Schools, museums, movie theaters, bars, restaurants: all closed long before summer, but TV is still here for us.
As much of the half-world stays home to fight the coronavirus pandemic, our eyes have turned to our TV screens for entertainment and distraction.
With so many options on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more, we’re recommending best TV shows that are critically acclaimed.
Whether you want to laugh, bond with your kids or finally, discover what’s behind the hype about all those “must watch” shows your friends are talking about, these best TV shows are worth watching while practicing social distancing.
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So stay home, make yourself comfortable, pour a glass of vine and enjoy.
1. “Bob’s Burgers” (Hulu)
The animated show is about a loving family the Belchers – parents Bob and Linda and their children Tina, Gene, and Louise – who run a hamburger restaurant. Each member of the family has such a defined personality that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Most fans love the teenage daughters, Tina, but mom Linda and little sister Louise will also leave you in stitches.
Heartfelt, offbeat and full of visual humor, the series about a family and its burger joint is the model of modern adult animation.
2. “You” (Netflix)
What would you do for love? For a brilliant male bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring female writer, this question is put to the test. Creepy Netflix’s drama about a “nice guy” who’s really a murderous stalker manipulating his way into the lives of his victims.
3. “American Crime Story” (Netflix)
Several historical and high profile murder cases are reenacted with proper factual evidence, official records and background information that gives a different insight into the famous murders. You’ll find sharp writing and dissection of recent historical events from new perspectives.
4. “Supernatural” (Netflix)
Supernatural premiered way back when the CW was still the WB in 2005 and has been on the air for an amazing 14 seasons—the upcoming 15th one will be the last adventure for Sam and Dean Winchester, two of fantasy television’s most beloved characters. Supernatural has vacillated wildly in quality over its 300-plus episodes, but there are some true gems in here, especially for fans of urban legends and things that go bump in the night.
5. “The Simpsons” (Disney+; Fox, Sundays, 8 EDT/PDT)
Working-class father Homer Simpson and his dysfunctional family deal with comical situations and the ups-and-downs of life in the town of Springfield.
Regardless of what you may think, The Simpsons is arguably one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It has captivated audiences for years and for good reason too – it’s brilliant. With its iconic yellow-skinned patrons and hilarious one-liners it has been cemented as one the classic TV sitcoms.
6. “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” (Netflix, Hulu)
If the bachelors and bachelorettes of ABC’s long-running reality dating franchise can find love in a hopeless place (like in front of millions of TV viewers), then there’s hope for the rest of us, too.
7. “BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman is a goofy, pun-filled show about an over-the-hill TV star who happens to be a horse, but it’s also an insightful document of mental illness, depression, trauma, and loneliness. All that and a talking dog named Mr. Peanutbutter too.
Poignant, funny, and unwavering with its mission of tackling tough issues head-on, it’s another can’t-miss Netflix original.
“BoJack Horseman” just ended its six-season run in early 2020 and cemented its place as one of the best Netflix originals made to date.
8. “Modern Family” (Hulu; ABC, Wednesdays, 9 EDT/PDT; local stations and USA Network)
The Emmy-winning series has an incredible cast and relatable laughs for families and married couples.
Three modern-day families from California try to deal with their kids, quirky spouses and jobs in their own unique ways, often falling into hilarious situations.
9. “The Magicians” (Netflix and Syfy)
Something of an R-rated hybrid of “Harry Potter” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the superb fantasy series follows a group of adult magicians who discover a fictional world from popular children’s books is real – and dangerous.
10. “The Office” (Netflix)
A motley group of office workers goes through hilarious misadventures at the Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Prepare to cringe at Michael Scott’s wildly inappropriate sense of humor, but fall in love with the goofy and endearing employees.
11. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Hulu)
This is the story of a 16-year-old high school student Buffy Summers who tries to live a normal life while embracing her responsibilities and destiny as a hunter of vampires and demons.
It’s the perfect blend of so many different qualities…it’s humor, action, romance and just incredibly well written believably flawed characters.
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No other show touches on the major issues of humanity this show does: immortality and it’s pros and cons, the power of love and friendship, the inner strength we all have within us, and the ability to appreciate life and learn to laugh at the things that get you down.
Most fantasy TV shows still sits in its large, fanged shadow, more than 20 years after its debut.
12. “Love Is Blind” ( Netflix)
“Love is Blind” takes the concept of reality show dating to incredible new heights of drama. Strangers are only allowed to speak through closed booths (which means they don’t see one another) before picking someone to get engaged to.
And that’s just the first two episodes. What follows is riveting reality television tracking several couples as they go from strangers to standing at the altar — all within just a few weeks.
13. “Friends” (local stations, TBS; available to buy digitally)
Follow the lives of six reckless adults living in Manhattan in the Greatest Sitcom Of All Time.
The fitting personalities of these characters are an absolute genius. Rachel the spoiled yet sweet girl, Monica the mother figure, Phoebe the hippy chick, Joey the dopey yet cool Italian, Chandler the sarcastic loser and Ross the neurotic victim stay together to help each other with their problems in the big city.
The hugely popular sitcom isn’t streaming anywhere until HBO Max debuts in late spring, but catch it on TV to hang out with Monica, Joey, Chandler, Rachel, Phoebe, and Ross.
14. “Charmed” (Netflix)
The series, created by Constance M. Burge, ran from 1998 to 2006 and starred a rotating quartet of talent in Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty, and Rose McGowan. They played the Halliwell sisters, who live in an inherited, witchy manor in San Francisco and, in the show’s pilot, discover that they are the most powerful sister witches.
The sisters, despite being perceived as normal by the non-supernatural community, are known as The Charmed Ones, whose prophesied destiny is to battle against evil beings, such as demons and warlocks, in order to protect innocent lives from being endangered.
