COVID 19 has changed how people live all over the world. With cases across the globe ramping up more of us are staying at home. As we all prepare to take to our couches once again these top 40 shows will keep you laughing, crying, mesmerized, and otherwise entertained.
Read on for the full list and reviews of the Top 10.
I scrolled past this show many times as Viking themes are often too gory for my taste. Yet with more time on my hands than usual due to COVID, I went for it and I am hard-pressed to find much wrong with this series.
Based on the Saxon Stories series of books by Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom tells the story of Uhtred Ragnarson, a ninth-century Saxon boy who was taken hostage by raiding Vikings. He loves his Dane family and is content to live among them until his family is murdered and, other Danes thinking he is responsible, Uhtred is cast out to find a new place in the world. Is he Saxon or is he Dane? He has the rare opportunity to choose and his wandering thoughts bring him to the kingdom of Wessex and Alfred, soon to be King of all Saxons. The two men form a grudging alliance, with Alfred needing Uhtred's skill as a warrior to build an England and fight the Danes. While Uhtred needs Alfred to win back the lands and title he lost as a boy.
Alexander Dreymon seems an unlikely choice for the role. I find him to be a bit too pretty with his plump lips and lovely eyelashes. However, he somehow grows on you and by the end of series one, you can't imagine anyone else in the role. That's good casting.
And then there is the glorious gift of David Dawson as King Alfred the Great. There isn’t a single scene the man does not steal, and he doesn’t need to utter a word to do it. His intense, hypnotic eyes and stoic face never falter, and when Alfred offers a rare fleeting smile you sit up in your seat to get a better look before it's gone. Well, maybe I just did that and admittedly I hit rewind on some of those Davinci smiles.
The rest of the cast is wonderful with standouts like Ian Hart as father Beocca, as devoted to Uhtred as he is to Alfred and often caught in the middle. The rarely mentioned Simon Kunz gives an exemplary portrayal as Odda the Elder, the wizened ealdorman and chief counsel to Alfred. Tobias Sentleman, Emily Cox, and Eliza Butterworth all give excellent performances.
Wins: Excellent casting, beautiful cinematography, great acting with memorable characters. The gore is not overdone, nor is the nudity and there isn't a single utterance of the F-word.
Falters: Slow hook but warms up by the end of episode two. Makeup went overboard with the filthy hands, faces and clothes. Wardrobe! Can we get some costume changes here puh-leeze? Uhtred wears the same roadkill vest-y thing the entire season, and even King Alfred wears the same three tunics and a shabby mail jacket.
Sigh…Tom Ellis. I never knew this man existed before this show and I have since sleuthed out all his television and film work like a stalker.
In this supernatural crime drama based on the DC Comics Sandman, Ellis plays the devil himself, Lucifer, on vacation from the doldrums of Hell. He is living it up in Los Angeles as a night club owner with his sexy demon sidekick Mazakeen. The two of them have a pretty good gig going on, with Lucifer turning his devilish, irreverent charm and deadly accent onto most of the ladies of Los Angeles, and sometimes the men. Then when a friend is murdered, he meets the beautiful detective Chloe, Lauren German, and ends up using his devil powers of uncovering the truth to help solve murders.
Sounds a bit trite I know, and the show is campy at times, but it works. Episodes move along at a good pace and keep the viewer interested. The casting is great with good chemistry between most of the actors. Other than Ellis, Rachel Harris gives the most memorable performance as Lucifers therapist Linda, while Aimee Garcia, Lesley Ann Brandt and Kevin Alejandro do not disappoint. I'm not crazy about German's portrayal of Chloe and Ellis does a lot of the heavy lifting to make the chemistry work, but she is certainly beautiful to look at and overall, they are a pretty good pair.
Wins: Casting, no one else could play Lucifer better than Ellis. A strong hook draws you in from the first episode. Dialogue is quirky and Ellis's one-liners often funny. The cinematography is great, Los Angeles looks amazing and the special effects get better with each season.
Falters: Chemistry isn't ideal between the show's romantic duo. German looks like she is being forced to kiss Ellis, which is just sad. Ellis deserves better.
