87 hours of TV (and movies) to binge this holiday season

Everything you need to know to keep your family entertained over the next two frigid weeks.

87 hours of TV (and movies) to binge this holiday season
[Photos: vchal/iStock; pixel2013/Pixabay]

Time vortexes truly do exist. There’s always a day or two between Christmas and New Year’s when it is physically impossible to tell what day of the week it is, let alone the date or the time. Could be Thursday evening. Maybe it’s Saturday afternoon. Who even knows anymore? Wake me when it stops being dark out or there’s more food.


On unofficial days like these, which tend to also be filled with heavy snow and visiting family, the best thing to do sometimes is curl up with a universal remote and an open mind and soak in some content. Considering that there are far more options available now than anyone could get through in one lifetime, this is not always as easy to do as it sounds.

For anyone struggling with what 2019 TV shows and movies are worth watching before 2020 arrives, here are 87 hours of binge-worthy programming for this holiday season. If you can’t find something good here to watch with your family, friends, or self, maybe it’s time to actually go outside. Time permitting.

Funny TV shows

  • Nailed It Holiday (on Netflix) – A crowd-pleasing bake-fail show, hosted by comedian Nicole Byer.
  • Catastrophe (on Amazon Prime) – The final season of Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan’s comedy about a family that started with a one-night stand.
  • Shrill (on Hulu) – A body-positive sitcom based on a memoir from the brilliant Lindy West.
  • Tuca and Bertie (on Netflix) – Gone but not forgotten. Check out Netflix’s unjustly cancelled anthropomorphic animation from BoJack artist and producer Lisa Hanawalt.
  • Pen15 (on Hulu) – Awkward adolescence painfully re-created by full-grown adults.
  • I’m Sorry (on Netflix) – Andrea Savage’s show about a mom who happens to be the funniest person in every room she’s in.
  • The Other Two (on Hulu) – What if young Justin Bieber had two questionably talented older siblings trying to figure out how best to ride his lightning? That’s the premise from one of the funniest new shows of 2019, from former SNL head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly.
  • The Righteous Gemstones (on HBO) – Danny McBride’s latest, the religious satire that gave us the immortal hit song, “Misbehavin.'”
  • What We Do in the Shadows (on Hulu) – If you thought the Taika Waititi vampire mockumentary wouldn’t translate well to TV, you were wrong.
  • Succession (on HBO) – HBO’s breakout comedy of 2018, a takedown of the Murdoch family, got even better in season 2.
  • Los Espookys (on HBO) – Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen have put together a thoroughly original and hilarious bilingual series about horror effects-savvy tricksters for hire.
  • High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (on Disney Plus) – a surprisingly strong reinvention on an early-aughts property.
  • I Think You Should Leave (on Netflix), A Black Lady Sketch Show (on HBO), and Astronomy Club (on Netflix) all helped make 2019 the best year for sketch comedy in some time.

Put-Your-Phone-Down Movies

  • Dolemite is My Name (on Netflix) – Eddie Murphy is back in a big way in this crackling biopic about dynamic Dolemite creator Rudy Ray Moore.
  • Brittany Runs a Marathon (on Amazon Prime) – Jillian Bell shines in an inspiring comedy about getting one’s life together.
  • The Irishman (on Netflix) – An up-and-coming director made a gangster movie with a few rising stars. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
  • Peterloo (on Amazon Prime) – Mike Leigh’s thought-provoking film about the titular massacre, which also has some relevance to modern times.
  • The Perfection (on Netflix) – A horrifying surprise that went under the radar, starring Get Out’s Allison Williams.
  • Us (on HBO) – Speaking of Get Out, director Jordan Peele followed up his debut with this head-scratching hit that will have you literally seeing double (because you’ll want to watch it twice).
  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (on Netflix) – A worthy coda to one of the best TV shows of the past 15 years.
  • The Report (on Amazon Prime) – A gripping thriller about the Pentagon Papers, starring the ever-present Adam Driver.
  • Marriage Story (on Netflix) – Speaking of Adam Driver, he and Scarlett Johansson create a realistically disintegrating married couple in Noah Baumbach’s latest.
  • Little (on HBO) – It’s the movie Big but in reverse and starring Issa Rae.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie (on Hulu) – One of the more imaginative kid shows around got a fantastic movie.
  • I Lost My Body (on Netflix) – The most poignant animated French film you will see this year.
  • Long Shot (on HBO) – Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron star in this year’s most criminally underlooked romantic comedy.
  • The Lonely Island Presents Bash Brothers (on Netflix) – The dudes from Lonely Island reinvent major league baseball history.

Stand-up specials

  • Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh (on HBO) – A must-see for anyone who even knows someone who’s suffered from depression.
  • Emily Heller: Ice Thickeners (on YouTube) – The hilarious comic and Barry writer/producer brings it in this Comedy Central special.
  • Julio Torres: My Favorite Shapes (on HBO) – Nobody does comedy quite like SNL writer Julio Torres, and this singular special reveals why.
  • Mike Birbiglia: The New One (on Netflix) – The master of long-form comedic storytelling goes to Broadway.
  • Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah (on Netflix) – The comedy superstar gets personal.

Headier viewing

  • Watchmen (on HBO) – An audacious new take on the classic graphic novel.
  • Fleabag (on Amazon Prime) – Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s long-time underrated show finally got its full due with this year’s universally acclaimed second season.
  • Euphoria (on HBO) – High school as a way druggier, oversexed, violent, and entertaining place than you remember.
  • Russian Doll (on Netflix) – Natasha Lyonne’s mind-bending Lower East Side hipster Groundhog Day is probably better than most people were prepared for.
  • When They See Us (on HBO) – Ava DuVernay’s searing depiction of the Central Park Five fiasco is not to be missed.
  • Undone (on Amazon Prime) – An experimental animated series from the creator of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg.
  • Barry (on HBO) – Bill Hader’s hitman-in-Hollywood series scores again in its second season.
  • The Mandalorian (Disney Plus) – The first canonic live-action Star Wars series is a total space-blast.
  • Dead to Me (on Netflix) – Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini make an awesome odd couple in this sizzling black comedy.
  • Pose (on Netflix) – This Emmy-nominated dance musical is as addictive as it is inclusive.
  • Dickinson (on Apple TV Plus) – The adventures of young, horny Emily Dickinson. Need we say more?