Best shows to binge on Now TV

  • The List
  • 1 May 2020
Best shows to binge on Now TV

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Including Grey's Anatomy, The Wire and Curb Your Enthusiasm

Since we've all begun to properly settle into this lockdown thing, now is as good a time as any to binge-watch something you haven't seen before. Now TV has over 300 box sets to choose from, and with that much choice, it's always good to get some recommendations. So we've put together a list of some of our favourites so you too can join us in our unhealthy TV habits.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Is there anything more awkward on TV than Curb Your Enthusiasm? Seinfeld co-creator Larry David's semi-improvised sitcom stars David as a fictionalised version of himself and follows his life in LA, as he somehow manages to get himself into the most cringe-worthy scenarios you can imagine. The beauty of Curb is how far David succeeds in pushing the rude, obnoxious and undiplomatic qualities of his character, and how even though we're rooting for our anti-hero, he gets exactly what he deserves each episode. The addition of guest stars, often celebrities who are also playing fictionalised versions of themselves, just adds to the hilariously impending discomfort, as you watch with your hands over your eyes, waiting for David to make yet another tragic faux pas. Notable appearances over the years include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Salman Rushdie and Alanis Morissette, with the most recent series featuring Jon Hamm, Clive Owen, Mila Kunis, Sean Penn, Coldplay's Chris Martin and others. In our current state of lockdown, we can all surely relate to Larry's permanent annoyance at everyone else's behaviour. Really, we're all Larry David now. (Arusa Qureshi)

The Wire

The Wire is that rare TV series that seriously challenges us to consider how we view the world. Its title refers to a wiretap surveillance undertaken by a Baltimore police unit investigating a drug dealing organisation which is operating in a run-down housing project. But, while all five seasons follow many of the same characters and the focus is always on 'the war on drugs', each season swings the spotlight onto a particular area of Baltimore society to examine how it relates to law enforcement, from the dockworkers to city hall, the education system to newspapers. The Wire's strength lies in its vast, diverse cast: mostly unknowns (including a young Idris Elba as the magnetic 'Stringer' Bell and Michael K Williams as the enigmatic Omar Little), many who had never acted before and some who had been rescued from the very lifestyles they portray here. Sympathies will ebb and flow (many of the characters who would normally be considered 'villains' evoke the most compassion) while some of the most egregious characters are lauded for their positions in respectable authority (the judiciary, law enforcement and politics). Presented in a boxy 4:3 ratio when most TV had gone widescreen, The Wire has the look of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, and its detailed depiction of how various societal factions interact with one another provoked justified comparisons to the work of Charles Dickens. Despite its weighty themes, it's often hilarious, particularly the wonderful chemistry between detectives Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West in his breakout role) and Bunk Moreland (Wendell Pierce). (Murray Robertson)

Best shows to binge on Now TV

True Blood

True Blood is one of those shows that started off really strong, but ended up losing its way a little by the final series. Still, with seven seasons of supernatural storylines, sexy vampires and unexpected social commentary, it's a great show to get hooked on and ultimately, binge. Based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels, True Blood imagines a future in which vampires and humans co-exist, thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood product called 'Tru Blood', which eliminates their need for human blood to survive. The story centres on the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana and telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who surprise surprise, falls in love with 173-year-old vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). But aside from the trials of Sookie and Bill and their dangerous love affair, True Blood explores some interesting and relevant issues, including equal rights and discrimination, violence against minorities and homosexuals, drug addiction, the power of the media and more. There are also some brilliant characters throughout, from shapeshifter / Sookie's boss Sam Merlotte to cook, drug dealer and medium Lafayette Reynolds. Not to mention the best character of all Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård), the 1000-year-old vampire and Sheriff of Area 5. (Arusa Qureshi)

Big Little Lies

This Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy-winning drama series created by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Mr. Mercedes) stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz and tells the story of five women in Monterey, California who much to their regret, become deeply entangled in a murder investigation. Based on the Liane Moriarty novel of the same name, Big Little Lies was originally only a seven-episode miniseries, however due to its popularity it was brought back last year for a second season, with the legendary Meryl Streep joining the main cast as Kidman's mother-in-law. The supporting cast is equally stellar, featuring Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, James Tupper and Jeffrey Nordling as the women's spouses. In addition to murder, the show gracefully tackles other heavy topics including rape and abuse. Although the majority of the characters live in excessively large, lavish homes next to the ocean on the stunning California coast, it quickly becomes clear that their lives are far from perfect. With outstanding cinematography, powerful performances and a killer soundtrack, Big Little Lies is dark, thrilling and addictive, making it an ideal binge-watch while in lockdown. (Megan Forsyth)

Best shows to binge on Now TV

Parks and Recreation

Despite the fact that it's only been five years since the last episode of Parks and Recreation aired, the show sometimes feels like a period piece. Created out of the idealism and optimism of Obama's presidency, Parks and Rec focuses on the (mis)adventures of a group of earnest, good-hearted civil servants at a municipal Parks and Recreation department in Middle America, helmed by their deputy director, the cheerfully indefatigable Leslie Knope (played by the great Amy Poehler). Watching Parks and Rec now, through the lens of our politically fraught, Brexit-riddled and 'America First' present, its unwavering faith in progress and good governance sometimes feels impossibly far away. Yet the values at the core of Parks and Rec – that service to others is the most meaningful calling, and that nothing of importance is ever achieved alone – also feels more consoling than ever. It also boasted one of the strongest ensemble casts on network TV of its time, with a pre-Marvel buff Chris Pratt as the adorable, dim-witted Andy Dwyer, and Nick Offerman in his breakout role as Ron Swanson. With seven sunny seasons to hunker down into, there's genuinely no place better to ride out this pandemic than Pawnee, Indiana. (Deborah Chu)

