EW picks: What to binge-watch over Memorial Day weekend
With many of our favorite shows behind us (for the season, at least) and a three-day weekend ahead of us, what’s a TV fan to do? How about catch up on all the under-the-radar gems that didn’t earn a spot on your DVR earlier in the season?
Below, the EW staff picks the series you need to watch—now.
12 Monkeys (Syfy, returns in 2016)
What it’s about: If you enjoyed the 1995 Bruce Willis-starring movie, you’ll fall even more in love with the era-hopping morally ambiguous series, which follows a weary time traveler (Aaron Stanford) from a dystopian future, journeying back to the present day in a bid to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will annihilate the human race. After becoming entangled with present-day virologist Dr. Railly (Amanda Schull), Cole tries desperately and futilely to save her, even if it means re-writing his future.
Best episode: “Shonin” (Season 1, Ep. 11)
The episode takes us back to Tokyo in 1987, where a familiar face gets left behind and ultimately helps the Army of the 12 Monkeys stay one step ahead of Cole throughout the ensuing decades.
Total run time: 9 hours and 20 minutes (13 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, iTunes, and Syfy.com
The 100 (The CW, returns next spring)
What it’s about: Just the age-old tale of adults sending their kids out of the space station and back to Earth in order to see if it’s inhabitable. A 2014 midseason series that got a bit overlooked, The 100 isn’t great out of the gate—but stick with it and you’re in for a sci-fi show that explores the complexities of living on both a savage postapocalyptic Earth and a dying vessel in space.
Best episode: “Spacewalker” (Season 2, Ep. 8)
The ep dives deep into what justice looks like in this world, and heroine Clarke (Eliza Taylor) makes a decision that will haunt her—and viewers—for the rest of the season.
Total run time: 20 hours and 11 minutes (29 episodes), first season watchable on Netflix, all on iTunes
BoJack Horseman (Netflix, returns in July)
What it’s about: Hollywood is filled with animals—literally—in Netflix’s cartoon farce about a faded ‘90s sitcom star (the eponymous equine, voiced by Will Arnett), who battles depression while reconciling his past in a memoir. It’s shockingly funny, given the dark themes, with more than a few belly laughs per episode thanks to a herd of visual gags and a stellar voice cast (including Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, and Alison Brie) that sells the absurdity with animated finesse.
Best episode: “The BoJack Horseman Story, Chapter One” (Season 1, Ep. 1)
Given the insane premise, it’s probably best to start at BoJack’s beginning (a very funny place to start) with this one.
Total run time: 5 hours (12 episodes), watchable on Netflix
Hindsight (VH1, returns this winter)
What it’s about: On the eve of her second wedding, fortysomething Becca (Laura Ramsey) travels back in time to the day of her first wedding, getting another chance at life and love—including her friendship with estranged bestie Lolly (Sarah Goldberg). The 1995 setting is a playful slice of everything that made the decade great, from baby-doll dresses to Blues Traveler.
Best episode: “The Imaginary Line” (Season 1, Ep. 8)
The mystery behind Becca and Lolly’s rift is revealed in flashbacks (or is it flash-forwards?) to 2003 in a heartbreaker of an hour that tees up the drama to come in the season’s closing episodes.
Total run time: 6 hours and 54 minutes (10 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and VH1.com
Jane the Virgin (The CW, returns this fall)
What it’s about: Ditch the usual drama reruns this summer for a series about a 20-something virgin (Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez), who finds herself preggers after she’s accidentally inseminated with her old crush’s (Justin Baldoni) sperm sample. The expectant mom’s misadventures in juggling college, her fiancé (Brett Dier), and her colorful family could easily veer towards the saccharine, but Rodriguez successfully leads a cast of winsome characters that play off TV tropes in a way that’s utterly irresistible.
Best episode: “Chapter 20” (Season 1, Ep. 20) Showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman is deft at giving plenty of airtime to each of her multi-dimensional characters, and “Chapter Twenty” masterfully weaves their stories together with a fantasy-driven sequence set during a hilarious Lucha Libre-style wrestling match.
Total run time: 15 hours and 37 minutes (22 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes
Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC, returns this fall)
What it’s about: It’s easy to feel summer superhero ennui, but there’s something completely refreshing about this 1940s-set thriller, which focuses on a kick-ass expat secret agent (the exceptional Hayley Atwell) who’s as talented in espionage as in stenography. Peel away the familiar Marvel layers and you’ll find a truly stylized, action-packed period piece with a strong heroine, which makes each case-of-the-week episode feel more exciting than the last.
Best episode: “Now Is Not the End” (Season 1, Ep. 1)
The pilot lays out Peggy’s ingenuity, hardships, and two conflicting missions in thrilling (and glamorous) fashion.
Total run time: 5 hours and 36 minutes (8 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes
Playing House (USA, returns in August)
What it’s about: Childhood best friends Maggie and Emma (played by real-life BFFs Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair) reunite when Emma returns home from a job abroad to help newly single (and pregnant) Maggie. But the comedy isn’t just about their misadventures in baby preparedness—it also captures how they learn to grow up and still remain totes kewl.
Best episode: “Bird Bones” (Season 1, Ep. 2)
In high school, Maggie and Emma nicknamed their petite classmate Tina (Lindsay Sloane) “Bird Bones.” Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the duo struggle to apologize for the moniker when Tina invites them over for brunch.
Total run time: 3 hours and 39 minutes (10 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes
You’re the Worst (FXX, returns this fall)
What it’s about: In last year’s sea of rom-sitcoms, one show floated above the rest: Stephen Falk’s delightfully caustic series, which centers on the relationship between bitter Jimmy (Chris Geere) and cynical hot mess Gretchen (Aya Cash). As the title suggests, both of them are “the worst”—childish, casually cruel, utterly oblivious to social norms and the very basics of human decency. Which, of course, is why they also happen to be perfect for each other.
Best episode: “Sunday Funday” (Season 1, Ep. 5)
Jimmy, Gretchen, and their friends—they have friends!—spend a glorious weekend afternoon boozing, bitching, and dealing with their least favorite thing: feelings.
Total run time: 4 hours and 13 minutes (10 episodes), watchable on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes