The Fourth of July has come and gone, taking the first half of summer with it. An important decision accompanies the tail-end of summer: Picking a show to binge-watch before school starts again. Not all binge-worthy shows are possible to get through in a month and a half, and you don’t want to be forced to abandon your new favorite mid-season. The insanity of the school year reduces watching Netflix to a rare, weekend treat, and you could be left hanging for a while. The suggestions I’ve included below are short enough (and addicting enough) that finishing them before you have to buy textbooks is doable.
1. Sense8 (2 seasons, 50-minute episodes)
A groundbreaking Netflix original drama about eight people who can share thoughts and experiences from their locations all around the world, Sense8 is a thrilling and smart TV show. In addition to its intriguing story, Sense8 has also been lauded for its diverse cast and thoughtful attitudes towards LGBTQ+ relationships, poverty and race. Don’t let the longer episode length fool you: Clocking in at only about a dozen episodes per season, Sense8 is easily watchable before the end of August.
2. New Girl (6 seasons, 5 currently on Netflix, 21-minute episodes)
New Girl is the TV equivalent of a fresh bag of potato chips: It’s literally impossible to watch just one episode at a time. Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, a woman who moves in with three men she meets online after breaking up with her long-time boyfriend. Naturally, hilarity ensues. While there are a lot of seasons to get through, 21-minute episodes make New Girl a great candidate for end-of-summer binge watching. It also doesn’t hurt that the show is genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, writer-creator Elizabeth Meriwether deserves a medal.
3. American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson (10 episodes, 50 minutes each)
If you followed television award season at all last year, chances are The People V. OJ Simpson is a familiar title to you. The award-winning first installment of the American Crime Story miniseries boasts an all-star cast including Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta and Sarah Paulson. The story of OJ’s “trial of the century” is told brilliantly by the cast and crew. With only 10 hour-long episodes, this is one miniseries you can easily get through within a week or two if you’re determined (and have enough free time).
4. Arrested Development (4 seasons, 21-minute episodes)
Another addicting comedy, Arrested Development is one of the most detail-oriented shows I’ve ever seen. The jokes in this show work so well because everything builds from one season to the next. Subtle lines or plot points can remind viewers of past gags that are startlingly funny when they pop up again two seasons later. Boasting a very talented cast, Arrested Development follows the completely outrageous Bluth family’s downfall after their family business is exposed for fraud and “light treason.” Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale and young Michael Cera? It’s nearly impossible to imagine a better group to play the Bluths.
5. Stranger Things (8 episodes, 50 minutes each)
If you haven’t seen the first season of Stranger Things yet, odds are you either hate sci-fi or live under a rock. However, the end of summer is the perfect opportunity to get caught up before season two’s premiere in October. The show, set in a small Indiana town in the 1980s, revolves around the disappearance of 13-year-old Will Byers. His friends, mother and town police chief begin to realize that something sinister and supernatural has taken Will and enlist the help of a mysterious girl named Eleven to help get him back. Stranger Things meshes horror, suspense, drama and comedy into a fantastic eight-episode viewing experience.
6. Sherlock (12 episodes, 1.5 hours each)
Sherlock is one of the smartest television shows on Netflix. The BBC’s modern reimagining of Sherlock Holmes stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. Beautifully acted and brilliantly written, Sherlock is the kind of show that will drive you to discuss each episode with a friend after watching it. Luckily, due to its immense popularity, odds are at least one of your friends has seen the show as well. The end of the summer is the perfect time to savor each episode of Sherlock while also having ample time to finish the series.
7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (3 seasons, 30-minute episodes)
Tina Fey’s Netflix original series stars The Office’s Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, a girl who is freed into New York City after being held in a bunker for 15 years by an insane reverend. A fast-paced comedy with a hilarious cast of characters (*ahem, Titus Andromedan*), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will never bore you. Even with its newly-released third season, this show is easy to watch your way through in a couple of weeks.
8. Scandal (6 seasons, 42-minute episodes)
Scandal is on this list as a sort of bonus suggestion for only the most seasoned binge-watchers. Weighing in at six seasons with 20-some episodes each, getting through Scandal before September might admittedly be difficult. However, the sixth season of the riveting political drama just arrived on Netflix, which allows viewers to get entirely caught up before the show’s final season airs this fall. Scandal possesses all of the twisty plot lines and dramatic character moments that we’ve come to expect from Shonda Rhimes’ writing, without the time commitment required for Greys Anatomy. That is one show that will never be on a “shows to binge quickly” guide.
I’m fully aware that this article includes an incredibly small percentage of the many shows that are possible to watch before classes start up again in August. It’s also entirely possible my TV preferences aren’t your cup of tea. However, if you are looking for something to watch this August and an option above caught your eye, try it and see if you agree with my opinions on the show. Happy watching!