The Best Series To Binge Watch Ever – Top 50

Best Series To Binge Watch 50
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A definitive list of the best series to binge watch ever, by our dedicated couch potato.

As a reminder – To qualify for the list I followed these basic guidelines:

  1. I watched at least three to five episodes of each show finishing most first seasons of every series on this best series to binge watch ever list. Some shows were so bad that it was not worth watching more than three to five episodes. I gave them a chance. For the majority of the series, I have seen every episode.
  2. Each of the ranked TV shows could not have more than 30 episodes a season. That eliminated all late-night shows like “The Tonight Show”, variety of programs like “Sports Center”, and singing competitions like “American Idol” and “The Voice”. Also, I didn’t include morning shows like “The Today Show”, etc. If it were a series that aired more than once a week, it was unfortunately just too much content for me to review on the best series to binge watch ever list.
  3. Each best series to binge watch ever on the list had to have at least three episodes air/stream per season to qualify. This eliminated event TV and made for TV movies but did include some great mini-series on the best series to binge watch ever list.
  4. No reality competitions or junk reality TV made the best series to binge watch ever list. That is not acting, and they show no real craftsmanship to judge. Those series are almost impossible to review. Variety shows with actual writers like SNL were included.
  5. Documentaries were accepted, but only if they were season-long documentaries with more than three episodes. I decided the difference between what qualified as a documentary series and a reality series. Reality series generally create situations and observe those situations for the entertainment of the viewer in an on-going manner much like life itself. A documentary series attempts to educate the viewer by presenting facts through a series of observations that are a full product having a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a fine line, but documentaries tend to inform or educate while entertaining.
  6. Each of the best series to binge watch ever had to have at least three episodes air during the past decade (2010-2019) that I actually saw, but I ranked TV shows from their full body of work of which that I have seen since their inception. This eliminated anything that didn’t have an episode air after 2009 but it also eliminated a few shows like “The Simpsons”, and “NCIS” which although I have seen more than three episodes of; I haven’t seen enough episodes of those shows in the past ten years. In fact, a few series on this list would have been ranked higher, had they just ended earlier before the quality of the show deteriorated.
  7. Lastly, there is one exception on this list of the shows I have watched this decade but can’t rank: “Sesame Street”. It’s still one of the greatest children’s ranked TV shows of all time. If you have young children, “Sesame Street” should be #1 on this list, if you don’t have young children, why are you watching “Sesame Street”? That’s strange and you may want to seek help.

Don’t see your favorite show? Let us know in the comments…

50. Sneaky Pete (Amazon – 2015 to 2019): Ponch: 10/10 – Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“Sneaky Pete” is a crime drama series created by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and David Shore then Graham Yost (Justified). Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) is a conman who befriends his very talkative cellmate, Pete. There is more to Marius than what someone can see on the surface. He is far more than just a common thug; Marius has an almost eidetic memory when it comes to remembering details. Once released, Marius adopts Pete’s identity to avoid his past life and Vince Lonigan (Bryan Cranston), a crime boss who runs a very high stakes poker game.  As Pete, Marius ends up working at Pete’s unsuspecting family’s bail bond business as a skip tracer with Pete’s cousin Julia (Marin Ireland). The show is about Pete/Marius trying to keep up on the deception while balancing both lives without getting him or his brother Eddie (Michael Drayer) killed.  “Sneaky Pete” has received critical praise despite never being nominated for an Emmy.  The first season is by far the best, and the third season is slightly stronger than the second.

The creators of “Sneaky Pete” turned a pretty unbelievable and absurd premise into one of the best shows of the decade. It’s one of the more clever shows on this list and one of the cooler concepts of the decade.  This show has no right to be as good as what it is.  I waited a very long time before I tried this show out, and I am sorry that I did because I couldn’t stop bingeing.  Ribisi ability to make Pete’s con so believable really keeps the show grounded. The pacing and tone of this show is incredible, every time you think it’s going to slow down, it gets faster and more entertaining. Margo Martindale plays Pete’s grandmother Audrey, the matriarch of the family, and the head of the business. Her presence is felt in every scene, as she adds Emmy quality acting to the series. The ensemble cast beyond Ribisi, Martindale, and Cranston are all fantastic giving way more depth to their characters than most shows.  The plot is so much fun with so many close escapes and nail-biting tense situations that it overcomes any flaws in the premise’s believability in later seasons.  “Sneaking Pete” is one of the more engaging series of the last ten years, and it is a super amusing watch.

