Give yourself the gift of a good binge-watch this holiday season.

By Lauren Phillips
December 03, 2020
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Some shows on Netflix are objectively better than others, but some of the best shows on Netflix are the ones that make for great binge-watches. Sure, a critically acclaimed show is gripping and entertaining, but sometimes nothing can beat that cheesy, indulgent series that you can watch for days without getting bored. (If you’re a multi-tasker, even better are the shows that you can watch while doing other things, like wrapping presents or cooking dinner.)

Sure, December is the season for watching all the best Christmas movies on Netflix, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in a few great shows. (Some of these bingeable series even have perfectly festive episodes.) Between all the stress of the holiday season and the added pressure of living during a pandemic—plus any economic or health worries you may have because of the events of this year—we all deserve a mindless binge-watch between holiday tasks, right?

You’ll have plenty of time to watch the best romantic movies on Netflix in the lead-up to February and Valentine’s Day. For now, put together a list of the best shows—festive or not—that you want to enjoy this month and get watching. Whether you think December is the best or the worst, these good shows will help you through it.

The best shows to watch on Netflix this December

1. The Queen’s Gambit

Though it’s lamentably not based on a true story, this tale of a chess prodigy is enthralling and stunning all at once. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy—if you saw Emma, you’ll recognize her—as a Kentucky girl with a rare talent, the seven-episode series follows her journey through the world of competitive chess as she faces heartbreak, loss, and her own struggle with addiction. Fair warning: You’ll be itching to pull out the chess board by the time you finish.

2. Dash & Lily

Based on a beloved young adult novel, this playful series follows two young New Yorkers as they meet, get to know each other, and celebrate the holidays in the Big Apple. The series shows NYC in its full holiday glory, so there’s plenty of holiday cheer to be found in addition to the young love feels.

3. Virgin River

With the small-town intrigue of Gilmore Girls, the medical mystery of Grey’s Anatomy, and the romantic tension of all your favorite banter-filled rom-coms, this series is perfectly formulated to be binge-worthy. Even better, it takes place in a wintry northern California town—and season two is newly released, so there’s even more to enjoy, especially if you’re seeking an easy show to watch while wrapping presents or online shopping.

4. Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas

A home makeover series with a decidedly festive spin, this show is The Thing to watch if you’re seeking inspiration for your own decorations or trying to soak up as much holiday cheer as possible. You’ll love Mr. Christmas, the star of the show, and the joy he brings to the places he decorates with the help of his so-called elves.

5. Imposters

Thrilling, dark, and subtly hilarious, this series starts with a young bride running off with her new husband’s fortune—and then follows the con-woman’s victims as they band together to track her down. Viewers get to see both sides of the story here, and before you know it, you won’t be sure about who to root for.

6. GLOW

The GLOW Netflix Original Series is a fictionalized retelling of how the hit Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling came to be in the '80s. With three seasons, an eclectic cast of characters, and plenty of big hair, it’s got nostalgia and quality in equal measure.

7. Stranger Things

One of the top shows on Netflix since its launch, Stranger Things is now on its third season, with the fourth to come eventually (date TBA). It follows a crew of adorable, slightly nerdy pre-teens as they face unexpected supernatural activity in their unassuming hometown: With nostalgia, mystery, horror, and strong friendships, it’s got something for everyone. Plus, Christmas lights play a major role in the first season, so we’re calling it a sort-of Christmas series—if you end up watching Stranger Things on Christmas Eve, you almost certainly won’t be the only one.

8. Schitt’s Creek

A heartfelt (and now Emmy-winning) riches-to-rags story, this comedy follows the Rose family as they’re forced out of their lives of the rich and famous and into a middle-of-nowhere (and unfortunately named) town filled with unusual characters. They try to rebuild their old lives and find themselves building new ones instead. Schitt’s Creek made history in 2020 by sweeping comedy categories at the Emmys, and the final season (season 6) launched on Netflix earlier this year. If you haven’t watched this wonderfully funny show yet, now is the time—and if you’re seeking holiday vibes, the Christmas special has plenty.

9. Community

Newly available on Netflix as of this year, this beloved 2010s comedy about a group of students at a community college is one of the best TV shows to binge-watch. With six hilarious seasons (and the first few being the best, of course), smart gags, witty humor, and more, it’ll keep you entertained for days. It may even inspire a few indoor, at-home activities: blanket fort, anyone? Plus, it’s got plenty of memorable Christmas episodes to give you all the festive feels.

10. Dawson’s Creek

Packed with top names of the early 2000s and now—think James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Busy Philipps, to name a few—this soapy drama follows a group of teens exploring love, sex, adolescence, and more in a small town. While its subject matter may have been scandalous for 2002 (when the show premiered), fans of Gossip Girl or Riverdale might find it a little tame—but still supremely fun to watch and bingeable. Brand new to Netflix for the first time in the U.S. in November, this six-season series is a great distracting pick for your December viewing.

11. Grey’s Anatomy

A whopping 16 seasons makes this one of the best binge-watching shows on Netflix right now. Come for the medical drama, stay for the romantic tension and rotating cast of characters who grow and change a lot over the years of the show.

12. Riverdale

Getting hooked on this dark take on the Archie comics is easy: The first season has enough surprises from its familiar high-school characters to pull you in, and the next few seasons will keep you watching as the show gets darker and darker. Even if the plot gets a little confusing, the good-looking cast and melodrama will keep any casual binge-watcher satisfied. Now that the newest season, season 4, is now available on Netflix, too, you can get all caught up on this must-watch series before the start of season 5 early next year.

