10 TV Shows to Diversify Your Binge-Watching Marathons

I watch way too much TV. In fact, when everyone else is sleeping, I am probably pumping my veins with caffeine to get through the next episode of Are You The One? I love reality TV, fantasy worlds, and I even cleanse my palette with the classic Catfish occasionally. Let’s get down to business: here are some of my top picks for TV shows you can binge-watch to diversify your series consumption for your next night in.

  1. 1. POSE

    Listen, if your TV show repertoire doesn’t include a power series about the African-American and Latinx Queer Ballroom scene in New York City during the 1980’s, what are you watching, honey? This series follows the lives of various Queer people who compete for trophies and recognition in this underground culture, often within chosen families known as Houses. This show goes beyond the competitions though, often detailing transitions and how HIV/AIDS impacted the New York City Queer community in the 1980’s. You may know of this show from Billy Porter’s performance which is powerful in itself, but Blanca (played by MJ Rodriguez) had me sobbing on my couch. Season one is on Netflix right now!

  2. 2. Are You The One?

    I love reality TV so much. In fact, my entire childhood was shaped by Jersey Shore. This is originally a very hetero dating show, but their recent season they really made no person off-limits for everyone. The premise of the show is that 16 people go into a luxurious house (always on a tropical island) for around ten weeks and try to find their “perfect match.” Their perfect match is calculated by “match-makers” who weed through everyone’s trait. Every week they have to pair off with the matches they think are correct, but this got extremely complicated when everyone could date anybody. Surprisingly, MTV actually got a few non-binary people on the show too, which revealed a lot of problematic notions held by certain contestants. Nevertheless, this show is definitely one to watch if you’re a reality tv binge-watcher like me.

  3. 3. Rhythm & Flow

    I’m only talking to Netflix subscribers with this one. Think of American Idol, but for rap. Even though I’m a little turned off by T.I. right now, he’s a judge for the show. Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and T.I. all go back to their roots to try to find the next up-and-coming rap star. Chance the Rapper goes to Chicago, Cardi B goes to New York City, and T.I. goes to Atlanta. All the judges bring their own judges from their cities with them to help with auditions and then come back to LA. The first challenge when the contestants come back to LA is a rap battle, then the following ones are music videos, performances with R&B stars. Some instances were real cringe, such as when a Queer rap artist, Cakes Da Killa, auditioned in New York City, and Cardi and Fat Joe were ~yikes~, to say the least. My favorite part of this show was seeing some of my favorite artists go all the way — and can I say that Beanz and Flawless battling gave me straight up anxiety.

  4. 4. Hip Hop Evolution

    For all my documentary series friends, this is for you. When it came out on Netflix, I consumed it nearly episode after episode. This series follows the evolution of hip hop, as said in the title. The beginning episodes detail how hip hop started as an underground movement, discussing how scratching tapes was one of the newest methods for music to concluding the series with more recent genres like gangsta rap. This series interviews a series of artists, producers, and DJ’s about hip hop and how the genre went from underground to one of the most popular genres today. This series is definitely a show to stream if you are in any way interested in music and/or how revolutionary hip hop is.

  5. 5. Dear White People 

    I love a good provocative title. This is one of my favorite series for two reasons: Lionel Higgins and Coco Conners. This comedy-drama follows several Black college students at an Ivy League higher educational institution. One of the key themes in the series is touching on modern American race relations. I enjoyed this series primarily because it does such a great job at illustrating that people of the same race are not a monolith, often as other shows tend to tread when highlighting their ~one~ Black character. Dear White People does not give you one-dimensional characters, either. The more you watch, the more you get to steep in all the dimensions the characters have. In this series, I really do not have a character I deeply despise which is very interesting, to say the least.

  6. 6. Unbelievable

    This was a hard one to put on here, but I think it is important. This series may not be for you because it does discuss the sexual assault of Marie Adler, a real girl who was violently assaulted by a serial rapist. It follows her attempts to go to the police, but ultimately she ends up getting charged for lying to police not only due to police interrogation tactics but also the entire system. As Marie loses friendships, housing, and family due to this assault, two women detectives are following the trail of this serial rapist. This was entirely challenging to watch, and many times I had to stop watching to collect myself. I felt as though this series also addressed how much more difficult reporting is for low-income women, especially women who may not have anybody after rape culture destroyed her connections. However it was on everyone’s must watch list for a reason, right? That’s what I told myself to get through it, but it was very difficult at times, I’m not going to lie. 

  7. 7. One Day At A Time

    One Day At A Time follows the life of Penelope, an Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family. Penelope is now a nurse, but she is raising two strong-minded children. The series deals with topics like PTSD, coming out, and racial profiling. It also has a complete star, Rita Moreno, as the abuelita. When watching this series, I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t have a Latinx family series like this before. I felt as though this series illustrated joy in families but all the hard times as well. This series is definitely for you if you just want a show to watch that isn’t a light family comedy show but can also take on the heavy stuff too.

  8. 8. Fresh Off The Boat

    This TV show is a must-watch, not only because it is entirely an amazing watch, but it is also the first TV sitcom to feature an Asian-American family in the United States for 20 years since it’s release in 2015. Fresh Off the Boat follows a Taiwanese-American family with a grandmother, parents and three kids. The show follows the Huangs as they relocate from D.C.’s Chinatown to an Orlando suburb (that, surprise, doesn’t have a large Asian population) in Florida. I enjoyed this series because it really hit on the “American Dream” and assimilation. More often than not, Asian-American narratives seem very scarce on TV, which makes this show an even more great watch.

  9. 9. Shameless 

    There has to be a reason so many of my friends relate to this show, right? This is honestly a really great show, and I’m pretty sure a majority of my high school peers have visited the Gallagher’s house in Chicago. This series follows the Gallagher family, most notably the children and their inconsistent drunk father. Set in South Side Chicago, the Gallagher’s say F You to people, places and gentrification. We see the Gallagher’s eventually get their GED and high school diploma, go to college and fail, go to prison, and even join the military. One thing is for sure about this series, it will most likely hit you hard if you’re from a working-class background.

  10. 10.  Grey’s Anatomy

    Most people are going to probably look at me like I am really overreaching this, but when you look critically at Grey’s Anatomy, this is really one of the only TV shows where I have seen a woman, much less a woman of color, be an avid career woman that has so many layers. Cristina Yang isn’t cold, she is factual and accurate, and she is also soft and complex. Many of these TV shows expect that in order for the woman to be fulfilled, she must have children. This show really challenges you to think about that “happy ending for women” differently. Perhaps Cristina Yang is meant to be an amazing doctor, friend, and lover, but that doesn’t mean she needs to be a mother. This applies not only to Yang but also to Doctor Weber and Bailey. Dr. Bailey is initially introduced as “the Nazi,” then upon further characterization, this arc of being a fierce doctor but also the most loving friend and wife is made. Callie Torres comes out to her father and mother and was dismissed by her Catholic mother for her same-sex marriage. We really saw how diversity makes TV better in this drama series. 

This list is definitely not the one-stop of trying to make your streaming more diverse, but it definitely is a start. I’m genuinely happy that big streaming services are helping to lead the charge with more options when it comes to diverse titles. When it gets cold and unbearable, I hope you consider watching one of these series to brighten your streaming palette.