5 Shows You Should Be Watching On Instant Streaming

Netflix

Though Netflix has received some backlash for the new price increase, it remains as one of the most (if not the most) popular movie services available today. If you’re shelling out $8 a month for instant streaming, Netflix offers an immensely large catalog of movies to choose from. However, if you’re anything like me, you love Netflix mainly for its variety of television series.

Before Netflix, you’d have to trout down to your local rental chain and pray against all odds that they carried more than just the latest season of the show you’re looking for. If they did carry earlier seasons, more than likely they were missing disc three of four in the season you want. But, then I signed up for Netflix and everything changed. I now had access to every season to shows I had been anxiously waiting to watch, and the discs were being mailed to my house! What more could I ask for?

Turns out my previous question was answered for me in the form of instant streaming. I didn’t think much of the service at first, but then as the library got better I realized that I could watch a show without have to wait those bittersweet days in between disc return and arrival. These days, the Netflix television library offers a plethora of fantastic shows to watch and after the jump I’d like to share five  excellent shows that you really need to watch.

Doctor WhoDoctor Who

I guarantee most of you have  a friend that is obsessed with this show. They’ve told you countless times, “Dude, you need to checkout Doctor Who. It’s amazing!” You know what, your friend is right. Doctor Who is the most successful sci-fi series of all-time, in terms of its overall broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, iTunes traffic and “illegal downloads”. While you have the option to view many adventures in the classic series (following the tales of Doctors 1-8), I started watching the new series that began in 2005 (beginning with the 9th Doctor).

The Doctor is a Time Lord, the last of his kind, and goes around the universe and travels in time to explore fascinating places and events. However, when he arrives to his destination, along side is faithful companion, trouble always seems to turn its ugly head his way. You may have noticed that I’ve referred to multiple Doctors, and this is because every so often the Doctor gets caught in a situation in which he almost dies. To stop that from happening, he “regenerates” into an entirely different person (a great way for a actor to exit the show, if I do say so myself). As it stands now, Matt Smith plays the 11th incarnation of the Doctor.

Who should watch this series: This a must watch for sci-fi fans or fans of British television. Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith all bring something different and wonderful to the role of The Doctor and show is brilliantly written.

ScrubsScrubs

I bet that most of you have seen at least a few episodes of Scrubs, especially since Comedy Central plays re-runs every weekday. The show follows John ‘ J.D.’ Dorian as he begins his career as a doctor at Sacred Heart, a learning hospital, along side his best friend Christopher Turk. Along the ways he meets a colorful cast of characters, including his crazed mentor (Perry Cox), his on-again/off-again girlfriend (Elliot Reed), Turk’s fiery vixen (Carla Espinosa) and his biggest nemesis (The Janitor).

The show is best known for it’s method of story telling, which it does through J.D.’s point of view. Almost every episode is narrated by J.D., as if he’s telling the story to a friend. Additionally, many times throughout an episode J.D. will have a comical daydream based on whatever topic is being discussed at that moment.

When I was still renting discs, I ended up watching the entire series (8 seasons) three discs at a time. However, when I discovered the show was on instant streaming I started watching some of my favorite episodes here and there, until I eventually watched every episode for a second time. I even watched the infamous ninth season, in which Sacred Heart is transformed into a school and medical students take over the show (a la Saved By the Bell: The New Class)

Who should watch this series: If you’re a sitcom fan, this show will be right up your alley. Additionally, if you love comedy shows, this is a must watch. Nearly everyone on the show is funny in one way or another (especially Perry Cox). Even if you can’t stand Zach Braff, I promise you’ll get over it after a few episodes.

Mad MenMad Men

AMC’s original series, Mad Men, is without a doubt one of the most popular shows on television right now. Set in the 1960’s, Mad Men follows the life of Don Draper, a creative director at Sterling Cooper (an advertising agency located on New York City’s Madison Avenue), both at work and in his personal life. To say that Don is a complicated man is like saying DC needs to make a good superhero movie besides the Dark Knight trilogy—it’s pretty obvious.