13. The Crown

Since the release of seasons three and four, The Crown—one of the best Netflix Original Series, and the winner of many awards over the years—is officially binge-worthy for those who think the best shows on Netflix are the long-running ones. Follow four decades (so far) in the life of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, with plenty of royal intrigue and familial conflict to keep you hooked. With the much-anticipated season four (featuring Princess Di!) released in November, there’s plenty for fans new and old to watch.

14. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

This good Netflix Original Series has three spooky seasons, with a fourth and final arriving December 31. Led by Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka and with plenty of witchy magic, gore, and horror, this isn’t the Sabrina you may recall—but it’s still a worthy binge-watch this holiday season, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to bright Christmas cheer. The series has a Christmas special, too, so you can really soak up the darker traditions some associate with the holiday.

15. Sherlock

With a dedicated fanbase and plenty of acclaim, this modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Sherlock Holmes stories is teeming with mystery, clues, and dry humor. The British series, set in modern London, has wit and dark intrigue in equal measure, with 13 long episodes—an hour and a half each, on average—to keep you entertained for days. The mysteries are plenty intriguing, but the fact that the titular character is almost always wearing a frock coat makes this a great thing to watch this month to help get you in the holiday mood.

16. New Girl

For a good show on Netflix that will put you in a great mood with every episode, turn to this playful, upbeat comedy, which follows the titular girl as she moves in with three quirky men. Their seven seasons of shenanigans will keep you entertained for hours—a close-to-perfect way to spend your time indoors, if you ask us. Plus, with a few great holiday episodes, this show can also help you muster up some seasonal cheer.

17. Outlander

Based on a beloved, thoroughly researched book series that blends romance and historical action with just a hint of supernatural intrigue, this beautifully crafted TV series is supremely binge-worthy. The premise is deceptively simple: A 20th-century Englishwoman is magically transported to 1700s Scotland. Her fight to survive her new, dangerous surroundings puts her in the path of a striking young Scot, and the series follows their adventurous life together across centuries and countries. It’s packed with roaring fires and warm cloaks, too, so you can even find some warm winter vibes in this show.

18. Jeopardy

What is the longest-running game show on TV? Few people don’t already know and love this knowledge game show, but its relatively recent arrival to Netflix makes Jeopardy bingeable for the first time. Turn it into a family-friendly game by playing along with the contestants; everyone will learn a little and be entertained a lot.

19. Jane the Virgin

Inspired by a telenovela, this melodramatic comedy follows a young woman as she is accidentally artificially inseminated, gets caught in a love triangle, builds a dream career, and more. This good series—and its more than 100 episodes—is totally feel-good and charming, with enough cliff-hangers and drama to keep you invested until the very end. It’s plenty dramatic, but the sweeter moments and emphasis on family bonds has all the holiday spirit you could hope for.

20. Hart of Dixie

Starring Rachel Bilson as a displaced city doctor, this feel-good dramedy takes place in a sweet Southern town that has its own stories and challenges. Bilson—playing Zoe Hart, aka the titular Hart—arrives in town to run the local doctor’s office and help the town’s residents, but ends up being helped by them just as much. Watch for plenty of romance, drama, and even some medical intrigue—plus plenty of Christmas episodes for some good holiday shenanigans.

21. Gilmore Girls

All seven seasons of this sweet (and very autumnal) mother-daughter series are available on Netflix, and the Netflix Original follow-up (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) lives exclusively on the streaming service. With that in mind, Netflix is the best spot to soak up the witty banter, quirky supporting characters, charming hometown setting, and genuine warmth of this long-running series, which follows the lives of mother Lorelai and daughter Rory.

22. The Good Place

What happens after you die? In this show, there are two options: the Good Place or the Bad Place. The first season follows a group who has landed in the Good Place, but it’s not what it seems—and plenty of twists and turns keep the show engaging through the next couple seasons. Filled with humor, good intentions, an irresistible cast, and an unexpected series of philosophical lessons and questions, this thoughtful, sharp top show on Netflix is sweet (and even educational) from the first episode. Now that the fourth and final season is on Netflix, you can really get the full Good Place experience.

23. Dear White People

Set at a progressive, supposedly post-racial Ivy League–esque college, this show—part comedy, part drama—follows a group of students of color as they navigate the everyday slights and microaggressions on a campus filled with white students who claim not to be racist. From a blackface party to campus security aggression, the series examines many different situations and how they affect Black people—a great watch for anyone seeking to better understand their own unconscious biases and any harmful stereotypes they hold.

24. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This top TV series (and Netflix Original) makes light of a dark premise: The titular Kimmy has been locked in a doomsday shelter for years with a madman prepper. Set free, she explores the world with irrepressible (and hilarious) glee. If you’re feeling stir crazy, you can watch her experiencing the world outside her quarantine space as preparation for your own antics once social distancing and lockdowns end.

25. Queer Eye

A reboot of the ’90s series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this emotional, insightful reality series follows five (newly Emmy-nominated) queer men as they help people of all genders improve their lives. The five stars have become personalities in their own right and watching them on-screen together is one of the best parts of the show, but seeing how they help and encourage the people they work with is sure to warm even the coolest heart.