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From Marvel's Runaways to The Good Doctor
The holidays aren't just approaching, they're basically here. Of course, accompanying that third glass of spiked eggnog and the general sense of merriment you're currently feeling (probably a result of the second glass of eggnog), is the crushing realization this also means a lot of quality time spent with great aunt Dorothy and the many, many photographs of her beloved pugs.
One of the easiest ways to log hours with your extended family and keep your sanity intact this holiday is to gather 'round the living room after dinner and watch some engrossing television. To make things easy for you, we've put together an eclectic list of shows that will fill the time nicely.
There's something for all tastes in the list below. Plus, we've even included "pairing" suggestions that will let you know which family member would make the best viewing companion for each show. So take a peek at at the cheat sheet below and kick back, relax, and think about how much time you won't have to spend talking about cousin Paul's impending divorce.
1. Stranger Things
Where to watch it: Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix
Watch it with: Your cousins from Indiana, obviously
Why you should watch it: If you haven't watchedStranger Thingsyet, do you even exist? The nostalgia-heavy series about the strange, er, things happening in a small town in Indiana in the 1980s is the perfect series to binge, because just like grandma's delicious homemade cookies, you can keep going and never get full. The first season, heavily influenced by the works of Steven Spielberg, follows the search for the missing Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), a boy who's been taken to a creepy alternate world known as the Upside Down by a creature known as the Demogorgon. The show's second season builds perfectly upon the first, further developing the show's mythology and delivering an unexpected but heartwarming bromance. If you don't burn through multiple episodes in one sitting, you're doing it wrong.
2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Where it watch it: Season 1 is streaming on Amazon
Watch it with: Your spritely grandmother who definitely has some stories of her own
Why you should watch it: Set in 1950s New York, The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselis an ambitious new series from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. This time her signature rapid-fire dialogue is delivered via the mesmerizing Rachel Brosnahan as Midge Maisel, a traditional 1950s housewife whose world is upended when her wannabe comedian husband announces he's leaving her for his secretary. Attempting to figure out who she is in the aftermath, Midge turns to stand-up comedy and discovers she's not just good, she's actually kind of great. Clever and stylish and with a true underdog viewers can root for, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an easy binge-watch that will quickly capture everyone's attention.
3. Wynonna Earp
Where it watch it: The first season is streaming on Netflix. Season 2 is available for purchase on Amazon
Watch it with: Your younger sister who loves Supernatural but thinks it needs some estrogen
Why you should watch it: At first glance, Wynonna Earpsounds a bit nuts, but so did Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day. Based on a comic book, the Syfy series is a supernatural-Western that follows Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), the great-great-grandaughter of the legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp, as she uses his gun Peacemaker to send demons back to hell in order to break a family curse. The witty series is a surprisingly grounded, incredibly funny, and captivating show about family, motherhood and friendship. Plus, there's an immortal Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon) sporting a really great mustache. What more could you want?
4. Marvel's Runaways
Where to watch it: The first season is streaming on Hulu, with new episodes released weekly
Watch it with: Your siblings and the friends you didn't have time to slot in anywhere else
Why you should watch it: Marvel's Runaways could have easily been a forgettable comic book property in a very crowded comic book landscape, but in the hands of showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (of the late great teen dramas The OC and Gossip Girl), the freshman series balances teen drama with super cool elements. It follows the lives of six former friends who don't necessarily have much in common anymore, but who must unite once more to take down their corrupt parents after learning what children always fear: that their parents are truly evil.
5. Better Things
Where to watch it: The first season is on Hulu; catch Season 2 on FX Now
Watch it with: Your mom, duh
Why you should watch it: Although most of the shows on this list are included as a means of avoiding your family, Better Things is the one show that you should watch because you're with your family. Created by and starring Pamela Adlon, the FX comedyis a beautiful story about single parenting and motherhood that dives deep into the often complicated relationship that exists between mothers and daughters. The series and the relationships portrayed within each half-hour episode are not always pretty, but they are familiar. And if you don't get to spend much time with your mom except during the holidays, it's a good series for the two of you to watch together.