The show featured empowered women way before feminism was so popular, and it showed how women could save the day as much as men!
15. “Breaking Bad” (Netflix)
This peak TV drama is one of the best complete series available to stream on Netflix.
It won’t be a stress-free, but you will have the pleasure of watching some of the best writing, directing, and acting ever seen in the last decade of television.
It does take a few episodes to get into, but once the drama heats up, there is no looking away. Bryan Cranston play Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer who decides the only way he can provide for his family before he dies is to cook meth in an RV with a former burnout student. Of course, things take a turn for the worse and Walter becomes one of the most notorious king pins in the drug game.
16. “Disenchantment” (Netflix)
Matt Groening’s return to animation felt like a disappointment to loyal fans of The Simpsons and Futurama, especially at the rocky start to the first season, but this show developed into something smart and fun by the end of its freshman year and there’s reason to be excited for the upcoming second outing. This clever fractured fairy tale is buoyed by incredible voice work from Abby Jacobson, Eric Andre, Nat Faxon, and a cadre of Groening veterans.
17. “The Witcher” (Netflix)
2019 ended with the launch of Netflix’s big-budget adaptation of the hit fantasy novels and video games that have been compared to Game of Thrones in their ambition and complexity. The critics have been mixed on this Henry Cavill action show, but fans have been falling in love with its quirky humor and memorable characters.
It’s a bit ridiculous, but that’s sort of the point. Either way, we get Henry Cavill doing some awesome sword-fighting and acting while shirtless in a hot tub, so no complaints here.
18. “The Big Bang Theory” (local stations and TBS, available to buy digitally)
The lives of four socially awkward friends, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj, take a wild turn when they meet the beautiful and free-spirited Penny.
There aren’t many shows that you can watch over and over and still laugh, but this is one of them. Every actor plays their character to perfection, and the writing is great.
The hangout sitcom starring Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco was TV’s most popular show for a reason – its big, broad humor and nerdy characters are comforting and familiar.
19. “Game of Thrones” (HBO Now)
Game of Thrones on HBO is a TV adaption of George R.R. Martin’s books, a Song of Ice and Fire. For those fans who know and love the books, then you can’t help but love the TV adaptation.
Love, betrayal, greed, murder, corruption All collide in the mythical world of Westeros in 297 AC. GoT world is unlike any other fantasy world you have ever seen.
The very idea behind the series is based around nine noble families wage war against each other in order to gain control over the mythical land of Westeros. Meanwhile, a force is rising after millenniums and threatens the existence of living men.
From the shocking end of the first season to the epic battle of Castle Black, there were some real harrowing moments in the fantasy TV show. And if you’ve never watched, consider this your open invitation to start from episode one.
20. “Sex and the City” (HBO Now)
Four women who are there to represent different opinions on men and sex in a tongue-in-cheek yet frank and extremely hilarious way. You can never have a boring time with their adventures living in a big city.
It perfectly describes the friendship between girlfriends and boyfriend drama. Some advice that they have given to each other can be applied to real life. You can really relate to at least one of the characters.
Sure, some of the situations on the show are outdated, but watching four best friends lament about how hard it is to find a decent man will never get old.
21. “Orange Is The New Black”(Netflix)
Netflix’s legacy of original TV series began in 2013 with the first season of “Orange Is the New Black.”
It is a women’s prison comedy that later turned into one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking shows on TV. The story follows Piper, a privileged white woman serving a one-year sentence for drug smuggling she did in her early 20s. Through Piper, we get an inside look at the tragedy and hardships prison inmates go through. With a cast that was mostly women (and extremely diverse), “Orange Is The New Black” not only changed the way we consume TV, but how writers tell stories through TV.
Now that this comedy/drama series has come to an end, it means you can watch the entire series from start to finish.
22. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Hulu)
There are a ton of cop and firefighter TV shows currently on and they’re all pretty serious and intense. That’s why “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is such a breath of fresh air. Not only is it absolutely hilarious, but it stars “SNL” alum Andy Samberg, who is a complete delight. The show was canceled by Fox, but luckily for fans, NBC picked up the series so it could live on.
It’s a show of pure comedy with humorous stories that are naturally delivered by the lovely actors and a consistent storyline that a lot of sitcoms lack.
The show also does not rely on one-liners or simple jokes, and instead, make use of the characters’ personalities and actions to entertain viewers, which is pretty smart.
23. “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
When a young boy named Will Byers goes missing, his friends, mother and the town are thrust into a conspiracy involving a mysterious girl named Eleven and something even more sinister hiding in the woods of Hawkins, Indiana.
It can hook you immediately, everything seems fitting, the setting, the acting, the direction. Just as it should be. Bringing out the perfect blend of 1980s nostalgia. It gives a mixture of a taste of the big 80’s movies.
The casting is amazing – every single character, regardless of how small the part is, feels like a complete character, and the main cast delivers some powerful stuff all throughout the series.
24. The Walking Dead (Netflix)
“The Walking Dead” was one of AMC’s earliest hit series in the 2000s, and its ongoing apocalypse storyline has been met with varying degrees of critical success. But nearly everyone is in agreement that those early seasons make for some of the best horror television ever made.
25. Black Mirror (Netflix)
It’s Charlie Brooker’s world, we just live in it. The modern answer to The Twilight Zone (at least until CBS All Access actually revives that show) is one of the most buzzed-about programs of the ‘10s. You simply have to see what all of the hype is about, don’t you? Watch it now before our technological overlords force you to.
“Black Mirror” is the best dystopian content Netflix has to offer. It’s an anthology series, which means you can pick just the best-of-the-best if you don’t feel like watching every episode.
We recommend starting with “Be Right Back” (season two), “USS Callister” (season four), and “San Junipero” (season three) if you want to dip a toe in.