• Ilana Davis

What Should I Watch (TV Shows)?

Updated: Oct 16

Finishing a TV show is like losing a friend; after living with a character for seasons of growth, obstacles, love, and triumph, it can be hard to move on to a new series. Despite this, I truly believe that this moment in time will be perceived as monumentally inspiring for future generations of television and entertainment. Each series has something new to offer - through message, representation, theme, or plot.

As with the friends I have, the music I listen to, and the hobbies I have curated over the years, my fascination with television knows no genre boundaries, nor does it begin with any particular decade. From historical dramas like Peaky Blinders, to modern tales of living in NYC in Broad City, to the murder mysteries of Dexter, each show has the potential to keep me watching episode after episode, season after season.


I have long abandoned traditional categories of TV, choosing instead to make my own. Since 2013, after binge watching my first series (It was Gossip Girl, and I'm not ashamed), I have been collecting title after title into one cohesive space.


Editors note: this is an updated recommendation list and streaming platforms for each show is subject to change.

Back in Time

Shows for when I want to escape into distant pasts and periods long gone. From Mad Men to Bridgerton - or the Stephen King adapted series 11.22.63 - there is so much significance in observing the (quasi-fictional) past to better understand the present.

  • Penny dreadful (Netflix)

  • The Deuce (HBO)

  • Ripper street (Netflix)

  • Borgias (Netflix)

  • Alias Grace (Netflix)

  • 11.22.63 (Hulu)

  • The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

  • The Assassination of American Versace (Netflix)

  • Peaky blinders (Netflix)

  • Chernobyl (HBO)

  • Freud (Netflix)

  • The Road to America (HBO)

  • The Americans (Amazon)

  • Mrs. America (Hulu)

  • Hollywood (Netflix)

  • The Great (Hulu)

  • Genius (Hulu ; History Channel)

  • The Men who Built America (Amazon)

  • The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)

  • The Bridgertons (Netflix)

  • Durrells in Corfu (Amazon)

  • Ratched (Netflix)

  • The Crown (Netflix)

  • Outlander (Netflix)

  • Reign (Netflix)

  • The Serpent (Netflix)

  • Mad Men (Netflix)

Sci-Fi & Dystopian Futures

Like Doctor Who or Altered Carbon, these shows surpass my wildest imagination through visions of an unforeseeable future. Whether technology threatens the fate of distant civilizations, or characters are faced with looming threats of war and climate

  • Westworld (HBO)

  • Doctor Who (Amazon)

  • The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

  • Happy (Netflix)

  • Altered Carbon (Netflix)

  • Avenue 6 (HBO)

  • Black Mirror (Netflix)

  • Tales from the Loop (Amazon)

  • Kiss Me First (Netflix)

  • Upload (Amazon)

  • Devs (Hulu)

  • Love, Death, Robots (Netflix)

  • Paradox (Hulu)

  • Humans (Amazon)

  • Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)

  • Utopia (Amazon)

  • Alice in Borderland (Netflix)

  • Electric Dreams (Amazon)

  • The 100 (Netflix)

  • Sense8 (Netflix)

  • The Feed (Amazon)

  • 3 percent (Netflix)

  • Daybreak (Netflix)

  • Containment (Netflix)

  • NEXT (Hulu)

  • The One (Netflix)

  • Futurama (Hulu)

  • Y: the Last Man (Hulu)

  • La Brea (Hulu)

  • Squid Game (Netflix)

  • Seven Deadly Sins (Netflix)

Supernatural/Fantasy/Horror

Think: werewolves, zombies, and fallen gods living amongst mortals. Shows like Supernatural and The 4400 bend reality with fiction, monster with man to create eerie and fantastical tales. Yet when I consider series like Teen Wolf or the Walking Dead, these depictions are ultimately not too far-fetched aside from amping up the mundane.

  • The OA (Netflix)

  • Game of Thrones (HBO)

  • Once upon a time (Netflix)

  • The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)

  • Zoo (Netflix)

  • The 4400 (Netflix)

  • The Returned (Netflix)

  • The Messengers (Netflix)

  • The Tomorrow People (CW.com)

  • Teen Wolf (???)

  • Lost (Hulu)

  • Supernatural (Netflix ; CW.com)

  • Manifest (Netflix)

  • Vampire Diaries (Netflix)

  • The Walking Dead (Netflix ; Sling TV)

  • The Witcher (Netflix)

  • Siren (Hulu)...Free form

  • What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu)

  • Messiah (Netflix)

  • Monsterland (Hulu)

  • Black Narcissus (Hulu)

  • Nobody's Looking (Netflix)

  • Bates Motel (Netflix)

  • Evil (Paramount)

  • What We do in the Shadows (Hulu)

In the Workplace (Wherever That May Be)

These are the procedurals, because there is a certain comfort to watching Dr. Grey and her colleagues return to the hospital for each shift. But it’s not just doctors and cops, there are shows ranging in content from paper companies (The Office) to chain store employees (Superstore) and even high ranking politicians (House of Cards, Veep) - a true reflection of society if you ask me. Consider any series that may have inspired a young college student to pursue his or her career.

