If you weren’t aware, we’re in a #PeakTV bubble. 409 scripted shows aired across broadcast, cable, premium and streaming channels/platforms in 2015. More are expected in 2016. It’s hours, days, weeks, of television that no man or woman, no matter how dedicated, could possibly watch. Inevitably, shows falls through the cracks.
These are the shows you should watch to make it seem like you’re paying attention, even if you aren’t. These shows are not a heavy lift — no “Scandal,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Modern Family” or “The Good Wife” listed among the below. (That said, if any of the aforementioned have piqued your fancy, there’s no one stopping you from taking a month or so to catch up on the ~146 episodes of The Good Wife. Even with the show runners/creators Michelle and Robert King out next season, it’s shaping up to be a good one.)
We are not saying these are the best shows on television right now, though, it’s easy to argue a few on this list are, but they are merely the easiest/fastest shows to catch up on. The ones you can watch and then talk about at a party and sound like you’re keeping up with all the latest trends.
The times listed below are calculated by taking the number of episodes aired, average minutes per episode, and then calculated into hours. Commercials are not factored into the equation, nor is the buffering time, depending on your Internet connection. The amount of time it would take for you to catch up is, of course, estimated, depending on how much or how little television you watch in a day. You could exert some self-control and watch one episode a night, drawing a one-season show out to two to four weeks. You do you.
If you have a free weekend:
‘Mr. Robot,’ USA Network
Time requirements: 10 episodes, about 45 minutes each (roughly 7.5 hours)
Why you should watch: You’ve probably heard about this show, and all its weird, dark-web, hacker glory. Believe the hype, and watch “Mr. Robot.” It’ll take about two to three episodes to understand the flow of the show, but by the finale you’ll be gripping the edge of your seat. Christian Slater recently won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for his portrayal of — well, I won’t spoil it, and you can probably expect the team (dreamy Rami Malek and all) to make an appearance at the Emmy’s later this year.
Where you can watch: All episodes are available for free on USA Network’s website.
Show status: Eagerly anticipating Season 2, expected this summer.
‘Playing House,’ USA Network
Time requirements: 18 episodes, about 21 minutes each (roughly 6 hours)
Why you should watch: It’s a stinking adorable show. Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, real life best friends, created and star in this critically acclaim, seriously under-rated comedy about two women, Maggie and Emma, trying to co-habitate under one roof in their hometown. Plus, there’s Keegan Michael Key as Emma’s ex, Zach Woods as Maggie’s sister, and, new! in Season 2, the cutest baby ever. Catch up now so you can tune right in when “Playing House” Season 3 premieres sometime in the near future.
Where you can watch: Season 2 is available for free on USA Network’s website, Season 1 can be found on iTunes and Amazon Video for purchase
Show status: Renewed for Season 3, expect it later this year.
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ The CW
Time requirements: 8 episodes, 42 minutes each (5 hours, 36 minutes)
Why you should watch: Admittedly, this is a high-concept show. But don’t let the fact that it’s a musical deter you — there are two songs in each episode, and while they’re fantastically quirky in their own way, you can just fast-forward through them and not lose the integrity of the story. Rachel Bloom, co-creator and star, took home the Golden Globe for Best Leading Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series, making it The CW’s second year in a row after Gina Rodriquez won last year for “Jane the Virgin.” After you get past the hokey concept, no, she did not move to West Covina because Josh lives there, obviously, the show is a delightfully enjoyable antithesis to the dark and dreary dramas on television today.
Where you can watch: All eight episodes are available on The CW’s website, or on Hulu with a HuluPlus subscription.
Show status: Currently airing Season 1, the show returns from hiatus on January 25.
Time requirements: 36 episodes, 21 minutes each (12 hours, 36 minutes)
Why you should watch: “Black-ish” leans into the hot (some may say “difficult”) topics facing the average American family today. The show doesn’t wholly rely on Dre Johnson and his family’s race to craft storylines, but also plucks plots from universally familiar stories: divorced parents, a daughter’s first boyfriend and mid-life crises. Never mind the fact it’s the perfect “Modern Family” pairing, proving that when the writing is funny, the show is fantastic, regardless of genre.
Where you can watch: Season 2 is available on HuluPlus, Season 1 can be found on iTunes and Amazon Video for purchase.
