Thanksgiving weekend in the United States is a four-day festival of overindulgence: Giant meals, giant balloons representing pop-culture favorites, giant savings at the big box store on Friday morning. As we did in 2013, The A.V. Club aims to contribute to this tradition of extreme consumption with a guide to some TV shows worth tasting, snacking on, or straight-up devouring this weekend. To help narrow the search, we’ve broken the selections down into four categories: Best of 2015 (shows worth catching up with before the season of year-end lists), start to finish (shows you can start on Thursday and finish by Sunday—if not before), binge the classics (great series of years past, available for streaming sampling), and Thanksgiving marathons (the original binge: multiple episodes of a series, lined up by a network or cable channel).
Best of 2015
Thanksgiving Day is a time to be thankful for your blessings, and one of those blessings is the ability to enjoy all the food that’s in front of you. Such a blessing escapes Liv Moore (Rose McIver): After an ill-fated boat party turned her into a zombie, the only turkey she can stuff and trim is one made out of brains. Headed by the creative braintrust of Veronica Mars and adapted from the Vertigo comic of the same name, iZombie takes an unconventional approach by making Liv’s un-death into a second life, absorbing memories of the deceased from her meals and using them to solve crimes. It balances its darker elements with expert gallows humor—McIver masterfully switches tones and personas as her diet changes—and similarly balances its weekly cases with the bigger question of how and why zombies started popping up in Seattle.
How can you watch it? Season one is currently streaming on Netflix and the five most recent episodes of season two are currently streaming on Hulu.
How long will it take? Approximately 20 hours, so it might require an infusion of Max Rager at some point. The energy drink with the most! (Hostile side effects, that is.)
When can you fit it in? The sight of Liv’s various brain concoctions may not pair terribly well with a post-Thanksgiving food coma, so wait until after things have settled and allow it to carry you through the next day. [Les Chappell]
So much more than the stale re-hashing of Twin Peaks set up by its promos, Wayward Pines presents multiple mysteries, each episode a fresh serving of new questions the show slowly answers. Matt Dillon’s secret service agent finds himself trapped in the seemingly idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, where he comes across a fellow agent he just saw five weeks ago, but who claims to have been in the town for 12 years. There’s a creeping presence in the woods, a doctor with sinister plans, and an ice cream-inhaling sheriff played by Terrence Howard, certainly one of the best TV characters of 2015. The sort of show whose weekly wait is agonizing, Wayward Pines is perfect for downing in one gulp. Take the rest of the weekend to digest with an Alka-Seltzer.
How can you watch it? On Hulu (with subscription).
How long will it take? Seven hours that go way too fast.
When can you fit it in? Each episode averages 44 minutes, an ideal time frame for hour-long intervals; squeeze it in during the “hour till we eat” call, or spend 15 minutes basting turkey and reward yourself by spending the rest of the hour with Sheriff Pope’s beloved rum raisin. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
If anything can justify the existence of Netflix, it’s that the streaming service keeps throwing money at funny people and letting them do what they want. In this case, former The State alums David Wain and Michael Showalter took that sweet, sweet Netflix cash, called everyone they knew, and made this deliriously funny prequel series to their enduringly hilarious cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer. The entire cast of the film (all of whom are both a lot more successful and a lot older) is back, with Showalter again donning the short-shorts and even-tighter than before T-shirts as Coop, Camp Firewood’s resident romantic sad sack. Surrounding his pursuit of dream girl Lake Bell are the likes of Janeane Garofalo, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, John Slattery, Michaela Watkins, Josh Charles, David Hyde Pierce, Randall Park, Michael Cera, Elizabeth Banks, Jordan Peele, Molly Shannon, H. Jon Benjamin, Jon Hamm, and more, all going for broke. The series fills in some of the film’s backstory (the can of vegetables, Gene’s unusual love of refrigerators), while engaging in the mix of conceptual weirdness and outright silliness that made the original film so beloved.