  • Broadchurch (Netflix)

  • Dexter (Netflix)

  • Mindhunter (Netflix)

  • Mr. Mayor (Peacock.com ; Hulu)

  • Warehouse 13 (Amazon)

  • House (Amazon)

  • ER (Hulu)

  • Space Force (Netflix)

  • How to Get Away with Murder (Netflix, Hulu)

  • The Good Doctor (Hulu)

  • The Resident (Hulu)

  • Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix, Hulu)

  • Bones (Hulu ; Amazon)

  • Superstore (Hulu, NBC.Com)

  • The Office (Peacock)

  • The Night Of (HBO Max))

  • Sherlock (Netflix)

  • Criminal Minds (Netflix)

  • Brooklyn 99 (Netflix, Hulu)

  • House of Cards (Netflix)

  • The Young Pope / The New Pope (HBO Max)

  • Futurama (Hulu)

Family Dysfunctions

From the wholesome Durrells in Corfu to our Shameless Gallagher family, the characters of a show can quickly feel like family. Though not all fictional families can rank equally; I’d much rather reside in the homes of Modern Family than the dysfunction of Arrested Development (and that’s ok, because we’re all family here). To be clear: family shows don’t necessarily mean you should watch these with family (ahem, Californication). Additionally, taking a look through the following shows, you’ll come to realize that no two families look alike (and that’s ok).

  • Shameless (Netflix, Showtime.com)

  • Fresh off the Boat (Hulu)

  • The Carmichael Show (Hulu)

  • Modern family (Hulu)

  • Speechless (Hulu)

  • Weeds (Netflix)

  • Black AF (Netflix)

  • Kim's Convenience (Netflix)

  • Californication (Hulu)

  • This Is Us (Hulu)

  • Family Guy (Hulu)

  • American Dad (Hulu ; Youtube TV)

  • F is For Family (Netflix)

  • Ginny and Georgia (Netflix)

  • Arrested Development (Netflix, Hulu)

  • The Prince (HBO Max)

  • Desperate Housewives (Hulu)

  • Everything's Gonna Be Okay (Freeform, Hulu)

  • Hanna (Amazon)

  • Money Heist (Netflix)

  • Ozark (Netflix)

  • Big Little Lies (HBO Max)

  • Succession (HBO Max)

  • Mrs Fletcher (HBO Max)

  • A Teacher (Hulu)

  • The Undoing (HBO Max)

  • Sex/Life (Netflix)

  • The OC (Hulu)

It’s a Funny Thing

It’s hard to define a comedy these days; laughter is mixed with self-reflection which might lead to slight existentialism. Of course, shows like The Office or 30 Rock depict traditional comedy from timing to joke. But others like Community or even Big Mouth serve as something greater. I’ll laugh, cry, and contemplate all in a single episode - and that’s a funny thing.

  • Community (Hulu ; Netflix)

  • Broad City (Hulu ; Comedy Central)

  • The Good Place (Hulu, Netflix)

  • Wet Hot American Summer (Netflix)

  • High Maintenance (HBO Max)

  • Fleabag (Amazon)

  • The Mindy Project (Hulu)

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Hulu)

  • 30 Rock (Hulu, Amazon)

  • That 70s Show (Netflix)

  • Big Mouth (Netflix)

  • New Girl (Netflix)

  • Dollface (Hulu)

  • Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (Hulu)

  • Ramy (Hulu)

  • Shrill (Hulu)

  • The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt (Netflix)

  • Hacks (HBO Max)

  • Veep (HBO Max)

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

  • Gossip Girl (Netflix)

  • End of the Fucking World (Netflix)

  • After Life (Netflix)

  • Dave (Hulu)

  • Girls (HBO Max)

  • Atlanta (Hulu)

  • Sex Education (Netflix)

  • The Politicians (Netflix)

  • Please Like Me (Hulu)

  • Emily in Paris (Netflix)

  • You (Netflix)

Thoughtful Tearjerkers

A good movie has me reaching for the box of tissues beside my bed, entrenched in a character’s recent loss or moment of love. When I’m watching a show like Euphoria or Midnight Gospel, these moments are recurring and painful - but also beautiful. That’s the point of good television afterall, isn’t it? To peer into the nature of man through cyclical storylines and a painted vision of what it means to be alive.

  • Euphoria (HBO Max)

  • Dead to Me (Netflix)

  • The Midnight Gospel (Netflix)

  • The Leftovers (HBO Max)

  • Years and Years (HBO Max)

  • Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

  • Six feet under (HBO)

  • Degrassi (Amazon Max)

  • Dear White People (Netflix)

  • I May Destroy You (HBO Max)

  • Behind Her Eyes (Netflix)

  • Undone (Amazon)

  • Wilfred (Amazon, Hulu)

  • 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)

  • Unorthodox (Netflix)

  • Outer Banks (Netflix)

  • The Maid (Netflix)

The Age of Superheros

Enter the age of modern Marvel (and DC, to be clear). Thanks to shows like Daredevil, The Arrow, Gotham, and more, those comics from early decades are returning at full force. But this only scratches the surface of our superhero vigilantes, thanks to a rise in series like WandaVision and What If…? On Disney+ so be sure to look out for new and exciting content.

