50 Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch This Summer

On Wednesday, my 16-year-old had her second foot surgery of the summer and began the subsequent 6-8 week recovery phase.

photo 3 (52)In addition to the tasteless selfies I’ll take with her latest Frankenstein foot, an activity so obvious it practically goes without saying, this means a whole lot of “Mom” and “MOM” and “MOM!” and “HEY, BETH!” from Abby when I don’t jump quickly enough to get her pillow, her blanket, her socks, her shower started, her snacks, her meds, her hairbrush, her phone, her make-up, and, and, and, and, and, and, and.

I am, in short, 48 hours into being Abby’s Beck-and-Call Girl again, and I’m desperately missing my usual Get-It-Yourself, Your-Legs-Aren’t-Broken defense. As such, I’m more than happy – thrilled, in fact – to plug my impressionable kid into as much mind-numbing, brain-rotting, soul-smothering television as possible. The problem, of course, is I end up hearing most of the shows Abby watches, and, as happened during the June/July surgery recovery, I’m prone to be sucked into them. All the way in. Which is how I watched 5 seasons of Gossip Girl, loved it, and lost any hope of getting into Heaven. 

That’s why I turned to you yesterday on Facebook. To ask what my kid and I should binge-watch next. Because there are more than 500 awake-hours in 6 weeks of recovery, and THIS IS IMPORTANT.

As always, due to y’all being extra rad, you came through. And, also as always, due to being a giant nerd, I tabulated the results of your advice.

Here we have it. From most to least recommended…

50 Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch This Summer With Your Teen

