Five shows to binge in December

Robin Wright in "House of Cards"
Posted at 1:46 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-02 15:21:40-05

Looking to camp out on the couch and take down a show that will keep you up way too late and help you procrastinate from doing more important tasks? Here are five shows to stream.


Premise: A conniving politician and his ambitious wife work their way up the D.C. food chain, devouring everyone in the way.

Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Patricia Clarkson, Diane Lane.

Service: Netflix.

Why it's impossible to stop watching: Adapted from a British drama -- like basically all the best shows -- this potboiler of a political thriller just wrapped up its sixth and final season. For the first half decade, it was the Kevin Spacey show, but Netflix cut him loose in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations, some of which eerily mirrored his character's conduct. Many wondered whether the series would muster the same magic without Spacey. Left alone to spearhead the final season, Wright comes into her own, handily picking up the slack as the series races to its conclusion. The brilliant final season's motto seems to be "No Kevin Spacey, no problem."


Premise: A power-mad scientist and his whiny grandson -- the character types were based on Doc and Marty in "Back to the Future" -- venture off on wacky space and time-bending adventures.

Stars: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke.

Service: Hulu.

Why it's impossible to stop watching: Absurd premises are the norm. You never know what you're going to get with "Rick and Morty," which wears its brainy geekdom proudly, spits out rapidfire pop culture references and cheerfully veers into insanity at every opportunity. The writing is constantly brilliant, bubbling with quotable, meme-sparking hilarity. If you're looking for the funniest animated show on TV, you've found it.


Premise: An oddball gallery of borderline alcoholics share their daily triumphs and failures at the friendly Boston bar where "everybody knows your name" in this 1982-1993 classic.

Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Pullman, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson.

Service: Amazon Prime Video.

Why it's impossible to stop watching: Many of the jokes are dated, but that doesn't take away the charm. The sheer star power is entrancing, and the 1980s and early 90s sitcom tropes abound. The chemistry among the excellent cast is always strong, particularly between Danson and Long. This show influenced just about every sitcom to come after, and it's easy to see why. Even when "Cheers" is bad, it's good.


Premise: A loosely connected group of friends and family ventures off on a long camping trip that exposes flaws in their relationships, as well as their inadequacy to deal with nature.

Stars: Jennifer Garner, David Tennant, Juliette Lewis, Ione Skye.

Service: HBO Go.

Why it's impossible to stop watching: "Girls" creator Lena Dunham shows she has the touch, even when it comes to subject matter that would seem to be out of her urban Millennial wheelhouse. Garner thrives as an uptight control freak who gradually learns to cut loose, and Lewis -- as her free spirit counterpart -- shows all the bubbly charm she did when she was an up-and-comer in the 1990s. Awkward chuckles abound, with the writing team taking full advantage of HBO's too-wild-for-network-TV vulgarity.


Premise: A young stand-up comic tries to retrain his street cred while crossing over to the mainstream, all while dealing with the chaotic demands of his personal life.

Stars: Jay Pharoah, Cleopatra Coleman, Meagan Good, Natalie Zea.

Service: Showtime Anytime.

Why it's impossible to stop watching: Pharoah is the real deal. A motormouthed force of nature with the panache of a young Jamie Foxx, he manages to ooze cool confidence while also showing enough vulnerability to keep him grounded. The supporting cast, particularly Good, is also superb. Whenever you think you know where the plot is headed, it socks you with a surprise twist that changes the paradigm. Fans were sad to hear the show was canceled after its lone season.

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