Entertainment

Great Shows You Can Binge in a Single Sitting

love, death & robots
'Love, Death & Robots' | Netflix
'Love, Death & Robots' | Netflix

As the range of options available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other streaming services expands toward infinity, it's becoming increasingly difficult to decide what deserves your time. Do you invest time in a drama that spans five seasons and will invariably suck up months of your life? Or do you seek a series that will entertain you just as much, but without nearly the same time demands? 

To help those of you who still have hobbies and/or jobs that require you to spend at least some of your time away from the couch, we compiled a list of the best shows on the major streaming platforms you can binge in a single sitting. "Single sitting" varies, of course, but we looked for shows that took up less time than an average work day, or shows that you can drop in and out of without becoming irrevocably hooked. After all, there's still some nature left in the world -- get outside and enjoy it while you can! 

the bisexual
Hulu

The Bisexual 

A Hulu original series about a woman who, as the name suggests, is bisexual, The Bisexual nevertheless spends its six half-hour episodes attacking and dismantling stereotypes about human sexuality. Set in the milieu of privileged London society, the series from Desiree Akhavan doesn't shy away from making viewers uncomfortable, and by the end you'll find yourself confronting with a new perspective your own views about relationships.
Where to watch it: Hulu

black mirror
Netflix

Black Mirror

Each installment of Charlie Brooker's addictive anthology takes a current techno-social phenomenon -- topics that range from hashtags to five-star ratings -- to its extreme and asks whether human nature can coexist with it. Part satire and part (unintentional) prophecy, the series presents an appropriately grim view of the future, one that will definitely make you worry for the next generation and maybe even galvanize you into action. You can take in one episode at a time, or digest an entire three-to-six-episode season without batting an eye. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

bodyguard
Netflix

Bodyguard

As one might expect, the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s police service handles a number of dangerous missions. Following officer David Budd, portrayed by Richard Madden of Games of Thrones fame, Bodyguard documents this high-risk job, specifically in the protection of the U.K.’s Home Secretary (Keeley Hawes). In the Netflix original, although Budd must devote himself to the politician’s protection, he is still reeling from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, and feels conflicted working for a major proponent of the war. A political thriller at its finest, Bodyguard illustrates the various costs at play in Budd’s role, from his personal views to potential attacks and developing attraction for a woman whose policies he cannot stand -- never failing to leave out the drama over the course of six easily bingeable episodes.
Where to watch it: Netflix

castlevania netflix
Netflix

Castlevania

Adapted from Konami's 30-year-old video game franchise by revered comic writer Warren Ellis, Castlevania is Netflix's first, vicious stab at adult action animation. With visuals lifted from eons of anime (not to mention the series' own PlayStation sequel Symphony of the Night), instincts that err on the side of disembodiment, and a dramatic triangle that positions Dracula, our drunken, ex-monster-hunter hero Trevor Belmont, and a church of merciless clergymen in a battle royale for ideological domination, Castlevania is a fine excuse to watch illustrated swordsmen cut each other's throats and dark magicians disintegrate victims with the flick of the fireball. Ellis can't give the 2-D characters the dimensionality of Game of Thrones, but he can crank out four deliriously sadistic half-hour cartoons -- even Season 2 is a mere eight episodes, each around 24 minutes, so you can binge guilt-free. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

the characters netflix
Netflix

The Characters

Eight comedians, one episode each. Such talents as Lauren Lapkus, Natasha Rothwell, and Tim Robinson all get a shot to unveil their best -- you guessed it! -- characters in 30ish minutes. Each episode is a different flavor, making for a nice blend of weird, fucked up, and side-splitting. There's something in here for everyone, and you'll have a good time passionately arguing with your friends about the MVP. (Spoiler alert: It's obviously John Early.) [Editor's Note: No, it's definitely Robinson.] [Other Editor's Note: No way. It's Kate Berlant, you idiots.]
Where to watch it: Netflix

dead to me
Netflix

Dead to Me 

In Liz Feldman’s Dead to Me, Christina Applegate’s Jen is grieving the recent death of her husband, who was killed in a hit-and-run, with cynicism, reluctantly attending group therapy. That's where she meets Linda Cardellini’s Judy, who's also grieving, and the two form an instant bond. But by the end of the first episode, it's clear that both of these women, whose chemistry is the kind of snarky friendship you crave in your own life, are hiding something. The 30-minute dark comedy moves effortlessly between registers, from lighthearted to deadly serious, with a plot-turning twist thrown into every episode for good measure. If you enjoy watching adults say "screw it, I'm doing what I want," this is definitely for you. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

