You’ve got a cough that won’t quit and a fever that won’t vamoose. Looks like this is going to be one long day of couch surfing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re stuck in a loop of daytime TV dramas and reruns of Maury. Never fear; Lydia is here! Check out our guide of the perfect shows to binge watch. The best part? They’re all on Netflix.
1. American Horror Story (2 Seasons)
Scare the germs right out of you by sitting down to one of the two available seasons of Ryan Murphy’s miniseries. At 12 episodes a piece, both tell a chilling story revolving around the staples of our horror culture. The first season, “Murder House,” is about a haunted home and its new residents. The second is far bloodier, sexier and terrifying, with its events taking place in a 1960s asylum. Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and others appear in both seasons but take on different roles in this anthology that acts as The Twilight Zone’s twisted new cousin.
2. Bob’s Burgers (4 Seasons)
In one of the funnier adult animation shows, the humor is in visual puns. Bob Belcher and his family own a local burger joint and deal with his obsessive behavior, his wife’s imagination and the kids’ dysfunction. With Archer’s H. Jon Benjamin lending his distinctive vocal skills to the title character and Kristin Schaal playing the youngest (and funniest) Belcher child, the cast delivers jokes so quickly it’s hard to catch them all. Each episode is less than 30 minutes, which makes it as easy to wolf a whole season down in one sitting as it is one of Bob’s signature hamburgers.
3. Firefly (17 Episodes)
Return to old-school sci-fi with Joss Whedon’s space cowboy series. Nathan Fillion (now the titular character in Castle) plays Malcolm Reynolds, the captain of a smuggler spaceship in the final frontier. Mal takes his crew — including a wise-cracking pilot, badass war heroine, gun-happy criminal, savvy mechanic, mysterious preacher and fugitive doctor and his sister — all over the galaxy in attempts to survive as a criminal with a sturdier moral compass than the authorities chasing him. Despite the show’s cult following, Fox canceled it after one season (but Whedon followed up with a full-length feature, Serenity, which is also on Netflix).
4. House of Cards (13 Episodes)
Best described as the love child of The West Wing and Breaking Bad, Netflix’s debut series has earned critical accolades and plenty of hype. Secretary of State-reject Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) exacts his revenge on the newly elected president by going after the vice president’s seat. With the help of his wife (Robin Wright), he orchestrates a scheme that’s so diabolical it’ll make Walter White look like Yosemite Sam. All 13 episodes can be watched in two days (this Lydia writer is living proof) and hypnotizes with its demoralizing depravity. New episodes will be out on February 14, if you want to plan your next sick day in advance.
5. Fawlty Towers (12 Episodes)
If Downton Abbey is a little too serious or soap opera-y, indulge yourself in 12 episodes of British comedy’s best. A post-Monty Python John Cleese wrote and starred in this sitcom featuring a rude, incompetent hotel owner trying to run a Torquay inn with the help of his domineering wife, meant-for-better-things maid and extremely funny but equally inept bellboy Manuel (“He’s from Barcelona”). Each episode is painfully hilarious to watch, which is why Fawlty Towers was voted the best British TV series by the British Film Institute in 2000.
6. Freaks and Geeks (17 Episodes)
Like Whedon’s Firefly, Paul Feig’s homage to high school life was a victim of network cancellations. Siblings Lindsey and Sam Weir navigate adolescence by attaching themselves to the freaks and the geeks, respectively. Play a game of “Who’s who” with the ensemble drama featuring young Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Schwartzman, David Krumholtz, and more before they all made their names as major actors. And of course don’t forget Linda Cardellini, who has since been a key player in the latest season of Mad Men.
7. Orange is the New Black (13 Episodes)
Being home sick can feel like a life sentence. Find out just how free you really are by immersing yourself in Netflix’s original series about a straight-laced woman’s time in prison. After being named as an accomplice in a drug case, entrepreneur Piper Chapman has to spend a year in prison. While there she encounters other women with beguiling backgrounds — including the ex-girlfriend who testified against her. Heralded as one of the more progressive shows about women, OITNB has a great script, dynamic characters and fascinating plot that make the episodes fly by faster than visiting hours.
Shows to stay away from: Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The West Wing are so addictive that you’ll find yourself wishing you had something worse to warrant a sick week. Stay away from doctor dramas like ER or Grey’s Anatomy, which will make you start thinking a cough is actually foreshadowing an agonizing death caused by Ebola. If all else fails, tuck in to the original Mission: Impossible series for some good nap fodder.
Kate Everson is Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s reading Palahniuk and Vonnegut, practicing her Batgirl skills in the dojo or waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter. As Katharine Hepburn said: “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”