TV recommendations for escapist binge watching: Netflix/Prime edition
April 3, 2019 3:30 PM   Subscribe

I don't know how to describe this genre, but: Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, The Originals, kind of those mini-soaps that take place with no self awareness. Ridiculously expensive sets way out of people's budgets, Big Epic Loves, insane plot points that don't make sense in the real world. I am having a terrible week/month/year and need some mindless relaxation.

Bonus extra points for big dramatic romantic journeys that take like three seasons or more to complete.

Minus 1000 points for the "awesome, together woman loves lovable loser dude and then they end up together as she just learns to relax."

please send me your ships.
posted by corb to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Riverdale, Revenge, THE OC
posted by icy_latte at 3:34 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]

Shonda Rhimes shows might fit? Scandal rings a bell for Big Epic Loves. How to Get Away With Murder is ridiculous. She does interesting characters with absurd plots well.
posted by lookoutbelow at 3:41 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]

I don't know if it's on Netflix, but Younger might fit the bill. The Arrangement might also be worth some of your time.
posted by sardonyx at 3:41 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

"You" on Netflix fits the bill!
posted by katypickle at 3:41 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]

Oh, I also recently binged all of True Blood to scratch a similar itch for ridiculousness (edit: sorry, I missed your Netflix/Prime specification)
posted by lookoutbelow at 3:42 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Being Erica! It’s like chick lit with a little light sci if thrown in.
posted by amro at 3:56 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]

Jane the Virgin is all on Netflix except the currently airing final season! Big dramatic romantic journeys aplenty, plus lots of fun telenovla inspired subplots. It’s more self aware than most of the shows you mention and has a more specific tone, but you’ll know after one episode if it works for you.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:58 PM on April 3 [10 favorites]

Jane the Virgin?
posted by suelac at 3:58 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Parenthood is less teen-y and more thoughtful but can be just as ridiculous and soapy at times (I miss it so much!)
posted by sallybrown at 4:29 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Oh and definitely Friday Night Lights if you haven’t seen it!
posted by sallybrown at 4:29 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Our family enjoys a show called Night Shift with the love you can only have for a ridiculously unrealistic drama set in an emergency room, with a staff that all have terrible boundaries and are each other lovers, ex-lovers, and future lovers. My 11yo son and I are particularly invested in the storyline of Dr. Drew Allister, who starts out as a deeply, deeply closeted military doctor, becomes a deeply, deeply closeted civilian doctor, and the ups and downs of his relationship with his lover, Captain Rick Lincoln. The actor who plays Drew, Brenden Fehr, cries really well in every way: his pre-cry face; his eyes just beginning to well up; full-on tears. Our theory is that the writers were like, "This guy is really good at crying...let's give him some reasons to cry. Lots of reasons to cry. All the reasons to cry."

Our nickname for the show is Total Drama Hospital. It's incredibly good at sucking you in, even if you are just passing through the room, because something incredibly dramatic is happening at every possible moment.

Four seasons. A good amount for binging.
posted by Orlop at 4:43 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]

Total Drama Hospital is currently on Netflix.
posted by Orlop at 4:43 PM on April 3

Once Upon a Time did this for me. The ?soteriology? makes no sense to me at all but the people are very pretty and sufferin' usually through their own mistakes and as I remember it the pretty flakey boyfriends usually have to Step Up.
posted by clew at 4:50 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Oh god you want Riverdale so bad
posted by tatiana wishbone at 4:53 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]

It doesn't meet all your criteria, but the first season of Quantico is all about super-attractive people doing really implausible things in service of an unbelievable plot, with big emotions and no self-awareness.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:57 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Downton Abbey!
posted by yawper at 5:04 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]

I don't know if it's still on Netflix, I watched it last year, but Sense8 may fit the bill.
Have you tried Wynona Earp?
posted by BoscosMom at 5:12 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

The Paradise might fit the bill.
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 5:41 PM on April 3

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, if you're okay with some magic/occult/devil worshiping.
posted by Weeping_angel at 6:03 PM on April 3

Oh gosh yes Riverdale and Wynonna Earp.

