To binge on something means to consume it to excess. It's usually considered a bad thing, or at least something we should try and avoid.
However, our perception of the binge is changing, at least a little, and that's thanks to the popularity of streaming TV.
In the past, we could only ever watch one episode at a time, mainly because episodes only aired once a week. Such a format meant that the cliffhanger ending was crucial; you had to keep audiences engaged for at least a week.
Streaming is different. When one episode finishes and you're dying to see what comes next, all you need to do is wait a few seconds, and it will appear on your screen. Of course, this can lead to hours – or sometimes whole days – lost on the couch. It can also be a lot of fun, especially when the series is engaging and exciting.
Not every show is "binge-worthy." To earn that status, it needs to be of top-notch quality. There's only so much bad TV one can take. There also needs to be a solid number of seasons, allowing you to fully immerse into the binge and lose yourself in the other world.
Of course, there are shorter shows worth bingeing – at least one of which has made this list – so this isn't a hard rule.
Lastly, the show must have good cliffhangers. We binge watch when something happens at the end of the episode, making it virtually impossible for us to wait to see what happens next. There's a definite art to this. Too much suspense will seem ridiculous, and not enough will cause us to lose interest.
As streaming services have become more and more popular, it seems television studios are working harder and harder to create this type of content. This might explain why so many binge-worthy TV shows came out in the past decade.
We've put together this list of 19 shows that are not only among the best to come out over the past ten years, but they're also the ones you're most likely to want to sit down and watch all at once.
Dramas are usually 45-60 minutes long, so bingeing them means taking a substantial chunk of time out of your life. Done intentionally, this can be a great way to unwind and relax, but it needs to be really good for a drama to be binge-worthy. The story, the characters, the costumes, special effects, dialogue. All of it. Otherwise, you're bound to lose interest.
A show rarely reaches this level, but it's a sight to be seen when it does.
Here are the most binge-worthy dramas of the past decade:
To call Game of Thrones a show is almost an understatement. It was an event. Or perhaps even a phenomenon. People worldwide were gathering every Sunday to watch the latest episode to see who would finally make it to the top of the Iron Throne.
Yet if you still haven't seen the show, and you like a medieval drama filled with intrigue, magic, and sex, then you're in luck. This is one of the better shows ever created.
The plot centers around the fight that breaks out between the various noble families of Westeros, a made-up land that is somewhat based on England, after the king dies with a questionable heir.
Bingeing the whole show at once would be intense. There are six seasons in total. Doing it in smaller binges is almost a requirement because there is so much drama and suspense in this show that watching just one episode at a time really isn't going to cut it. Plus, the plot truly is a roller coaster, meaning you'll almost always want to watch the next installment to find out what happens.
Add to this some great acting and a ton of production value, and you have a world-class show that can command your attention for hours at a time. To watch it, though, you'll need to have access to HBO.
Many fans were not super thrilled with the way the show ended. So keep that in mind. Even if the final season and last few episodes didn't live up to what this show was, it is still a feat in entertainment that deserves a few of your Sunday afternoons.
Perhaps one of the most binge-worthy shows of all time, Breaking Bad will most definitely suck you in for hours at a time. And boy, are you in for a treat.
The show is the story of Walter White, a quiet, middle-aged husband, father, and chemistry teacher who is both brilliant and under-utilized. So, when he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, he does the only thing one can do in this situation: begins cooking crystal meth and building a drug empire to provide for his family after he's gone. Makes sense, no?
Pretty much right from episode one, the show is a wild ride. Every episode, it seems, ends with a dramatic cliffhanger that makes it next to impossible to switch off, plus the show has a finale that generally pleased both fans and critics—no small task.
So, if you haven't seen Breaking Bad yet, get ready for five seasons of non-stop thrill. The show can still be found on Netflix, though it may one day switch to AMC's proprietary platform, AMC Plus.
Although not typically thought of as an action-packed, binge-worthy show, Mad Men makes it onto the list because it is all too easy to fall into Don Draper's chaotic world of mystery and money.
Draper is a successful ad executive on New York's Madison Ave during the 1960s, and he lives a life that is every bit as glamorous as that sounds. Yet he is also a deeply flawed character, one who is hiding a massive secret that eats him up nearly every minute of every day.
Watching the show is both a chance to dip back into the 60s (the costumes and sets on this show are fantastic) and learn about America and perhaps even ourselves. It takes some time to get into, but once you've gotten involved with the characters, it's almost impossible to turn away.