drunk history
Comedy Central

Drunk History

Since its inception a decade ago, Jeremy Konner and Derek Waters' Emmy-winning web series-turned-TV hit has paired blasted comedian narrators with top-tier actors to recreate our country's most iconic moments, making for one of the smartest dumb shows in recent memory. While there are more episodes available than you can reasonably consume in a single sitting, each one stands on its own, so you can drop in and out as you please. If you're unsure where to start, take a look at our favorite segments, all of which are available on YouTube and Hulu for your bingeing pleasure.
Where to watch it: Hulu

the end of the fucking world
Netflix

The End of the F***ing World

This isn't your average teen drama. The show, adapted from the popular Charles Forsman graphic novel of the same name, follows a 17-year-old named James as he tries to become the psychopath he thinks he is. Though it sounds a little bit like Dexter Jr., it's really more of a fucked-up love story sans the cliché six-packs and twee romances -- something somewhere between Juno and Twin Peaks. In this series' twisted world, to murder means to mature. It's dark and creepy, but it also offers enough humor and tenderness to make what turns into a chaotic road trip endearing. Or, as showrunner Jonathan Entwistle told us, "It's an angsty teen story, but with an adult execution" -- the word "execution," in this case, carrying particular weight. Binge it.
Where to watch it: Netflix

fleabag
Amazon Studios

Fleabag 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one-woman-play-turned-comedy-series follows the titular character as she wrestles with intimacy and recovers from a tragedy. The Brit import comes packed with dark surprises, Francis Underwood-esque asides, and side-splitting laughs. It's kind of like watching an Annie Hall character trying to survive in London. The entire series is only two seasons long -- and it's second installment in which the leading character falls for a "hot priest" will make you fall even more in love with Waller-Bridge's sensitive, whip-smart writing. 
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

ghoul netflix
Netflix

Ghoul

This supernatural Indian horror miniseries, a co-production with Blumhouse, unfolds in three episodes that run around 45 minutes each. Think of it as a movie you watch in three parts. Focusing on trainee interrogator Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte), Ghoul takes place in a dystopian version of India, where the government has instituted harsh crackdowns on dissidents. The twist is that a terrorist Rahim interrogates wants to summon the titular ghoul, which is not good, folks! The metaphors may be a bit heavy-handed, but it remains a fun and spooky way to kill a little more than two hours.
Where to watch it: Netflix

homecoming tv show
Amazon Studios

Homecoming 

Adapted from the popular podcast of the same name, Homecoming tracks Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) as she tries to piece together her work as a therapist at a treatment center for veterans with PTSD. Over 10 fast-paced episodes (each one clocks in at around half an hour), the mystery of what a government contractor actually intends to do with the veterans unfolds in lockstep with Bergman's own investigation into the missing memories of her previous job. It's the rare streaming show that doesn't feel bloated, and leaves plenty of room for new storylines to develop in Season 2. 
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime
 

love, death & robots
Netflix

Love, Death & Robots

There's a certain artistry to making entertaining, effective, and imaginative short films, and Netflix's animated series Love, Death & Robots blends all three of those strengths with some really crazy sci-fi. The title pretty much says it all: Every episode will have elements of love (read: sex -- the show is very rated R), death, and/or robots, and sometimes a combination of all three. From a tourist party of androids traipsing through a post-apocalyptic Earth, to a monster fighting ring where the monsters are powered by human minds, to an ancient civilization thriving in a couple's refrigerator, to a beautiful fable about an artist in the future who only paints using one shade of blue, Love, Death & Robots is a multifaceted collection of some of the most exhilarating and inventive storytelling out there. And they make it all happen within a matter of minutes, as each episode runs just somewhere between six and 17 minutes. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

i love dick
Amazon Studios

I Love Dick

Transparent creator Jill Soloway's second Amazon series is like screen-printed Warhol take on the fire emoji: syncopated, artful, and satisfyingly vicious. Based on Chris Kraus's 1997 art-world-dominating memoir of the same name, the show stars Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms) as Chris, a failing New York City filmmaker who follows her writer husband, Sylvère (Griffin Dunne), to Marfa, Texas, where he's earned a research fellowship academic sensation Dick (Kevin Bacon). His aura turns the community into a hotbed of intelligentsia and psycho-sexuality, which cracks Chris's world in half. The crass and poetic collide as she pieces it back together, giving Soloway, along with playwright Sarah Gubbins, the opportunity to throw convention out the window over the course of eight briskly paced episodes that clock under a half-hour each. From Louise Bourgeois references to episodes devoted to fourth-wall-breaking flashbacks, I Love Dick does everything it can to pierce the esoteric-yet-essential idea of art and its inseparable companion: sex.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

