What to binge this summer | 20 TV shows to devour

It's Christmas. You’ve got some spare time on your hands and you want to catch up on some of the shows all your buddies have been talking about.

But which shows should you watch? And where can you find them? How much time will it take?

All these questions and more are answered below in our handy Binge TV guide.

So grab the popcorn, kick back and start watching.

Legion

A superhero show unlike any other, Legion is set in the psychedelic early 70s and follows the most powerful mutant in the world – who lives in a psychiatric facility and thinks he’s crazy. It’s hugely trippy (there’s even a Bollywood-esque dance number that pops up one of the episodes) but it’s also incredibly creative and completely different to any other superhero shows out there.

Stars: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement

Episode Length: 60 minutes

Seasons: 1, 7 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

13 Reasons Why

One of the most talked about TV shows this year, 13 Reasons Why is based on a book by Jay Asher and follows characters at a high school as they deal with the suicide of their classmate Hannah Baker. Hannah records 13 audio tapes and sends them to her peers, explaining why she did what she did. People have criticised the show for glamourising suicide and mental illness, but others see it as an important messages for teens to understand. It’s well-acted and, even though it’s a little draggy in the middle, a compelling watch.

Stars: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Kate Walsh, Christian Navarro

Episode length: 60 minutes

Seasons: 1, 13 episodes

Watch: Netflix

Mindhunter

A dark, compelling real-life inspired series following FBI profilers Holden Ford (yes, that’s seriously his name) and Bill Tench as they interview some of the most brutal and depraved killers in American prisons in the 1970s. Fans of true crime and macabre stories will love this show, but it’s not for the squeamish as every murder covered is something that truly happened in real life. Ed Kemper is terrifying.

Stars: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross

Episode length: varies, roughly 60 mins

Seasons: 1, 10 episodes

Watch: Netflix

The Good Fight

Spinning off from popular law drama The Good Wife, The Good Fight is its sweary, no-holds-barred cousin. The show follows former The Good Wife character Diane Lockhart as she enters her retirement after Trump’s election – only to realise she’s been caught in a Ponzi scheme and has to go back to work. However, her old firm doesn’t want her back and she starts up at a predominantly African-American firm. Expect heaps of appearances by Good Wife characters and all the ripped-from-the-headlines drama the old legal show provided.

Stars: Christine Baranski, Rose Leslie, Delroy Lindo, Cush Jumbo

Episode length: 45 mins

Seasons: 1, 10 episodes

Watch: SBS On Demand

Big Little Lies

Based on Aussie author Liane Moriarty’s popular book, Big Little Lies is a compelling whodunnit following three mothers in the tight-knit yet secretive Monterey community. This show is a feminist dream, exploring all manner of important themes – some of which won’t be mentioned here for fear of spoilers. This show killed it at the Emmys and deserved every accolade it got. The soundtrack is also top-notch.

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard

Episode length: 60 mins

Seasons: 1, 7 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

Orphan Black

Sarah Manning is shocked to see a woman who looks exactly like her step in front of a train and kill herself. Naturally, she takes the woman’s identity and assumes her role as a police officer – but more people who look just like them soon start turning up. A complex, cliffhanger-filled sci-fi action drama that will keep you guessing. It’s incredibly-well acted. The show wrapped up its fifth and final season this year, so it’s the perfect time to binge.

Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kristian Bruun

Episode length: 45 mins

Seasons: 5, 50 episodes

Watch: Netflix, Stan (only 4 seasons at the moment)

Top of the Lake

There was a significant gap between seasons for Top of the Lake, but the super-dark detective mystery show was worth the wait. The first season is set in New Zealand and follows detective Robin Griffin as she tries to find a missing, pregnant 12-year-old girl. The second season is set in Sydney, where the body of an unknown woman dubbed China Girl is found washed up in a suitcase on Bondi beach. This show is seriously dark and at times repulsive, but it’s not like anything else out there.

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, David Wenham, Gwendoline Christie, Nicole Kidman

Episode length: 70 mins

Seasons: 2, 12 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

Riverdale

The mystery of Veronica Mars, the drama of The O.C. and the woodsy feel of Twin Peaks, Riverdale is the teen drama that keeps on giving. It’s super-stylised and unabashedly over-the-top, but it’s just so much fun. Based on the Archie comics, it follows Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica as the sleepy little town of Riverdale reacts to the death of prodigal son Jason Blossom. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s a great guilty pleasure watch.

Stars: KJ Apa, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes

Episode length: 40 mins

Seasons: 2 (second season under way), 13 per season

Watch: Netflix

Westworld

With the second season set to air next year, now is the perfect time to binge Westworld’sfirst, incredible season. Inspired by the 1970s film of the same name, Westworld is set in an exclusive theme park that recreates the Old West and is populated by robot/androids who cater to your every whim – even if that whim includes killing them. A star-studded show that pushes the boundaries and delivers in spades, Westworld is a visual feast from creators JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan. The size and scope is unbelievable.

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton

Episode length: varies, roughly 60 mins

Seasons: 1, 10 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

Game of Thrones

One of the world’s most popular shows, Game of Thrones is set in the fictional world of Westeros and follows the political machinations of the seven kingdoms’ big players. The show has a massive cast of characters and little regard for keeping favourites alive. Expect blood, gore, language, nudity and even dragons. With the eighth and final season not due until 2019, much to fans’ dismay, that leaves plenty of time for the five or so people who haven’t yet jumped aboard the GOT train to do so this year.

