The Ultimate Netflix Binge-watching Guide aka nights I lost sleep

The Ultimate Netflix Binge-watching Guide aka nights I lost sleep

Hi friends! If you’re like me, you’re probably spending a lot more time on Netflix than usual… and spend half of the time deciding on what to watch. So for everybody’s sake, I’ve done some “market research” (cough aka binge watch a couple of shows and then some). I’ve compiled some of my old favorites with some new picks and grouped them under certain moods to make it easier for you to decide on what to try out next! Enjoy and Happy Netflixing 🙂 

Quickies

  • Huge in France — Want something meta? How about a show about a comedian, written by that comedian, with the comedian playing as himself? Gad is a huge comedian in France (hence the title) but decides to leave his cushy celeb status life behind to move to LA in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged son who wants to become a model and must co-parent with his ex, who is an up and coming blogger/influencer/motivational guru (yes very LA). I’ll just say this — I kept laughing non-stop throughout this show. All of the characters are basically caricatures of the kind of people you’ll find in LA but it’s also hilarious to see Gad, in all his Frenchness, attempt to adapt to the American life.
  • It’s Bruno! — Raise your hand if you’re a dog lover! This story — I kid you not — follows the daily antics of a man who loves (and I mean LOVES) his dog Bruno. This is not a documentary or even a mockumentary. Surprisingly there IS a storyline (albeit a loose one). Watch this if you need some cheering up, this has both the “aww” factor and the giggle factor rolled in one.
  • Aggretsuko — You don’t think you’d ever related to a death metal-loving red panda….but here we are. Retsuko is an office worker who goes through the same day to day motions and struggles of working in an office (just like some of us might feel!) — except she takes out all her frustrations by going ALL out in karaoke. As someone who still identifies as a new grad (hey I’m still under the 2 year mark), you can’t help but want to cheer Retsuko on as she gradually steps outside of her comfort zone and as you see her character develop to be a stronger woman… er red panda. 

Laughs for the long run

  • The Good Place — What happens when you accidentally die and end up in heaven — I mean ahem — the Good Place? I love the world this show built and all of the main characters, each endearing and charming in their own way with some of the best character development I’ve seen. Come for the bizarre premise, stay for the actors and their playful banters, and grow to love good ol’ Janet.
  • Schitt’s Creek — When a wealthy AF family find themselves scammed out of their fortune and in debt, they are forced to move to a small town they bought as a joke named Schitt’s Creek (named so for obvious reasons). At first it took me a while to get used to how out of touch and almost exaggerated these characters were, but it makes sense for who they are given that they probably were used to twenty dollar bills as toilet paper and now need to use one-ply. Once I got over some of these overdramatic mannerisms and accepted that as for who they were, I grew to love their little quirks and watching how they adjusted to living like the rest of us.
  • New Girl — One of my favorite shows of all time. This has a similar premise to “Friends”, in that a quirky new girl (hence the name) moves into a flat with three other guys, who are equally as weird. Hilarity ensues and of course, lots of feel good vibes as you see their friendship grow over time. The best news for terminal binge-watchers? All 7 wonderful seasons are available on Netflix… plus how can you say no to Zooey Deschanel’s gorgeous eyes? 