Along-side Don is a slew of immensely interesting characters, including Betty Draper (wife), Roger Sterling (boss), Peggy Olson (secretary), Joan Harris (office hottie) and Pete Campbell (office annoyance). One of the main reasons I love this show is due to its realism and truth to the era. Mad Men makes no apologies to the social climate of the 60’s and doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics. Additionally, John Hamm’s portrayal of Don Draper is by far one of the best acting performances I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

Who should watch this series: Everyone. Seriously, just watch it.

Parks & RecParks & Recreation

I know that some of you may be thinking, “Parks & Recreation is just a rip off of The Office.” While it’s true that show is shot in same documentary style as The Office, there are vast differences between the two shows. Amy Poehler stars as Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat in the parks department of Pawnee, Indiana. Her life if devoted to making Pawnee the best small-town in America, regardless of political red tape or her co-workers lack of interest or enthusiasm.

As amazing as Poehler is in this role (perhaps better than Tina Fey as Liz Lemon), the supporting cast is what put this show over the top. Knopes co-workers, including slacker and  entrepreneur Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), ultra-libertarian and boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), and the striking, yet extremely cynical April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), play a large part in the show’s humor.  Additionally, Rashida Jones plays Ann Perkins, a local nurse and best friend to Knope, who starts the series living with then goofball boyfriend Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). The addition of  Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) in season two only added more humor and dynamic that made the show that much better.

Who should watch this series: Again, this is one for the comedy and sitcom fans. Though, the show is so dynamic that if offers a little something for everyone to enjoy.

The Kids in the HallThe Kids in the Hall

Saturday Night Live may reign supreme as the most popular and successful sketch comedy show of all-time, Canadian sketch comedy group The Kids in the Hall consistently offered genius comedy writing back in its day. Their television series, which ran from 1988 to 1994, is very reminiscent of Monty Phython’s Flying Circus, in that if offered quirky and surreal sketches with little to no reference to celebrities or pop culture. The group consisted of many brilliant comedians, most of which are still working in one way or another today, including Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinny (SNL alum) and Scott Thompson.

The show is famous for it’s frequent use of cross dressing, as group members played both male and female roles (with a few exceptions), as well as its use of monologues (Scott Thompson’s Buddy Cole is the most well known). The comedy group didn’t shy away from “hot button” topics, such as homosexuality and religion, though most of the religious content was censored for American television.

Who should watch this series: Any fan of sketch comedy. These guys won’t be for everyone, but they’re well worth watching.

Is there a show in instant streaming that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

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About Jesse Virgil

I'm a late 20's guy who enjoys tech, music, design, movies, video games and bunch of other interesting things.

Posted on September 11, 2011, in Television and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 90 Comments.

  1. Where’s Arrested Development?

  2. Peggy is not a secretary, oy!

  3. Juuuust missed out on Breaking Bad getting added. You nailed it on these though, all awesome suggestions. I just added Dr. Who a couple days ago and I’m looking forward to getting into it.

    A few other good ones available are Buffy, Sons of Anarchy (maybe not for everyone but it’s pretty movie-caliber), and Louie.

  4. I approve of this list. And yes, EVERYONE should watch Doctor Who. Incredible show. Also, I’ve been a fan of Kids in the Hall for years. It altered my entire take on just WHAT could be funny.

  5. Thanks for the list! This saves a lot of time trying to figure out what to put on the queue. Kids in the Hall sounds interesting…

  6. YES! everyone should watch Parks and Rec. It is super underrated and is finally getting all the attention it deserves! Also, Mad Men is extremely addicting.

  7. Oh my GOD yay for Parks and Recreation! Ron Swanson is “litrally” (said in Rob Lowe’s awesomeness) the best character EVER! And Li’l Sebastian, of course…

    I must watch Mad Men again. I’ve heard so much about it, but only caught the first few episodes. Wasn’t hooked thien — but I think I’ll have to give it another shot!

