and the central character Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, is telling his children the story about how he met their mother - in a very long winded, many storied way. Both the story and the show begin in 2005, when the then twenty-seven year old architect Ted decided that he wanted to get married. Over the course of 9 seasons we watch as Ted falls in and out of love and hilarity often ensues. Central to these stories are his friends Marshall. Lily, Barney and Robin, a former love interest. Another late twenty-something early thirty-something series set in New York. At times uproariously funny. Even though Lily, played by Alison Hannigan, won an emmy, I think Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris steals the show. Jordan Segel, (Freaks and Geeks) adds his own dash of humor. Their on-screen chemistry is powerful. I shall say no more, I haven't gotten to the final episode yet!
13. Downton Abbey
We first meet the Crawley family in 1912 in their bustling Edwardian country house, Downton Abbey. Aided by their cadre of servants. Robert, Earl of Grantham, his American heiress wife Cora, and their three daughters, along with Robert's mother Violet, have lived largely uncomplicated lives. But the sinking of the Titanic hits home in an unexpected and dramatic way and changes all of that. Lord Grantham's heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick have perished. Now they must sort out who will become heir. Add to that the family must figure out what will happen to their distinguished estate, they are now in jeopardy of losing. Over the years we see members struggle with love, political decisions, and changing times. There is plenty of drama to unfold along the way with the servants downstairs as well. Good guys, bad guys.Long before there was the internet we see that many of the same human issues we have today existed back then. In some cases, la plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme. Rumor has it that this current season may be the final one... apparently Julian Fellowes has his eyes set on New York City during the Jazz Age.