There’s a weirdly satisfying — and maybe unhealthy — sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a lengthy television binge. While in the long term, consuming an exorbitant amount of content likely doesn’t have many benefits, in the short term it feels like a challenge completed.
But because binge-watching TV is often a marathon, no matter how fast a viewer crushes through a 9-season or 150-plus-episode series, it’s still *quite* a commitment. However, often overlooked are the “sprint” binges — aka bull-dozing through a really short series in no time at all. For every all-consuming series like The Office (U.S.) there’s much shorter series like The Office (U.K.) waiting to consume your every waking hour — but only for a single day or weekend.
From miniseries to the brilliant yet ahead-of-their time shows, there *are* short binge TV shows for everyone. So before taking the time to mentally prepare yourself for another long, daunting binge, take a look at one of these beloved single-season series that you can likely crush in a single day. Can you believe?
Freaks and Geeks
The short-lived Paul Feig/Judd Apatow series will likely be remembered as one of the most beloved single-season series in history. It follows siblings Lindsay and Sam Weir and their respective friend groups — the titular “freaks” and “geeks” — growing up in ’80s suburban Michigan. Unfortunately, the offbeat comedy-drama fell victim to numerous schedule changes and creative differences with NBC. In addition to its now-famous creator and executive producer, the series also served as a launching point for nearly its entire teen cast, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Samm Levine, and Linda Cardellini. Watch the series on Netflix here.
Set in 1996 Oregon, the Netflix series follows a group of high school drama and A.V. club students who team up to make a movie together after an accident ruins the set of the school play. The series depicts first loves, sexuality, heartbreak, and high school growing pains set to a killer ’90s soundtrack. It’s so packed with potential, fans were devastated when Netflix pulled its plug back in April. Watch the series on Netflix here.
Loosely based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (and My Fair Lady), the series follows vapid social media celebrity Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), who befriends marketing guru Henry Higgs (John Cho) to help with an image makeover after her fall from grace. The series got off to a slow start but was really starting to find its footing when it was pulled from the ABC schedule. In the years since its cancellation, the series has developed a following on Hulu, making clear that it was just a little bit ahead of its time. Watch it on Hulu here.
Good Girls Revolt
Set in 1969, this series is a fictionalized portrayal of the first gender discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. — based on a real lawsuit filed by the women of Newsweek. It follows a group of female researchers and their male reporter counterparts at a fictional New York City news magazine. Despite being generally well-received by critics and viewers, the series was famously canceled after one season by now-disgraced Amazon executive Roy Price. Watch the series on Amazon Prime here.
The Amy Sherman-Palladino series follows Michelle (the always fabulous Sutton Foster), as a frustrated Las Vegas dancer who marries her longtime admirer on a whim and moves to his small coastal California town — only for him to die in a car accident. Adjusting to life without her new husband, Michelle begins teaching alongside her new mother-in-law at her ballet academy. How ABC Family — now Freeform — could cancel the Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop-led series after one season is beyond me, but Bunheads lives on through its cult following. Watch the series on Hulu here.
Netflix’s first intentionally limited series is a western centered around an outlaw on the run from his former gang who stumbles across a small town in New Mexico. And, surprise, the small town is populated mostly by women due to a devastating mining accident, leaving few men behind. As the gang descends upon the city, the women take it upon themselves to take them down. The series boasts a surprisingly packed cast including Jack O’Connell, Michelle Dockery, Merritt Wever, Scoot McNairy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jeff Daniels, and Sam Waterston. Watch the series on Netflix here.
The End of the F***ing World
James thinks he may be a psychopath and Alyssa’s a rebel looking for an adventure. Thinking she may be the perfect first murder victim, James takes off with Alyssa on a road trip across England to find her father, and things naturally devolve into chaos and violence. Considering the series was released in the U.K. in fall 2017, it could still get a second season, but after a near-perfect first season, it almost works best as a standalone miniseries. Watch the series on Netflix here.
Not to be confused with the HBO series, this U.K. series, created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, follows a group a twenty-somethings living together as property guardians at an abandoned hospital in London, whose routine is shaken up by the arrival of an unpredictable friend (Waller-Bridge). Not quite as dark as Waller-Bridge’s other 2016 sitcom, Fleabag, Crashing is a bit off-beat, raunchy, and really funny. While the series hasn’t been formally canceled, it hasn’t been in production since the first season’s release in 2016. Watch the series on Netflix here.
After his long-running legal drama comes to an end, an actor decides to return to his hometown and use his skill set at the family law film — even though he is not an actual lawyer. But of course, because he’s played by Rob Lowe, everybody‘s on board for his new legal career, except his younger brother (Fred Savage), who is actually a lawyer. The beloved and critically acclaimed series never had spectacular ratings and was therefore axed after a single season. Watch the series on Hulu here.
Taking the biblical story of David and Goliath and adapting it in a present day war with Ian McShane in the role of King Saul is a very ambitious move — especially for network television. The series struggled to find an audience after being bumped around the NBC schedule, and it was canceled after it’s 13-episode first season. But in the near-decade since ending, the series has developed a passionate fan base, and with its stellar cast, including a pre-Marvel Sebastian Stan, Christopher Egan (Eragon), Dylan Baker, Susanna Thompson, and Eamonn Walker, it’s not hard to see why. Watch the series on NBC.
Pride and Prejudice
The lives of the five Bennet sisters and their parents are shaken up when an eligible bachelor — and his rather dour best friend — arrive in their English countryside town. There’s a reason the 1995 BBC adaptation of the beloved novel is seen as the premiere Jane Austen adaptation. Sure, you’ve read the novel or seen the movie but have you seen Colin Firth play Mr. Darcy? Watch it on Amazon here.