For the real couch potatoes who love a good lengthy series and ~ d r a m a ~

  • The Crown — If you’re at all interested in the royal family, this is the show for you. This series is a depiction of Queen Elizabeth II, who suddenly ascended the throne at just 25, and struggles to balance what it means to *be* “The Crown”. She learns to deal with the legacy and the political drama that comes with it, while juggling the expectations of being a wife with her alpha male husband and as a mother with parenting responsibilities. Aside from the inside look and interpretation of the complex and often messy relationships for the royals behind doors, it was really fascinating to see this depiction of all the expectations that the Queen had to juggle, You see her struggle between being her true self versus needing to represent an ideal bigger than herself, and needing to evolve the monarchy to the modern age to ensure its survival. Great cinematography and great acting, plus you learn about a lot of historical events from it too! 
  • Jane the Virgin — How’s this for a tagline?: that face when you get artificially inseminated by your gyno and you are suddenly carrying the child of the heir to a business empire. And oh, he’s your boss?? Yeah, sounds like a k-drama except they’re usually not as saucy. Jane the Virgin is a charming series and the main character (Jane, duh), is a headstrong and independent gal who you find yourself rooting for as she deals with all of the major life milestones…. except for the bizarre things that seem to keep happening to her. Did I mention the kidnappings, murders, and secret birth stories?? And that’s only the half of it. What makes this show so unique though, is its telenovela-inspired style with the dramatic storytelling, complete with a lovable and hilarious narrator that makes you feel like you’re watching the series with a friend. 
  • Mad Men — Set in the 1960’s, this show follows the life of Don who is your stereotypical, suave, “has it all” kind of guy — in business, in the advertising industry, and in family. I remember when I first watched this in college and I just could not get into it because I was thrown off by how “bad” and immoral everybody was after the first episode. I started picking this up again last year and I got sucked in real fast. That’s when I realized that was the appeal of Mad Men — nobody is truly a good person. Once I accepted that, everything started to make more sense. Even the choice to set this in the advertising world and in the 60’s all connected. That was the place and the time when the middle class in America really started expanding, and these social dynamics started coming into play, spurring the growth of consumerism, and ultimately advertising. More working class people could afford to purchase the radio and television, both of which became key players in any advertising strategy when the idea of the nuclear family emerged and people started getting fed all these messages about what they should be buying to meet these societal expectations. It’s interesting to see all this come into play in the backdrop of our characters in Mad Men and there are a couple of times when you question yourself, that maybe we’re ALL just Mad Men in a very mad world. Thank you for attending my Ted Talk.

Fantastical & Out of this world

  • Outlander – This series has it all: time travel, forbidden love, action scenes, high stakes, and a strong, badass female lead. Absolutely one of my favorite shows of all time hands down. The kind of journey and world this sucked me into reminds me of my middle school days when I would get sucked into a GOOD fiction book and get lost in it for days. I feel like the official summary the show wrote up for itself doesn’t sound all too exciting unfortunately, but essentially, Claire, a married woman in the 1940’s gets transported back in time to the 1740s. In order to survive in a world where women have limited rights (even more limited than the 1900s, imagine that) and during a time when science is null and you can make accusations of witchery based on hearsay. I don’t want to spoil anything else. Overall, this was well produced and captivating once you give it a shot. Highly highly recommend. 
  • Umbrella Academy – Think dark, moody, young adult superhero siblings (by nature of adoption), who are forced to come to terms with the past. This was a very fun show to immerse myself in. The dynamic of the characters with each other was fascinating to see play out on screen. Plus it’s always fun watching each magical power battle it out.

For da thrillz

  • Dead To Me — Jenn is stricken with grief from the death of her husband and meets free-spirited Judy at a support group. Although they’re polar opposites, they become unlikely friends, until a secret threatens their newfound friendship. This was my first encounter with the dark comedy genre, and boy am I glad I gave it a try. This one also tops the “must watch” list. Not only was the plot riveting, the show does a good job exploring some traditionally heavy themes like grief, loss and forgiveness, all the while not taking itself too seriously. And lucky for you bastards who didn’t have to wait like I did, the second season is out!! Go go go!
  • You — This is a psychological thriller that follows the toxic infatuation a bookstore manager has with an aspiring writer and does anything (and I mean anything…) to be with her. I usually don’t like psychological thrillers like this, but what was really interesting about this is that it’s shot from the perspective of the main guy — like you literally hear all of the thoughts he has about her and what he’s plotting to grab the attention of this girl. From a cinematic perspective, it’s pretty fascinating to get the inside look into this stranger’s thought process and to actually see it play out. The effect? As the viewer, even though you clearly know that he has something very wrong up in his head, you want to see past all those huge red flags and you want to believe that he will change for the better. +1 to Penn Badgley who pulls off his awkward and complex character with a charming finesse.
  • Kingdom — Set during the Joseon era in Korea, a prince tries to save his kingdom from a mysterious plague that basically turns everybody into zombies. Can I just start off by saying that despite how heavy this sounds on paper, everything from the plot to the character development to the acting to the cinematography was amazing?? Each episode felt like a movie and will have you sitting at the edge of your seat, shrieking at the screen. Watch with a buddy. Or don’t if you prefer to scream without judgement.

