Following the conclusion of a rigorous and academically exhausting semester, I found myself anxiously searching for ways to fill large chunks of time that I wasn’t accustomed to having. I listened to music, read a few books, and streamed a lot of television. By the end of the summer, I had watched a total of 20 seasons of various television series which (unofficially) qualifies me to suggest five shows that will make your study breaks worthwhile — or that will serve as interesting background noise for those late nights in the library.
5) Bachelor in Paradise
Streaming Service: Hulu
Genre: Reality, Competition
First and foremost, I would not consider myself a reality television aficionado of any sort, but one episode of Bachelor in Paradise, and I found myself enthusiastically invested in the love lives of perfectly manicured strangers. The show is a spinoff of ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, featuring ex-contestants of both shows, and is an elimination-style reality competition centered around finding true love on an isolated island paradise. The show thrives on drama, deception, and heartbreak, which are, coincidentally, all the makings of a great distraction.
Character Highlight: John Paul Jones
Quote: “I’ve been looking for my wife for 18 years.” He’s 24.
4) The Society
Streaming Service: Netflix
The Society took me by pleasant surprise to say the very least. I am typically skeptical of network productions aimed at a young adult audience because of shows like Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why, which fail to tackle the actual issues being faced by young adults today. This Netflix Original can best be described as Lord of the Flies meets Generation Z with a dose of supernatural intrigue. The show takes place in a small town where the population vanishes with the exception of the local high school students, who are then forced to fend for themselves and reconstruct a community that mysteriously disappeared. The mystery and speculation laced into the premise of the show make it easy to become immersed into the dark teen series and, because of this, I suggest tuning in only if you’re ready for the investment.
Character Highlight: Grizz
Quote: “So what are we gonna do, Sam? You gonna be like one of those secret married gay dudes, from the dinosaur age? We’re gonna sneak around?”
3) Broad City
Streaming Service: Hulu
This five-season series came to an end this past spring, but I still find myself rewatching episodes and laughing at punchlines as if I haven’t heard them before. The series follows real-life best friends and ex-members of the improv show Upright Citizens Brigade, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as they navigate post-graduate Millennial life in New York City. I would go as far as to say that this show is groundbreaking in its refusal to shy away from hot button issues — from obedience to intersectionality — as well as providing a relatable depiction of female friendship, and normalizing the sexuality of young women. If you’re looking for something upbeat, witty, and comedically brilliant, this series is easy to fall in love with, and even easier to stay in love with.
Character Highlight: Ilana
Quote: “It’s fine everyone has a nights like this.”
2) Big Little Lies
Streaming service: HBO
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Drama
I found myself a little too invested in the lives of the Monterey Five, a cohort of strong, scandalous, superficial, chardonnay-sipping socialites. At its core, Big Little Lies can be summarized by murder, motherhood, and mischief. The show thrives on mystery and melodrama; the first season spotlighted some of my favorite television tropes: a new girl in town with a foggy past, a homicide in which we don’t know the victim or killer, a first-grade classroom conundrum — but it is more about how these secrets work to break the already-thin ice on which these characters live than their traditional resolutions. The acting is superior, the writing is phenomenal, the characters are gorgeously flawed, all of which work in harmony to create a highly addictive and thrilling two-season saga.
Character Highlight: Renata Klein
Quote: “I will not not be rich.”
Streaming Service: HBO
Euphoria is truly in a league of its own. Calling it anything less than original would be a punishable offense. It succeeds in showcasing the complications and new realities of being a teenager in the modern age and could be compared to a Generation Z exposé encompassing the essence of that generation. The premise of the show could be reduced to the perils of the transition into adulthood, and the teenage exploration of sex, drugs, and identity. The characters of Euphoria are multidimensional, diverse, and, arguably most importantly, relatable. From the visually enticing aesthetics, to the top-tier soundtrack, as well as Zendaya’s powerful portrayal of Rue, Euphoria has earned the top spot on your watchlist.
Character Highlight: Jules Vaughn
Quote: “B—h, this isn’t the ‘80s. You need to catch a d—k.”