6. The Good Place
Where to watch it: The first season is streaming on Netflix; Season 2 is on NBC's website with a cable login
Watch it with: Your dad who can appreciate ambitious, clever comedy
Why you should watch it: Because it's darn funny? Because Ted Danson is a national treasure? Because the high concept comedy created by Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation) is clever, includes perfectly executed twists you probably won't see coming, and boasts one of the funniest supporting casts on TV? Because it offers a surprisingly deep exploration of morality from the afterlife? Honestly, we could list a thousand reasons for you to watch The Good Place over the holidays, but just one will do: its puns are actually better than anything you could buy from the Bad Place. And that's saying something.
Where to watch it: Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Amazon Prime. Season 3 is available for purchase.
Watch it with: Your grandfather who's obsessed with old murder mysteries
Why you should watch it: Set in 1950s England, Grantchesterstars James Norton as a whiskey-loving, jazz-obsessed vicar (aren't they all like that?) who passes the time by helping a local detective (Robson Green) solve murders in the small town of Grantchester. Each season is only six episodes, which makes it the perfect series to watch over the holidays. Plus, there's an adorable dog named Dickens and sometimes Norton wears short shorts while running. That might be more to your liking than dear old grand dad's though.
8. Bob's Burgers
Where to watch it: Seasons 1-7 are streaming on Hulu; the most recent episodes of Season 8 are on Hulu too
Who to watch it with: Your older brother who might be a Gene but wishes he was a Louise
Why you should watch it: Currently in its eighth season, the Emmy-winning animated comedy Bob's Burgers is always a reliable viewing option for the holidays. Following the hilarious antics of the Belchers, who own and operate a struggling hamburger restaurant, the pun-filled series is a wacky comedy served with a healthy helping of clever genius. Plus, you'll have fun trying to figure out which Belcher you're most like, whether it is the exasperated family patriarch Bob, his over-the-top wife Linda, or one of their three children: awkward eldest daughter Tina; goofy and carefree middle child Gene; or the mischievous youngest child Louise. Honestly, you really can't go wrong here.
Where to watch it: The first season is streaming on Netflix
Watch it with: A big group of extended adult family
Why you should watch it: The first Netflix original series created, produced and filmed in Germany, Dark is a complex family drama with a bit of a sci-fi twist. Set in 2019, the series kicks off with the disappearance of a young boy, which brings back memories of when another young boy went missing 33 years previously. The mystery series, which is best viewed with German audio and English subtitles (Netflix automatically defaults to English dubbing), ultimately tells the stories of four interconnected families in a small German town. To say anything more would be to spoil the captivating, if sometimes confusing, story, so we'll just leave you with this handy map of how everyone is connected, which will come in handy after you've finished the season.
10. The Good Doctor
Where to watch it: Hulu streams the five most recent episodes; earlier episodes are on Amazon and iTunes
Watch it with: Your mom, because moms love The Good Doctor
Why you should watch it: The Good Doctoris exactly what, um, the doctor ordered. Uplifting at a time when most of the news coming out each day eats away at your soul and hope for a better tomorrow, the ABC series, which was adapted from a Korean drama, was the surprise hit of the fall. Following Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, the series is a show for underdogs or for anyone who's ever been misunderstood. But at the end of the day, it just makes you feel good, which makes it the perfect series to watch over the holidays.
11. The Vietnam War
Where to watch it: Available to stream with special PBS member benefits; available to purchase on Amazon
Watch it with: Your uncle who served, ideally, but honestly, everyone should watch this
Why you should watch it: The Vietnam War, the latest documentary from Ken Burns and partner Lynn Novick, is truly the definition of essential, must-see TV. The 10-part documentary features the harrowing and unsettling footage one would expect to find in such a piece of work, but what takes it to the next level are the interviews with not just American veterans but also many South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese veterans that provide a well-rounded perspective on the war. Burns and Novick never disappoint, but The Vietnam War is simply outstanding and absolutely unforgettable.
12. The Lowe Files
Where to watch it: Free on A&E's website with a cable provider login
Watch it with: Your sons and daughters you don't see very often
Why you should watch it: The Lowe Files follows actor Rob Lowe and his sons Matthew and John Owen as they embark on adventures together to seek out and explain the unexplainable, from the existence of ghosts to Bigfoot and even aliens. However, the point of the show isn't really to watch Rob Lowe potentially discover hard evidence that Bigfoot exists, but to explore and strengthen family bonds through weekend road trips. Each episode is a new adventure full of fast food trips, jokes about Rob always knowing where the cameras are, and hilarious family shenanigans. But also, imagine if Rob Lowe had actually found Bigfoot. IMAGINE.