Shows to Binge-Watch This Summer in 12 Genres

It’s nearly summer, the season of flip-flops, campfires, cookouts, and… catching up on the shows you’ve been hearing about all year. With an overwhelming number of choices and pressure from friends to watch the shows they love, it can be hard to choose between shows, particularly when they’re so time-consuming. To help you decide, I’ve compiled some of my top shows in 12 major genres so you can find something according to your mood. The suggestions are based on shows I’ve enjoyed, plus a few that I plan on watching because I’ve heard strong positive reviews of them. While the majority listed are pretty well-known, it’s a reflection of their quality (and means it’s even more likely that you’ve had a few friends pestering you to watch them).

 

1. Fantasy: Game of Thrones (HBO)

I know, I went for the obvious choice. But there’s a good chance you either decided not to watch the show or gave up early on. I’ll admit, there are times when I struggle with the show, whether it be excessive misogyny, dull plotlines, or a lack of diversity in race and sexual orientation. Fortunately, largely because of criticism of the show, the latter seasons have improved somewhat on these issues, which is why I’m glad I stuck with the show. For fantasy lovers, it really can’t be beat, with loads of action, politics, magic, and a dozen amazing female characters. The video above is a fan-made compilation featuring GoT’s female characters through season six (it contains spoilers)!

Looking for something else? Try American Gods, Penny Dreadful, A Series of Unfortunate Events, or Black Sails.

 

2. Science Fiction: Black Mirror (Netflix/Channel 4)

For fans of sci-fi, romance, horror, and drama alike, Black Mirror crosses into multiple genres, allowing it to remain accessible to those who don’t typically go out of their way to watch science fiction. The show has eerily predicted a couple headlines (David Cameron’s pig scandal as well as robotic pollinating bees) while other episodes depict a future that is likely a couple decades away (comedy characters running for office and intense virtual reality games). Each episode stands alone, so you can watch as few or as many as you like, and in any order. If you plan to watch them all, save “San Junipero” for last; if you plan to only watch a few, watch it first.

Looking for something else? Try Humans, Torchwood, In the Flesh, The Walking Dead, or Sense8.

 

3. Action: Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Of the four intertwined Marvel superhero shows on Netflix, Jessica Jones is my favorite, with Daredevil at a close second. Daredevil has the best action sequences, but Jessica Jones does a better job of staying straightforward and balancing superpowers with psychologically intense drama. It’s the only show of the four to feature a female superhero, and the showrunners make it count. Jessica’s sass, powers, and backstory make her my top TV superhero protagonist.

Looking for something else? Try Daredevil, Luke Cage, or The Defenders (August 2017).

 

4. Drama: Shameless (Showtime/Netflix)

Set in Chicago’s South Side, the American adaptation of Shameless follows a dysfunctional family trying to survive and succeed despite literally everything that could go wrong. The show is not for the faint of heart: it is emotionally taxing, with each episode bound to make you laugh, tear up, as well as shake your head at some characters’ choices. You’ll love some characters and hate others, and there’s at least one ship that you will want to invest in. The acting, cinematography, dialogue, and story make it one of my favorite shows of all time. The entire first episode is available to watch on YouTube (see the video above)!

Looking for something else? Try Atlanta, Transparent, Orange Is The New Black, or Mr. Robot.

 

5. Historical Drama: Outlander (Starz)

Based on the book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is part romance, part drama, and part fantasy, all while exploring the 1940s, 1960s, and 1700s Scotland, France, and the Americas. Like any good historical drama, the detail of the sets and costuming are breathtaking. Although the main character Claire’s story may seem unbelievable, the fantastical element allows for a rollercoaster ride of excitement and an exploration of many historical moments in centuries past.

Looking for something else? Try The Crown, Peaky Blinders, or Vikings.

 

6. Documentary: Gaycation (VICE)

Ellen Page and her friend Ian travel the world with a film crew and investigate how LGBTQ people in the US and abroad live, with each episode covering a different location. It’s a seemingly straightforward premise, but the reality is complicated. What does it mean for a Westerner whose identity is marked by colonialism’s legacy to enter a place and judge how it treats certain people, particularly when colonialism introduced a specific ideology of sexuality and sexual orientation? Is the United States or some similar Western country the universal ideal for how queer people should be treated? And an even more immediate question that Ellen and Ian face: how would you react if you met someone who hates or has even killed people who share your identity?

Looking for something else? Try Chef’s Table, Nathan For You, Making a Murderer, or The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

 

7. Mockumentary: Documentary Now! (IFC/Netflix)

If you need a laugh, mockumentaries (mock + documentaries) have got your back. Documentary Now! is a relatively niche mockumentary series by three SNL alums—Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers—that parodies some of the most influential documentaries of all time, like Nanook of the North and The Thin Blue Line. You don’t need to have seen specific documentaries to enjoy it, however, and that is a testament to its comedic genius. Each episode stands on its own, so you can watch episodes that pique your interest.