IMDB: 8.2/10 – RT: 96% – Metacritic: 76%

Streaming On: Amazon Prime Subscription

49. Daredevil (Netflix – 2015 to 2018): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“Daredevil” is a modern-day comic book action drama. The series is based on the comic book of the same name and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the Marvel films. It was the first in a series of Marvel shows that lead to “The Defenders”, a comic book-like crossover, TV miniseries.  Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is Daredevil, a blind lawyer-by-day who fights crime as a masked vigilante by night whose powers are his other senses that were heighten when he lost his sight, including an almost sonar vision. Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) is Matt’s law partner and best friend. Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) is Matt’s romantic interest and a justice seeker who seems to head towards danger.  Claire Temple or the Night Nurse (Rosario Dawson) is a nurse who helps to heal “Daredevil” and other heroes in the MCU.  Wilson Fisk / Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) is the main protagonist. He is a very powerful businessman and crime lord; this pits him directly against “Daredevil”. 

In the second season, we are introduced to two new characters that are Marvel anti-heroes: Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) is a former United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper who is driven to be a killing machine vigilante after the deaths of his wife and two children, who were killed by the mob in New York City’s Central Park.  Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung) is a highly trained assassin of Greek descent who is a former girlfriend and dangerous woman from Murdock’s past. Season three introduces Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter /Bullseye (Wilson Bethel)as A psychotic FBI agent who is able to use almost any object as a lethal projectile. “Daredevil” has been nominated five times for Emmy’s mainly in Sound Editing and Visual Stunts and Effects.

“Daredevil” has the greatest fight scenes of any series on this list and should be the archetype for all comic book television series, highlighted by the greatest fight scene ever filmed in television history in the “hallway scene” of the first season.  The show is a wonderful mix of modern noir drama and superhero action. It’s much deeper and well-acted than most superhero series, making DC Comics CW shows look almost unsophisticated. Cox is very believable in the dual role of blind lawyer and hero, showcasing very distinct differences in posture and movements. Henson’s Nelson is much more than just comic relief, he gives the series a lot of heart as Matt’s best friend. Although most critics felt the second season wasn’t as strong, it was my favorite of the three. As a comic book fan, I enjoyed the fan service as they went deeper into the Marvel toy box and think Bernthal is the perfect Punisher.  Also, Yung’s Elektra shows a great balance between sexy and dangerous. The real standout of the series is of course the always amazing D’Onofrio who adds layers and sides to the Kingpin character that I don’t think we have even gotten in the comics. Netflix had a lot of subscribers sign up on the popularity of “Daredevil” and the other Marvel series. If “Daredevil” wasn’t as well-reviewed and received as it was, we probably would have not seen the other Marvel Netflix series, and shows like the “Umbrella Academy”.   If you love the comics genre, superhero movies, well-acted action, or kung fu films, then I highly suggest watching the “Daredevil” series. It’s some of the best street-level action and comic book related content we have ever had on television.

8.6/10 IMDB – 92% RT – 72% Metacritic

Streaming On: Netflix Subscription

48. Rectify (Sundance – 2013 to 2016): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“Rectify” is a Southern Gothic melancholy drama series exploring the life of Daniel Holden (Aden Young) who is wrongfully imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend. Daniel is released from prison after nearly 20 years on death row following the analysis of DNA evidence proving him innocent and contradicting the original prosecution’s case.  The series is the first original series from SundanceTV and was created by Ray McKinnon (“Deadwood”, “Sons of Anarchy”).  When Daniel returns to his mother’s home in Paulie, GA he is surrounded by his sister Amantha Holden (Abigail Spencer), who has always believed in his innocence, his mother Janet Talbot ( J. Smith-Cameron), who was remarried to his stepfather Ted Talbot Sr. (Bruce McKinnon). Daniel immediately takes interest in Tawney Talbot (Adelaide Clemens) his new stepbrother Teddy Talbot’s (Clayne Crawford) wife and the main antagonist of the series, pitting the two against each other. “Rectify” had such low viewership over its four seasons that it was never going to be on enough ballots for an Emmy nomination, but it did win the 2014 Peabody Award and was universally praised by most critics.

