Mandatory Must-Watch: 11 Best TV Binges of the Decade
Unlike most of our friends over the past 10 years, TV never flaked on us. In fact, it only got better with age, bringing us more entertainment than we could ever watch in a lifetime. (Thank you, TV.) And though we’ve enjoyed the endless scrolling that streaming services offer, today we pay tribute to the programs that made scrolling obsolete; the programs that demanded our attention so undividedly that we forgot to shower, sleep, and call our parents on their birthdays; the shows that gripped us every step of the way until the final fade-out, when we could finally put down the remote and go back to our lives for a little while until the next great binge. In honor of these incredibly captivating and consistently great productions, we give you the 11 absolutely must-watch TV binges of the decade.
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One of the greatest shows of all time didn't really gain audience momentum until it began streaming on Netflix during the show's fourth season. Ratings skyrocketed as new fans finally "discovered" and subsequently binge-watched every second they could. And binge they did, making Breaking Bad the first show to explode in popularity thanks to what quack historians call "the Netflix boost."
'Game of Thrones'
Latecomers to the fantastical show about ancient kingdoms and warring families had to cancel their entire lives in order to make room for the epic world of Game of Thrones. Millions of people nearly lost their jobs for not showing up at work Monday morning, until they told their boss they had been at home watching GoT, and all was forgiven.
'Making a Murderer'
The world had been teetering on the brink of murder obsession for years, but it wasn’t until the release of Making a Murderer that we all fell head first over the edge. The twisted tale of convicted murderer Steven Avery and his alleged innocence sucked viewers into the true crime cesspool by the boatload. Now we live in a world filled with it as far as the eye can see.
'The Marvelous Ms. Maisel'
Comedy is the preferred drug of choice for many die-hard binge-watchers. And The Marvelous Ms. Maisel brought an extended play novelty to the format, winning fans instantly with its charisma, period-piece perfection, and wit. No one believed a show could keep up the charm for that long, but season two proved us all wrong, keeping us plugged in for the feel-good standout of the Trump era.
USA has really come a long way since its days as a favorite in senior home rec rooms. And the responsibility for its transformation lies squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Robot. Part Fight Club, part Trainspotting, the show is wholly modern, striding further into digital frameworks and coder speak than any piece of entertainment to date. A refreshing ensemble cast led by the mighty Rami Malek (with thorough comeback support from early-'90s heartthrob Christian Slater) the show about hack culture and greed perfectly balances psychological suspense with global collapse like some deranged ballerina.
'Orange Is the New Black'
Who knew a show about a woman's prison would be so funny, heartfelt, and sporadically poignant? The full-season drop strategy and early success of the show helped it become the most heavily-binged Netflix original in the history of the company (that is, until Stranger Things came along). And despite its sonically tragic theme song, the half-hour dramedy has pushed on for seven critically acclaimed seasons.
With slow-motion cut-scenes set to heavy guitars, the show can sometimes feel like a parody of a Guy Ritchie film. But the shortcomings of the tale about a family of Irish gangsters taking over Birmingham, England, just after WWI, end there. A lively cast revolves around the luminescent Cillian Murphy, the leader of the Shelby family and mastermind behind the deftly plotted procession of each season. And as if the beautiful camerawork and iconic design of the series weren't enough, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand" is one of the most brilliantly rendered and tonally perfect musical motifs of any show ever.
Stranger Things is unlike anything streaming TV has ever seen. The way it connects across demographics to glue entire households to the screen is something to behold. In a time of growing cultural divides, bingeing the synth-laden show about a bunch of kids living in '80s suburbia as they battle the stupidity of adulthood and the monsters beyond is about the only thing we can all agree on.
Though there were some awards won over the course of its six gripping seasons, The Americans remains somewhat of a sleeper. But for those who stumble upon the deftly-acted tale of Russian spies living unsuspectingly among Americans, sleep will be sacrificed. The show (that at times feels like a college film project) transcends its own limitations by cleverly examining the parallel between international conflict and the turmoil of married life. Psychology, motives for betrayal, the bounds of loyalty, and global fear-mongering, are expertly explored throughout. And that's what keeps us coming back for more.
By sheer volume, The Office is hands down the most-streamed TV show on the planet. With over 52 billion minutes binged every year, the exploits of Dunder Mifflin’s flagship office (led by the world’s best boss Michael Scott) has continued to absorb viewers like a giant, lovable sponge. Or better yet, like a friend, a good therapy session, or a great bowl of spaghetti, The Office just makes life better.
Hard to imagine that a show from 1999 could make the most binge-watched shows of the last decade. However, thanks to the power of streaming and the peerless construction of the series, The Sopranos continues to astound new and old fans alike year after year. While the rest of the world constantly changes, The Sopranos remains a benchmark of quality television, the blueprint for the ultimate drama, and a North Star for lovers of television everywhere.