  • Jessica jones (Netflix)

  • Daredevil (Netflix)

  • The Flash (Netflix)

  • The Arrow (Netflix)

  • Legends of Tomorrow (Netflix)

  • Gotham (Netflix, Hulu)

  • Agents of shield (Netflix, Hulu)

  • Legion (Hulu, FX)

  • WandaVision (Disney+)

  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)

  • What If…? (Disney+)

  • The Boys (Amazon)

  • Loki (Disney+)

Reality

To be clear, I’ve never enjoyed reality TV until my roommates and family made me watch with them. There is something Orwellian about peering into the lives of others - whether heavily produced or not - for the pure entertainment of viewers. Yet, there is something to be said about the sensations revolving around Love Island, Survivor, or even Tiger King. How do our beloved contestants react in scenarios… would I do the same? So these very questions keep me returning week after week.

  • Great British Bake Off (Netflix)

  • Nailed it (Netflix)

  • Love Island (Hulu)

  • Survivor (Paramount+)

  • Bachelor/Bachelorette (Paramount+)

  • The Circle (Netflix)

  • Too Hot To Handle (Netflix)

  • The Hills

Live & In Person

My decision to split Unscripted shows from Reality stems from the level of production involved in development. You won’t find careful cutaways or contestant testimonies in these shows. These are comedy specials, like Bo Burnham’s enlightening Inside special or the poignant Quarter Life Poetry that, frankly, needs more seasons.

  • The Age of Spin, Dave Chapelle Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Kid Gorgeous at Radio City, John Mulaney Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Legalize Everything, Eric Andre Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Alive From New York, Pete Davidson Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • We'll Do it For Half, George Lopez Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Quarter Life Crisis, Taylor Tomlinson Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Feelings: Ramy Youssef Comedy Special (HBO Max)

  • Welcome to Buteaupia: Michelle Buteau Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • Oh, Hello on Broadway: John Mulaney and Nick Kroll Comedy Special (Netflix)

  • John Mulaney: Comeback Kid (Netflix)

  • London Hughes: To Catch a D*ck (Netflix)

  • Schulz Saves America (Netflix)

  • Saturday Night Live (Hulu)

  • Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)

  • Bong Apetit (Hulu)

Documentary

From the tales of Tiger King to the Heaven's Gate cult and Demi Lovato’s Dancing with the Devil, these documentaries take a universal truth of some sort and relay that information through film. The result? I deeper look into the minds of our subjects that leave me wanting more.

  • CNN Decades Series (CNN.com)

  • Tiger King (Netflix)

  • Unnatural Selection (Netflix)

  • Beyond the Headlines: The College Admissions Scandal (Hulu)

  • Heavens Gate: The Cult of Cults (HBO Max)

  • Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil (Youtube)

  • The Son of Sam: A Descent into Madness

  • Signs of a Psychopath (Hulu)

  • While the Rest of Us Die (Hulu)

  • Ancient Aliens (Netflix, Hulu, HistoryChannel)

  • Nostradamus Effect (Hulu)

  • Waco (Netflix)

  • Conspiracy (Netflix)

  • Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror (Netflix)

Limited & Anthology

Time is of the essence here. A quick binge watch over the weekend or a simple series that I don’t want to get too attached to. Because when I watch shows like White Lotus or Modern Love, it's simply a glimpse into the lives of carefully crafted characters and scenarios… no more or less.

  • Lovecraft Country (HBO Max)

  • White Lotus (HBO Max)

  • American Horror Story (Netflix, Hulu)

  • Nine Perfect Strangers (Hulu)

  • The Twilight Zone (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon)

  • Two Sentence Horror Stories (Netflix)

  • Soundtrack (Netflix)

  • Quarter Life Poetry (Hulu)

  • Modern Love (Amazon)

  • Easy (Netflix)

  • What/If (Netflix)

  • Hang Ups (Hulu)

  • Cake (Hulu)

  • Documentary Now! (Netflix)

  • Only Murders in this Building (Hulu)

The Classics

With the constant onslaught of new shows, it can be difficult to remember a time before streaming. Back when Friends and M*A*S*H were on air, you had to sit in front of the television to catch the latest episode (before it went to rerun, that is). Now we have easy access to tales of the past which have surely inspired what we know of TV today. For reference, I’m 22 years old, so by classics I mean anything that went on air on or before 1994 (a truly different time).

  • Full House (Hulu)

  • The Nanny (Roku Channel)

  • The Simpsons (Disney+)

  • Friends (Youtube TV ; Philo)

  • Sex and the City (HBO Max)

  • M*A*S*H (Hulu)

  • The Wire (HBO Max)

  • Twin Peaks (Hulu, Paramount)

  • X files (Hulu)

  • Oz (HBO Max)




















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