“Rectify” is like no other show I have ever seen. It’s emotionally draining. It’s the emotions and the unspoken word pauses, in between the dialogue, that is so moving. Aden Young is riveting and portrays Daniel with a unique mix of pensiveness and hope. Young’s performance is so incredible that you would think he was in jail for a few years to better understand the role; Young is able to convey fragileness and subtle nuances in his performance that most great actors aren’t even capable of. Young’s supporting cast are all superb as well, especially Spencer who gives a fiery performance, and by the end of the series you wish was your sister.  “Rectify” isn’t for everyone. Some viewers will find the material slow and hard to watch because it’s so sad, but much like the films “Manchester by The Sea” and “Life Is Beautiful”, “Rectify” stays with you, really making you appreciate what you have in life. The series rewards its audience with the gift of movie quality drama and very touching heartfelt television; it’s a true achievement. The Television Academy’s overlooking of “Rectify” and especially Young’s performance is the biggest snub in the history of the Emmy’s.

8.3/10 IMDB – 95% RT – 88% Metacritic

Streaming On: Netflix Subscription

47. The Mandalorian (Disney + – 2019 to Present): 10/10 Ponch – Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“The Mandalorian” is a live-action space Western series created by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) and directed by Taika Waititi (“Thor Ragnarok”, “Jojo Rabbit”) the first-ever live-action “Star Wars” TV series.  Set in the “Star Wars” Universe, “The Mandalorian”  takes place five years after the events of “Return of the Jedi” and 25 years prior to the events of “The Force Awakens”. The story follows the Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), and his exploits beyond the reaches of the New Republic. He is a gunfighter and skilled warrior who is sometimes referred to as “Mando”, a nicknamed used to refer to all Mandalorians, a clan of warriors who never remove their helmets.  Mando is joined by “The Child” (Performed by various puppeteers and CGI) a member of the same unnamed species as the Jedi master Yoda with similar “Force” abilities. “Baby Yoda” is found and protected by the Mandalorian while being targeted by other bounty hunters at the request of “The Client”.  “The Mandalorian” has not been eligible yet for Emmy contention but is highly acclaimed and is rumored to be nominated in 2020 for several awards.

“The Mandalorian” is the best “Star Wars” property since “The Empire Strikes Back”. It’s every “Star Wars” fan’s dream and the best action series, with the best effects and fighting of any TV series, ever made. The series has a summer blockbuster budget and it shows in every scene. It’s like they made another trilogy and just cut it up into a TV series. Even if you have never seen a “Star Wars” film before, you could still enjoy “The Mandalorian” if you enjoy Westerns, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Samurai films. It even has some space Horror elements in some episodes like “Aliens”. It is still really easy to follow because there isn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but the plot and production offset any lack of any oral communication. If you want a deep drama, this isn’t the show for you but the amount of detail put in by the creators alone makes “The Mandalorian” a must-see for any television buff.  “The Mandalorian” is the reason to subscribe to Disney+, this series is worth the money.  The best compliment I can give “The Mandalorian” is that this is the one show on this list that will be popular and watched repeatedly by fans many years from now long after other series lose popularity.

8.7/10 IMDB – 93% RT –70% Metacritic

Streaming On: Disney + Subscription

46. Silicon Valley (HBO – 2014 to 2019): 10/10 Ponch – Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“Silicon Valley” is a tech-comedy series created by Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”, “Beavis and Butthead”), John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky. The series focuses on  Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) an advanced coder and CEO of Pied Piper, a small company he starts up in Silicon Valley California in the home of his minority partner Erlich (T.J. Miller) with other employees and friends Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti (Josh Brener), Bertram Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh Chugtai (Kumail Nanjiani), and Donald “Jared” Dunn ( Zach Woods). The series also stars Amanda Crew as Monica Hall, Pied Pipers eventual CFO, and Matt Ross as Gavin Belson the CEO of Hooli (a parody of Google or Yahoo), and Pipe Piper’s main competition and series antagonist. “Silicon Valley has been nominated for 40 Emmy awards winning twice and including Outstanding Comedy Series every season it was eligible.

“Silicon Valley” is quite literally and figuratively the smartest and possibly the best-researched comedy of all time. “Silicon Valley” writing makes “The Big Bang Theory” look like a kid in a remedial class and “Silicon Valley”  is actually smart and funny. It’s a brilliant show that helped make stars out of most of its cast, who all have excellent comedic timing. The show does a great job of really showcasing a start-up, showing how hard it is to get off the ground in Silicon Valley giving you an inside look into the American Technology sector. All the characters are a satire on how the public views programmers and “Silicon Valley” is just that, the best Technology comedy series or show about programmers we will ever see.

