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The Ultimate Winter Binge Guide
You’ve still got a long holiday weekend ahead of you, and a few winter months’ worth of cocooning inside, a perfect time to binge some great television. But even exceptional shows have good parts and less-good parts, killer episodes and skippable ones. And besides, starting with the best part might get you so hooked that you want to commit to starting from the beginning. The psychology of binge-watching in a streaming universe overflowing with options is complex!
We’re here to help. Here are the best parts of some of the best Peabody-recognized shows so that you can strategize and precision-target your bingeing this winter.
start with: season 2, episode 1, “It’s Alive!”
end with: season 4, episode 12, “The Getaway”
Dexter starts strong, but its first season serves mainly to introduce its basic concept, which is a doozy (and was even more shocking when the show premiered in 2006): a forensic crime scene technician moonlights as a serial vigilante murderer. Once you’ve caught onto that, though, like many series, Dexter hits its stride in its second season—in this case, freed from the novels that serve as its source material. In season 2, Dexter (played by a chillingly charming Michael C. Hall) begins to encounter major hurdles, with his motivation slipping, his victims escaping, a coworker growing suspicious, and his knack for the kill faltering. He also digs deeper into his personal life, eventually finding out he’s going to become a father and proposing to girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz), all of which pose major complications for a serial killer. This run of three seasons allows you to get the full spectrum of Dexter’s difficulties, culminating in a season 4 showdown with John Lithgow as the “Trinity Killer.”
Where to Watch: Showtime
Choose your own adventure!
watch seasons 1 and 2 for a consistent, mostly plot-driven experience
watch seasons 3 and 4 for an anthology-like experience
Atlanta scored a rare two Peabodys, specifically because of the way it changed directions mid-stream: The first honors its (slightly) more traditional, character-centric storytelling as it follows music manager Earn Marks (creator Donald Glover) as he manages the exploding rap career of his cousin, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry). They form a tight foursome with their offbeat friend Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), and Earn’s sometime girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz), with whom he shares a child. Though their adventures are often surreal and picaresque, their relationships develop and their lives move forward during those first two seasons. The series’ second Peabody, however, recognized its new approach in season 3, which marks an abrupt switch toward individual episodes that often don’t feature the core cast at all, telling haunting stories: a Black boy gets in trouble at school and ends up in a foster care with two white hippie women who use Black foster kids as their home-based labor force; society is upended in an imagined near future when a court ruling allows Black people to sue the descendants of their enslaved ancestors’ owners for reparations. Each track is riveting; it just depends on what you’re in the mood to watch.
Where to Watch: Hulu
start with: season 2, episode 23, “The Master Plan”
end with: season 4, episode 22, “Win, Lose, or Draw”
This serotonin blast of a show about an overachieving local government bureaucrat named Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in Pawnee, Indiana, and the ragtag department surrounding her, is always fun, but it takes a while to find itself. Its magic kicks up to stratospheric levels with the arrival of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott as state auditors looking to make cuts in Pawnee who quickly fall in love (literally) with the town and its citizens. Their presence supercharges the romance factor as Leslie and Scott’s character, Ben, spark up a will-they-won’t-they for the ages; Leslie plans a Harvest Festival to save the Parks Department from being decimated; and Leslie runs for city council against candy company scion Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd). Along the way, we get a surprise wedding, a birther scandal, instructions on how to “treat yo’ self,” and one very special, very small horse named “Lil’ Sebastian.”
Where to Watch: Peacock
start with: season 1, episode 1, “BFD”
end with: season 2, episode 7, “To Ed”
Yes, this is the whole run of the series so far. But it’s the perfect time for this quirky, beautiful, bite-sized binge, with only 14 episodes total, at a mere 30 minutes each. Somebody Somewhere follows Sam (Bridget Everett), a middle-aged woman who returns to her Kansas hometown to recalibrate her life after the death of her sister. She revisits her passion (and massive talent) for singing, despite her big dreams having likely passed her by, and she connects with a community full of artists and queer people, but there’s no Big Premise here. The story is powered mostly by her endlessly watchable friendship with a former classmate, Joel (Jeff Hiller)—the evolution of their delicious chemistry and delightful banter in season 1, and a devastating break in their relationship in season 2. Revel in 14 episodes of simply hanging out with people you’ll love, despite their flaws, living their lives the best they can.
Where to Watch: Max
start with: season 1, episode 1, “Pilot”
end with: season 2, episode 12, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success”
Did you miss out on the Ted Lasso phenomenon, then fear the task of catching up? Try the first season, which will likely get you hooked on Ted (co-creator Jason Sudeikis), a good Kansas football coach who’s hired to head a UK soccer team—an act of deliberate sabotage by the team’s new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham, in a well-deserved career-defining role). The winning cast sells the silly premise, and Ted is far more layered than his rube persona initially lets on, so stick with it for the second season as everyone gets deeper. You’ll also get a perfect Christmas episode, a fun rom-com homage, and a season-ending cliffhanger that may entice you to watch the third and final season, which is a bit messier than the others, but also wraps things up nicely in the end.
Where to Watch: Apple TV+