How can you watch it? Sadly, it has not been released on Betamax as of yet, so Netflix is your only option.
How long will it take? Four fleeting, fun-filled hours, unless those snooty bastards from the rich kids’ camp across the lake try to horn in on your holiday fun.
When can you fit it in? Between make-out parties, spin-the-bottle games, seven minutes in heaven, and belching contests. [Dennis Perkins]
4. The Flash
Running is probably the last thing anyone wants to do either before or after the big Thanksgiving meal, so why not let the fastest man on Earth do it for you? The CW’s second DC Comics adaptation takes what worked in Arrow and has some fun with it, as Grant Gustin gleefully steps into the role of the Scarlet Speedster and takes on the criminals and metahumans of Central City. The Flash is a joyful throwback to the good spirits and optimism of early comic adaptations (including its predecessor), and understands how to embrace the absurdity of its Silver Age source material. Case in point: No other show on TV understands the value in building to a psychic gorilla for a whole season and then makes the reveal entirely worth it. Even as it expands its world with alternate timelines and parallel universes, The Flash continues to stride confidently forward and avoid falling into the realm of overly convoluted.
How can you watch it? Season one is currently streaming on Netflix, and the last five episodes of season two can be found on Hulu.
How long will it take? Thirty hours, and unlike its hero, speeding through The Flash shouldn’t be your modus operandi. Feel free to tune out for some of the material involving Iris West, whose subplots were a clunky fit into season one.
When can you fit it in? If you can’t stomach the crowds on Black Friday but are still looking for some form of a rush, sleep past the stores opening at the crack of dawn. Then once you wake up, get off to the races. [Les Chappell]
5. Other Space
Another example of a unique comic voice finding a home for his orphaned ideas in the uncharted reaches of the internet, Other Space is Paul Feig’s take on sci-fi comedy, as an inexperienced, goofball crew on a routine training mission winds up lost in an alternate universe whose random rules wreak inventively loopy havoc. The show effectively combines eccentric sci-fi concepts with low-key character comedy from an endearingly quirky cast. Other Space is also exquisite fan service, as Feig enlisted cult sci-fi legends Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu from Mystery Science Theater 3000 as part of the ship’s crew. Former Crow T. Robot Beaulieu even plays a wisecracking robot.
How can you watch it? The infamously fussy, notoriously costly (for the company—for you, captain, it’s free) Yahoo Screen, assuming you have the best wireless connection in the history of the world.
How long will it take? Four hours, unless you end up stranded on an alien planet where time moves at a radically different pace, causing you to develop a close, passionate relationship with a coworker that fizzles out once you both return to the normal time stream. So, four hours, basically.
When can you fit it in? In the wee hours, right after your MST3K Turkey Day marathon (see below), when you’re tipsy and stuffed and wishing there was more low-rent, offbeat cult sci-fi for dessert. [Dennis Perkins]
Some of us may not be able to make it home to spend the holiday with our actual families, and instead will be around the table with makeshift clans of friends and coworkers. No show on TV has assembled a better example of this than Brooklyn Nine-Nine, following in the footsteps of its spiritual predecessors Parks And Recreation and The Office. There’s Andy Samberg as the show-off older brother Jake Peralta, Andre Braugher as the stern yet supportive father figure Captain Holt, Melissa Fumero as tightly wound little sister Amy Santiago, Terry Crews as the cool uncle Terry Jeffords, and a collection of eccentric cousins in Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, and Chelsea Peretti. This ensemble has achieved perfect comic alchemy, able to team up in any combination and deliver a satisfying story. And to those who doubt that Braugher’s deadpan delivery can carry a sitcom, two words for you: HOT DAMN!
How can you watch it? For Hulu subscribers, all episodes to date are currently streaming.
How long will it take? 25 hours.