    Great list…

  8. Parks and rec is amazing! If you’re into that you may like Party Down! I just found that show and I am completely in love. Good list!

  9. I’m with you on Mad Men and Parks & Rec. Some of my other favorites on Instant Watch are Breaking Bad, The Office, 30 Rock, Louie, Party Down, and Arrested Development. I just noticed they took down the Showtime shows… bummer.

  10. You forgot Dexter, Weeds and Breaking Bad!

    • I’ve seen every single episode of Weeds (except for the new season) and love it. Breaking Bad is on my Instant Queue, but I haven’t had time to get to it yet. I enjoy Dexter a lot, but it’s not available for Instant Streaming at this time, so it’s not qualified for the list.

  11. Don’t forget 52 glorious episodes of Red Dwarf.

  12. Interesting choices! And I agree with a few. But I can hardly take a break from my HGTV obsession to commit to all of them. (I’m sure you understand.. Right?)

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. Doctor Who IS amazing and anyone not watching it should stop what they are doing and find some way of watching it ASAP. I haven’t seen any of the other shows but I have been eyeing Mad Men for a while. I might have to give it a chance. Thanks for this!

  14. I was watching Dr Who on the Beeb back in the 70’s! And it wasn’t new then. I’m really thinking about doing that Netflix thing, HULU stuff lasts but for so long then gets eliminated, HBO, Starz, etc all do the same thing. If Netflix has Dr Who all the way back, I bet they have Red Dwarf, another of the Brit SciFi I used to absolutely love. I’ve seen the new one on BBC America, and it just doesn’t compare.

  15. Scrubs and Parks & Recreation…hilarious. Good choices!

    I’m a British television fan, but I’m not a Sci-Fi fan…still not sure if I should bother watching Dr. Who! Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and get addicted, eh? 😉

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  16. I actually just clicked on this post to see if you mentioned Doctor Who. I’m too obsessed with that show. Admittedly I think Series 4 was better than, say, the current series (too many story arcs for my liking), but it’s still DW and we love it 🙂

  17. how i met your mother and big bang theory should be here too. nice list of shows by the way. and congrats on freshly pressed

    • Thanks for the congrats! I’m obsessed with HIMYM and BBT, but unfortunately CBS won’t broker a deal with Netflix to allow them on Instant Streaming, thus is why they’re not on the list.

  18. I love Scrubs! I’m actually 2 seasons away from finishing it on Netflix! But you can watch Bones and Dexter too, they’re great shows! (at least in my opinion of course)

  19. Neat. I agree streaming is great for picking up shows that never jumped the shark. Good to see you included Kids In The Hall.

  20. Instant streaming is the greatest thing since peanut butter & jelly were matched up in the summer of ’38

  21. I’m pretty surprised with the selection of shows that are available on Netflix streaming. That’s one reason why I’m still a customer. Problem is that there are WAY too many that I’ve queued up and may not even be able to finish. Love your list. I don’t have Scrubs and The Kids in the Hall lined up but I guess if it’s on your list, I may check it out. I would recommend 30 Rock as well.

  22. Good choices, great shows, still no reason to pay Netflix, especially if you already have cable or satellite and a DVR. Doctor Who repeatedly shows every episode made since 2005 over and over on BBC America, and earlier DW series show on public TV stations. Same for Mad Men – many repeats on AMC. Once Parks & Rec has 100 episodes it will show on a variety of channels in syndication, as Scrubs does now. DVDs of these shows (with cool extras) are free from Public Libraries. There’s Hulu and other free outlets also. It’s so easy to obtain this content I can’t understand why anyone would be so lazy as to need Netflix. But, people waste money on plenty of other things too…

    My added recommendation would be Doc Martin!

