We live in an echo chamber of great TV. Every awkward group silence is just waiting to be filled with a “Did you start watching Westworld?” You can’t go near your office’s coffee pot without some coworker blabbing at you about how they can’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones. It’s only nine months away!!!
We even watch shows that have gone to seed – what the hell happened to Black Mirror? — just because we don’t want to be left out of the conversation. Meanwhile, plenty of great TV slips by even the most couch-locked cord-cutters.
Well, Thanksgiving is not about the conversation. It’s about staying in your pajamas, dealing with your family and fattening yourself on a pile of carbs laden with gravy. That means it’s the best day of the year to binge-watch. And because you’ve got to watch with the entire family, someone’s bound to have seen all the big-name shows. This year, go the other direction and let your uncle fall asleep to a diamond in the rough: something forgotten, something underrated, something perfect.
Nathan for You
Because: Nathan Fielder is one of the most talented satirists in the world, and nobody knows it. In Nathan for You, he’s the fake hero of a fake docu-series that proposes to help people with their business problems through very specific, very absurd strategies. (Often, these have been so convincing and absurd that they’ve gone viral in real life.)
From the Earth to the Moon
Because: A 12-episode miniseries is more or less the perfect duration for binge watching over a holiday weekend. Plus, it seems pretty clear that Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Tom Hanks got really into America’s space program while they were filming Apollo 13, because three years later they came back and gave us what is probably the best retelling of the Apollo missions during the ’60s and ’70s.
A big budget, good acting and fastidious accuracy make From the Earth to the Moon the easiest way to get stoked for any future Mars exploration. Unfortunately, HBO has not made the doc available for streaming, so you’ll have to settle for buying the DVD. (If you want a similarly excellent doc available for streaming, try When We Left Earth: The Nasa Missions.)
Because: It’s directed by Louis C.K., but that’s not the reason you watch. Pamela Adlon, portraying an aging actress and single mother, pulls hilarity and meaning out of the mundane oddities of life with the same aplomb as Louie, but through a totally different lens.
Because: Season 3 is on the way, and the show will be no more afterwards. Without any Emmy nominations after two seasons and lacking the mainstream following it needs, HBO has decided to cap the show in its third year, which is a blessing and shame; with a killer premise (3% of the world disappears one day, what happens afterward?) and a group of writers who are unafraid of changing the game (season 2 took a dramatic turn from season 1, and it worked) the show will get to end on its own terms, but its cult-following fans will be sad to see it go.
Because: Breaking the fourth wall gets much better than Frank Underwood. In this BBC dark comedy, we follow “Fleabag,” a young woman who describes herself as “a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist.” The quagmires of her life are made all the more entertaining by her asides directly to us.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Because: Bruce Campbell is too good to miss, even 35 years after he first fucked with the dead back in ’81. Not much has changed from the original, besides age and a TV show format — the rest is black comedy, evil baddies, and lots of chainsaw work.
24, Season 5
Because: Fine, it’s not that forgotten or underrated. People pretty much have 24 pegged. But come on — this is the greatest binge-watching show ever created! My dad, who hates pretty much all TV that’s not on the Sportsman’s Channel, would literally pant every week before a new episode came on. It’s that good. Season five should be your go-to, if you have to pick one.