When can you fit it in? In the spirit of the constantly slacking Jake and the ever-distracted Gina, try catching an episode on your phone whenever there’s a lull in conversation, or when everyone else is busy with the things you’d rather not do. [Les Chappell]
We’ve been waiting for you. “We” being all of the people who loved Jane The Virgin when it began airing last year, gleefully devouring every episode about the overachiever Jane (the divine Gina Rodriguez) who is accidentally artificially inseminated by the heartbroken sister of her eventual baby daddy. We’ve been waiting for you to fall in love with Jane’s newfound biological father Rogelio (Jaime Camil), her wannabe pop star mom (Andrea Navedo), and her telenovela-loving grandmother (Ivonne Coll). Now you finally get the chance. Even better? The best new show of last year has continued to be stellar in its second season.
How can you watch it? The complete first season is streaming on Netflix, and the five most recent episodes of season two are available on Hulu.
How long will it take? About 22 hours, although you’ll need breaks to catch your breath from all of the gasping you’ll do.
When can you fit it in? Jane The Virgin is inherently watchable, so don’t be ashamed if you watch the seven-plus per day it will take you watch the whole series from “Chapter One” all the way through to “Chapter 29.” [Molly Eichel]
Ah, it’s the same old story: Boy goes on business trip to London, boy knocks up girl he barely knows, boy moves to London to raise child with girl he barely knows. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan’s six-episode series was one of the year’s most realistic views of relationships, even if most relationships don’t involve unexpected pregnancies in their beginning weeks. It’s sweet yet acidic, heartfelt and incredibly funny. While Delaney is a delight, it’s Horgan who shows incredible depth as a woman who just wanted to get laid, and ended up with a family she was never really sure she wanted in the first place.
How can you watch it? Amazon Prime.
How long will it take? Three hours—the benefit of the Brits is short seasons.
When can you fit it in? You can do this sucker in one sitting before the turkey even finishes cooking. [Molly Eichel]
What if Full House’s Danny Tanner had recruited the self-proclaimed guardians of the Earth (instead of a lame comedian and a struggling musician) to help him raise his children? That could be the premise of Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe, which sees single dad Greg work together with the Crystal Gems, the aforementioned protectors of the planet, to bring up his son Steven. As a human-Gem hybrid, the titular young boy must train to eventually take his mother’s place in the Gem squad, an obligation he takes seriously. But he’s also given ample opportunity to just be a kid, which means that sometimes his most pressing concern is beating an arcade game, or tracking down his favorite frozen treat. The Gems—Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl—have even greater responsibilities than your average surrogate mom(s), defending the planet as they do. But Sugar, who made Cartoon Network history by becoming its first female solo creator, never limits them to being one-dimensional “strong female” characters. Despite being extraterrestrials, they display plenty of human traits, including arrogance and jealousy.
How can you watch it? The complete first season is available on Hulu, and Cartoon Network is streaming the first part of season two on its website.
How long will it take? A mere nine and a half hours. That’s an all-nighter you could do your sleep, except you won’t, because you’ll be up watching Steven inherit his guardian pet (“Steven’s Lion”) and discover the healing power of his saliva (“An Indirect Kiss”).
When can you fit it in? Consider sneaking in a few episodes while everyone’s dozing after meals, or try to justify your binge by saying you’re referring to the Gem temple for inspiration in your gingerbread-house construction. But save “Together Breakfast” for a time when everyone’s conscious because, as the moral of that story goes, some things are best enjoyed together. [Danette Chavez]
Start to finish
10. Flesh And Bone
After Breaking Bad wrapped, Emmy-winning series writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett was asked to create her own show, drawing on her own ballet background. The result, Flesh And Bone, hopefully doesn’t reflect her experiences too closely, given the amount of taboo sex, coercive sex, and just plain unpleasant sex spacing out the dance story. The overall plot closely resembles Smash, complete with a naïve ingénue competing with an industry vet for a freshly created role, while a snappish British martinet directs them largely through abuse and inappropriate touching. But where Smash embraced camp and lightened up any dark moments with big Broadway-ready production numbers, Flesh And Bone starts off intense and just keeps diving deeper. Walley-Beckett doesn’t necessarily recommend binge-watching the entire miniseries without taking a breath for air, but taking it all at a gulp makes it easier to get lost in the intensity of the emotion, and appreciate Sarah Hay’s terrific debut performance in the lead role. If nothing else, dip in and watch the tremendous title sequence, possibly the most beautiful and evocative show opening since Dexter.
