Game of Thrones is officially over, much to the chagrin of its roughly 45 million viewers. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were openly eager to wrap up the series rather than drawing it out, and the show inarguably struggled once its storylines outpaced those of the George R. R. Martin books upon which it was based. But regardless of whether you loved or hated the show’s controversial eighth season, the finale brings with it a brand-new void in the television landscape. What to binge watch now that the most popular fantasy series of our time has come to a close?
The good news is, the golden age of television isn’t over yet. Across the plethora of streaming services out there, plenty of options for summer viewing pleasures are waiting to be devoured.
Here are our pics for the most binge-worthy television shows for rainy, lazy summer days.
The final season of the critically acclaimed Veep came to a close on May 12th. Created by Armando Iannucci and starring the incomparable Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the fictional vice president (or “Veep”) of the United States of America, this hilariously dry, cerebral-but-silly political satire follows the antics of Selena Meyers and her barely-capable staff. The end of this series is bittersweet for multiple reasons, not least of which is the fact that it’s been hailed as one of the greatest television comedies of all time. It also marks the return of Louis-Dreyfus to the screen following her battle with breast cancer, an announcement that came just one day after she won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The final season showcases the staggering talents of one of the funniest comedians to have ever graced the silver screen, and a truly stellar supporting cast that includes Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky. Tune in for an alternate reality version of modern-day American politics.
This might just be the most binge-worthy espionage show to come along in a very long time. And with a lead like Sandra Oh, one of the greatest actors of the 21st century, the show is a riveting portrayal of intrigue and obsession. The chemistry between Oh, who plays an ambitious but bored MI5 agent, and Jodie Comer, in a seductive turn as an international assassin, sizzles. It’s an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse that takes viewers across Europe as the women become increasingly obsessed with one another from afar — and when they do cross paths, look out. The thing that makes Killing Eve truly stand out, though, aside from some killer performances (including that of Fiona Shaw, who plays the head of the Russian Section at MI6), is the series’ tone. High tension and nail-biting suspense are combined with a dark comedy that adds an air of delicious irreverence and levity to the whole thing. Set aside ample time for this one, now in its second season; you’ll be hooked.
It’s about time that Natasha Lyonne had her own show; the star, a fan favourite from Orange is the New Black and various teen movies of the 2000s, is finally at the helm as co-creator, executive producer, writer, and star of the Netflix series. The plot may sound familiar: Lyonne plays Nadia, a young woman who attends a party one night, only to keep dying and finding herself in a continuous loop that picks up at the same moment with each new death. While it may be easy to dismiss as another Groundhog Day-type story, Russian Doll is deliciously odd and fresh (and funny! Amy Poehler is one of the series’ co-creators, after all). While a second season hasn’t been officially confirmed, we’re hopeful. And in the meantime, we’ll be watching — and re-watching — the first season, trying to unravel the complex logic of this world and its web of mysterious fatalities and resurrections.
Dead to Me
Image via New On Netflix
The tone of Dead to Me is hard to pinpoint, and we won’t say too much about the plot lest we give away some pretty delicious surprises that unveil themselves at an unconventional pace. What we can say is that Christina Applegate stars as Jen, a woman grieving the sudden loss of her husband after a hit-and-run accident, and that Linda Cardellini co-stars as Judy, a California hippy-type who befriends Jen at a bereavement support group. The complex relationship between these women, and the hunt for Jen’s husband’s killer, sends the duo down a darkly funny rabbit hole. The season follows the women as they find companionship in one another in the face of a frustrating investigation, heartbreak, loneliness, aging, motherhood, relationships, and many, many secrets.
Big Little Lies
If you still haven’t seen the first season of Big Little Lies, now is the time to catch up — not tomorrow, not a week from now. Today. The much-anticipated second season of HBO’s riveting drama was immediately catapulted to critical acclaim and showered with awards. And with an all-star cast of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, and Alexander Skarsgård, how could it not be? The show — a murder mystery of sorts set in the sleepy beachfront town of Monterey, California — is peppered with some darkly funny moments and a killer (no pun intended, promise) soundtrack. And as if that wasn’t enough reason to watch the first season in preparation for the second, none other than the queen of thespians herself, Meryl Streep, will be joining the cast.
With a summer lineup like this, the one fallback will be remembering to take breaks from the binging long enough to actually, you know…enjoy the sunshine.