Earlier this week, Netflix announced that it had brokered a deal with Warner Brothers television to add eight television series to Netflix Instant, including The West Wing, Fringe and Arrow. While researching the piece I wrote on that, I had forgotten just how rich the WB’s television catalogue is, and what a shame it is that more of their titles — old and current — aren’t available on Netflix. I’m hoping that the deal is just the beginning, because there’s a number of television shows that deserve the kind of cult audiences that Netflix can increasingly bring to them, that deserve to be discovered, and rediscovered, and that deserve to be shared with a wider audience.
Among those titles, these are the ten that should be added to Netflix first: They are the best, the most marathon-worthy, and addictive, which makes them perfect for the streaming service. Make it happen, Netflix.
Pushing Daisies (22 episodes) — There are actually three Bryan Fuller series all worth Netflix marathoning, all excellent shows, and all cancelled to soon. Pushing Daisies is the most notable of the three (though, Dead Like Me is the best). Pushing Daisies is perfect if you’re in a whimsical, pie-eating mood, although if you’re allergic to quirk, the series may trigger violent dry-heaves. The series’ bright colors, however, do wonders for Anna Friel, who inspired a lot of girl crushes between 2007 and 2009.
The O.C. (92 episodes) — How is it even possible that this series isn’t on Netflix. But for the length of the series (it’s four seasons long), it’d be a perfect show to marathon, and it’s still an idea series to watch over the course of the summer, grabbing an episode or two a day. It’s candy: Delicious, post-modern, overly melodramatic candy fully of gorgeous actors, lightweight soap-y plotlines, amazing eyebrows, and satisfying fish-out-of-water comeuppance. Be warned, however: Oliver is the worst.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (22 episodes) — Aaron Sorkin’s follow-up to The West Wing gets a bad rap, as it was crushed under overly high expectations. Yes, the sketch show within the show is terrible, but the pilot is literally one of the best episodes of television in the last decade, and even though the series can be ham-fisted, high-minded, overly moralizing, and self-righteous, it has a great cast with a lot of excellent chemistry. It does not fare well when compared to The West Wing and Sports Night, but up against The Newsroom, Studio 60 stacks up well as a guilty pleasure with some intelligent ideas and commentary.
Birds of Prey (13 episodes) — I added this simply out of my own curiosity, which arose once I found out that Aaron Paul was in the pilot of the series: I want to see it, but I don’t want to pay for it. It’s a legendary show among geeks, who give it mixed to bad reviews, but most people have never even heard of it. I am, however, fascinated by the comic-book show’s mythology: It takes place in a future Gotham, where Batman has been exiled, and three female superheroes — the daughter of Selena Kyler and Batman, the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, and the daughter of Black Canary — take up crime-fighting duties. Plus, Mia Sara as Harley Quinn. This, I want to see.
The Middle (82 episodes and counting)– The Middle is one of those really good sitcoms that not a lot of people in our demo watch, simply because there are so many other more buzz-worthy sitcoms on television. There’s nothing buzz-y about The Middle: It’s a modest, low-key, slightly more quirky contemporary version of Roseanne. It’s got a lot of heart, and while it’s not MUST SEE television, it is a perfect time-killing sitcom for Netflix. Plus. Sue Heck is really cute in real life.
Suburgatory (29 episodes and counting) — Like The Middle, Suburgatory is often overlooked when discussing today’s best sitcoms, even though it’s been given the plush post-Modern Family time slot. Suburgatory features some really smart performances, and the show has evolved from comedy to something closer to a half-hour dramedy with a few serialized elements. The show does a damn fine job of mixing comedy and pathos, and every once in a while, a bittersweet moment from the series will spring up and kick you in your ass.
Shameless (24 episodes and counting) — I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that any ongoing drama series doesn’t license its previous seasons to Netflix. How many shows now have gained a huge following on Netflix, which has thus enabled the ratings for the first-runs to rise (see Breaking Bad and Mad Men). It’d doubly silly for Showtime, which — unlike HBO — doesn’t make available it’s back catalogue on demand. Shameless is perfect for marathoning, too: Dramatic, but not too heavy, and it has some addictive qualities to it. Plus, Emmy Rossum disrobes a lot.
Veronica Mars (64 episodes) — One of my all-time favorite series (at least the first two seasons), Veronica Mars is best when marathoned: It’s like The O.C. plus Nancy Drew plus AWESOMENESS. It is one of the most addictive television shows you will ever see, and because it originally aired on The WB (and was cancelled after three seasons due to low ratings), most people didn’t see it on first run. But, there are a lot of DVD shelves with full-seasons of Veronica Mars on them. This show would kill on Netflix, and if it gained enough traction, maybe we’d finally get that damn Veronica Mars movie that Kristen Bell has been dying to make.
Children’s Hospital — I know that a lot of people who read UPROXX are familiar with Children’s Hospital, but in the broader pop-culture landscape, Children’s Hospital is practically unheard of, despite the fact that damn near every great contemporary comedic actor has been on the series at one point. Hell, everybody that’s ever been in a comedy troupe is on this show. To list all the awesome people who have been on this show would take hours (JON HAMM). If you’ve never liked Malin Ackerman and Lake Bell, it’s only because you’ve never seen Children’s Hospital . Why? Because the damn show airs on Adult Swim at like 12:03 a.m., there’s no promotion for it, and nobody ever talks about the show for some reason. Give it six months on Netflix, and it’d be a HUGE cult show. Sure, there are 45 episodes, but they’re only about 8 minutes a piece, so you could bang on the entire series in an afternoon.
Southland — In real life, I literally don’t know anyone who watches this show, who has ever spoken of this show, or who has even heard of it. Even on Warming Glow, Southland doesn’t get a ton of love or discussion, but the people who do watch it will vouch that it’s one of the best dramas on television: An intense, brilliantly acted, smartly written cop show that’s NOT a procedural. Each episode is a slice of life for LAPD cops. They are riveting, often heartbreaking episodes, and Southland deserves the kind of cult audience that Netflix could bring it, if only because it may mean additional seasons for the rest of us.