What to binge-watch next, for every kind of person

Whether you're looking for something short and zippy after 'Dead to Me', or a foreign spy thriller like 'Fauda', we've got you covered

By Margaret Lyons
Published: Jun 13, 2020

dead to me_bg

Image: Netflix

Q: Without thinking much about “Dead To Me,” I ate it all up quickly during this quarantine time. I love it so much. It’s short, zippy, interesting and twisty without ever being complicated. Is there anything else in this vein that you can recommend? Something that grabs your attention, but is light enough not to add stress to this already stressful time? — Priya
A: This won’t work for the squeamish, but if you can handle gore, “Santa Clarita Diet”(on Netflix) fits the bill. It has a bright viciousness to its humor, and a similar snowballing momentum and ironic doom — except it’s also a zombie show. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant play a married couple, Sheila and Joel, and Sheila’s big secret is that she is a zombie who eats human flesh. It can be quite gross, especially early on, but it’s also funny and satirical. It’s only three seasons, which is a bummer because it’s good, but also a relief because sometimes starting a long show feels like moving in together on the first date. (I’ll warn you that the first few episodes are a bit disjointed, but things pick up a lot in Episode 4.)

For something with more of that addictive tang, watch “You,” a juicy drama about a stalker with a serious violent streak — but the show still feels more frothy than genuinely upsetting. “Light” is not quite right, but there’s no lingering sadness or spiritual hangover. Season 1 is set in New York, and Season 2 is set in L.A., where I swear it could comfortably cross over with “Dead To Me.”

The show that is most like “Dead To Me,” though, is “Weeds,” which starts out strong and then wanes. But if you think you’ll have the discipline to get show divorced after Season 4, go for it.

Q: What to watch after “Normal People”? It took me almost three weeks to get over this series and slowly go back to a life without Connell and Marianne in it. — Emanuela
A: If you want more of that crazy-in-love-with-a-person-unable-to-express-themselves vibe, watch “Felicity,” a ’90s WB drama about a college student (Keri Russell) and her friends and suitors, especially Noel (Scott Foley) and Ben (Scott Speedman). Connell is a total Ben. They’re both about 30% sighs, and loving them has this baked-in self-sabotage for our heroines, who resent how compelling they find these guys. “Felicity” doesn’t have the steamy sex or same sense of atmosphere, but both Felicity and Marianne have that artsy impatience of people who spent a lot of time reading alone as children. There are 84 episodes, 8,000 chunky sweaters and millions of furtive glances (on ABC.com).

If you want another Irish show but want a step back from just romance, try “Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope,” a two-season show available on Netflix about two codependent best friends trying to make their way in Dublin. It’s a lot noisier and busier than “Normal People,” but its characters have a similar “do I need to ‘escape’ to grow up, or is my desire to escape a sign of immaturity that I should overcome?” ambivalence.

Finally, I wound up bingeing “Normal People” (on Hulu) and “Never Have I Ever” (on Netflix) in the same weekend just because of scheduling, and weirdly, they go great together. “Never,” Mindy Kaling’s high school-set coming-of-age dramedy, asks some of the same questions “Normal People” asks, but in a totally different, poppier way: How does it feel to become who you are? How do people experience their own sexuality? What should you do if someone hurts you, and who taught you that? “Never” is much brighter and funnier — with some well-earned weepy moments — but it felt good to stay in a nostalgic, “ah, youth” emotional space, just less raw.

Q: After finishing “Fauda,” “False Flag” and “The Bureau,” each of which I thought was terrific, I am looking for my next foreign spy thriller. Any suggestions? — Peter
A: Because you like “Fauda” and “False Flag,” your first stop should be Hulu’s “Prisoners of War” (“Hatufim”), the Israeli series on which “Homeland” was loosely based. Two soldiers return to Israel after 17 years as hostages, but what should be a joyous reunion is also tainted by suspicion and violence.

For something with more visual flair, there are two recent mini-series adapted from novels by John le Carré that fit the bill: “The Night Manager,” starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, and “Little Drummer Girl,” starring Florence Pugh and Michael Shannon. Each follows a new recruit — a former soldier, a young actress — who gets sucked in to a world of international espionage, and glamorous, dangerous globe-trotting ensues. (Both shows aired on AMC; “Night” is streaming on Amazon, and “Drummer” is on Sundance Now.)

There’s “The Heavy Water War,” a Norwegian series set during World War II and based on real events (available on Amazon Prime). It’s a little less of the heart-pounding tension and little more of the search for morality.

After all that, you might want a foreign spy comedy, in which case, try Netflix’s “A Very Secret Service,” a French series set in the 1960s that has a sort of “Archer”-y vibe.

Q: I am intrigued by survival content. I loved “All is Lost” the first time I saw it years ago and recently watched it twice. “Life of Pi” and “Arctic” were also hits. I devoured all the seasons of “Alone,” and I am even willing to go a bit off course, and let a few interlopers in, as when I enjoyed “The Terror” miniseries, and Shackleton documentaries. So what could be next? — Abby
A: One of my favorites, and among my most-recommended shows, is “The Last Alaskans,” a documentary series on the Discovery Channel about the few people still allowed to live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While it’s not strict solo survivalism, it’s close, and the stunning cinematography is unmatched in unscripted television.

Less poetic but much jazzier is “Naked and Afraid,” (on Hulu and Discovery Channel) in which people are, yep, naked and afraid — and in the harsh wilderness. Episode quality varies substantially, so feel free to bail on a boring one.

I think your best bet is going to be YouTube, though. “Primitive Technology” is probably the biggie in the genre, and it’s fascinating, if often well beyond what most of us will ever be capable of. I’m also obsessed with through-hiking videos and wilderness bushcraft expeditions. Whatever you lose in editing and narrative you gain in authenticity and volume. The way of the internet!

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©2019 New York Times News Service

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