  1. Gilmore Girls (comedy, drama)  – “Drama centering around the relationship between a thirty-something single mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut” 
  2. VeronicaMarsVeronica Mars (crime, drama, mystery) – “After her best friend is murdered and her father is removed as county sheriff, Veronica Mars dedicates her life to cracking the toughest mysteries in the affluent town of Neptune”
  3. My So-Called Life (drama) – “15-year-old girl and her trials and tribulations of being a teenager and dealing with friends, guys, parents and school” 
  4. Psych (comedy, crime, mystery) – “A novice sleuth is hired by the police after he cons them into thinking he has psychic powers that help solve crimes. With this assistance of his reluctant best friend the duo take on a series of complicated cases” 
  5. Gossip Girl (drama, romance) – I hate that I loved this show! “Privileged teens living on the Upper Eastside of New York City”
  6. Once Upon a Time (adventure, fantasy, romance) – “A woman with a troubled past is drawn to a New England town where fairy tales are to be believed”
  7. Doctor Who (adventure, drama, sci fi, family) – “The further adventures of the time traveling alien adventurer and his companions”
  8. One Tree Hill (drama, sport) – “This series follows the eventful lives of some high-school kids in Tree Hill, a small but not too quiet town in North Carolina, where the greatest source of pride is the high school basketball team, the Ravens” 
  9. Switched at Birth (drama, family) – “The story of two teen girls who discover that they were accidentally switched at birth”
  10. buffyBuffy the Vampire Slayer (action, drama, fantasy) – “A young girl, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends” 
  11. Alias (action, drama, mystery) – “Sydney Bristow is an international spy recruited out of college and trained for espionage and self-defense”
  12. Sherlock (BBC) (crime, drama, mystery) – “A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London” 
  13. Chuck (action, comedy, drama) – “When a twenty-something computer geek inadvertently downloads critical government secrets into his brain, CIA and NSA assign two agents to protect him and exploit such knowledge, turning his life upside down”
  14. Friday Night Lights (drama, sport) – “The trials and tribulations of small town Texas football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff”
  15. Big Bang Theory (comedy) – “A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory”
  16. Friends (comedy, romance) – “When Monica’s high school friend (Rachel) re-enters her life, she sets off on a series of humorous and entertaining events involving Monica’s brother (Ross), her ex-roommate (Phoebe), and her next door neighbors (Chandler & Joey)”
  17. Dawson’s Creek (drama) – “Four friends in a small coastal town help each other cope with adolescence”
  18. Leverage (action, crime, mystery, comedy) – “A crew of high-tech crooks attempt to steal from wealthy criminals and corrupt businessmen”
  19. Call the Midwife (drama) – “The lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late 1950s”
  20. FireflyFirefly (adventure, drama, sci fi) – “Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them”
  21. Orphan Black (action, drama, sci fi) – “A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her”
  22. Ugly Betty (comedy, drama) – “Betty Suarez is smart, sweet and hard working. The only problem is that she’s not thin and beautiful like all her coworkers at Mode, the high-fashion magazine where she works” 
  23. Pretty Little Liars (drama, mystery, thriller) – “Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while unraveling the mystery of the murder of their best friend”
  24. Heartland (drama, family) – “A multi-generational saga set in Alberta, Canada and centered on a family getting through life together in both happy and trying times” 
  25. Downton Abbey (drama) – “Beginning in the years leading up to World War I, the drama centers on the Crawley family and their servants”
  26. Felicity (drama) – “A young fresh out of high school girl, follows her high school crush to college to be near him”
  27. White Collar (comedy, crime, drama) – “A white collar criminal agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter, and conman” 
  28. CastleCastle (comedy, crime, drama) – “After a serial killer imitates the plots of his novels, successful mystery novelist Richard “Rick” Castle gets permission from the Mayor of New York City to tag along with an NYPD homicide investigation team for research purposes”
  29. Charmed (drama, fantasy mystery) – “Three sisters discover their destiny – to battle against the forces of evil, using their witchcraft. They are the Charmed Ones” 
  30. Angel (action, drama, fantasy) – “The vampire Angel, cursed with a soul, moves to Los Angeles and aids people with supernatural-related problems while questing for his own redemption”
  31. Heart of Dixie (drama) – “Three young sorority women try to find love with potential men, while worrying about changes in their way of life when integration begins at their college in 1957 segregated Alabama” 
  32. Lark Rise to Candleford (drama) – “An adaptation of Flora Thompson’s autobiographical novel set in 19 century Oxfordshire in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress”
  33. Lost (adventure, drama, fantasy) – “The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island”
  34. BonesBones (comedy, crime, drama) – “A forensic anthropologist and a cocky FBI agent build a team to investigate death causes. And quite often, there isn’t more to examine than rotten flesh or mere bones” 
  35. West Wing (drama) – “Inside the lives of staffers in the west wing of the White House” 
  36. The Good Wife (crime, drama, mystery) – “Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm” 
  37. 24 (action, drama, mystery) – “Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster”
  38. Burn Notice (action, crime, drama, mystery) – “A spy recently disavowed by the U.S. government uses his Special Ops training to help others in trouble”
  39. Scrubs (comedy, drama) – “In the unreal world of Sacred Heart Hospital, intern John “J.D” Dorian learns the ways of medicine, friendship and life”
  40. Heroes (drama, sci fi, thriller) – “They thought they were like everyone else… until they woke with incredible abilities”
  41. Eureka (comedy, drama, sci fi) – “The best minds in the US are tucked away in a remote town where they build futuristic inventions for the government’s benefit”
  42. Warehouse 13 (drama, mystery, sci fi) – “After saving the life of the President in Washington D.C., a pair of U.S Secret Service agents are whisked away to a covert location in South Dakota that houses supernatural objects” 
  43. DropDeadDivaDrop Dead Diva (comedy, drama) – “A vapid aspiring model killed in a car crash gets brought back to life as an intelligent, overweight lawyer, hoping to find the meaning of inner beauty”
  44. Supernatural (drama, fantasy, horror) – “Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth”
  45. Smallville (adventure, drama, romance) – “A young Clark Kent struggles to find his place in the world as he learns to harness his alien powers for good and deals with the typical troubles of teenage life in Smallville”
  46. House M.D. (drama, mystery) – “An antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits”
  47. Battlestar Gallactica (action, adventure, drama, sci fi) – “When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurfaces and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protects a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony of Earth”
  48. Monarch of the Glen (comedy, drama, romance) – “Archie MacDonald, a young restaurateur is called back to his childhood home of Glenbogle where he is told he is the new Laird of Glenbogle”
  49. McLeod’s Daughters (drama) – “Five women run a cattle station, “Drover’s Run”, in the outback of South Australia” 
  50. Winners & Losers (comedy, drama) – “The lives of four best friends bound together by their shared experience of being “the losers” in high school. Now ten years later the women are about to become winners, but at what cost?” 

Although these were recommended based on what my daughter and I might like to watch, there’s such a great variety here! Something for everyone. What are your favorites from the list? Or what else would you add?