marcella tv show
ITV

Marcella

Do you like British mystery shows that wrap up over the course of eight tightly wound, 45-minute episodes? This one is for you. Starring Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) as a London detective bouncing back from a nasty split and a turbulent entry into single motherhood, the hard-nosed series pairs serial killer investigation with familial struggle, which only intensifies when the main mystery connects to Marcella's husband's current employers. If this summer sun is too much for you, enter the overcast, grim world of Marcella.
Where to watch it: Netflix

the night manager
AMC

The Night Manager

If you've always wondered what it would be like to see Dr. House transplanted into a John le Carré novel, The Night Manager scratches your bizarrely specific itch. Hugh Laurie stars as a wealthy businessman and "philanthropist," while Tom Hiddleston plays a -- yep -- night manager at an upscale British hotel in Cairo. Hiddleston's character somewhat unwittingly gets caught up in the back-room espionage of the Arab Spring, and, like in most of le Carré's work, the tension arises from the personal and bureaucratic mundanities of the international spy game. It's less 007 and more Mad Men, in other words, and in six one-hour episodes, you'll be finished with it in less than a workday.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

planet earth 1 original documentary
BBC

Planet Earth (2006)

Five years in the making, and at the time in 2006, ranking as the most expensive nature documentary ever commissioned by the BBC, Planet Earth changed the way we look at the world around us. From microscopic observations of insect mandibles to underwater vistas most of us would never have seen in our earthbound existences, the high-definition miniseries turned scenes from the animal kingdom into Lord of the Rings. The years have seen sequels and spinoffs (The Blue Planet, The Hunt, Life, Africa, Frozen PlanetPlanet Earth II, and Blue Planet II, all on Netflix, too), but the original, backed by David Attenborough's studious narration, holds up -- and you can watch it all in six hours.
Where to watch it: Netflix

russian doll
Netflix

Russian Doll

It sounds like an episodic spin on Groundhog Day: A cynical New Yorker (Natasha Lyonne) attempts to figure out why she keeps dying and being forced to relive her 36th birthday over and over. Co-executive producers Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland joined Lyonne to make a hit out of one of the sharpest dark comedies of 2019, finally answering the timeless question of what happens if you repeatedly die and repeatedly wake up in an Alphabet City bathroom with a strange door during a party with Harry Nilsson playing. Lyonne's a gas to watch, as she falls down stairwells and cracks wise about her dilemma, but what starts off seeming like a humorous episode of Black Mirror turns into a profound and affecting meditation on trauma.
Where to watch it: Netflix

sherlock bbc
BBC

Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Sherlock Holmes, albeit in the present day, solving crimes with the refined intelligence characteristic of Arthur Conan Doyle's hero, and accompanied by his sidekick, Dr. Watson. With three hour-and-a-half-long installments in each series, you can solve a single mystery in the course of a single night -- or, if you're more ambitious, you may find yourself glued to the couch for an entire weekend, trying to catch up with the rapid wit and near-impossible intellect of one of fiction's legendary characters.
Where to watch it: Netflix

when they see us
Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

When They See Us

This four-part limited series from Ava DuVernay (13th, Selma) dramatizes the horrific story of the Central Park Five, five teens from Harlem who were wrongly convicted -- twice -- for the rape of a jogger in Central Park and spent years in prison for it. Starring the likes of Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Michael K. Williams, and more, the miniseries brings to the screen a thoughtful examination of the criminal justice system, which remains just as relevant as ever.
Where to watch it: Netflix

wormwood
Netflix

Wormwood

Netflix wooed perhaps the greatest living documentarian, Errol Morris, to the streaming platform to tell the story of Frank Olson, a government scientist who supposedly committed suicide in the 1950s. His son, Frank, has made it his life's mission to find out the truth, which was substantially muddied when the CIA in 1975 claimed Olson had been a victim of the MK Ultra program, which slipped LSD to unwitting civilians. The answers clearly don't end there, but what unravels over the course of six easily digestible episodes (clocking in around 40 minutes each) is more about human knowledge and how we make meaning than it is about secret government programs -- though there's plenty of the latter to fuel conspiracy theorist dreams for years to come. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

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