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The best shows to binge watch in 2022 from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
Binging is the new normal for watching TV. Fans can race through entire seasons of their favorite shows as fast as they like. The trend arguably started with DVD boxed sets of popular series but really kicked into high gear with the advent of streaming and seasons of Netflix‘s original series dropped all at once as opposed to the old weekly rollout. Some shows have really thrived in the binging age, so it makes sense to ask, which are the best binge shows you can watch?
Read on for our list of the best binging shows to watch all at once.
What makes a show binge-worthy?
We can’t offer a list of the best binge shows without breaking down what actually makes a show bing-worthy. You can binge any show after all, so what makes a show stand apart, specifically?
Some shows just work well on a weekly roll-out model. They’re more episodic, or they’re slow burns that reward taking your time and pondering one week’s events before the next week’s payoff.
Other shows hook you in, keeping you up late on a week night as you blow through episode after episode because you can’t stop watching. It’s not that they’re better. Rather, they just inspire compulsive viewing habits.
The 19 best binge shows
AMC’s Breaking Bad is a fascinating example of binging supremacy. While the show was a hit on the cable network from day one, its ratings exploded after fans got to catch up (by binging it) on Netflix, in a process Vox calls “The Netflix Effect.” The series about a high school science teacher who starts cooking meth and becomes a career criminal when he’s diagnosed with cancer is a hugely popular show. And it’s a great show. With smart writing, top-notch acting, a distinct visual style, and tons of suspense, the show is hard to stop watching, which is why it benefits from a good binge session.
One of the prototypical examples of prestige TV, HBO’s mobster mainstay has enjoyed a renaissance as members of Gen Z get hooked on it after 15 years off the air. That’s thanks in no small part to its availability on HBO Max. Unlike fans who watched as it aired week-to-week, new viewers get to binge the whole thing, and it’s very well suited to bulk viewing. The series follows a member of a New Jersey crime family climbing the ranks as he works with a therapist to figure out what’s missing in his life. The family drama crime show’s episodes flow smoothly into each other and are a pleasure to watch back to back.
Netflix’s flagship show sees a group of youngsters in a small Indiana town facing off against supernatural forces and a government conspiracy hidden right under their noses. The seasons of Stranger Things have come out all at once, giving fans a chance to speed through each one over a weekend. While seasons sometimes come out years apart, the standalone seasons are fun to watch without too many breaks. They’re not particularly episodic, instead telling one big story that’s hard to turn away from until the finales.
If you like rich world-building and complex characters, The Expanse is a perfect binge watch. Often billed as Game of Thrones in space, the series is set hundreds of years in the future, after Earth has colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt, with all three civilizations now at odds. The small crew of a non-partisan ship operates at the center of these conflicts, working to establish peace on various fronts as apocalyptic threats loom over them and the galaxy.
The Flight Attendant
One of HBO Max’s first original streaming series is also one of its best binge shows. While The Flight Attendant aired weekly, it really does pay off to go back and watch it faster than that. The Hitchcockian mystery about a flight attendant who wakes up after a night of blackout drinking next to the dead body of a man she slept with is full of twists and turns that reward a close viewing and sharp memory.
I May Destroy You
Some viewers will undoubtedly want to space out their experience of I May Destroy You. The dark comedy is certainly not light viewing. Created by Michaela Coel for BBC and HBO, the series follows a writer trying to get answers about the night she was raped. It’s a stunning, smart, and sensitive look at the social dynamics that follow sexual assault, and its loose structure lends itself well to binge watching.
The Office seems to be one of the premier binging shows. Fans were nearly in mourning when it left Netflix, but it’s now available on Peacock. The Office is a comfort show for many. It’s easy to rewatch. You can put it on before going to sleep and let it play through multiple episodes before conking out. The show follows the employees of a paper company, going through the boring day-to-day of an office job with an absurdly inept boss. It’s a cartoonishly hilarious portrait of something almost universally relatable.
Only Murders in the Building
An irresistible whodunnit, Only Murders in the Building is a mystery comedy starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. The three are neighbors, all addicted to the same true crime podcast. When a murder in their building makes their paths cross, the three hatch a plan to solve the crime and make a podcast about it. Nearly every episode ends with a major revelation, so it’s hard to stop once you get going.