How can you watch it? Via Starz on demand, through Roku, or at starzplay.com.
How long will it take? Eight hours, unless you fast-forward through the lengthy ballet performances in the finale.
When can you fit it in? Wait until everyone’s left on Thanksgiving Day and watch it alone into the wee hours of the night, unless you really want Aunt Myrtle staring at all the naked bodies and athletic bedroom pas de deux, and asking why you’re so into ballerina porn. [Tasha Robinson]
11. The Supersizers…
It would seem counterintuitive, maybe, to spend Thanksgiving watching other people stuff their faces on TV when you could watch your family do it right in front of you. But whether you’re at home or going solo, when the eaters in question are Sue Perkins and Giles Coren and the food is a banquet from British history, magic happens. No matter the time period, the historical tidbits are fascinating: Victorian bloomers, tansy poisoning, and wartime rationing all get explored with scholarly enthusiasm and a summer-stock budget. The food’s often eyebrow-raising (so many boiled animal heads, so few seasonings), but Giles and Sue’s addictive rapport makes for hilarious commentary on their culinary plights, and their near-constant, remarkably family-friendly inebriation makes for hilarious commentary on one another. They strike the perfect balance between fond and judgey—so it’s just like home, only better.
How can you watch it? Hulu (with subscription), where Perkins and Coren fly under the banner of their first series, The Supersizers Go…
How long will it take? Twelve hours, plus however often you have to pause and gird yourself for a particularly iffy food item.
When can you fit it in? Ideally you’ll be able to talk the whole family into sitting through more than episode at a time, but since the only arc in every episode is “more food than before, slightly drunker than previously,” you won’t lose the plot by taking breaks. [Genevieve Valentine]
Perennially ignored (though not by The A.V. Club), increasingly forgotten, painfully funny HBO series from creator-costar Mike White follows corporate fuck-up-turned do-gooder Laura Dern as she returns from a mandatory stint in rehab inconveniently obsessed with transforming her heartless employers. (A transformation conforming to her newly acquired, utterly uncompromising beliefs, that is.) Dern gives the performance of her career as the self-involved but variously sympathetic Amy Jellicoe, while White, Jason Mantzoukas, Sarah Burns, Dern’s mother Diane Ladd (as Amy’s forbearing mom), and a never-better Luke Wilson feelingly embody the cast of characters supporting the starring role Amy has fashioned for herself.
How can you watch it? The entire show is streaming on HBO Go, though both seasons are available on DVD and Blu-ray from your local video store (or on DVD from that evil corporation, Netflix).
How long will it take? Nine movingly cringeworthy hours in total.
When can you fit it in? While your businessman uncles make fun of the minimum wage increase ballot initiatives over brandy and cigars in the other room. [Dennis Perkins]
13. The Ben Stiller Show
Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2 is still a little ways off, but you can start anticipating its arrival with this early sketch-comedy effort. Co-created by Judd Apatow, The Ben Stiller Show was one of those too-good-to-live series, as it lasted for only a single season on Fox, and won an Emmy for writing right after it was canceled. The core players—including the likes of Bob Odenkirk and Janeane Garofalo—skewered just about everything possible in the ’90s and beyond, mainly by merging two seemingly disparate pop-culture elements. In the show’s very first skit, Stiller-as-Bono reminisced about U2’s early days, when The Partridge Family’s Dave Madden booked the band at bar mitzvahs (says Madden: “U2? He should have called that band Me Too!”). Things only got better from there. “The Grungies” updated the look and the humor of The Monkees for the grunge era, with a cameo from Micky Dolenz. “Cape Munster” combined Cape Feare and The Munsters, with Stiller’s Eddie Munster in the Robert De Niro role. Best of all, Manson portrays the serial killer as the lead in a black-and-white Lassie series. Stiller’s not even in that skit (Odenkirk plays Manson as a family pet), and it still kills.