8.5/10 IMDB – 94% RT – 84% Metacritic

Streaming On: HBO Max/Go Subscription

45. American Vandal (Netflix – 2017 to 2018): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“American Vandal” is a mockumentary comedy series created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda. The series is a parody of modern true crime documentaries. The first season follows a high school prank of vandalism, with 27 phallic images drawn on the school faculty’s cars. Class clown Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is expelled after being accused of the crime by the school. A recorded investigation into the incident is launched by classmates Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and his friend Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck), to see if Dylan is truly guilty.

The second season takes us to a Private Catholic School where Peter and Sam investigate a new crime. Someone calling themselves “The Turd Burglar” dumps Maltitol into the school cafeteria’s lemonade, causing everyone to defecate all over the school during a day the students dub ” “The Brown Out”.  Kevin McClain (Travis Tope) is the main suspect placed under house arrest after a forced confession of the Turd Burglar crimes.  “American Vandal” was nominated in 2018 for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.

I know what you are thinking, that I ranked this too high because you have never seen it or never heard of it, but I didn’t. “American Vandal” is the greatest true-crime parody of all time and one of the only truly modern generational comedies on this entire list. This series wasn’t made for old stuffy Emmy voters; this was made by two guys who got their start at “Funny or Die”, “CollegeHumor” and “Screen Junkies”. It stars mostly unknown actors who you truly believe are in high school but do have large followings for their own YouTube channels with millions of subscribers. So someone, most likely your teenage or college-age relative knows who they are. Tatro should have been nominated for an Emmy, he was incredible. These are very modern creators who wanted to make fresh content. There are plenty of shows on this list from the primetime channels for Grandma and Grandpa, but Perrault and Yacenda wanted to make a very funny series parodying the modern popular crime documentary series like “Making a Murderer”, “The Jinx” and the popular “Serial” podcast. Not only did they make a great comedy series, they succeeded in making a superior show than the series they were mocking.  The two seasons are far more than just potty humor. Per the creators, Netflix had to be assured the show was “more than just a d$@k joke sketch”. The series is full of heart to go along with both wacky and subtle humor. Both season’s plots and mystery are really engaging and realistic even though they are presented as potty humor.  I really hope this series is picked up again or Perrault and Yacenda get a chance to do something similar. This is really thought-provoking commentary on the true crime genre and one of the funniest series of the last decade.

8.2/10 IMDB – 98% RT – 76% Metacritic

Streaming On: Netflix Subscription

44. 24 (FOX – 2001 to 2014): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“24” is a long-running action drama series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran starring Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorist secret agent. It’s the longest-running espionage or counterterrorism-themed drama in the history of television. “24” is shot in a unique method for television if it was in real-time where events are portrayed at the same rate at which the characters experience them. Each season, comprised of 24 episodes, covering one day or 24 hours in Bauer’s life with a clock countdown letting the audience know the exact time in the day.  Each episode represented one hour. “24” often was shot with split screens or picture-in-pictures, another method that was rarely used in television at the time, showing events occurring at the same time, or the context in which various subplots are affecting each other. Most of the seasons play out like political thrillers with Bauer racing against the clock. There are tons of co-stars on “24” but only four other actors really worth mentioning who were in a majority of the episodes: Mary Lynn Rajskub as Bauer’s most trusted Analyst Chloe O’Brian, Elisha Cuthbert as Bauer’s daughter Kim, Dennis Haysbert as President of the US David Palmer, and Carlos Bernard as Tony Almedia another Senior Analyst. “24” was a groundbreaking show that received 68 Emmy nominations winning 20 times and including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama by Kiefer Sutherland.

“24” is one of the best action thrillers of all time and is quite possibly the bested edited show of all time. The sound, music, and camera work were pretty revolutionary if you add in its unique real-time episodic method, it makes for a very thrilling watch. Although it’s commonplace now because of the increase in production value in streaming and digital camera work, Sutherland was one of the first movie stars to go from film to TV where he became a bigger star because of “24”. He helped start the movement of movie stars not looking as television as a lesser medium, and this led to a lot of the great series’ stars we saw in the mid to the latter half of the decade.  “24” was always action-packed and moved at an incredible pace, making it one of the more enjoyable shows on television. Sutherland proved it was more than just the unique real-time method that made “24” great, after spin-offs like “24: Legacy” and copycat series weren’t really as popular or entertaining.  FOX should be given a ton of credit for not only pushing the television genre in editing and camera work forward but paying a bona fide star to lead the cast. “24” is easily one of the best action series of all time and typically will be considered in the top 50 shows of all time on most critics list.

