Five Dramas You Should Be Watching On Netflix Instant Instead of Just Watching Mad Men For the Hundredth Time

by a contributor

from Lucy Huber, author of Spam and Bones:

1. Breaking Bad
If you don’t already know you should be watching this show, chances are you’re beyond help or a shut in with no access to current media outlets. It’s probably more likely that you’ve been meaning to watch Breaking Bad, you’ve seen Bryan Cranston’s wrinkly face clutching at his Emmy’s and thought “Wow, I should really get around to watching Breaking Bad”, but then put it off for more seemingly important things like “homework” or your “job”. Maybe you think watching the downfall of a mild-mannered chemistry teacher go meth lord will make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you think watching said drug lord dissolve human bodies in a bathtub full of acid will be gross. The truth is, you’re right. This show will make you feel horrible. It will make your body physically feel a constant state of panic like waking up from that dream where you showed up two hours late to the SATs naked. You will sometimes have to leave the room and plug your ears in your boyfriend’s apartment hallway because you’re sorry, but you just can’t watch this scene. But after all of this, you will keep watching. Because you will realize a TV show has never made you feel so many things before, or think so critically. You have never been so invested in the characters, the storyline, the beautiful hazy images of the New Mexican dessert. This show will make you want to throw up. And you’ll love it.

2. Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks starts as a pretty standard murder mystery: a dead teenage girl washes up wrapped in a plastic tarp on the banks of a river in a small town in Washington State. The kind of stuff we’ve seen a million times before, especially since Law and Order is constantly marathoning on pretty much 30 percent of all cable channels. But then it gets weird. Weird like supernatural evil wolf spirits and mysterious owls and grief-ridden fathers whose hair changes color overnight.  Weird like the police team investigating the murder unexplainably always has an entire table full of donuts set up in rows on napkins, even though there are only like four of them. Weird like there is a lady in town who carries around a log and makes everyone talk to it. Wait, I can’t even explain this show to you. Just watch it.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
If you ever found yourself watching Twilight, wishing that Edward Cullen would drop the whole chastity act, do Bella in his vampire lair, turn evil, and attempt to kill her and all of her friends, while in turn Bella strapped on a pair of 90s combat boots and flowered sundress and staked Edward through the heart, you’ve probably just been watching the wrong vampire stuff. And beyond the obvious appeal of campy monsters and clever one liners, the show tackles deeper issues by taking the regular struggles of growing up and making them into supernatural problems.  The group of popular kids turns into a pack of wild dogs. The quiet girl nobody notices literally turns invisible. This show is original, funny, and smart in every way. One episode is entirely a musical, for God’s sake. Resign yourself to losing 3-4 months of your life and just watch every episode straight through.

4. Parenthood
My mom has been telling me to watch this show for like three years and every time I rolled my eyes. But actually, it turns out my mom has pretty great taste in TV. (She was into Downton Abbey while everyone else still assumed it was about a young professional navigating life and love in the streets of London.) Parenthood is about four adult siblings and their kids living in Berkley and just existing, I guess. It’s not really funny, or dramatic, it’s just true. The problems the families tackle feel real, dealing with a son with Asperger’s, lingering resentment left by infidelity, a search for meaning in life while acting as a stay at home parent. There are no “very special episodes” or saccharine Christian values. And yeah, sometimes the episodes end with a homey folk song playing over a heart-warming family event, but admit it, you kind of need that sometimes.

5. The Walking Dead
The writer of the comic book The Walking Dead is based on once said that his problem with zombie movies is that they all end, but then what? The Walking Dead explores what happens in the weeks and months after a zombie apocalypse, the choices humans make to stay alive, betrayal, fear, and boredom. A lot of episodes don’t even feature any zombies, but only the group of survivors dealing with the implications of what happens when there is nothing left in the world and nowhere is safe. That’s pretty awesome. And you know what else is awesome about it? All the zombies.