As a new tally by FX revealed this month, a whopping 559 scripted series — just scripted! — were released in 2021 across broadcast, cable and streaming. In other words? You’ve got a lot of choices when you’re scanning through your watchlist for a new show to start.
But as tempting as it might be to catch up on a veteran series with three, five or even 10-plus seasons under its belt, sometimes you’re simply looking for an easy, day-long binge — the kind of show with only one or two seasons that doesn’t require weeks of commitment. And in the list below, we’ve compiled 20 series that meet those criteria.
A note about our list: We kept our picks to closed-ended series only, with the exception of HBO’s The White Lotus (which will return for Season 2, but, as an anthology series, can be enjoyed as a standalone show). As much as we wanted to recommend ongoing series like HBO Max’s Starstruck or Peacock’s Girls5eva, we’ve stuck with shows you can watch in their entirety during an afternoon, without the commitment of eventual future episodes.
And though the recs below do include recent favorites like HBO’s Mare of Easttown and Disney+’s WandaVision, you’ll also find some older fare, including the British sitcom Spaced, Michaela Coel’s terrific Chewing Gum and HBO’s wonderfully awkward Hello Ladies.
Scroll through our list of ideal one-sitting binges, then drop a comment with your own suggestions!