I didn't expect to like this series. Westerns, even modern ones, seem to be full of cliches and often involve the cinematic deaths of helpless farm animals so I steer clear of them. But I was immediately pulled in by the absolutely stunning scenery and cinematography. Based on the books by Craig Johnson, Longmire tells the story of Walt Longmire, a recently widowed Sheriff of a remote county in Wyoming. Grieving for his wife, and suspecting foul play, the devoted sheriff is kept busy as his county is plagued by murders, drugs, gambling, and other dastardly deeds. Of course, he fends off all of them without even the aid of a cell phone, he doesn't like them, and only three misfit deputies.
Robert Taylor's grim and gritty portrayal of Longmire is wonderful. A man of few words, Taylor's acting skills let us know there is much more there. He adores his daughter, talks to horses and collects litter off the side of the roads. The underlying story of neighboring Cheyenne reservation communities is very interesting, and Lou Diamond Phillips is excellent in his role as Longmire's best friend and confidante.
Katee Sackhoff as Victoria gives a great performance and the unlikely chemistry between her and Taylor is fun to watch play out. Cassidy Freeman, A Martinez, and Bailey Chase are all well cast in their roles.
Set in Wyoming, the series is shot mostly in New Mexico in the gorgeous Valles Caldera National Preserve. The stunning landscape adds a mystical quality to the scenes and is especially appropriate with the strong vein of Native American culture that is wonderfully showcased in this series.
Wins: A good hook starts off strong in the first episode. Good chemistry among the cast, good writing and gorgeous location.
Falters: Dialogue can get a bit cliché at times.
Some shows are just destined to be cult classics. Is it because they speak to a select and alternative portion of society, like Rocky Horror Picture Show? Or is it because they somehow regurgitate all the pain and tragedies that we consume in our lives, and then force us to examine the chunks? I'm not sure but I do know that this show was so brilliantly acted by William H. Macy that it activated some of my own triggers from a narcissistic alcoholic parent. I had to give myself a break from bingeing for a couple of days; and you may too if you share this bit of history with the Gallagher's.
However, once you get over yourself, settle in for ten seasons of the darkly humorous, mildly PTSD inducing and strangely hopeful struggles and antics of the Gallagher family. Showtime revamped this brit series to take place in the poor neighborhoods of Chi-town Chicago and it has received consistently excellent reviews. Macy plays Frank Gallagher, the alcoholic and narcissistic patriarch to his six wayward children, that are being held together MacGyver style by the eldest sister Fiona, Emily Rossum.
All the actors are excellent in this series, but it is Macy that astounds. Rarely has a character been so awful, so mesmerizing, or so painful to watch. Just when you think Frank is going to finally step up, in a true narcissistic style he lets do you down hard, laughing in your face. The show is raw, and there is a lot of profanity and sex so keep that in mind if you want to binge with the kiddos.
Wins: Strong hook, incredible casting, and chemistry. Memorable characters to love and hate.
Falters: A lot of profanity, sex, and violence.
Yes, chess. But don't let that keep you from clicking. Queen's Gambit is a very fresh, slightly morbid but fascinating limited series that is unlike anything else on Netflix.
Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, Queen's Gambit tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan and, unknowingly, a chess prodigy that is discovered by the orphanage janitor. Beth enters tournaments and sure enough wins them all, becoming one of the best chess players in the world. This unlikely scenario is just what we need, something glorious and sweeping to take us away from the bleakness of COVID. We can all learn to play chess after all. It could happen.
Anya Taylor-Joy plays the tranquilizer addicted and morose Beth beautifully. She is a complex character, a little cold and cavernous but still wanting of love. Beth seems to fill her internal void with the satisfaction of beating her opponents, for a time. The fragile fondness between Beth and her newly adopted mother Alma is poignant and joyful to watch, as is the friendship between Beth and janitor Bill. I wish both could have been developed further in the series.
The cinematography is beautiful and the 1960's set is elegant and lovely. The shots of the glamorous Paris hotel make you ache to be there.
Wins: Engrossing from the first minutes, great story and meaningful dialogue, complex characters, gorgeous set.
Falters: Some relationships could have been explored more.