8.3/10 IMDB – 86% RT –79% Metacritic

Streaming On: Hulu Subscription

43. The Defiant Ones (HBO – 2017): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“The Defiant Ones” is a four-part music documentary series that tells the story and friendship between two music producing legends Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. They are two very similar men who grew up very differently, but became good friends and helped transform music and culture. Filmed over a three-year period by director Allen Hughes, starting in the 1980s when they met,  leading up to the present day where they brokered a deal with Apple to purchase “Beats by Dre”. The series is mostly told by Dre and Jimmy but also includes commentary by Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar, Trent Reznor, Eminem, Bono, David Geffen, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, DOC, Tom Petty, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. Also featured is never-before-seen interviews and footage of recording and writing sessions from all of these artists. “The Defiant Ones” won the Grammy Award for Best Music Film in 2018 and was nominated for five Emmy awards, losing the Outstanding Documentary to “Wild Wild Country”.

This was an extremely captivating documentary series that was better paced than most of the other documentaries I saw in the decade. It did spend a lot of time really idolizing Dre and Jimmy, which was a little self-serving and overly gushy. The last episode of the documentary’s series was also the least enjoyable because it really just concentrated on the Apple merger.  The first 3 episodes however were TV Gold or rather PlatinumX10. Viewers get an inside look at the beginnings of West Coast Hip Hop and really the history of the genre overall. You also get an insider’s look at how relenting the pair was to make it in the music industry. I really enjoyed the way they covered the writing and producing process. You learn that Jimmy can spot a hit from a mile away and Dre is one of the most talented people on Earth. The “Deathrow” and 2Pac aspects were also really interesting. Almost every music genre is touched upon with a concentration on the Hip Hop genre. Seeing those moments, where some of these very well-known artists could have easily not made it in the industry, was fascinating.  That was the real engaging part about the documentary: Had something minor turned out differently or went a different way than it did, we would have never heard about some of them. Usually, one hit recording or one live show changed their entire lives. If you like music especially Hip Hop, you should definitely check this series out. “The Defiant Ones” is the best modern music documentary of the past ten years.

8.6/IMDB – 100% RT – 76% Metacritic

Streaming On: HBO Now/Go/Max Subscription

42. The Good Place (NBC – 2016 to 2020): 10/10 Ponch Best Series To Binge Watch Ever

“The Good Place” is a fantasy comedy created by Michael Schur (“The Office”,” Parks and Recreation”, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Master of None”).  The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), and three other people who arrive in what is portrayed as the afterlife. They are welcomed by Michael (Ted Danson) to what he describes as the “The Good Place”.  “The Good Place” is essentially Heaven or at least a Heaven-like paradise that Michael helped design. Eleanor realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must become a better person while trying to hide her mostly immorally or unethical behavior. Other residents of “the Good Place”, are Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper)a deceased Ethics and Philosophy Professor and Eleanor’s love interest, Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) a deceased wealthy socialite and philanthropist and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) a deceased dimwitted drug dealer and DJ from Jacksonville, FL. Also, D’Arcy Carden plays an artificial almost omniscient being named Janet, who assists Good Place residents. “The Good Place” has received critical acclaim for its acting, writing, and originality even though it’s only been nominated for 7 Emmys without ever winning.

“The Good Place” is quite possibly the best-written comedy in the history of television. I’m not sure how Schur and the very diverse writing group even came up with the concept let alone all the twists. I imagine because of Schur’s track record, it allowed this group of creators to have a plan from the beginning without fear of being canceled. There are so many throwaway lines, you will often want to go back and watch full episodes and full seasons to see what clues you may have missed. “The Good Place” is so smart and well-executed by the actors. It’s rare that a comedy gets better every season and even more rare for it to go out on top, knowing exactly when to call it quits. That’s what so amazing about “The Good Place”; it somehow has an extremely satisfying ending, despite being based on subject matter that most philosophers and theologians haven’t really decided on or figured out yet. Danson and Bell are both terrific leads, and the supporting cast are all primed for bigger things especially Carden who showed a tremendous amount of comedy range. Although “The Good Place” never received the awards or reached the ratings heights that some of Schur’s other shows did, I believe Moral and Ethics, Philosophy, Broadcasting and Media Professors in colleges around the country are going to be using “The Good Place” as teaching material for many years to come. It will slowly be ingrained into the pop culture lexicon, as creators look back at how to properly conceptualized a series.

