Halt and Catch Fire
Halt finished its four-year run on AMC as one of the most critically acclaimed and least-watched prestige dramas on television this past summer. It’s set in the early days of personal computing and follows five, oft-times unlikeable characters through all manner of triumphs, failures and connivings. It’s challenging and has a high barrier to entry, but also emotionally nuanced and evolving, and the acting is subtle and superb. Its final season uses the plot-heavy previous seasons to create a ten-episode character study you never realized you cared about before, and it’s one of the finest in television history.
Steven Soderbergh’s extremely gory (in a medical way) story of a drug-addicted surgeon genius in the 1900s was unlike anything else on television for its two-season run. Soderbergh helmed every episode himself, and the cast, led by Clive Owen, gives the impression of a 20-hour cinematic masterpiece, and meditation on living in an era of technological wonder, more than of a typical medical show. The style is unparalleled, and it has one of the best finales ever made. - Geoff Rynex
Wherein a semi-recovering alcoholic played by Will Arnett aimlessly canvases the streets of Venice Beach on two wheels in search of himself, free coffee and then himself again. That’s basically the spoiler-free beginning and end. What happens in between is heartwarming, uncomfortable, funny, frustrating, awkward and definitely binge-worthy. If it helps whatever Thanksgiving vibe you’re going for, pretend Abbot Kinney is blanketed with crunchy leaves and everyone’s wearing massive sweaters instead of bikinis and the very deepest of V’s. - Kelly Larson
The breakout TBS series, starring Alia Shawkat, Ron Livingston and the inimitable John Early, returned for its second season premier on Sunday. Which means you still have time to binge the first season before the second episode airs this upcoming Sunday. Without giving too much away, the show is about a group of friends living in New York who, amongst other things, attempt to find a missing girl they vaguely knew from college. In its protagonists search for meaning and purpose, it's sneakily poignant. But it's also one of the funniest portraits of solipsistic twentysomething millennials who don't have their shit together yet kind of act like they do since Girls. And I hear it pairs particularly well with sweatpants and leftover turkey sandwiches. - Sam Eichner
Just like any other comedian-driven series about a comedian going through life, (Curb, Louie, Seinfeld, etc. etc.) you have to have the stomach for Pete Holmes's particular brand of so-not-funny-it's-funny humor to enjoy the show in the first place. But beyond that, the Judd-Apatow-guided show takes a decidedly different bent than the aforementioned canon of loosely semi-autobiographical shows following established comedians who've got it all figured out...until they don't...because this story picks up as Pete is still a nobody trying to break into stand-up comedy and his outlook is equal parts tragically hopeless and tragically hopeful. Pete Holmes is the quintessential lovable oaf. Artie Lang crushes it as Artie Lang. T.J. Miller showed up right around the time I deplaned with the requisite needling bombast. Oh right, I meant to mention, this is actually an assignment for myself too--I've only watched the first four episodes of this first season (HBO has ordered a second) on a roundtrip flight that was just over an hour long each way and then never picked it back up. So I'll be looking forward to seeing how the second half unfolds too. - Najib Benouar
Narcos, Season 3
After Pablo Escobar’s final act, many Narcos fans had trouble mustering excitement for season three, which focuses on the Cali Cartel. But after the initial challenges of getting to know the new characters, I found myself super hooked and dying to find time for the next episode. The story is all but preposterous, how a brutal criminal organization ran their operation like a Fortune 500 company, ensnaring the highest reaches of Colombia’s government amid the U.S. effort, or at times non-effort, to silence their reign. Season three really benefits from having an empathetic central character with a lot of heart, who you’re rooting for against all hope, as he navigates a changing tide of psychopathic, paranoid and delusioned sicarios and godfathers. Ultimately, the tension feels even more marked than what Narcos had shown us before, as the show paves the way to next take on another bloody drug war in a measured shift of focus to Mexico. - Hadley Tomicki