How can you watch it? CW Seed.
How long will it take? Only 13 episodes (including one that was previously “lost”), so less than six hours.
When can you fit it in? When the family is driving you crazy with questions about your dating status or future job prospects, cut out for a quick Ben Stiller fix. A few moments of “Counting With Springsteen” or 90210 spoof “Melrose Heights” can you put back in a decent mood almost immediately. [Gwen Ihnat]
14. 666 Park Avenue
666 Park Avenue is the original, less Ryan Murphy-camp-filled American Horror Story: Hotel. Taking place in The Drake—located at 999 Park Avenue—the plot follows mysterious billionaire Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams) and new hotel co-owners Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and her partner Henry Martin (Dave Annable), all of whom are cloaked in a dark shadow of supernatural forces. A little like Fantasy Island as well, the drama asks two questions: If you could make one wish, what would it be? And what would you do to get it? Because at The Drake, all of your burning desires can come true, you just have to be careful what you wish for, because everything comes with a price. Clichéd? Sure, but so are most Thanksgiving traditions, so why not add this to the bunch?
How can you watch it? It’s available in the same place all short-lived network shows go to retire: Netflix.
How long will it take? If you can manage to completely avoid engaging with society, eating food, using the bathroom, and any negative supernatural occurrences for a day, a cool nine hours.
When can you fit it in? Friday is your best bet, given the requirements above. [Becca James]
15. Z Nation
Now that the show has been granted a third season, it’s the right time for everyone who scoffed at the idea of Syfy creating an also-ran zombie apocalypse show to discover the inspired insanity they’re missing out on. That’s right, the zombie series that’s not The Walking Dead has become delirious fun, and its anything-goes sense of gruesome glee makes it an excellent choice for storming through all 24 episodes that have aired thus far. Despite a rocky debut (maybe check your email periodically during the early going?), it’s found its footing as a strange but sharp comic series. And it does “can you top this?”-style goofball absurdity better than almost anything else on the air at present.
How can you watch it? Season one is on Netflix, but both Hulu and the Syfy Now app have everything you need. (Some cable providers also have the whole thing VOD.)
How long will it take? Roughly 18 hours, not including bathroom breaks.
When can you fit it in? Once the turkey coma sets in, clear your schedule. If you start Thursday evening, you’ll be done in time for Friday night leftovers, even with a good night’s sleep. [Alex McCown]
16. Pushing Daisies
Pushing Daisies inhabits one of the more charming corners of Bryan Fuller’s dark-yet-whimsical TV universe: The series follows Ned (Lee Pace), a talented pie-maker who, as a young boy, discovered that he could revive dead things, including human beings, with a single touch. His power have limits and consequences, though, which act to restore balance if he mucks about too much with matters of life and death. When Ned encounters his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel), as an adult, the fact that she’s been murdered was only one of the obstacles in the way of their romance. The delightful cast is rounded out by Chi McBride as a private eye who partners with Ned to solve murders, and Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene as Chuck’s anxious aunts.
How can you watch it? The complete series is currently streaming for free on Roku via The CW Seed app, but will become available elsewhere on the web (including via Google Chromecast) by the end of the year.
How long will it take? Minus ads, the complete series is a little over 16 hours long, and all the banter and whimsy should prevent a premiere-to-finale sprint from becoming a slog. And you wouldn’t want to miss guest appearances from Joel McHale, Constance Zimmer, and Stephen Root, which are sprinkled throughout.