Though I’ve watched and liked several of the shows above, my top picks at the moment are Firefly (my favorite sci fi, a totally unique series with great character development, superb writing and a bizarre setting), Leverage (funny, charming heist series) and Veronica Mars, the last of which we’re watching now. Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are up next. And, although it’s not something my daughter would like, I think this list is missing Boston Legal – LOVED that series.


All series descriptions, images and categorizations via IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. Ohhhh GREEK is also a fun one, that has a Gilmore girls type feel and it’s abc family

  2. If you like firefly- I mean love firefly, you should watch the movie after firefly- serenity. And then watch castle because it’s basically Nathan fillion that makes firefly great and he does the same magic in castle, also they do a firefly reference in it!!. Another suggestion would be marathon movie sequels- Anne of green gables and Anne of avenlea, I love those. Also all the marvel movies In order starting with iron man, or all the twilight movies, or the batman trilogy would be a great 🙂

  3. My top two suggestions would match the top two on your list. I love Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars! The writer/creator of Gilmore Girls had another short lived show called Bunheads that I really enjoyed. Not quite as good as GG, but at least one awesome choreographed dance number in each episode.

    West Wing and Friends are always winners.

  4. We have loved most of this list… I know, it is sad. Criminal Minds is another guilty pleasure. My son is just like Reid, so we enjoy this one.

  5. Who does everybody love…..Raymond,that’s who!!!!

  6. Dr who, sherlock, for sure…. loved firefly! Battlestar Gallactica left a bad taste in my mouth after a pretty graffic rape scene, don’t know if I was bring particularly sensitive that day, but really felt like the series took a turn for the worse there, and I didn’t feel like watching any more. Didn’t seem like it was “entertainment” anymore, seriously.

  7. I especially agree with the votes for Firefly, the Big Bang Theory, and Castle (it falters a little in the middle seasons, but stick with it). We also just watched Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye and it was even better than I remembered. Keep your eyes open for the two times the real Sue Thomas does a cameo appearance. When I spent 9 months in a nursing home recovering from an auto accident, my sons got me hooked on N.C.I.S. You gotta love Abby, the goth forensics lab expert and Ducky, the medical examiner.

  8. I’m surprised Babylon 5 didn’t make the list! That one is quite good at sucking you in, and has an incredibly complex, long-term, cross-season plot.

    Hopefully she will return to being her happy butterfly self when her feet are all better!

  9. Medium – started watching by accident and LOVED it. And cried at the end. ( I sobbed at the end of Monk, too, but realize it’s not for everyone.). Oh, and Ballykissangel, at least the first 3 seasons, was so much fun…. One more – Joan of Arcadia.

    On your list, don’t miss Downton Abbey or Drop Dead Diva.

  10. I would say Doctor Who (the last three doctors!), Sherlock, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, The Good Wife & The Big Bang Theory. If you want comedy, you can’t beat The Big Bang Theory… and the rest of my list is just generally brilliant 🙂

  11. I’m so happy Gilmore Girls made the top spot (I’ve never actually met anyone that confesses to liking the show but maybe because it is old so no one has a reason to talk about it). I’ve never understood how my husband watches movies and TV shows over and over but Gilmore Girls is my guilty pleasure. I watched all 7 seasons in the weeks after the birth of my 1st son and then again after the birth of my 2nd…in those lovely weeks (not being sarcastic) where the baby sleeps and eats all the time so you’re kind of stuck at home…before life gets crazy and you’re constantly worried they will hurt themselves, not eat enough, no eat healthy enough, not sleep enough, not get enough attention, not be stimulated enough, put something nasty in their mouth (yesterday it was using a giant ladle to drink the dog’s water…). I love Gilmore Girls. Take me back to the time when I could watch all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls…

  12. I’m not usually a sci-fi person, but LOVED Eureka and Warehouse 13! Maybe I’ll have to give Firefly a try…..

  13. Lie to me, a drama about reading micro facial expressions is a good one. The psychologist who researched all the facial expressions has a consulting practice and he works with law enforcement, government agencies, and the occasional private citizen. I really enjoyed it, but it only got 2 seasons.

  14. Buffy, Firefly, Doctor Who, Arrested Development, Big Bang Theory, Castle, and Bones. Also Supernatural, Downton Abbey, Eureka, Once Upon a Time, and Grimm! Hmmm…and Nathan Fillion either stars in, or appears in, three of them.