Cancelled too soon, GLOW is one of the best Netflix original series, and it’s among the best binge shows too. The show looks at a group of women in the 1980s who build a women’s wrestling league from the ground up. It’s part sports drama and part workplace comedy, and it’s based on the real Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circuit. Episodes are structured well for sporadic viewing, but the characters are so richly drawn and compelling that you’ll likely want to immediately spend more time with them when the credits roll.
The Leftovers hasn’t achieved the kind of legacy of other HBO shows like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones, but it’s one of the premium cable network’s very best shows, and it has a pretty vocal following. The story of a world coming to terms with loss and grief when 2% of all people mysteriously vanish is beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s also extremely bingeable.
A slow-burn sci-fi workplace drama from Apple TV Plus, Severance creates a haunting mood, blending comedy and horror to tell a compelling story that’s rewarding for the binge viewer. A group of employees at a mysterious company have undergone an experimental procedure. Their memories have been split. When they get to work, their home lives disappear. When they clock out, their work leaves from their conscious minds. Things seem to be running smoothly until one employee starts asking question both at work and at home.
The Haunting of Hill House
Mike Flanagan has become a one-man horror brand, with films like Hush and Gerald’s Game, and a slew of horror miniseries including the excellent Midnight Mass and the upcoming The Midnight Club. While you’d be well served by any of these titles, perhaps his best outing yet is The Haunting of Hill House. The story is told across timelines as a family copes with years of trauma associated with their old home. The limited series keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it’s hard to stop once you start.
One of the most electrifying new shows of 2021, Yellowjackets follows a girls soccer team that crash lands in the wilderness on the way to a tournament. Jumping back and forth between the stranded girls in the 90s and the adult survivors in the present day, the show offers up an enticing mystery. What happened in the woods? Who survived? What happened to those who didn’t make it? Will the survivors be able to keep their secrets? You’ll probably race through season one and be eagerly waiting for season two of this bingeable horror hit.
Halt and Catch Fire
For fans of shows like Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire offers a similar spin on history, with a fictionalized look at the home computing boom of the 80s and 90s. Following a group of characters who work together (and sometimes at odds with each other) throughout the two decades, the show is a fascinating and engaging look at a defining period in American history, and it’s one of the best binge shows you’ll find.
Amazon’s take on Jack Reacher, based on the bestselling novels of Lee Child, is one of the best shows on Prime Video, and it’s a solid binge show. A former soldier enjoying an early retirement wanders across America. He’s held up in a small town when a body turns up dead and he’s the prime suspect. Now caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy, he has to work with the only two people he can trust to clear his name and stop the bad guys.
Much like Breaking Bad, Schitt’s Creek is a show that enjoyed a huge boost in ratings when it hit Netflix. And specifically American Netflix, as the CBC comedy series was initially only available in Canada. The feel-good series, from father/son team Eugene and Dan Levy, takes a few episodes to find its feet, but when it does, good luck pausing between episodes. The show follows a rich family brought down and forced to start fresh in the small town of Schitt’s Creek, where a fish-out-out-water farce soon becomes a touching tribute to family and belonging.
In this MCU series on Disney Plus, Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, has to face his past, specifically his crimes during the five-year blip between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. All the while, he works with a young archer in trouble who might be able to help him. Oh, and it all takes place during the holidays in New York. What’s not to love? The series is a great addition to the Marvel canon, and it’s one long story that benefits from a some obsessive binge viewing.
Succession is among the very best HBO shows of all time, and it’s certainly a top candidate for binge watching too. The black comedy drama about a rich family fighting over who will take over a media empire when their father retires or dies is a fascinating and irresistible skewering of American capitalism. It also lends itself to concentrated viewings, as episodes build up to terrific finales in a linear way that makes it hard to wait for more if you have a choice.
Game of Thrones
HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones was one of the last major examples of appointment viewing, with millions tuning in every Sunday night to watch and discuss on Monday mornings. As such, it may seem like an odd addition to this list. But Thrones weaves a complex web of interconnected storylines, with convoluted backstories, politics, and characters. As such, it benefits from a rewatch, or if you’re new to it, it’s a ton of fun to race through, as the wait from week to week was always at least a little hard to bear.
Those are 19 of our picks for the best binge shows you can stream right now.
What are your favorite shows to binge? Let us know in the comments or on social media.