When can you fit it in? With only nine episodes in the first season, you should easily make your way from “Pie-lette” (yes, the show premiered with a pun) to “Corpsicle” while everyone else is trimming the tree. The second season has more backstory, so those episodes are best consumed three to four at a time, because it really will be over before you know it. [Danette Chavez]
Binge the classics
Fringe could have been a simple X-Files knockoff, concerning as it does a no-nonsense FBI agent (Anna Torv) working with a wide-eyed acolyte of the unbelievable (John Noble) to solve unnatural phenomena. But by the time the show hits its stride, it transcends its simple mystery-of-the-week format and becomes a riveting drama, thanks to mythology that actually holds together, a terrific blend of creepiness, warmth, and humor, and an effective father-son dynamic between Noble’s batty junk food-obsessed super-genius, and the son (Joshua Jackson) who keeps him tethered to reality. A stellar (if underused) supporting cast includes Blair Brown as a powerful corporate schemer, Lance Reddick as the stern boss who—in a refreshing twist—actually believes his charges’ crazy theories from week to week, and Jasika Nicole as a lab assistant who grows from a background character into the show’s heart. Fringe also offers a whirlwind of sci-fi concepts including monsters, mutations, mind control, sinister cults, teleportation, time travel, and shapeshifting robots, plus a terrifically creepy Jared Harris as a recurring villain, and guest appearances from a sci-fi legend whose identity we won’t spoil here.
How can you watch it? The full series is streaming on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
How long will it take? There are 100 episodes even, but if you have to split your time between TV and less important things like family and sleep, watch Jared Harris’ four guest appearances in season one, and then burn through seasons two and three—maybe the best run of sci-fi ever aired on television.
When can you fit it in? Just follow the show’s lead and create a device that slows down time so you can squeeze in a season or two between Thanksgiving dinner and bedtime. [Mike Vago]
The Thanksgiving Day football game is a long-standing tradition, but it might not be enough football for some—like the people of Dillon, Texas, where the sport is a way of life. Nominally a show about high-school football teams, Jason Katims’ beloved adaptation of Friday Night Lights used the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions as gateways to explore all the lives lived within a small West Texas town—all the dreams and setbacks and heartbreak of its residents. The simple drama of the everyday ascended to an epic level for the players, coaches, and residents of Dillon, the stage of the football field frequently the only place where anything in life made sense to any of them. And on a day where family is important, there’s no better family to look to for inspiration than Eric and Tami Taylor, played to perfection by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.
How can you watch it? All five seasons are currently streaming on Netflix and are available on DVD.
How long will it take? Approximately 75 hours for the whole thing, though season two is scattered with so many ill-conceived plots that unless you’re a fan of enjoyably bad TV you could cut it down to 60.
When can you fit it in? Wait to see if the football game this year is any good, and if it’s not, segue over to this and be prepared to cheer your favorite team on just as loudly. [Les Chappell]
19. The O.C.
By 2003, The WB pretty much had the market cornered on witty youths and their outlandish hour-long exploits, a primetime niche that Fox occupied for most of the 1990s, thanks to the success of Beverly Hills, 90210. Just a few months after the Capeside kids packed it in and Rory Gilmore graduated from Chilton, a witty youth—Josh Schwartz, the era’s greenest showrunner at the age of 26—helped Fox recapture some of that former glory, in pretty much the same setting: The Southern California habitats of the rich and telegenic. This time the scene was Orange County, where ne’er-do-well Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) is taken in by Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan) and their sarcastic social outcast of a son, Seth (Adam Brody). Many of the early episodes are monopolized by Ryan’s star-crossed courtship of girl-next-door Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) and Seth’s unrequited longing for mean-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), but the show quickly developed a distinct sense of humor, style, and dramatic flair. Ryan, Seth, Marissa, and Summer could wield a quip as expertly as the Gilmores (and Seth’s musical recommendations rivaled those of Brody’s one-time onscreen love, Lane Kim), and the show’s metabolism for sudsy high-school and high-society plots would’ve made Dawson Leery’s head spin.