I don’t believe a more glorious set has ever existed, if so please show me. Touted as the most expensive French series created, the eye candy is enough to send you over the edge. The beautiful people, divine fabrics, the coiffed hair, the crystal and gold, opulent tables, decadent parties, and manicured gardens.
Versailles tells the story of King Louis XIV and his dominion over France, the building of Versailles and his unpopular decision to sequester his nobles in his new palace. With his court trapped like lemmings, plots, poisonings, and indiscretions abound. Louis is backed by his loyal brother Phillipe d'Orléans, and it is the relationship between the two of them that has the most pull. Phillipe (Alexander Vlahos) is a more scrupulous and likable fellow than Louis, who is somewhat stiffly portrayed by George Blagden. He does have beautiful hair though. Everyone does actually, the hair product should be credited in this series.
Sex is rampant, with Louis the most generous of all with the ladies. There is so much fornicating going on that everyone starts to look alike and the sex scenes themselves become as rousing as a double dose of Nyquil. Rarely does it add to the story or intimacy of the characters. In these cases, sex can be implied but do we really need the humping, groaning, and heads in laps? No, we don't but it does add to the debauchery of the era and privilege of the king.
Wins: Incredible set and production, a good story that is engrossing from the first episode.
Falters: Excessive sex, hit and miss performances by actors. The series finale seemed to cut off the storyline abruptly.
I love these guys. After all, I've been watching them for fifteen years. They are family, though I am Team Dean all day. Sorry, Sam. Unless you've been under a rock for more than a decade you are familiar with Supernatural. It has a huge following and dedicated cult fan base which has attributed to it being one of the longest-running series on television.
Supernatural tells the tale of two brothers, trained by their father to rid the earth of monsters. Yes, monsters are real, and Dean and Sam become the best at "saving people, hunting things". The two have given up any hope of a normal life and immerse themselves in the underbelly of this world, where ghouls, vampires, and werewolves exist just outside of the layman's vision.
With fifteen seasons there is not enough room here to give a run-through of every storyline. Suffice it to say that the theme of the show improves for the better when an angel named Castiel and Crowley, the Lord of Hell dominate the storyline. What I love about this show are the comic relief episodes the writers give us. Bad Day at Black Water is a good example. You never stop laughing and Dean gets the best one-liners throughout the series. The greatest episode is the few moments of Season 4 Episode 6 where Dean lip syncs Eye of the Tiger, and the blooper moments after the episode are priceless.
Wins: Same starring duo for the entire run of the series, almost unheard of in television. Great storyline, great respites of comedy, dialogue that makes you cry, laugh and hide under the blanket. Wonderful chemistry between the principal cast. Oh, and Jensen Ackles is a beautiful man.
Falters: Some storylines can be trite. Gore effects are not always top-notch.
The title alone will get your attention and it's a good prediction of the sarcastic humor you will find in this series.
Schitt's Creek is about the down on their luck Rose family. Once wealthy, they lost their entire fortune to a swindler and have nothing left to their name. Then John (Eugene Levy) is reminded that he had bought an entire town as a joke because of its name, Schitt's Creek. With nowhere else to go, the family sets off for their new adventure and finds themselves the live-in owners of a cut-rate and dilapidated motel. Forced into seedy circumstances that they have no skills to deal with, the Rose family must make friends, get to know the locals, and otherwise make it work.
Eugene Levey created the show with his son Dan, who also stars as his son David Rose. Chris Elliot is hysterical as Roland Schitt, the motel caretaker. The cast is great, and this is a funny, sarcastic show reminiscent of a more modern Green Acres.
Wins: The cast is great, chemistry is good all around, funny dialogue that doesn’t disappoint.
Falters: Some episodes are a bit slow going, production is on a budget but that adds to the charm.
Are we good people? Even when are positive that we are good people, are we really? If we are what awaits us and if not, how does the score get settled? These questions and more attempt to be answered in a thoughtful, brilliant way you would expect from the team of excellent writers on this show. Disguised as a quirky, whimsical, and sarcastic comedy The Good Place will surprise you with its underlying message of the meaning of morality and how well we live our lives.
This is a great show to watch with the family, and frankly, we need more shows like this. Shows that make us think about ourselves; how do we treat each other, what do we do with our chances in life, what do we squander, how hard do we try? You get the idea. It’s a thinker, but a funny one.