Broad City

Now TV includes numerous Comedy Central shows you wouldn't find elsewhere and Broad City is just one of them. The sitcom neatly packages the misadventures of New Yorkers Ilana Wexler and Abbi Abrams into 22-minute episodes.There is no overarching plot to Broad City; it follows the antics of two open-minded, open-hearted and somewhat lost best friends trying to make their way through life. Just as HBO's Girls put modern-young women on screen front and centre, Broad City follows suit. The show encapsulates and magnifies what it's like to be a young person living in today's world in an enjoyable, real and hilarious way. Themes of friendship, love, sexuality, gender identity, misogyny and career-pressures are tackled in an outlandish and fun manner. Writers and creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are best friends in real life and therefore have amazing, vibrant and energetic chemistry on screen. This, paired with the show's farcical storylines, during which they navigate life's many shit storms, results in a charming, relatable show, that is a must-binge comedy if ever there was one. (Becki Crossley)

Best shows to binge on Now TV

Grey's Anatomy

One of the true network TV juggernauts and the first jewel in the Shondaland crown, Grey's Anatomy has loomed over popular culture for 16 seasons and counting, with no signs of flagging. The secret sauce is surely its unabashedly soapy premise: a revolving door of implausibly hot surgeons at a Seattle hospital save lives and have sex amidst some truly ludicrous stakes. Even the most devoted fan will have lost track of the number of bomb explosions, shootings, plane crashes, natural disasters and sinkholes that this crack team of preposterously attractive medical professionals have had to weather over the years, though the real emergency on Grey's is always their deeply convoluted and incestuous personal lives. Though there've been many shake-ups to the cast over the years (often due to the aforementioned car accidents, sinking ferries, superstorms, the other bombing, etc.), Grey's alumni include the likes of Patrick Dempsey as Derek 'McDreamy' Shepherd, Katherine Heigl as the much-maligned Izzie Stevens and Sandra Oh as the brilliant and cutthroat Cristina Yang. Yet despite these truly insane shenanigans, the show's incredible staying power is testament to its ability to balance emotional histrionics with decently compelling medical detail. And since we've all got plenty of time on our hands at present, now is the perfect time to lean into the high drama that's always brewing over on Grey's. (Deborah Chu)

The Sopranos

Time and time again, people have to be told to sit down and start The Sopranos. So why haven't you started it yet? The Golden Globe and Emmy-winning show has been hailed one of the greatest dramas – nay, the greatest TV shows – of all time much like many others in HBO's outstanding portfolio (The Wire, Game of Thrones). The show centres around husband and father of two, Tony Soprano, played by the late great James Gandolfini, as he attempts to maintain a successful home life whilst running the New Jersey mafia. Crucial business and personal decisions bear huge weight, ultimately landing Tony in a psychiatrist's chair opposite Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Here, we see Tony talk through his inner conflicts and true desires, magnifying his vulnerabilities and also his somewhat charming strengths. Gandolfini leads an amazing cast, filled with characters that range from detestable to loveable, most often all rolled into one. The show's dialogue, plot lines and scenes of customary violence are said to be so true to real mafia life it was suspected that someone blabbed to the show's writers (though this has never been proven). As a unique and unapologetic examination into the psyche of a mobster, The Sopranos makes for an ultra endearing six seasons which, much like HBO's The Wire, humanises violent criminals and, as the audience begin to sympathise with and admire mafia members, a moral conundrum is turned onto the viewer. (Becki Crossley)

Best shows to binge on Now TV

Gavin & Stacey

This feel-good favourite British comedy is centred around the lives of young couple Gavin (Mathew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page) and their families and friends. At the start of the series, both live at home with their parents – Gavin in Essex, England with his overbearing mum Pam (Alison Steadman) and father Mick (Larry Lamb) and Stacey in Barry, Wales with her widowed mother Gwen (Melanie Walters), also often visited by Stacey's awkward Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon). The show's standout characters are arguably the pair's best friends Smithy and Nessa, who begin an unconventional romance of their own and are played perfectly by the show's sole creators and writers James Corden and Ruth Jones. As Gavin and Stacey's relationship progresses, the two families come together for various gatherings in both Essex and Barry, and countless awkward and hilarious moments ensue. After three short series that ran from 2007 to 2010, Gavin & Stacey returned last year for a highly-anticipated Christmas Special reunion episode. The show is consistently relatable and laugh-out-loud funny, with memorable characters and catchphrases ('what's occurring?') that make quickly binge-watching the hit series far too easy. (Megan Forsyth)

Chernobyl

This five-part masterpiece is a spellbinding depiction of the literal fallout following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. You might reasonably expect the series would begin with some explanation of how a nuclear power station works, but Chernobyl drops you right in the centre of the incident as it unfolds. Critical information is drip-fed by its many characters as they first try to make sense of the scale of what is rapidly unfolding, before heroically trying to find a solution while the ramifications of a localised disaster quickly scale up towards a global catastrophe. It's an unflinchingly difficult watch – the horrors of acute radiation poisoning are depicted with ferocious candour – which makes the following political cover-up all the more infuriating and particularly pertinent to the world today. A phenomenal cast (including Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson) inject much-needed pathos into the chaos, while spectacularly authentic sets, props and costumes bring 1980s Soviet society to vivid life in all its beige glory. Chernobyl is an absolutely vital watch, not only for its contemporary political importance but because it's simply one of the finest TV series ever made. (Murray Robertson)

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