When people ask me if they should watch The Leftovers, I usually give a qualified “yes.” It’s an amazing show, I’ll say. Well-made, thought-provoking, and occasionally — very occasionally — deeply hilarious in very surprising ways. And the performances are something else. Carrie Coon, man. That lady does some kinda business on that show. It’s almost not even a matter of interpretation. It’s almost just objectively good. So yes, watch The Leftovers, if you have the time and interest.
But then, after I get that part out of the way, I’ll say something like this: “The Leftovers is my favorite show that I kind of dread watching sometimes.” It can be heavy. Real heavy. If you are someone who gets stressed out easily by real-world events, The Leftovers is not a relaxing show you can flick on to get your mind off of things. You don’t wanna watch four Leftovers episodes after a hard day of work. You’ll want to take this show in pieces. I know because I skipped out during the first season and tried to rush to catch up earlier this year, right as some political things were happening that made my left-leaning brain go on the fritz. Bingeing this show did not help.
But, once I slowed down and watched the first few screeners of this new season at a more reasonable pace, I really enjoyed it again. Like, so much. I appreciated the deeper aspects of it, and the heavy stuff didn’t bring me way down. I think that was the key for me. So that’s my advice. Watch The Leftovers. Just do it slowly.
And this discussion about The Leftovers got us thinking… what other shows fall into this category of great shows you can only watch in small chunks? Let’s call them “unbingeable.” The Uproxx staff weighs in with their selections below.
A few days after Mad Men ended, Matt Weiner declared that if he ever sold a show to Netflix, he would insist that they release the episodes weekly. We’ll see if he can actually pull that off now that he’s developing an anthology drama for Amazon, but it’s hard not to blame him for that attitude. With Mad Men, Weiner became a master at crafting thoughtful, distinct, gorgeous episodes that stood apart from one another, even as they helped build an overall arc to each season. (It’s a trick he picked up during his time on The Sopranos, which is also a show I would not recommend bingeing.) You could watch a bunch of Mad Men episodes in a row, but why would you want to? Each hour of that show is meant to be savored, and argued about, for as long as possible before the next one starts. Race from one to the next to the next, and you might more quickly find out who Dick Whitman is (or who Bob Benson is), but you wouldn’t get to fully immerse yourself in all the symbolism and metaphor and period detail, and wouldn’t get to properly appreciate each broken look on Jon Hamm’s face, or each glimpse of barely-contained fury on Elisabeth Moss’s. Get off the riding mower and walk with Mad Men for a bit, okay? — Alan Sepinwall
Mystery Science Theater 3000
It’s not good when TV shows are considered “73-hour movies,” with one exception: Mystery Science Theater 3000. That’s because every episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a movie. Have you ever watched more than two movies in a row? It’s not fun. I did a Star Wars marathon last year, and after the Jabba’s palace sequence in Return of the Jedi, which is obviously the best part of the film, I was ready to [shudder] read a book.