    • A lot of valid points. I don’t subscribe to cable or satellite, so Netflix is my number one source of entertainment. Plus, I think for the low price of $8 a month for unlimited streaming, it’d be the same as throwing on a HBO or Showtime package for those that do have cable/satellite.

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely give Doc Martin a watch.

  23. I need to check out some Dr. Who. I started to get interested in the shows with the 9th Dr., but I didn’t really care for the 8th very much.

  24. Thanks for posting, I never know what to watch!

  25. Where is a good place [episode] to start watching Dr. Who… hasn’t that show been on for a long time?

    • I’d recommend starting with the 2005 series, which is what I did. If you go to Netflix you’ll see a cover that looks like the same as the image I used for this post. The first episode is called “Rose”.

      Enjoy!

  26. Love Love Love Mad Men and Parks & Recreation. I was a huge fan of Scrubs once upon a time, but lost interest for some reason… perhaps I should revive it.

    Don’t forget Arrested Development and 30 Rock in your next list!

  27. love the list. I would swap out Weeds and Friday Night lights for Scrubs and Parks and Recreation. I travel a lot and love being able to stream show after show in a series. Dr. Who was addictive. Waiting for Season 5 of FNL.

  28. I think the episode was called “My Own Half Acre”, but if it wasn’t, here’s a brief description: Turk joins the janitor and Ted’s airband while JD wonders if he should buy land with his incredibly clumsy girlfriend Mandy Moore.

    Great writing and funny and like many episodes of Scrubs, great use of music. Might be one of the best scripted 30 mins of TV I’ve ever seen.

  29. Thanks for posting. I love netflix and I never know what to watch. We were spending way too much on cable and didn’t watch enough TV for it to be worth the price!

  30. ARCHER. how has noone said this yet?

  31. sweet imma check a few of these out

  32. I am totally obsessed with Dr. Who! Even have an action figure collection! It is a wonderful watch.
    There is a Facebook page called the ‘Dr. Who Support Group’ for anyone interested.
    Looooovvveeee that you suggest it!

  33. 1. The Office
    2. 30 Rock
    3. Arrested Development
    4. Parks and Recreation
    5. Mythbusters

  34. I lOVE Kids in the Hall! I grew up on them. I also saw them live in Edmonton. Great post! Wish I could get Netflix in Korea 😦

  35. I have to agree. Arrested Development ought to top this list. Mad Men is certainly a winner, but I have yet to watch Doctor Who. I know, I know… The time will come.

  36. All this talk of Dr Who and nothing on Torchwood? I haven’t seen Miracle Day as of yet but the other seasons are great! I started watching Dr. Who after learning Torchwood was a spin-off (just saw the DW episode with Jack Harkness last night). I have to admit, I’m digging DW, but like the more “mature” theme of TW; especially the “Children of Earth” series.

    • There’s actually several DW episodes 2005-2007 that featured Captain Jack. As a “time agent” with a wrist-strapped teleporter, he’s able to pop into a variety of scenarios, and of course it was Rose (via the TARDIS), the 9th/10th Doctor’s companion, who made him a slow-aging immortal, so he can also show up in any era. The current “Miracle Day” TW series has been terrific.

  37. great list, I completely forgot about The Kids in the Hall, I used to watch them as a teenager. You should add Law and Order SVU though

  38. We have similar tastes, my friend.

  39. I watch Parks & Rec–it is hilarious! I have many friends who are obsessed with Doctor Who and Scrubs, and who hasn’t heard of Mad Men? I’ve never heard of The Kids in the Hall, though. You’ve peaked my curiosity!

  40. Great list of shows. I vote for Farscape.

  41. Nice list, if I was to add some more “off the beaten path” for here…

    Blackadder
    A Very Peculiar Practice
    and Star Cops

  42. Brought a smile to my face when I saw The Kids in the Hall – my dad talks about that all the time. I’ll have to check it out sometime!

