With summer upon us, there is no better time to shut all the sunlight out of your room, pull a blanket over your head and watch TV until your eyes hurt. We assemble the best shows on Lightbox that you can binge from pilot to finale.
Binge time: 6 hours, like a perfectly cooked pork shoulder
Need an injection of 16th Century England without having to pick up large dusty history book? Spend some time with Wolf Hall, the award-winning miniseries with more exuberant hats and meaningful gazes than you can shake a sceptre at.
Binge time:7 hours 25 minutes, about as long as Ricky Gervais’ Ted X talk about atheism
The underrated second series by The Office heavyweights Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant,Extras takes you behind the scenes of the grim television production world. Loaded with celebrity cameos, achingly human moments and jaw-dropping gags, it’s a must watch
Binge time: 10 hours, about as long as it takes for Ben Whishaw to do his hair
Everyone has been bleating on about The Night Of, but few have given time to the UK original.Criminal Justice follows the same premise that we can all relate to – wild night out leads to actual jail – but has a much tighter and more focussed delivery than its bloated American counterpart.
Binge time: 27 hours, feels like less if you have a nice Chianti on hand
The gorgeous gore of Hannibal delighted audiences for three whole seasons, breathing bold new cheekbones into one of the most famous horror characters of all time: Hannibal Lecter. Directed by Bryan Fuller, Hannibal is the perfect balanced meal of beautiful and terrifying.
Binge time:34 hours, power through with some damn good coffee
It’s the cult series that still keeps many awake at night, and the rest insisting we’ll get caught up on it even though it’s been 25 years. The Lynchian serial drama seeks to uncover the mystery of who killed prom queen Laura Palmer, and quickly reveals that nothing is ever as it seems…
Binge time: 36 hours. Seven seasons in 36 hours is a bloody bargain and you know it.
Imagine telling your friends that you watched seven seasons of a TV show back-to-back. They’d be amazed, in awe, and a little disgusted. As a bonus, you can get right into the spirit of the show by not moving the whole time and developing bedsores.
Binge time: 39 hours, which is a long time if you’re watching in an open area and don’t want people to think you’re watching porn.
Everything about Californication lends itself to a full hour long drama. A bleakly funny show about a Hollywood writer who has multiple addictions: sex, drugs, probably rock and roll. Instead, it’s a svelte 28 minutes per episode, which is apparently still enough time for multiple sex scenes. It’s ain’t called Californication for nothing.
Binge time: 51 hours
Perhaps one of the few half-hour comedies that is truly bingeable, 30 Rock will suck you in with the prospect of watching three whole episodes in an hour. There’s something satisfying about seeing a successful character also do all the embarrassing things that most people do but won’t admit to, like doing one pushup a year and thinking that will make a difference in any way.
Binge time: 56 hours, enough time for the Titanic to sink 23 times over.
Downton Abbey is the show that you start watching with your parents if it’s raining on Christmas day, because it’s the only recent drama with no nudity, profanity, or excessive violence. But don’t let that put you off. Grab a fourth helping of glazed ham and get ready to cry over rich, white characters you never thought you’d care about.
Binge time: 62 hours, you’ll need a few packets and Funyuns to keep you going
Frequently cited as the best television show of all time, Breaking Bad is a binge watch which we can only imagine is about as addictive as the product at the centre of the show. If you haven’t watched it yet, drop everything. If you have watched it yet, time to revisit Albuquerque.
Binge time: 66 hours with an average of 73 wry observations per hour.
Jerry Seinfeld is finally performing stand-up in New Zealand next year, exactly 246 days from today. Watch one episode every weekday, rest on the weekends, and you’ll be watching the series finale the night before Seinfeld performs in the flesh. It’s destiny, it’s fate, it’s George Costanza failing once again to keep a girlfriend.
Binge time: 75 hours
Look, at the end of the day it’s a Kiwi classic and that’s all that everyday true blue New Zealanders have to say about that.
Binge time: 85 hours aka Dexter might kill you before Dexter can kill you.
Dexter Morgan is who we all imagine we would be in some crazy, dystopian future. Able to kill ruthlessly but choosing to kill only bad guys. He’s like Batman if Batman just killed all the criminals straight away and saved himself a lot of grief. It’s dark, scary and will make you frightened of Michael C. Hall for the rest of your (or his) life.
Binge time: 129 hours. Call Dr. House, it’s probably lupus.
It’s a procedural show through and through but no procedural has a character who can deliver cutting lines like Dr House. He’s the boss you would absolutely hate to have but love to observe from a distance. House is a real marathon binge but begin it knowing that the season four finale is some of the greatest television in history.
Dive into the complete collection of these (sometimes literally) killer shows on Lightbox today
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the day's best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.