The Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing self-isolation has taken away many of the stress-busters we used to rely on, and left some of us with a little more time on our hands. Thanks to that, and a lack of anything better to do, we have been consuming a lot of entertainment on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar, taking us to a point where we feel there’s NOTHING left to watch.
If you’re the kind of person who has watched everything new on every platform, worry not, this list has got your back. This is a list of really popular shows to rewatch or begin watching, now that the hype around it has died down.
Most of these shows have multiple seasons and will keep you occupied for at least a few days. And if you’ve already watched them, they will probably remind you of a time when life seemed simpler.
1. Breaking Bad
If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, please fill that gap right away. This show is as ‘prestige’ as they come. The first season aired in 2008, and over five seasons followed the journey of chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) as they get involved in the murky world of drugs. White uses his extensive knowledge of chemistry to make meth after he discovers he has lung cancer. Things heat up as the wayward drug addict Pinkman joins the business. White lives a dual life, and his wife Anna doesn’t have a clue what he’s actually up to. Over the course of the show you see how the journey changes the two main characters in surprising ways. The characters leave you feeling sad, desperate, angry and, at times, uncomfortable. The show portrays the lengths to which human beings would go for the love of their family. Watch it for the chemistry between Cranston and Paul, for the impeccable screenplay and the kind of storytelling that slowly pulls you into a world that you will likely never see in real life.
2. Modern Family
If you’re feeling lonely and missing your family because you can’t visit them, or are living with them because of the pandemic and becoming overwhelmed, this show is a reminder that sometimes family can be your best champion. The show aired for the first time in 2009 and finally ended 11 years later. The 20 minute sitcom-ish episodes are filmed documentary style, so you have the characters frquently breaking the fourth wall. It follows three families — Jay, his much younger wife Gloria and their son Manny, Jay’s daughter Claire and her husband Phil and their three children, and Jay’s son Mitchell and his partner Cameron. Over 11 seasons, this comically dysfunctional family goes through many ups and downs, heartbreaks and happiness, all while making you laugh. Each character is unique and quirky in their own way and always falls into some trouble because of that. The more you watch them, the more endearing they become. It gets a little tedious in some seasons, but given they are only 20 minute episodes, you can come keep coming back to them when you need a pick-me-up. Look out for Phil Dunphy’s terrible dad jokes, they’re so bad they have inspired memes and Instagram pages.
3. Game of Thrones
It’s probably too raw for fans to rewatch right away, thanks to the terrible last season, but if you’re someone who was waiting for the overwhelming fanfare to die down before you began to watch Game of Thrones, now might be the time. The last couple of seasons were disappointing, but we cannot ignore the pop culture influence of the show. We also can’t ignore that Game of Thrones changed the way we consume American TV in India. Based on George RR Martin’s books, the show is set in the fictional Westeros. Several powerful noble families are fighting for the Iron Throne. There is action, drama, romance and even bloody dragons. The fantasy world of the show may be the perfect escape when the world seems to be on fire. Fair warning — the show has major problems with the way it portrays women.
4. Mad Men
Mad Men first aired in 2007 and has seven seasons. Set in the 1960s, it follows Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a partner in an advertising firm in New York. Draper is a typical 1960s straight white male living the American dream. He is cheating on his wife Betty. In his firm everyone looks up to him and women are treated terribly. While Draper is the main character, what stays with you at the end are the women. Betty Frances (January Jones) goes from an obedient wife to a badass woman who tries to find herself, in a world where women didn’t have much standing without a husband. Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) goes from a secretary to a copywriter at the firm where women are often looked down upon. Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) the office manager, who has a steel exterior but a warm heart, is also trying to find her space at a time when women had no social standing.
5. Sex and the City
Darren Star’s Emily in Paris came and disappeared behind lots of critical reviews. But Sex and the City, another show made by him, and also controversial, is here to stay. You can hate it, but can’t ignore it. The first season was released in 1998 and was revolutionary for the time for a show about the sex lives of four women. The show is told through the words of Carrie Bradshaw, a sex columnist who leads a very cushy life. The show is extremely white and the women only talk about the men in their lives. But you cannot miss the fact that they are layered and weren’t just people who wanted to be liked. They’re ambitious, they make mistakes. You hate Carrie for being the whiny friend who never shows up for her friends, you root for Miranda as she tries to make it big in a law firm, you are in awe of Samantha because she is terribly confident of her sexuality and you want to sometimes scold Charlotte, like you would your best friend, for holding on to unnecessary traditions and dreaming of her prince charming. The show isn’t perfect, but watch it for the friendships, the heartbreaks and, if nothing else, the shoes and bags and clothes. It will lift your spirits and divert your mind from the pandemic.
It has Olivia Coleman and David Tennant in lead roles — that should make you want to watch it. But it’s much more than just that. The show is a riveting crime drama that has three seasons. The first two seasons surround the death of 11-year-old Danny Latimer, which shakes up the town of Broadchurch. Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Coleman) and Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (Tennant) begin investigating the murder. This isn’t the run-of-the-mill crime thriller just focused on finding the culprits. The show has a nuanced portrayal of each character, who they are and how this particular crime has affected their lives. It looks into how such a crime can tear apart families and how those who are investigating the murder can experience intense emotions and live changing events while they are at it. Needless to say, both Tennant and Coleman are a joy to watch. What more? The show has beautiful visuals of the coastal United Kingdom that can provide some change to the four walls we see everyday now.
Written by Lena Dunham, this show got many things wrong, one of them being its completely white cast, but it also got quite a few things right. It is yet another show that has tried to portray the lives of women and is based in New York city. But unlike Sex and the City, this one’s a little more real. The show that first aired in 2012 follows aspiring writer Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham), Marnee, Jessa and Shoshana. All four women are struggling with earning a living and relationships. There are heartbreaks and life changing experiences. Even their relationships with each other go through serious changes. The show doesn’t try to give you a happily ever after. Another thing that stood out was its portrayal of mental health. It’s perhaps one of the only shows that has dealt with the realities of OCD.