  43. WKUK have Hall Kids for Lunch!!

  44. hmm this looks interesting indeed. I’ll check them out, thanks 😉

  45. Big Ups for having Kids in the Hall on this list!!! one of the funniest shows in history!!!

  46. I dont find any of the 5 suggestions to be of interest. I used to watch Dr Who when Tom Baker was the Doc, and that was cool and I may re-watch those episodes, and who is to say any of those mentioned I may enjoy, but what I find myself doing is, I tend to watch shows after they have been cancelled and/or when people stop talking about them non-stop. Take Seinfeld for instance, I think it ran 9 years. I started to watch it during its last season. I loved it, but dont think I would of if I had been keeping up when it was current. Maybe its just me, but I think because there is sooo much crap on the tv and movies and I get soooo pissed when I listen to how good something is and watch it, leaving me profoundly disappointed, that I can really appreciate a movie/tv show when I decide to watch it after all the excitement about it has died down.

  47. You are so right about Scrubs. I was just watching it last night, as a matter of fact. And there ARE only eight seasons. Only eight that are worth watching, anyway. They got picked up for a 9th, much to their own surprise, and the ninth is not worth your time. Especially since the entire 8th season seemed like a long, drawn-out goodbye.

  48. Scrubs and Mad Men – definitely. I’d also give Mad Men a credit for having best opening, I really love it.

  49. ha! dr. who is why we signed up for netflix!

  50. The sketch “ass pennies”, with the two guys on the golf course discussing how to get an edge in business is one of the funniest sketches ever written. You haven’t experienced Kids in the Hall til you’ve seen that one.

  51. I loved kids in the hall! Whenever I try to explain the Chicken Lady in a bar I get weird looks. So people should def check out the show on Netflix!

  52. It’s great to see my favorite program as I want. I love Scrubs.

  53. “The Office,” is a must-see! We love Parks and Rec and Mad Men. Great shows!

  54. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. This list is a great one. I think I’d add the Showtime series The Borgias to that, only because I want to see it. I find the history fascinating but I don’t get Showtime.

  55. please can it be apply to blog site

  56. I second the recommendation of Doc Martin.

    I watched the first episode of Mad Men last night, and so far it makes me uncomfortable due to the same time period accuracy you mention. I also agree that Don Draper’s character is well played. There is something real about him.

  57. I watched the first couple of episodes of Parks & Recreation back when the show first came on. I was not impressed (don’t like the Office either, though I’m a huge Steve Corell fan). I stopped reading when you said “perhaps better than Tina Fey as Liz Lemon.” Nothing is better than Tina Fey as Liz Lemon.

  58. Yes! Dr. Who! British nerds unite! I will check out this Parks and Recreation….

    http://www.cityarbiter.wordpress.com

  59. Wow, I like your take on the top 5 shows! I’ve watched several of these but in my opinions there are better ones :P. Anyway I’d love if you could give your take on my proverb of the day?!
    http://proverbinsight.wordpress.com/

  60. Dr Who and Scrubs can make anyone a happy bunny ❤ 🙂

  61. Things like Lost, Chuck and The Office (UK) should be on here! Decent list though!

  62. I do love digital media. I program all my own tv viewing now. Have done for years. Bypasses all that nasty advertising.

  63. realanonymousgirl2011

    Nice. Thanks for the tip!

  64. Its funny that i haven’t even herd of some of theses shows….

  65. Don’t forget Breaking Bad, Spongebob (it’s an incredible show, even for adults, especially if you’re high), 30 Rock, the Office, Weeds.

    Also, I have to add that Parks and Rec gets EXPONENTIALLY better/funnier during season two and three. Really worth your while

  66. The wearing of an arm band said I am in mourning so dont expect me
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    in my life. Whatever actions you have chosen to replace the old behavior, you must now constantly repeat those actions until you know the job is done.

    Head to the left this time and run down the hall.

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