Sense8 is also wonderful, but while it is ultimately positive and feel-good-y, there's a lot of distress and trauma on the way there that's not necessarily what I want when I want escapist binge-watching. If you're up for it now or later, though, highly recommended.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:05 PM on April 3

This is my favourite genre of TV show and I think that Switched at Birth would fit this bill, as would The Fosters to . slightly lesser extent.

For reasons I don't understand it's not on Netflix anymore but 90210 (the modern CW one) would also totally be your jam, I bet. It was so bad/good.
posted by urbanlenny at 6:07 PM on April 3

Legacies’ (the spin off of Originals which is the spin off of The Vampire Diaries) first season will be hitting Netflix April 5th! Kind of campy and dramatic in all the right ways (and my little sister stars, so I’m biased). Lots of fun Easter eggs if you’ve seen TVD and TO!
posted by girlalex at 6:11 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I know you specified Netflix/Prime, but I still have to throw The Bold Type out there (Hulu/Freeform) just in case. It's only 20 episodes, though (10 per season, currently -- there's going to be a third season that starts shortly).

I wandered away from The 100 after not too long but I still keep meaning to go back.

The CW superhero shows (Supergirl, especially) sometimes scratch that same itch for me, but they may not work for you.

I will also add that Once Upon a Time is pretty good for this, but the last few seasons begin to drag.
posted by darksong at 6:23 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

When I needed some serious escapist Netflixing, I watched the Spanish language historical soap Grand Hotel (set in early 1900s Spain). It is perfect for this. I joked that you could get whiplash because SO! MUCH! HAPPENS! in every episode. Eye candy abounds (beautiful people, opulent settings), you've got dramatic forbidden romances, there are ridiculously dastardly villains, there's weeping and gnashing of teeth and vowing to avenge loved ones' deaths/downfalls on the regular. If you can put up with such silliness, it's great.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:35 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]

Teen Wolf!! So absurd, so much doomed romance, so much Stiles!!! (On Amazon Prime)
posted by epj at 6:45 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]

“Always a witch” on Netflix. It’s Colombian but dubbed in English. She’s a witch! But also a time traveller! But also a college student! It’s overblown and I love it.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:14 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I love this genre too and I gotta suggest the classic: Sex and the City.
posted by 3491again at 7:50 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Good Trouble, a spin-off of The Fosters, both of which are in this genre.
posted by 3491again at 9:06 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I'm going through a similar phase for similar reasons! I've recently really enjoyed Tidelands (Netflix - Australian murder mermaids), Siren (Hulu - Pacific Northwest murder mermaids), and just started Shadowhunters (Hulu - half-angel demon hunters, vampires, fairies, warlocks, etc.) I also wholeheartedly agree with Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but I definitely lean towards the more supernatural of these types of shows.
posted by evilbeck at 11:18 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Dexter? Scrubs? Reno 911?

These are my escape go-to's.
posted by bendy at 3:34 AM on April 4

N'thing Riverdale.

Also, Lucifer if having a cop show overlay on top is ok (but it's definitely ridiculous and soapy with an epic love story).

El ministerio del tiempo is legit good, but also quite soapy with a fairly strong romance arc in the first couple of seasons.
posted by snaw at 3:55 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]

A second vote here for Sense8. Come for the funky sci-fi premise, stay for the gorgeous global shooting locations, and revel in the inclusive-of-everyone (sometimes literally) sex.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:02 AM on April 4

Lucifer is soo much fine and the sets are kind of crazy. The crime procedural aspects can be mostly ignored.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:15 AM on April 4

It's a little more action-driven than romance, but when I just want to sit back and let the glossy entertainment wash over me, Burn Notice is a forever favorite and I think it's free through Prime Video.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:25 AM on April 4

Dynasty (the remake)
posted by crazycanuck at 8:31 AM on April 4

UnReal, with the caveat that Season 4 is really not great. It is absolute fantastic nonsense.
posted by mippy at 10:24 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]

The Magicians is pretty great. But _might_ be a bit too self-aware for your needs.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 6:11 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]

Riverdale is probably all you need.
posted by lunasol at 6:42 PM on April 4

Nashville would also fit the bill. Even if you don't much care for country music. It's good.
posted by urbanlenny at 5:57 AM on April 5

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