The show was on Netflix for the longest time, but you can now stream Mad Men only through AMC Plus, which you can access on its own or through Amazon Prime.
What will keep you engaged and watching more and more of The Handmaid's Tale is the sheer horror. Not unlike a car accident where you can't look away, The Handmaid's Tale, based on a novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, is a tragic tale that tries to show us that hope can be found even in the darkest of places.
The show's main character, Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss, is a handmaid in the futuristic world of Gilead, which is a fundamental Christian autocracy that has overthrown the US government and impressed its evil on the people living there. Being a handmaid in this future world is not what it sounds like. It is a job given to the few women who remain fertile in this dystopic world, and their primary job is to lay with high-ranking members of Gilead society and bear their children.
You can only imagine what type of world Offred must be living in if this type of job exists, and so you can probably imagine that the show centers around her desires and attempts to escape the hell in which she finds herself.
Therefore, The Handmaid's Tale is not a show for the faint of heart. For those who can stomach some dystopia and are willing to take a hard look at how sex and gender are dealt with in our societies, then this show can be for you.
One of the biggest news stories to come out of the 1990s was the murder trial of OJ Simpson. A football player, actor, and major celebrity, Simpson was accused of murdering his wife in 1995.
The subsequent trial was a media circus, and the Los Angeles district attorney's office managed to lose a case that, based on the physical evidence, they definitely should have won. Simpson was ultimately acquitted, but we all know he did it, right?
The People vs. O.J. Simpson dramatizes the arrest and trial story, giving us an inside look into all the various actors and how the trial played out the way it did.
It's only one season long, but if you didn't live through this or don't remember how it played out, it's genuinely fascinating. It's possible to watch the whole thing in just one sitting, especially since the episodes manage to leave you hanging pretty much every time.
Initially on FX, you can now stream The People vs. O.J. Simpson on Netflix.
Also an FX original, The Americans is another gem to come out of the last decade that you can spend hours bingeing if you don't watch out.
Don't be fooled by the title of this show; it is not about "Americans." Well, at least not the kind you would expect. Instead, it's about two Russian spies – Philip and Elizabeth Jennings – who came to the US to live, work, and report information back to the Soviet government. However, they aren't just any old spies. Instead, they were taken early by the KGB and trained to be American. They talk without an accent, have US passports, are familiar with US culture. They even have two American children who don't even know what their parents do for a living.
As you can imagine, this makes for a thrilling and high-stakes lifestyle, which makes for some great television.
The action and drama keep you watching from one episode to the next, but the characters are fascinating and well-acted, which helps a lot.
Currently, you can find The Americans in its totality on Amazon Prime.
The British monarchy has been a source of inspiration to many for as long as anyone can remember. It has also become rather popular among Americans. It seems people are finally willing to forgive all that tyranny they fought against a few hundred years back.
In response to this, Netflix made The Crown, one of its most expensive and most ambitious original productions.
Those who already have an interest in the monarchy will probably be more likely to fall into a binge with The Crown, but it's well-acted, and the costumes and sets are truly remarkable. The details put into each one make it feel as though you are watching something from the period.
Plus, not only do you get to follow all the drama and intrigue of the royal family, but you also get an excellent history lesson in what's happened in the world over the past 100 years. So, it's a win-win.
Shows like the crown succeed partly because of Downtown Abbey, which aired on PBS from 2010-2015. In the show, we get an intimate look into the English aristocracy's life in the early 20th century by witnessing the unfolding of the events surrounding the Crawley family.
Again, what stands out about this show is the production value. The sets and costumes are so spot on that you can easily think you're watching a live feed from pre-war England.
Of course, the characters and their interweaving storylines also help keep you sucked in for a long binge session. At the moment, you can find all the episodes of Downton Abbey on Netflix.
For fans of speculative, at times dystopic fiction that makes you question the nature of your reality, Black Mirror is going to be the show for you. Originally produced in the UK, it has since become a Netflix original series with five seasons.
What makes this show somewhat unique is that the episodes are not related to one another. Instead, each is its own separate story, and each one ventures into a different area of society and human life. No matter the specific topic, it's common to walk away from an episode with your mind blown and questioning the truth. What could be more fun than that?
