Thanksgiving is a time to sit around a table with your loved ones, eat a delicious spread of food, and remember all the things in your life you’re grateful for. But that part takes, what… an hour? Maybe two? And once it’s over you still have a good three days to kill, possibly still stuck with the same relatives you ate with, possibly starting to go a little batty. You’ll need something to pass the time. For everyone’s sake.
So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions for quick, one- or two-season Netflix binge-watches you can pound out by Sunday night. Yes, of course, one day you’re going to watch that multi-season prestige drama everyone was talking about a few years ago. No one doubts you! But that’s the kind of project that will require you to buckle in for weeks (or possibly months). These are much more manageable and realistic, and will allow you to head into the Christmas season with a sense of closure and without making things awkward by snapping at your uncle about the things he posts on Facebook. A win-win. Away we go.
Peaky Blinders is a British crime series set in 1919 England that stars Cillian Murphy as the head of an organized crime operation of the same name. Both of its six-episode seasons are streaming right now. It is super good. (I have mentioned this before.) It’s compelling and exciting and everyone has razor blades in their hats and in the second season Tom Hardy shows up as a mumbly bootlegger. What else do I have to say to get you to watch Peaky Blinders? I’ll say it. I swear to God.
Chef’s Table is a five-episode Netflix original that operates as a cross between a deep personal study and uncensored, high-definition food porn. Each episode takes viewers inside the mind of a different chef — all of whom are notable for being high-achievers or revolutionaries in the field, or both — to figure out what makes them tick, and why they do what they do. The character studies are fascinating, especially the one in the third episode about Francis Mallman, an Argentinian madman who does groundbreaking work cooking over open flames.
The story is only part of it, though. The whole series is beautifully shot and edited, and really kind of awe-inspiring. It’s like the Food Network if the Food Network allocated all its hair gel budget to go towards cinematography. There are lots of little montages of the chefs preparing their dishes, and they’re all incredible, and they’ll all probably make you gnaw your arm off if you don’t have something nearby to eat. I mean that in a good way.
Terriers/Firefly/Freaks and Geeks
Chances are, based on nothing but the ratings that got them all canceled after one season, that you still haven’t seen one or more of the Gone Too Soon Trifecta, Terriers, Firefly, and Freaks and Geeks. Well, here’s your chance to remedy that. Just think, with one mid-length holiday binge-watch, you can add another show to the list of things you can be insufferable and correct about. “Actually, as good as The Americans is, Terriers could have ended up being even better if FX had promoted it properly and shown it more support.” That could be you! Just like you’ve always dreamed! (Actual dreams may vary.)
Snobbery and rubbing your refined tastes in your oafish friends’ faces aside, the point here is that these are good shows that have passionate followings, so it might be worth a few hours of your life to peek in and see what the hubbub is about.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/Bojack Horseman
You have lots of options when it comes to Netflix original dramas. Jessica Jones just hit the site, and shows like Sense8, Daredevil, and Bloodline are all only one season in, too. If you’re looking for something dark (the three that aren’t Sense8) and/or profoundly weird (Sense8), please, be my guest.
But if you’re looking for something a little lighter and more fun, definitely consider doubling back to get caught up on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bojack Horseman. The former is a bright, breezy, wickedly sharp comedy from Tina Fey and her 30 Rock partner Robert Carlock, and the latter is a biting satire of Hollywood (er, Hollywoo) that deals with depression better than most dramas and features Alison Brie as the voice of a character named “Vincent Adultman” who works at “the business factory” and is three children piled up inside a trench coat.
You really can’t go wrong here.
But let’s say you’re not in the mood for something high-minded. Let’s say you looked into all these shows and said, “Yeah, but I’ll be in a turkey coma all weekend and I just want some dumb CBS procedural to zone out in front of.” Let’s say you want to see Bob Benson from Mad Men steal a zebra.
Well, if that sounds like you, I have good news: The first season of Zoo, CBS’s summer series about animals revolting against mankind and trying to take over the world, is also on Netflix. Here are some things that happen in the first season of Zoo.
- A Jack Russell Terrier uses an adorable plush toy to lure a man into a Slovenian dog ambush.
- A pack of wolves bust a Mississippi death row inmate out of jail.
- A swarm of murderous kamikaze bats kill two Britpop-loving lesbian scientists in Antarctica.
And so, so much more. It really is just a bonkers mess of coordinated animal attacks. Sometimes the humans win, though. See the woman in the GIF up there, delivering 2015’s single greatest line of dialogue? She also roasts thousands of bloodthirsty rats with a flamethrower at one point. Zoo is a good show.