Summer break is around the corner, and while some students will take this time to hit the gym, buy a new bathing suit and plan a vacation, others know that the best way to prepare for summer is to get a Netflix subscription. After all, summertime was made for marathon TV viewing.
Marathon, or binge, TV viewing is a phenomenon that has changed the way TV is watched and made. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have given people access to hundreds of hours of television programming for the low cost of $7.99 a month. While college students have been known to use marathon viewing as a procrastination tool all year long, there’s nothing quite like reveling in hours upon hours of serialized TV without the guilt of upcoming deadlines and missed homework.
Although the options for TV viewing are seemingly endless, summer is not. To help you allocate your precious summer viewing hours, here’s a list of five TV shows you should catch up with over summer break.
“Arrested Development” (Three seasons available on Netflix)
With 15 new episodes being released on Netflix on May 26, now is the perfect time to get caught up with the hysterically dysfunctional Bluth family on “Arrested Development.” The show follows eldest son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) as he tries to keep his wacky family in line after his father is arrested for accounting fraud. A riches-to-rags story, “Arrested Development” is as topical today as it was when it first aired on FOX in 2003. The show’s impressive running jokes and layered plots reward close viewing, and make it an ideal show for marathon watching. Catch up in time to see the fantastic cast (from Michael Cera to Jeffrey Tambor) reunite and join an impressive number of high-profile guest stars in its comeback season.
Alternative options (innovative comedy): Parks & Recreation, Community, 30 Rock
“Veronica Mars” (Three seasons available on theWB.com)
If the incredible success of the “Veronica Mars” Kickstarter campaign has proven anything, it’s that Veronica Mars is still everyone’s favorite teenage private investigator. With a feature film scheduled for release in early 2014, it’s time for more people to discover the absolute delight that is the first three seasons of “Veronica Mars.” Part neo-noir mystery, part teenage drama, “Veronica Mars” follows the ever-resourceful Veronica as she navigates high school (and later college), moonlights as a P.I., and solves some of her town’s most difficult and dangerous crimes.
Alternative options (girl power): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias
“Breaking Bad” (Four seasons available on Netflix, ½ season completed)
Catch up with one of TV’s most critically-acclaimed dramas before the last eight episodes of its fifth and final season air on AMC this summer. “Breaking Bad” follows Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) transformation from mild-mannered chemistry teacher to vicious meth dealer after a terminal cancer diagnosis. White’s journey from hero to villain is subtle, tense and utterly perfect for marathon viewing.
Alternative options (critically-acclaimed drama): Mad Men, Dexter
“Friday Night Lights” (Five seasons available on Netflix)
“Friday Night Lights” is about a team, a coach, a marriage, and – perhaps most importantly – a town. The show follows Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) as he takes over the head coaching position of the Dillon Panther High School Football Team. In Dillon, Texas, football is king, and “Friday Night Lights” deftly explores both small town life and big-time glory. The show’s unique filming style produced some of the most realistic performances of any show in recent memory, and its tone manages to be both hopeful and heartbreaking. Creator Peter Berg has spoken to the press about a potential follow-up film, so now’s as good a time as any to start watching.
Alternative option (family drama): Parenthood
“Scandal” (Two seasons available on Hulu)
“Scandal” follows professional fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) – a woman who can solve any problem, except the problems in her own personal life. She and the associates at her crisis management firm (fellow “gladiators in suits”) navigate Washington, D.C. with a curious mix of self-righteousness and bravado. The show easily mixes soap opera antics with political intrigue and is as addictive as it is daring. Get caught up now.
Alternative option (political thriller): House of Cards
Happy summer – and happy viewing!