    Oh, and Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is fun too!

    But my absolute favorite is a toss-up between Doctor Who and Firefly. Love them both. I was very sad when David Tennant left, but Matt Smith filled the gap nicely, and I am really looking forward to Peter Capaldi!

  15. I saw Heart of Dixie, but there is another that I think is Hart of Dixie. It’s about a yuppy female dr. who ends up practicing medicine in a small town in the south. It’s fluff like cotton candy for the brain, but funny in many ways. Hope your daughters foot heals quick so she can go to school without the hassle of crutches!

  16. I don’t see Golden Girls on your list!

  17. My favorite binge watch ever was Arrested Development. In fact, on a recent surprise overnight at the hospital I binge watched it again and it was still hilarious.

  18. My So-Called Life was really an awesome show that was cancelled much too soon. I loved it as a teen and find that as an adult/parent I can still identify with the older characters in the show. If you haven’t seen it I would definitely move it to the top of the list. It can appeal to both you and your daughter for sometimes entirely different reasons. 😉 I also enjoyed Supernatural, Lost, Bones, Doctor Who, Buffy, Angel (though you really should watch at least the first three seasons of Buffy first), Sherlock, Psych and I would also add “The Mentalist.” 🙂

  19. I just have to add, if you like Gina Torres (Zoe from Firefly), she plays an incredible, strong, takes-no-crap attorney on “Suits”. It’s my current addiction. Dollhouse is another amazing series that was ended too soon – there are only two seasons. And, since I see some other Joss Whedon on the list, I’ll just add that his recent film production of Much Ado About Nothing is totally worth watching, and it’s available to stream on several different platforms!

    From the list, I love Firefly, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Veronica Mars, Friends, Psych, Chuck, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Pretty Little Liars, Buffy, White Collar, Castle, Bones, West Wing, and Monarch of the Glen. There are several other series on the list that I have on my “to watch” list.

  20. Oooooh….. Good stuff and good ideas! Thinking of watching Alias when I finish my very random binge of CSI NY. My daughter is watching all the Prett Little Liars…..

    Beth, did she hurt herself at dance? I worry about that with all the hours my 10 year old spends doing it.

    All the best to you both.

  21. I’m excited for the quality time you’ll have turning your brain to mush with your daughter. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is! I have to say though, that Doctor Who really needs to jump to the top (or close to the top!)of your list!!! It’s amazing. If you don’t want to watch the ones from decades ago (most people wouldn’t blame you), at least start with Christopher Eccleston who was the Ninth Doctor and was where the series picked back up. There are 7 seasons (8 airing pretty soon, squeee!) so make sure you get them in order because you have the time to so why not?! Once you’re a Whovian, you can’t go back though! You’ve been warned! :oD

    (I hope this link works…it’s an image explaining why Doctor Who is so special) http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/8f/bd/ea/8fbdeabe56c71977e137b58e71e7e387.jpg

    PS. This is my first post. I’m a long time lurker :o) As a fellow Christian and Mom (of a LOT less than 5, only 2!) your blog has been an incredible eye opener and spiritual motivator for me. If you’re ever in New Hampshire you and your brood have a place to stay! We’re pee fight pacifists too! ;o)

  22. Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Winners and Losers, McLeods Daughters and, not on the list, Packed to the Rafters and The Secret Life of the American Teenager!! Being Aussie I’m particularly fond of those dramas! A few years ago when I was in hospital being diagnosed/misdiagnosed/a mystery to medical science my mum and I binge watched McLeods Daughters right up until the finale. A lot of long nights there lol.

  23. If you enjoy One Upon a Time, you should check out Grimm. It’s a hoot! Parks and Rec is hilarious as well.

  24. Buffy Buffy Buffy! Highly recommend it. Angel is good too.

  25. My favourites on this list, in no particular order. Orphan Black, Chuck, Buffy, Big Bang, Firefly (and Serenity the movie), Castle, Angel (series starts slow but picks up better after the first few shows), Eureka (love this, shot here in my ‘hood), Dr Who (okay, I didn’t watch the old original ones, just the new 3 Dr’s), Once Upon a Time, My So Called Life.

    Also good, Rookie Blue and Fringe.

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