8.2/10 IMDB – 97% RT – 82% Metacritic

Streaming On: NBC On-Demand, NBC Peacock, Netflix Subscription, Hulu Subscription

41. True Detective (HBO – 2014 to 2019):  10/10 Ponch

“True Detective” is an anthology crime drama series broken up into three parts in three separate seasons with a different cast, very loosely tied together by creator Nic Pizzolatto. You do not have to watch all three seasons to get a full story. Each season tells its own full story. The series has been nominated 22 times winning five Emmy Awards with most of the nominations and wins coming in the first season.

In the first season airing in 2014, Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are brought back into the station in 2012, to revisit a homicide case they worked in 1995. As the inquiry unfolds in present-day through separate interrogations, the two former detectives narrate the story of their investigation, reopening unhealed wounds, and drawing into question their supposed solving of a bizarre ritualistic murder in 1995. Both Harrelson and McConaughey were nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.  The first season of True Detective is by far the best season and if this were considered a mini-series it would be ranked higher on this list. McConaughey and Harrelson are like two real-life stepbrothers and they shine in this HBO thriller. TV rarely gives us shows with two great actors in their prime in non-romantic roles. They have so much chemistry, that you would think the two actors were relatives, that knew each other, their whole lives. McConaughey’s portrayal of Cohle in 1995 and 2012 is especially captivating. He was robbed of the Emmy in 2014. He should have been the first actor to win an Emmy and Oscar in the same year if it wasn’t for Bryan Cranston’s “Breaking Bad” going away party. I love “Breaking Bad” but McConaughey was slightly better that year (even if the show wasn’t better) and this is one the best first seasons of any show ever produced. If this list was compiled of seasons rather than full series, season one of “True Detective” would be in the top three of the best seasons ever to be seen on the small screen. 

Airing in 2015, the second season takes place in the fictional town of Vinci, CA. following the interweaving stories of California Highway Patrol Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) who discovers the body of Ben Caspere a corrupt city manager on the side of a highway.  Police Department detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division Sergeant Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) are called to assist in the murder investigation. Caspere was part of the rail project with Career criminal Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn). Frank wants to legitimize his underworld business with his wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly) when he loses his investment money in the rail project when Caspere is killed, prompting him to start his own investigation.  Season two of the series isn’t a bad as most critics review it, it’s still a very engaging show but the issue is that it just pales in comparison to the first season. There were very high expectations for it and the actors were just not as strong in this season as McConaughey and Harrelson.  Viewers can skip this season if they would like because you don’t need to view it for any continuity reasons, but it’s still entertaining enough if you like crime dramas and better than a lot of crime dramas on other networks. The sound mixing and atmosphere building are both still very good.

In 2019, the third season takes place in the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas over three separate time periods 1980, 1990, and 2015, as two detectives Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) investigate a gruesome crime involving two missing children. Carmen Ejogo plays Amelia Reardon, who is a schoolteacher and then writer who eventually marries Hays.  Season three primarily follows Hays and West as they try to solve the mystery behind the murders of the two children. In 1990, the unsolved case is reopened. Hays is informed that one of the children is still alive. 2015 focuses on present-day and the repercussions and possible mistakes the two detectives made in the case as a dementia-stricken Hays has trouble telling the difference between present-day reality, the truth, the past, and what he fabricates in his mind.  The third season is looked at by most critics as a return to form for the series compared to a weaker second season, but it is still not nearly as good as the first season. The third season is carried on the backs of the phenomenal cast. Ali is one of the greatest actors of his generation and Dorff is really underrated, he consistently puts in great performances as he does in this series. Season three isn’t a must-see but it is worth watching just to view Dorff’s and especially Ali’s performance.  Once again if you enjoy crime dramas, season three of “True Detective” should still be on your list to binge and it helped elevate this series higher on this best series to binge watch ever list.

9.1/10 IMDB – 78% RT – 73% Metacritic

Streaming On: HBO Now/Go/Max Subscription

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