We get that catching up on a series can be a huge time sink. But when the shows are this good, it’s usually worth it. (And, seriously, are you trying to actually be productive after you get home from school or work? C’mon. Don’t even play.)
Below, we’ve rounded up seriously binge-worthy television candidates for your consideration—from sci-fi to superheros to sitcoms. All these shows either debuted this year or kept their momentum going into it. Note: We use only season one trailers in case you're not caught up.
Oh, and if you’re looking for even more to keep you occupied this summer, be sure to check out our previous list of some of the best shows currently airing.
West Coast vs. East Coast never really dies.
Two decades removed from the deaths of Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur, USA is revisiting one of the most famous beefs of all time, putting to film the events that preceded the killing of Pac and Biggie (1996 and 1997, respectively) and the resulting investigations throughout the years. Somehow, we doubt this hip-hop story is a hard sell to our audience here, but it should be noted that there’s some kickass casting and script development that has gone into this 10-episode series.
Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. stars Josh Duhamel as Detective Greg Kading, Wavvy Jonez as Biggie, and Marcc Rose as Pac.
If you’re looking for a situational comedy that’s smarter (and ultimately, funnier) than your average fare, NBC’s The Good Placeis it.
It’s, well, an e xistentialsitcom that asks a lot of intelligent questions without becoming a chore or a bore. It follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, etc.) following her death. A big-time screw up by whoever’s running the whole afterlife show places her in “The Good Place,” despite the fact that even Eleanor knows it’s BS and that she doesn’t deserve to be there. The series then follows her attempts to rectify the waywardness of her past and earn her place.
There’s a big-time season one plot twist but, don’t worry, season two keeps momentum flowing. The series also stars Ted Danson, Adam Scott ( Big Little Lies, Parks and Recreation), and Maya Rudolph ( Saturday Night Live).
Based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carboncenters on an ethics-based science fiction curiosity (not unlike another member of this list, Westworld)—the subject of transferring human consciousness into a new body. Oh, and the topic of interstellar travel. Plus, a sprinkling of superhuman powers, all centered around a murder investigation in the future. (Whew.)
OK, look, it’s hard to describe, but let us just say it’s worth the time of any sci-fi fan. Altered Carbonfeatures James Purefoy ( Hap and Leonard, The Following, A Knight’s Tale)and Joel Kinnaman ( House of Cards, Suicide Squad).
Let’s focus on something wholly more “grounded” in our reality and yet totally as brilliant.
Series creator, Donald Glover, stretches his artistic muscles in FX’s Atlanta,now in its second season. It follows up-and-coming rapper Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (played by Brian Tyree Henry of Hotel Artemisand Vice Principals) and his manager, Earnest “Earn” Marks (Glover), as they navigate the pleasures and perils of our world. It’s smart in its embrace and discussion of pop culture but also dark and surreal, never shying away from controversial topics (race, poverty, etc.). With two Emmys and a duo of Golden Globes already to its name, you’ll want to check this series out.
What does it mean to be human?
That’s the question Westworld poses. Set in a futuristic Wild West-themed park populated by android hosts, the spectacle exists to cater to the often hedonistic delights of its wealthy human patrons. Humans can do whatever they dang please to the hosts; the hosts are incapable of aggression and are stuck in their loops. That is, until they start to become self-aware…
Like so much of HBO’s stuff, Westworld looks great. This is big-budget television perfect for anyone that doesn’t mind a show with nuance and multiple timelines. Furthermore, it sports an all-star, heavy-hitter cast of Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, and Luke Hemsworth, among others.
A sterling entry into the contemporary slate of truly weighty superhero fare, Jessica Jones adds in the wrinkle of a strong female protagonist dealing with such topics as sexual assault and PTSD. It’s not all heavy all the time—there’s comedic relief—but this is a dark, gritty action series with a noir tone, and frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Also, you’re getting the talents of Krysten Ritter ( Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Breaking Bad), Carrie Anne-Moss ( The Matrix), and David Tennant (the award-winning dude from Dr. Who). Highly recommended.