Wins: Incredible chemistry, brilliant dialogue, great acting. Ted Danza is meant for this role. Amazing plot twist at season one finale.
Falters: Some episodes are a bit slow; the storyline can be a bit too conceptual. Series seemed cut short to me.
The colors alone in this series will get you to watch it. Everything is warm, muted, golden and gorgeous. The scenery, set in North Carolina but shot in Charleston South Carolina, is stunning.
The storyline is a bit complicated but soon finds its feet and is carried out quite well by the young cast. John (Chase Stokes) is underage, his only parent missing and living alone on the, you got it, Outer Banks. Dodging the authorities who want to send him to social services John soon discovers the real reason his father is missing. Poor kids battle with rich kids, poor boy falls for rich girl.
Wins: Glorious cinematography and scenery, strong cast that creates believable characters amid an unbelievable script.
Falters: Storyline is both far-fetched and cliché at times.
Surprisingly sweet and funny high school series that is about...you guessed it....teens figuring out the bird and the bees.
Three unassuming housewives find out what they are really capable of. Great storyline, lots of surprises.
A grieving widow befriends a woman who is not who she seems and her life is quickly complicated. Applegate is wonderful in this series.
A high school girl commits suicide and leaves behind voice tapes telling her schoolmates why she did it. First two seasons are the best.
A woman going through divorce finds new purpose in her life with the help of her friends. Very sweet and family friendly show.
Two women find friendship with each other after their husbands leave them for each other. All-star cast is funny and heart warming.
A surprisingly creepy, disturbing and enthralling period piece about an unassuming woman wrongly accused of murder. This one scared the bejesus out of me,
Very funny Brit comedy about a single mother's unorthodox love life.
Emily goes to Paris for a dream job and finds it's not all it's cracked up to be. Not an original story but still engaging.
A witty comedy about Jane, who is accidentally impregnated during a routine gynecologist exam. Gina Rodriguez gives an award-winning performance.
High school kids trying to survive and/or get out of their inner-city neighborhoods. Acting is a little haphazard but overall an intriguing young cast.
Set in a different world, a hardened monster hunter is more human than we expect. Hard to follow, episodes run out of sequence but somehow still manages to hold interest.
London detective must solve crimes that are eerily similar to Jack the Ripper murders. A bit dark but interesting storyline and visually appealing. Also has the fabulous David Dawson on cast.
Rising star in figure skating risks losing it all due to her own and her mother's bipolarity. An interesting and different series that showcases family mental illness in a more positive light.
A very strange but engrossing series about a high school girl who discovers she has powers. Season finale was bizarre.
Who doesn't love Sherlock Holmes? So, of course, we would love his little sister. An adorable family movie everyone will enjoy.
A grieving woman attempts to start a new life in the remote woods of California. An onslaught of cliches that are nevertheless appealing and familiar. The scenery is beautiful.
Ninth century drama of the Roman occupation of Germania. Dubbing can be annoying but the story is good, great costumes and setting.
A quirky romantic comedy about two people who agree to be fake dates for each of the holidays.
The story of Henry V and his rise from patron of alehouses to King. Gorgeously filmed, well-acted but better suited to a series than a film.
Included here because everyone should watch this movie. About how we create our own lives with the general tone of our inner thoughts and feelings.
Starts out harmlessly enough with book nerd interested in pretty writer girl. Then somehow turns into a dark story about a serial killer, continually removing those who block his path to his dream girl.
Vampires and werewolves always seem to go together in these shows, this is no different. Based on books, the storyline is a bit complicated but well portrayed. Nicely filmed.
An orphaned and handicapped girl is given a second chance at life, and discovers she is part of a ninja clan of nuns. Unusual storyline, beautiful setting filmed in Spain, great cast.
A unique storyline about the origins of football. Beautiful filming and location. Secondary storylines weigh this series down but still worth a watch.
A bizarre storyline of a man who gets mistakenly cloned during a spiritual healing treatment. Paul Rudd is always funny and he carries the show. Unique and funny.
A psychologist unhappy with her job takes on the unlikely role of working for the Catholic church to investigate claims of demon possession. Interesting storyline and well worth the watch.