7 most binge-worthy shows to stream this winter

Posted at 8:30 AM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 22:12:24-05

While most network shows are hibernating for the winter, Amazon and Netflix have some great original programming to help you survive the cold weather.

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Jessica Jones is a fascinatingly flawed heroine who, played brilliantly by the willowy Krysten Ritter, is a tough, cantankerous recluse not without a certain charisma. Blessed with superhuman strength and the ability to jump really high and fly, Jessica had just started to use her powers to help people when something really bad happened. Sometime later, Jessica, now a private investigator, is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, hiding from the world, and engaging in some risky behavior involving sex and alcohol. 

In short she is royally screwed up thanks to the villain of this piece, Kilgrave. Able to force anyone to do whatever he commands (even kill themselves or others), Kilgrave is played by David Tennant (Doctor Who) in a chillingly disturbing performance. Like its companion Marvel series Daredevil, the show has a gritty real-world atmosphere and moody noir tone. 

My one complaint with the show is its gloominess is unrelenting. The villain is always one step ahead of the hero, and innocents are endlessly sacrificed. This show desperately needs Daredevil’s amusing sidekicks to throw a little light into the darkness.

Making a Murderer (Netflix)

If you somehow managed to miss all the hoopla over this docuseries the last month, it is worth a viewing for those who enjoy true crime stories.

Steven Avery went to prison for 18 years for a rape he did not commit. DNA evidence cleared him, he was released and he sued the local county and county officials for millions of dollars. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for the savage murder of a young woman. Was he framed by the sheriff's department he was suing? 

The documentary has amazingly intimate access to Avery and his family during the last 10 years and does an exceptional job of showcasing how easily people with not much money or intelligence can be manipulated and harmed by the justice system. Unfortunately, the show does not have the same access to the victim’s family, and the series has been criticized for being too one-sided and leaving out facts that make Avery look guilty. It is also too long, some of the revelations seem drawn out and questions postponed to fill out 10 episodes. 

Overall, it is a fascinating examination of a murder mystery that will keep you guessing even after it’s over.

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

Based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick, the show presents an alternate reality 15 years after the USA lost WWII to Germany and Japan.  America is now split into the Japanese occupied Pacific States and the Nazi empire’s Eastern States. Jews, when discovered, are gassed, and African-Americans are treated as slaves.

When film strips of a different history with the U.S. winning WWII start appearing, both the Germans and the American resistance are desperate to obtain them. A young woman, whose sister was murdered by the Japanese, and an undercover German spy become entangled in a journey to take the film strips to the mysterious “man in the high castle.”  

A suspenseful political thriller, the series has an intriguing premise, the look of a 1940s film noir and many striking images, like Times Square covered in swastikas.

Master of None (Netflix)

This new comedy-drama was created by and stars Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) as a 30-year-old actor struggling to succeed and suffering through the trials of being a millennial in New York City. Think of this show as the flip side of Lena Dunham’s Girls with a multicultural cast and a little less navel gazing.

This is a smart, entertaining show that deals refreshingly with some serious issues not often portrayed in comedies. The difference in life experience between twenty-somethings born in America and their immigrant parents, and the difficulties of a non-white actor to find non-stereotypical roles in Hollywood, are two of the themes the show examines with wit and humor.

Catastrophe (Amazon)

This is a genuinely hilarious romantic comedy about a one-week fling between a vacationing American and an Irish woman that leads to an unplanned pregnancy. The thirty-something couple decides to keep the baby and takes a stab at making it work together. 

Sharon Horgan (who also co-wrote the series) and Rob Delaney have a feisty chemistry, and their characters are given such sharp, quick-witted banter that it is impossible not to like them or this lively show.

Broadchurch (Netflix)

The second season of this British crime drama is even more suspenseful and compelling than the first. Season one chronicled the murder of an 11-year-old boy that shocked a small country town in England. The two cops heading the investigation, played by David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Olivia Colman, are devastated along with the town by the revelation of the culprit. 

Season two deals with the trial of previous murder and the re-emergence of a past case that haunts Tennant’s Detective Alec Hardy. New cast additions of Eve Myles (Torchwood), Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are the icing on the cake to this engrossing thriller.

Transparent (Amazon)

Season two of this award-winning drama is as compelling as ever. At its core, this show is a family drama about sexual identity, acceptance and growing up.

Maura, played by the talented Jeffrey Tambor, is the patriarch of the family. Having successfully transitioned into living life as a woman, she is now struggling to clarify her relationship with her ex-wife and the world around her. As for her children, Sarah (Amy Landecker) just split from her lesbian partner at their wedding after recently divorcing the father of her three kids, Joshua (Jay Duplass) has managed to knock up the new Rabbi, and Alexandra (Gaby Hoffmann) is an unemployed dreamer, forever trying to find herself.  

With the look and feel of a great indie film, this series is touching, funny and incredibly sincere in its characters’ search for belonging and love.


Kelly Martens has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Film Criticism. She worked as a film reviewer at the Pitch Weekly.