Stars: Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Episode length: varies, roughly 60 mins

Seasons: 7, 67 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

The Walking Dead

What would you do if you woke up and the world’s population had been infected with a zombie virus? The Walking Dead asks just that and follows a group of survivors as they navigate their way across America, killing zombies in the process. Character development is the big drawcard and the later seasons introduce a scene-stealing villain.

Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Episode length: 45 mins

Seasons: 8, eighth season underway

Watch: Foxtel Now

Suits

Now that Meghan Markle is engaged to Prince Harry, there’s a renewed interest in her TV show, Suits – and for good region, it’s a cracker. Mike Ross can remember everything he’s ever read, which is handy when sitting law exams for other people. When, in an attempt to evade cops trying to spring him for having a suitcase full of marijuana, Mike meets hotshot lawyer Harvey Specter conducting interviews for a new associate, he pleads his case and gets a job. Suits is heaps of fun for a legal procedural and has plenty of pop culture references – character development is particularly good in the later seasons. The stakes get higher and higher, and Mike’s secret (he’s never actually been to law school despite working as a lawyer) weighs heavier and heavier as the show goes on.

Stars: Patrick J Adams, Gabriel Macht, Meghan Markle, Sarah Rafferty

Episode length: 40 mins

Seasons: 7 (seventh season underway)

Watch: Netflix (six seasons at this stage)

The Crown

This lavish, expensive royal series has just dropped its second season. Drawing much acclaim from critical circles and award shows, The Crown follows the early days of Queen Elizabeth II after she ascends to the crown. A must-watch for monarchists.

Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, John Lithgow, Victoria Hamilton

Episode length: 50 mins

Seasons: 2, 20 episodes

Watch: Netflix

Stranger Things

A love letter to films of the 1980s like Stand by Me and ETStranger Things was an instant hit when it premiered earlier last year and its second season’s got fans just as excited. Filled with plenty of mystery and intrigue, the show takes place in a sleepy little American town which is shocked when a boy suddenly disappears and a strange girl shows up.

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Winona Ryder

Episode length: 50 mins

Seasons: 2, 20 episodes

Watch: Netflix

The Handmaid's Tale

Another series which got the critics excited this year, The Handmaid’s Tale is a doomsday look at the world if men took over and relegated fertile women into surrogates tasked with ensuring the survival of the human race.  This shows themes are terrifying, as we follow ‘Offred’, or June, as she is assigned to a new couple, obligated to bare a child for them. Where Big Little Lies is a feminist dream, this series shows a feminist’s nightmare. It’s deeply uncomfortable viewing.

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella

Episode length: 60 mins

Seasons: 1, 10 episodes

Watch: SBS On Demand

Orange is the New Black

Loosely based on the real-life experience of writer Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black takes a look at life in a minimum security women’s prison through the eyes of new inmate Piper Chapman, convicted of smuggling a suitcase of drug money into the US several years earlier. Chock-full of memorable, interesting characters and more than a hint of social commentary, the groundbreaking Netflix show gets more and more relevant as the seasons go on. The climax of season 4 is something you’ll never forget.

Stars: Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley, Kate Mulgrew

Episode length: 60 mins

Seasons: 5, 65 episodes

Watch: Netflix

Jane the Virgin

Based on the hit telenovela, Jane the Virgin is an uproariously hilarious comedy about Jane Gloriana Villanueva, a virgin who, after a mix-up at the gynaecologist, is artificially inseminated with her boss’s baby. You will love every single eccentric, oddball character in this brilliant TV show, especially the narrator. One of the best comedies of the past few years, it’s pure brilliance led by brilliant actors.

Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Brett Dier, Justin Baldoni, Andrea Navedo

Episode length: 40 mins

Seasons: 4 (fourth underway)

Watch: Netflix (three seasons only at this stage)

The Night Of

The Night Of was nominated for a bunch of Emmys this year and scooped lead actor. It is an enthralling, slow-burn mini-series about a Pakistani-American college student who is imprisoned for a murder neither he, or us, is sure he committed. It examines the justice system, racism and more and is truly a portrait in character development.

Stars: Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Michael Kenneth Williams, Bill Camp

Episode length: varies, roughly 60 mins

Seasons: 1, 8 episodes

Watch: Foxtel Now

Dramaworld

The shortest series on this list, Dramaworld is a whimsical, fun series that you can knock over in an afternoon. The show follows an American college student who is obsessed with Korean dramas. As she’s watching her favourite program, she suddenly finds herself sucked into ‘dramaworld’, where she must facilitate the two lead characters getting together, or else dramaworld will fall apart. It’s hilarious, bite-sized goodness that’s a great laugh whether you watch Korean programs or not.

Stars: Liv Hewson, Justin Chon, Sean Dulake, Noo-Ri Bae

Episode length: varies, roughly 15 mins

Seasons: 1, 10 episodes

Watch: Netflix

The Good Place

What if there was no heaven or hell? Just a good place and a bad place. When the recently deceased Eleanor Hallstrop finds herself in the good place she struggles to understand how she got there. Does she deserve to be there? Is it a case of mistaken identity? And why the fork are there a bunch of giant flying shrimp hanging around? All Eleanor knows is, she will do whatever it takes to stay there. This clever show takes a comedic look at life after death. 

Stars: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper

Episode length: About 22 minutes

Seasons: 2, 13 episodes 

Watch: Netflix

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