Looking for something else? Try Summer Heights High, The Office, or Trailer Park Boys.

 

8. Comedy: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

As The Office ended, I had Parks and Rec to replace it. Then, as Parks and Rec ended, I had Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All three shows are staged in the workplace, and all three have memorable characters to feel attached to and even relate to, whether you’re a goofball trying your best, a highly organized know-it-all, or a narcissistic sass-master. B99 is consistently upbeat and its pacing makes it zip by, so that each episode leaves you smiling. If I could describe it in one word, I would choose “wholesome,” because it is both loveable and socially conscious, qualities that are rare in comedy.

Looking for something else? Try Broad City, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Eric Andre Show, or Portlandia.

 

9. Cartoon (Mature): Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

I originally stayed away from the show because I figured if the men of Reddit enjoyed it so much, I probably wouldn’t. But it proved to be the cartoon for adults that I’ve liked the most since back when I regularly watched The Simpsons, brilliantly testing the creative limits of comedy and science fiction. My common complaints with science fiction is that a) it’s not realistic enough or b) it’s not imaginative enough, and Rick and Morty evades both critiques. For those unused to the coarseness and absurdity of Adult Swim-style humor, it will take a couple episodes to get used to the show, but it's worth it.

Looking for something else? Try Bojack Horseman, Bob’s Burgers, or Archer. Or watch classic episodes of The Simpsons.

 

10. Cartoon (Kids/Family): Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)

In my childhood, I was obsessed with cartoons, including Kim Possible, My Life as a Teenage Robot, Sailor Moon, Lilo & Stitch (yes, there was a TV show), and The Powerpuff Girls. These were some of the few female-driven cartoons in a male-dominated genre, and each of them echoes in Steven Universe. Now, particularly with the creepy-looking 3D animation dominating kids’ channels and pervasive try-hard humor, it’s tough to find a cartoon that is geared toward children and yet can simultaneously appeal to the kid-at-heart. You’d be even more hard-pressed to find such a cartoon that also has a diverse cast and LGBTQ representation. Turns out, SU has it all. The animation is simple but gorgeous, the characters are lovable, the show smartly tackles heavy topics, while depicting queer attraction and relationships. Although I’ve watched it in chronological order, you can still enjoy it by watching random episodes.

Looking for something else? Try Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Gravity Falls, or Adventure Time.

 

11. Anime: Yuri!!! On Ice (Japanese: ユーリ!!! on ICE) (Crunchyroll)

As it aired last fall, Yuri!!! On Ice turned out to be a haven for anyone who wants to believe in true love, in accomplishing one’s goals in the face of significant obstacles, and who needed positivity in the face of the US election results and unforgiving weather. Fans of the show have been criticized for voting the show as the streaming platform Crunchyroll’s Anime of the Year simply because it features a love story between two men in a genre (sports) where that is almost unheard of. While it is true that for this reason many viewers who aren’t avid fans of anime initially watched the show for this reason, it quickly became clear that there are other things to love about YOI: the characters, music, and the competitive figure skating in the show make it dimensional and compelling. The video above is the first episode!

Looking for something else? Fellow Her Campus member Shauna-Kay Harrison compiled this list of her top anime recommendations.

 

12. Teen: SKAM (English translation: Shame)

Each season of Skam (there are four) revolves around a different teenage character in Oslo, Norway. After season three of Skam focused on a teen who realizes he’s gay and falls for a boy at school (not necessarily in that order), the show exploded in popularity around the world. Unlike American television that features teens, the series doesn’t try to bite off more than it can chew, instead focusing on a few interconnected issues and working them out in a way that is realistic and relatable. Even better, the actors are about the same age as the characters they portray, a departure from the American status quo. The video above is the trailer for season two, which focuses on Noora, and already gives a taste of the beautiful simplicity of the series. If you like romance, coming-of-age, and want teen drama that isn’t out of touch with actual teens, watch Skam. It’s a bit tricky to watch the show online, so if you can’t make it to Norway, search for resources that fans of the show have posted online.

Looking for something else? Try My Mad Fat Diary, Skins (UK), or 13 Reasons Why.

For more suggestions, check out the list I made last year, which features ten other recommendations that aren’t featured here, and this more recent list that covers five more. If you’re a fan of K-Dramas, here is a list of new shows to check out. Enjoy, and be sure to keep track of Her Campus Mount Holyoke for more TV and film recommendations!

 

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