How can you watch it? CW Seed, where Warner Bros. can reclaim the great mid-’00s high-school show that got away from its broadcast arm all those years ago.
How long will it take? Ninety-six hours, though that runtime is drastically reduced by skipping any scene involving Marissa’s dad (Tate Donovan as Jimmy Cooper, history’s stupidest white-color criminal), any of the guys who got between Marissa and Ryan (Johnny—blech), or, really, most Marissa stories past the first 13 episodes.
When can you fit it in? Take half a day to watch the show’s entertainingly confident and breathless introductory sprint, spanning “Premiere” through “The Best Chrismukkah Ever.” Or wait until the official start of the holiday season (no euphemism intended) to gorge on all four editions of Seth Cohen’s invaluable contribution to the TV canon of made-up interfaith celebrations. (Everybody sing: “Moses and Jesus / They both had beards.”) [Erik Adams]
If the slight undercurrent of melancholy that often runs through the holiday season is what you’re looking for, few sitcoms appeal to that feeling and simultaneously lift you out of it as much as Taxi. Centered around the employees of the Sunshine Cab Company—who viewed driving a cab as a placeholder for a better life that never quite materialized—Taxi is one of the greats of the sitcom form. It has one of the most talented casts ever assembled—including Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, and Carol Kane—and the old-school multi-cam vibe of a story that’d be right at home on the theatrical stage. And a classic Louie De Palma rant or Reverend Jim ramble is perfect for livening up conversation if you strike a lull around the dinner table.
How can you watch it? All five seasons are available on DVD, and 75 episodes from across those seasons are currently streaming for Hulu subscribers.
How long will it take? Around 40 hours, so keep an eye on the meter. And feel free to skim over some of the season-one episodes involving Randall Carver’s thoroughly bland John Burns, jumping ahead to season two when Lloyd’s Reverend Jim provides an infusion of the irreverent.
When can you fit it in? Taxi was often about trying to get somewhere (and more regularly getting nowhere), so it’s perfect for whiling away the time if you’re traveling at any point during the holiday weekend. [Les Chappell]
At Thanksgiving, many people visit their childhood hometowns and catch up with high school classmates, whether the occasion is an official class reunion or a more informal bar rendezvous. What better way to mark this sometimes-awkward reminiscing than with a marathon of Daria? The beloved animated MTV show took great delight in exposing high school’s horrors, from its skewering of the social caste system to its illustrations of how inane education could be, and perfectly captured what it was like being a smart, skeptical teenager stuck in bland suburbia. Plus, there’s no doubt that perma-cynic Daria Morgendorffer would be totally on board with the way Thanksgiving is increasingly reviled for the way it glorifies our forefathers’ genocidal tendencies.
How can you watch it? Although the show was streaming free via an official MTV site for many years, that’s sadly no longer the case. Best bet is a Hulu subscription.
How long will it take? Just about 24 hours, assuming there’s no breaks to watch Sick Sad World.
Where can you fit it in? Pretty much any time during the weekend, since it’s the Daria way to boycott crass commercialism by eschewing Black Friday sales. [Annie Zaleski]
Do we really need to tell you about the show about nothing? Hulu made a big power play when it acquired the show back in April, beating out Netflix and Amazon for the pleasure. Now it’s time to conquer one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Seinfeld works especially over Thanksgiving because it has that warm glow of nostalgia (the classic episodes! The oft-repeated catchphrases! The early ’90s technology!), but it’s also acidic enough to combat the faux happiness of the holidays. Plus, it’s near universally loved, so if there’s one way to bond with your racist uncle, it’s by trading thinly veiled lines about masturbation back and forth.
How can you watch it? Hulu (with subscription).
