This year’s holiday season is going to be a lot more chill than previous years. Instead of hustlin’ from your aunt’s house to your grandma’s then back over to your mom’s – you’re most likely going to be hustlin’ from the bed to the couch them over to the bathroom before hitting the couch once again.
Typically, you’d mix in a few Christmas concerts, shared lunch parties, work celebrations and Christmas cookie swaps. This year, you’ll have your own Christmas concert in the shower on Day 3 and shared lunch will turn into throwing all the leftovers onto a massive platter and chowing down for your own celebrations with all the Christmas cookies.
Since you’ll have all this free time on your hands I’ve come up with my Top 5 – TV Shows to Binge this Holiday Season.
You should probably not even watch TV if you haven’t seen Sopranos at least twice in your life. This series started it all. It may not have been HBO’s first 60 minute drama, that was OZ, but this defined it all. It transformed television and gave viewers an hour of intense character building, strong & long story arches and allowed you to enter a world only glorified in movies – the Mob. Gritty, stellar performances that defined their careers from James Gandolfini, Eddie Falco and the entire ensemble.
Gandolfini gave an incredible performance that may very well be the best character performance in any drama. Ever. Past, present, future.
I’ve watched this series in its entirety 10+ times in my life and I’ll watch it again. It stands the test of time and each re-watch I find myself falling more in love with a different character. I still can’t listen to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” without trailing off into a mind-fuck of epic proportions. Was Tony in the right? Would I have done the same?
It’s a show about putting Family above all else. It’s about loyalty, morals, work-life balance (ya seriously), normalizing mental health (I mean if Tony can see a therapist you can!), living up to your family’s expectations and the drive to have it all.
There are so many moments where you find yourself struggling with your own moral code and routing for the bad guy to win… because he’s not that bad after all.
The finale Made in America is still one of the most heavily debated and talked about shows in TV history. After you get there, let’s talk. I’ll unpack it all with you. BTW it was the only episode other than the pilot that was both written and directed by series creator David Chase.
This show is simply the best.
Runner ups: The Wire, Six Feet Under
2. Gilmore Girls
Yep, I went from Mob boss to coffee talk. Gilmore Girls is another show I could watch over-and-over, although I never watched it when it was actually on TV. I caught it on re-runs before streaming was a thing and once it hit Netflix I didn’t look back. I’ve done the whole series four times, twice just to pick up all the quick-talking-fast-witted dialogues, a third to decipher it all and a forth to truly enjoy it.
Having grown up in Elk Point, Stars Hallow really resonated, except where did they get all that money for a full-blown festival every month? and how did they get so many people out for their town meetings?
Putting those aside it’s a show about a 32 year old mother and her relationship with her 16 year old daughter. If you’re good at math then you’ve realized that would’ve made her 16 when she gave birth and thus Lorelai’s relationship with her parents. Perhaps we all didn’t have a baby at 16 but somehow we can find ourselves relating to Lorelai’s need to rebel against her parents – especially daughters rebelling against their mothers. While the younger Lorelai – Rory finds her own ways to rebel against her mother by being drawn to the high-class snobbish lifestyle her mom tries to shelter her from.
The show is fun and light when you need it to be and then it hits you in the feels and you have a good cry. It also brought us a young Melissa McCartney pre-explosion in Bridesmaid (that was meant to work in multiple ways).
And for all those who claim Rory is the worst – weren’t we all at 16.
PS – Luke & Lorelai forever.
Runner Ups: Grey’s Anatomy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
3. Friday Night Lights
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” is the golden rule in a dusty Texas town where everyone lives and dies for the high school football team. This show will hit you in the feels, yet it’s still full of testosterone so your buddies won’t make fun of you. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
This show has it all – family, drama, friendships, team dynamics, crushed dreams, realized dreams and Coach Taylor. Not to mention amazing performances from Connie Britton and Canada’s Taylor Kitsch. Even if you’re not into football you’re gonna want to show up for Riggins, cause I mean no one else in his family does.
The show gave enough happy endings to make you feel good and it didn’t erase the darkness of life. It was real.
And yes, there were some story archs that made my eyes roll. But those were outweighed by the stories that made my heart fill with joy and optimism for the world.
Runner Ups: Parenthood
A show that defined a generation. Yah, there are a lot of jokes that do not stand the test of time. It would never fly in the hyper-sensitive offense-free land we now live in. But it was perfectly 90’s. The fact that for so many reasons the show would never fly today makes it so great. It was – once in a lifetime.
Each character were so uniquely different that it was amazing the six of them would ever even be friends. Yet, you could find yourself in every one of them. Survey a group of 6 people and each will have a different favourite character different and valid reasons. Heck, watch the series more than once and you’ll find yourself liking a different character more each time.
By season 4 this show just explodes. It starts with a jellyfish and kiss and ends with a Freudian slip.
The “will they v. won’t they” romance between Ross & Rachel is in full bloom, while Monica’s cute neuroses are revealing themselves and Chandler’s sensitive side comes around. Phoebe is as lovable as ever and everyone wants to hug Joey – even though he’s a pretty terrible man when you think of how he treats women. But if I ran into him today it would take the “how” from his infamous how you doin’ for me to swoon.
Even if you’ve watch the series a few times, you cannot go wrong watching it again. Especially, if you’re looking for something light, fun and cheery.
Runner Ups: Schitt’s Creek
5. Game of Thrones
I’d probably receive hate mail if I didn’t include this one. It makes the average viewer addicted within seconds by captivating them with the usual favourites – sex, murder, war, violence, family drama, heroes, villains, magic, time travel, zombies and dragons. Yep, time travel, zombies and dragons. Honestly, how have you never watched this yet? And if you have it definitely deserves a rewatch (or two).
HBO does an excellent job of bringing George R.R Martin world Westeros to life. There’s no denying it’s a fantasy story but unlike Tolkien you won’t find elves and hobbits, it’s more about real-people… who are, surprisingly relatable. If you relate to a naracist because I’m pretty sure every-single-character would fall under that physiological labelling. With the exclusion John Snow, because well… he knows nothing.
What I loved most about the series is although so many elements were so over-the-top and unbelievable, you believed it all. You found yourself hating a character with every fibre of your being and then loving that same character just a few episodes later, in walks The Hound. You never know what is going to happen next. Even if you’ve read the books because it does stray. The suspense is perfect, the just desserts are served and satisfaction is had.
Good luck not watching all 72 episodes in five days. I did factor in some sleep and refills of drinks & food.
Runner Ups: Yellowstone