Show status: Currently airing season 2
Time requirements: 23 episodes, 23 minutes (a little less than 9 hours)
Why you should watch: Because if you’re not, you are missing out. One of the startling funniest shows on the air today, “You’re the Worst” is quickly becoming a dark-horse in the comedy atmosphere. You’re not supposed to love the “terrible” Jimmy and Gretchen, but you do! And you’re not supposed to love them together as a couple, but you do! Season 2 unapologetically took its characters where so few television shows realistically take them. Watch it. Embrace it. Eat some breakfast nachos.
Where you can watch: Season 2 is available on FX Now, Season 1 is on HuluPlus.
Show status: Renewed for Season 3 (duh), expect it sometime late 2016
‘Master of None,’ Netflix
Time requirements: 10 episodes, 28 minutes each (a little over four and a half hours)
Why you should watch: Aziz Ansari has been great as a stand-up comedian, author, and co-star of “Parks and Recreation,” and now he’s co-creator and star of one of the newest Netflix comedies, “Master of None.” You’ve probably heard how he cast his real-life parents to portray themselves on screen, and how “Master of None” accurately depicts New York City better than other shows out there today, but what really seals the deal, ensuring this show is #PeakTV quality, is its artistically unique tone of voice. Seriously, it’s a gem.
Where you can watch: Season 1 is on Netflix.
Show status: Season 2 will be coming… eventually.
Now, what to watch on Netflix…
If you have some time on your hands:
‘The Blacklist,’ NBC
Time requirements: 32 episodes, 42 minutes (22 and a half hours)
Why you should watch: Of all of the broadcast dramas on the air today, this is one you must be watching. James Spader is next-level good as Raymond Reddington, one of the FBI’s most-wanted, and Megan Boone, Ryan Eggold and the rest of the cast play off his center-of-the-universe mentality wonderfully. The plots move at a fast clip, and we cannot believe how they got from the pilot to where they currently stand now. Without giving away much spoilers, let’s just say, job titles can change in an instant.
Where you can watch: Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix; Season 3, episodes 6-10 are available on NBC’s website; Season 3, episodes 1-5 are available on iTunes and Amazon for purchase.
Show status: Currently airing Season 3
Time requirements: 24 episodes, 43 minutes each (17 hours)
Why you should watch: If you don’t have time to watch “Scandal.” This show is still relatively new and fresh. The characters still have layers and depth to explore.
Where you can watch: Season 1 is on Netflix,
Show status: Currently on hiatus until Season 2B premieres on March 11
‘Jessica Jones,’ Netflix
Time requirements: 13 episodes, 52 minutes each (a little over 11 hours)
Why you should watch: Okay, the only reason you shouldn’t watch is if you have a strong aversion to violence. Because there is ample bloody fight scenes throughout the show, that, while Jessica Jones is gripping, might leave your head a little woozy. But, other than that, go for it. This show is great. Also, no matter which way you cut it, Kilgrave is a bad guy.
Where you can watch: Season 1 is on Netflix
Show status: Recently renewed for Season 2.
‘The Flash,’ The CW
Time requirements: 31 episodes, 41 minutes each (a little over 21 hours)
Why you should watch: While “The Flash” is so often compared to its big brother, “Arrow,” it behooves us to remember that it contains its own mythology and world. Yes, the two live in the same universe and acknowledge each other’s existence beyond the annual cross-over event, but “The Flash” was able to immediately capture something “Arrow” took a while to grasp: humor and heart. Affable Barry Allen and his team at Star Labs take down meta-humans one episode at a time, and all-in-all seem to have a more jovial time doing it than their Sterling City counterparts. (That, and Arrow was eliminated from this list due to aforementioned limitations — it would take you nearly 55 hours to catch up. It’d be worth it, though!)
Where you can watch: Season 1 is on Netflix, a handful of Season 2 episodes are on Hulu and the CW website, all episodes available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon video.
Show status: Currently airing Season 2, expect a Season 3 on the Fall 2016 schedule.
Time requirements: 56 episodes, about 21 episodes each (19 and a half hours)
Why you should watch: It’s a solid comedy. That’s it! There’s nothing much else to it. In the vein of “The Office” and “Parks & Recreation,” its a work-place comedy that puts the “work” at the bottom of the priority list. There’s romance, slapstick comedy, pranks, a teensy bit of drama, and some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. This show is best binged, but can also be a delight a few episodes at a time.
Where you can watch: All episodes are available on HuluPlus, the most recent 11 are available on FoxNow.
Show status: Currently airing Season 3, expect a Season 4 on Fall 2016 (or Winter 2017) schedule.
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