How long will it take? About 90 hours straight to finish the series, so maybe just hit up the best (“The Contest,” “The Rye,” “The Summer Of George,” the best sitcom episode of the past 25 years, etc.) or stick to your favorite seasons (we suggest season five), or only the episodes with Larry David voice cameos (according to IMDB, that’ll give you 38 episodes to binge).
When can you fit it in? Right after the family has left and you’re at optimum bitterness. [Molly Eichel]
By this time next year, there may be as many as 12 new episodes of the classic movie-mocking series Mystery Science Theater 3000 headed our way, via some undetermined platform, with cast TBA. (If you’re going to crowd-fund an omelette, you have to entice the donors with some un-cracked eggs.) As it is with most events of religious significance, the dawning age of a new MST3K began with a resurrection, when Shout! Factory brought back the show’s traditional Thanksgiving marathon—dubbed “Turkey Day” during those Old Testament Comedy Central days—in 2013. With the Kickstarter campaign still ongoing, this feels like it’ll be the biggest Turkey Day since the time Dr. Forrester had to entertain all of the guests TV’s Frank invited to Thanksgiving before his untimely (and ultimate) demise.
How can you watch it? At the Kickstarter campaign’s official website.
How long will it take? Twelve hours, give or take a victory parade for any donation goals reached during the marathon.
When can you fit it in? It’s hard enough to make time for a full MST3K episode under normal circumstances, so follow the example of impatient dads everywhere and sneak little morsels of cinematic turkey and robot riffs throughout the day. [Erik Adams]
With a new Star Trek series on the way, Thanksgiving is a good day to die… er… dive into the beloved late ’80s iteration of the franchise. The writing and acting can leave something to be desired in the shaky first two seasons, but Sir Patrick Stewart carries the rest of the cast on his shoulders as the stern, principled Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and the show finds its legs in its third season, which ends with one of TV’s all-time great cliffhangers. In a world reeling from terrorist attacks and war, and on a TV landscape dominated by antiheroes and grit, there’s something extremely comforting about the Enterprise’s crew of smart, well-intentioned people solving problems with brains, nerve, and the occasional tachyon pulse routed through the shield modulator.
How can you watch it? BBC America is running a Thanksgiving Day marathon of season one, and the full series is streaming on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon.
How long will it take? The BBC America marathon runs from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. The full series is 178 episodes; we recommend sticking with the show’s prime years—season three through six.
When can you fit it in? Rather than watching the uneven, often cringeworthy first season on Thanksgiving Day itself, skip Black Friday madness, pour yourself some tea, Earl Grey, hot, and curl up with some nerd comfort food from the series at its peak. [Mike Vago]
NBC’s Thursday-night Must See TV housed all 10 seasons of Friends, which put the sitcom in a prime position for regular Thanksgiving installments—some of which aired on the actual holiday. (For the record, those were “The One Where Ross Got High,” “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs,” and “The One With The Rumor.”) The show wound up setting the gold standard for sitcom Thanksgivings during the 1990s, mapping its “family of friends” premise onto seasonally appropriate setups like watching a runaway parade balloon, a high-stakes touch football game, and a series of “worst Thanksgiving” flashbacks that involve a bizarre amount of dismemberments. No matter the squabble du jour, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe (and special guest stars like Brad Pitt and Christina Applegate) could always give thanks for one thing: Chandler’s decision to ditch that Flock Of Seagulls haircut.
How can you watch it? On TBS, which is marathoning every Thanksgiving episode of Friends before airing Thanksgiving episodes of American Dad, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory.
How long will it take? Five hours.
When can you fit it in? The marathon runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, so it’s perfect TV wallpaper for getting the turkey and all the trimmings in order—so long as the turkey doesn’t wind up stuck on your head, and the trimmings aren’t accidentally layered into a monstrosity of custard (good!), jam (good!), meat (goooood!). [Erik Adams]