Watching several of these in a row might indeed cause you to lose a bit of touch with reality, but it's still a lot of fun. As part of its original catalog, you can find Black Mirror in its entirety on Netflix.
One of the world's most famous detectives, Sherlock Holmes, has always managed to keep us entertained. The latest version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's infamous character is arguably one of the best ever done.
Mr. Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who proves in his role why he is one of the better actors to have emerged over the past decade. Sherlock Holmes is a particular type of character, and Cumberbatch nails it while also putting on his own spin.
The stories in these episodes are just what we would expect from a Sherlock Holmes program – weird, exciting, and never quite what you would expect.
Originally aired on Masterpiece (PBS), you can now watch it through their platform or Amazon Prime.
While the shows listed above are undoubtedly binge-worthy, as mentioned, sitting down and consuming episode after episode of a drama requires a specific mood and dedication. If you're not in that mood, then perhaps you're just looking to laugh.
Comedies are fun to binge because each episode is usually only thirty minutes long (or just twenty-three if it originally aired on network television.) This means you can sit down for a few hours and knock out half a season. Not bad!
Now, which comedy to choose? There are lots from the past decade, but these are the most binge-worthy:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who rose to fame thanks to her role as Elaine on Seinfeld, has had considerable success since those days, which typically doesn't happen to the stars of sitcoms as big as Seinfeld.
She won Emmy's for The New Adventures of Old Christine, but she's on point in Veep, a show that has her playing an ambitious albeit at the time misguided Vice President of the United States.
In the end, the show is non-stop laughter. When it aired, it also brought to attention the reality that a woman has never held the vice president's office. This is no longer true, of course, but it adds an interesting element to the show.
An HBO original, watching the show requires you to have a subscription to the channel or its streaming service, HBO Max.
One of the longest-running sitcoms ever, The Office, which was technically already in season six when this past decade began, remains one of the most binge-worthy programs of all time.
Part of the reason this is true is not only because it's funny but also because you begin to care about the little family that comes together in the offices of Dunder Mifflin. This makes it easy to get sucked into the storyline, and with nine seasons, it's hard to find the motivation to stop!
The show was available on Netflix almost since the service began, but you now need to have a subscription to NBC's Peacock streaming service. If you do, get ready to have some fun with Michael Scott and the Scranton gang.
One of the first of Netflix's original shows to receive critical and widespread acclaim, Orange is the New Black will suck you in purely because of its originality. Quite simply, there is no other show like it.
Based in a women's prison in upstate New York, the show starts by following Piper Chapman, arrested years after committing crimes as part of her girlfriend's drug empire. Throughout the first season and into the ones that follow, the show expands to dive deep into the many other characters, exploring issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, and also the prison system.
This is not a show for you if you're not looking to be both entertained and educated. If you are, then you're in for a real treat. As one of its original shows, you can find the entirety of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix.
One of the most successful sitcoms of the past decade (and more, the show aired from 2005-2014), How I Met Your Mother follows Ted Moseby, a man in his twenties and later thirties, on a quest to find true love and start a family.
Along the way, he and his friends get into all sorts of hijinx, and this serves as the show's main driver.
It's silly, often quite stupid, and also sappy. Yet, there's something relatable about the show and its characters that makes it easy to get lost in their world.
Plus, since the show is narrated by future Ted talking to his kids, you know that he eventually finds what he is looking for. Though the ending of the show still manages to be a surprise.
If you missed out on this cultural phenomenon when it aired, then now is the time to get in on the fun and find out how Ted Moseby met the love of his life. You can stream the whole show on Netflix.
If you're into animated shows and dark humor, then it's going to be hard for you ever to stop watching Bojack Horseman. The show's premise is a bit ridiculous: Bojack Horseman is, well, a horse who got rich and famous while acting on a children's show.
However, the show has been over for years, and Bojack is struggling to find work. He drinks a lot and makes many other dumb decisions, underneath which is a lot of laughs, if you can get in his state of mind.
This show is not for everyone, but those who do like the style love it and often end up bingeing large chunks of it at once. It's available on Netflix, so if you're intrigued, give it a try and see what happens!
Now that you've got a complete list of the most binge-worthy shows of the past decade, it's time to dial up your favorite streaming service and let the binge begin. You've likely seen a few of these shows, but we're willing to bet there are a few new ones. All of these shows are worth watching two or three times, so don't let that stop you. Stream away and have fun!