This Christmas, we’d like to thank the streaming angels for delivering us binge-watching options during that most difficult of times in a TV fan’s life: Winter hiatus.
There’s not much playing on the regular channels besides old Christmas movies and some holiday-themed game shows that we could care less about, so let’s use this time to catch up on some truly great television that you don’t have to watch on your TV set. Netflix has so many movies and series to keep us busy, but here are a few standouts that should give you an excuse to miss that family get-together you’ve been dreading.
The Witcher (1 season, 8 episodes)
Even if you haven’t read the books or fiddled with the video games, you’ve probably heard about The Witcher. Or, at least, you’ve heard Henry Cavill’s in it and he’s sporting some tight leather pants. Both are true, but the show itself, which mixes medieval fantasy with a monster-of-the-week procedural vibe is nerdporn at its finest. Cavill is gruff and grunty as Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster hunter with a chip on his shoulder, and there are also power-hungry sorceresses, princesses with unimaginable destinies, a smooth-talking bard, and lots of fantastic fight sequences. What’s not to love?
Sex Education (1 season, 8 episodes)
Another quick binge, this Gen Z comedy about a teen who starts his own underground sex therapy ring at school is getting a second season in January, so now’s the time to catch up. It’s funny, relatable, very British, and does a surprisingly excellent job of handling nuanced conversations about sex. All kinds of sex. Plus, Gillian Anderson’s in it and she knows how to rock a jumpsuit.
You (1 season, 10 episodes)
Is Penn Badgley creepy AF in this stalker-romance about a bookstore nerd and the cool-girl poet he eventually falls for? Sure, but half the fun in watching this increasingly bizarre, uncomfortable thriller is in figuring out why people still have the hots for Joe (Badgley), a guy who masturbates outside strangers’ windows, breaks into apartments, kills ex-boyfriends, and steals first edition books. (That last crime might be the most unforgivable.) Season two lands on Thursday. Prepare yourself.
Schitt’s Creek (5 seasons, 66 episodes)
Yes, Schitt’s Creek really is that good and if you’re tired of critics, friends, random strangers on the street telling you to just watch it already, then … just watch it already. We recommend starting at the beginning but if you don’t have time for a five-season binge on your busy Monday night, just watch the first episode and then the Christmas special.
We realize that a select few readers desire more prestige binge-watching recommendations and we want you to know, we respect that. Which is why this three-hour gangster drama from Martin Scorsese is on here. It’s long, it’s violent, it’s philosophically dense, and it sports a heavy-hitting cast that includes Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Plus, it’s a sure bet to take home some Oscars next year.
We’re not sure why we need to sell this Michael Bay-directed, Ryan Reynolds-lead action flick to you, especially when the TV pickins are so slim, but fine, here’s the pitch: a 20-minute opening car chase sequence.
Look, stories about messy divorces aren’t typical holiday material but there’s something riveting about watching Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson scream at each other for two hours. They don’t just scream if you’re hoping for a bit of variety in your portrayals of toxic relationships. They also cry, punch walls, brood, and tie each others’ shoes.
The Knight Before Christmas
We’re not about to spurn the Netflix gods by not including at least one Vanessa Hudgens Christmas flick on this list. In this film, Vanessa Hudgens plays a science teacher who accidentally runs over a 16th-century knight with her Prius and must help him return to his own time. You know what you’re getting with this one.