Suckers for trashy (but oh so good) reality shows

  • Selling Sunset — If you want the epitome of the classic reality show (with a good dose of trashy), then this is the series to watch. This show follows the lives of the cutthroat agents who work at a real estate firm who exclusively sell LA’s multi-million dollar properties to their equally affluent clients. And of course, what’s a reality show without some drama between the team competing for their share of the cut and a new girl joining the mix? Lucky for binge-watchers (and future me), the second season is set to release this month! So if you get hooked, there’s more to come 😉 
  • Styling Hollywood — I think this might be one of my favorite reality shows because it’s actually pretty dang wholesome!! Styling Hollywood follows the lives of partners Jason and Adair — not only in marriage but also professionally with their joint studio. They put together red carpet looks for their celebrity clients and also makeover homes. It’s always super fun watching their planning process behind designing a look (whether with an outfit or with a home) according to their clients’ personalities and needs, but the series stretches beyond their professional work and delves into the very real elements of any married life, like whether they’re ready to start a family and how they bounce back from arguments. 
  • Extreme Engagement — What happens when you get engaged with a videographer who loves to travel around the world? You spend the engagement exploring different marriage customs from native cultures all around the world. Duh. Jokes aside, huge props to the gal for going wildly out of her comfort zone to try out all these customs for her fiance, even if it threatens their to-be marriage. I love how this series is a combination of a travel show, romance reality show and people-watching all in one. It was fascinating learning about all the different marriage customs out there and even more fascinating to see how the couple, PJ and Tim, interact with each other and deal with arguments amidst these extreme situations. 

For the foodies

  • The Final Table — This is possibly the most artsy cooking show I’ve ever seen. Pairs of the best chefs from around the world (I’m talking Michelin-rated here) compete against each other to join “the final table” — composed of the top rated chefs who judge them each round. Each round is themed around a country’s cuisine. The goal is to recreate a staple dish that captures the essence of the traditional dish while injecting their own spin and zest to it. I loved the diversity of the chefs and hearing about all of their back stories and specialties. It was very interesting to see each team’s take on the given country’s cuisine. Everybody was so creative and all the dishes looked so pretty. Huge hats off to the crew who filmed this because everything was filmed in what felt like super HD quality and great cinematography. Warning: do not watch this with an empty stomach though. You WILL regret.
  • Nailed It — A complete opposite vibe from “The Final Table”. Forget about competing with the best. You’re competing with the worst of the worst here. In this food show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, three contestants are tasked to bake their best attempt for the given theme across two rounds. The competition here is all pretty friendly so this is a fun cooking show to put on when you want to watch something light. And not going to lie, you feel pretty good about your own baking skills after watching some of the disastrous results on here.

A few closing thoughts

Hope that was a helpful guide for you binge-watchers! I also wanted to share some thoughts around the current state of the world, given the reason why I thought to make this Netflix guide. Currently, people all around the world are sheltering-in-place. Many people, myself included, are using this spare time at home to relax, catch up on shows, and to pursue new hobbies. I recognize that this is a privilege that isn’t experienced by everybody, but I hope that this guide is helpful for those moments when you want to just take a pause from work, from the day to day worries and struggles, or to take your mind off of what’s going on right now. 

All in all, I hope everybody stays safe and healthy during these uncertain times and I hope you find some joy from this guide. I only focused on show series in this guide, but maybe I’ll make a separate guide on movies or will share some favorites from other streaming platforms later. Let us know what your favorite shows are or if you have any recommendations in the comments below!

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