It has been said recently, and on numerous occasions, that we are enjoying a new golden age of television. It's a point that's hard to argue with. Almost every network has had at least one show that knocked it out of the park.
Even online venues have gotten in on the act, with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu all producing their own exclusive, star-studded shows. This doesn't bode well for those weekend projects, but how important is it to mow the lawn anyway? If your favorite method of numbing yourself to terror of ever-encroaching death is to lose yourself in a 22-episode story arc, then there's never been a greater period in history for you. And it's never been easier to consume massive amounts of hypnotic, flickering narratives.
Just a paltry few years ago, you'd have to fork over some major cash to purchase or rent a DVD box set in order to gorge on your favorite shows. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can instantly (albeit temporarily) sate your lust for mindless, never-ending distractions from your day-to-day life. Loverboy once said everybody's working for the weekend, and this still holds true. You work hard to keep the electricity and internet turned on. So grab an HDMI cable, plug your laptop into your television and get ready to forget your own mortality. This is our list of the best TV shows for weekend binging.
Some people might consider this an odd choice, opting instead for the more popular 'Family Guy' or even the short-lived 'Cleveland Show.' Those people would be wrong. 'American Dad' is superior to all of Seth McFarlane's other TV endeavors for several reasons. We could go on at length about these reasons, but one stands out as the biggest: 'American Dad' has some of the best flights into the fantastic of any show around. We see this as we follow the golden, jewel-encrusted dookie that inspires treachery, murder and suicide everywhere it goes. This poo eventually fuels resident alien Roger Smith's spaceship long enough to get patriarch Stan Smith and the resurrected Jesus Christ across the war-torn land to face off against the Anti-Christ (voiced by comedic powerhouse Andy Samberg). The show also features some amazing vocal talent behind many of its recurring characters. Actors such as Patrick Stewart and Forest Whitaker are show regulars.
Even if you haven't watched the epic tale that is 'Breaking Bad,' you've surely been subject to the never-ending hype. We're here to tell you: Believe that hype. 'Malcolm in the Middle''s father goes from a hen-pecked, under-appreciated chemistry genius to a drug kingpin in five all-too-short seasons. Along the way, Walter enlists underachieving high-school dropout Jessie Pinkman to help. And there's a good chance you know or have known one or two Pinkmans in your life. Once you get started following Walter and Jessie's chemical-fueled exploits, you'll feel compelled to watch every moment all the way through to the bitter end.
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
There are two types of people in this country: those who love Joss Whedon and those who hate sound and sequential images strung together to form a narrative. While Whedon didn't invent the season-long TV story arc ('Doctor Who' writers had been doing an excellent job at it for years), he did perfect it, making it ideal for our list of the best TV shows for weekend binging. The first season of 'Buffy' starts out as an homage to low-budget horror flicks, and it's all gravy from then on. The show ran for seven glorious seasons, which will eat up a significant chunk of your weekend. And if that's not enough, the narrative continues via some Whedon-penned comic books.
'Community' is about as good as situational comedy gets. Unlike some other nerd-based comedies (cough-'Big Bang Theory'-cough), 'Community' takes the time to build its characters into more than tired tropes. The show is about a group of community college students who form a Spanish study group. Each character is different, and none of them would ever have been friends if not for their mutual desire to pass Spanish. It's like 'The Odd Couple' ... except we'd guess it'd be 'The Odd Sextet.' And one of them is legendary funnyman (and legendary behind-the-scenes jerk) Chevy Chase.
If you haven't seen 'Game of Thrones' yet, rejoice, O TV fan, for a glorious weekend of medieval-themed sex, violence, intrigue and monsters awaits you. There is the very real chance, though, that big moments from the show have been spoiled for you, though. But a show that can get the whole Internet twittering like a gaggle of half-mad geese is surely worth your time. Explaining the show would be an exercise in futility, but we'll try anyway. Basically, it's an alternate world where winters can last for years at a time, and dragons (used to) exist. Everyone wants to be king, and no one seems to be paying attention to the frozen zombie creatures coming out of the frozen North. Also, Peter Dinklage has lots of slurpy-sounding sex.
In the past, major networks seemed to shy away from stories that involved continuing arcs, perhaps fearing that drawing new viewers later in the show's run would be difficult if the new viewers didn't know what was going on. But NBC decided to take a chance on the continuing arc with 'Heroes,' and the results were pretty good. As random people discover they have super powers, their lives become tangled in an effort to save the world from blowing up. Sound like a comic book plot? That's no surprise, considering the studio brought in some comic book heavyweights to help with the story. The show gets a little wonky around the second and third season because of the writers' strike that occurred at that time. But it picked up and finished strong. And now's a good time to get caught up, since NBC just announced they're bringing the series back for a new run.
What can we say about 'Lost?' It's full of strange events. It's full of strange places. It's full of strange characters. You get the idea. It's a strange show. But it's mighty entertaining. Survivors of a plane crash find themselves trapped on a tropical island. At first, it seems like paradise. But a rampaging polar bear, a mysterious flesh-eating black cloud and a gang of killers on the other side of the island soon quash that notion. While the ending of the show might make you put a cinder block through your television, everything up until that point is intriguing and entertaining.
What's that you say? You've been waiting all your life for a show about a hot suburbanite mom who slings drugs? Well then, friend, you're in luck. Showtime's 'Weeds' will assist you with your endeavor to waste a weekend or two staring at your television. The show starts off simply, with the struggling and recently widowed matriarch Nancy Botwin (portrayed with aplomb by Mary Louise Parker) selling weed to city council members and closet-pothead lawyers in order to support her family. But the plot ramps up rather quickly, turning the story into a fantastic tale of epic proportions. Sure, the show gets pretty unbelievable along the way. But if we only watched TV shows we could believe, we'd quickly get bored and go do something productive. Who wants that?
Many people have claimed that 'The Wire' is the greatest TV show ever made. Those people are correct. To say that 'The Wire' is about drug dealers and cops is like saying 'Beowulf' (the epic poem, not the mediocre movie) is about an old dude with a sword. The show starts out portraying Baltimore detectives trying to convict a drug kingpin of a series of murders. But with each season, another piece of the city of Baltimore is added. Ultimately, the show gives valuable insight into the city as a whole, from the crusty junkies trying to get high, to the rich politicians jockeying for power. Of all the entries on this list of the best TV shows for weekend binging, 'The Wire' will be remembered the longest as an example of how good television can be.
You know a show has got to be good if it spawns two major motion pictures, one of which was released six years after the last episode aired. This show played a large part in defining the '90s. FBI agent Fox Mulder (played to stoic perfection by David Duchovny) seeks out unexplained cases in an effort to uncover a nefarious government conspiracy involving aliens, mind control and even the occasional vampire. Mulder's wild thoerizing is off-set by the skepticism of agent Dana Scully (played with similar stoic perfection by Gillian Anderson). While the show's motto is 'Trust no one,' trust us when we say 'The X-Files' will make you a believer.