5 Awesome Television Shows To Binge Watch This Summer (Because I Said So)

It's SUMMER TIME! Or, you know, Thursday for my local readers. Either way, the appropriate reaction is to... hole up in your room and binge watch television shows! Naturally.

Thanks to the internet I watch approximately 500% more television than I used to, (conflicting schedules be damned!) and while it means I don't get nearly enough sleep, I've found a lot of great shows over the last few seasons. Some of these shows are available on Netflix, but a few of them are still in season one and aren't available yet. To catch up on those, you definitely shouldn't click here to watch them for free online under any circumstance....

So, anyway... this is my list of shows that you have to watch this summer because I want more people to talk about them with because I said so. The list is arranged by "likelihood anyone reading this will actually start watching the show" ordered from least likely to most likely. These are all seriously great shows, and are some of my current favourites. PLEASE WATCH THEM AND TALK TO ME ABOUT IT! (Seriously, I'm here: @battymamzelle. Come talk to me)

Anyway, just in case, a *spoiler alert* is in effect for the rest of this post because I am detail rich kind of person and I'm not good at being vague. To the television!

1. Switched at Birth

: Two
ONE LINE SUMMARY: Two girls switched at birth. One is deaf. Everyone is a dick about everything.
IF YOU'RE INTO: High School dramas that actually deal with high school (and not vampires, or secret stalkers)
RETURNING/CATCH IT: Monday nights at 8PM on ABC Family
RATING: I wish my life were this interesting/awesome.

Okay so my one line summary is more than a little trite. This show is actually amazing and it's must-see television for me every week. Essentially, two girls were switched at birth: one from a single alcoholic mother, and the other from a wealthy family whose dad used to play baseball. When a DNA test proves that Bay (the brunette) isn't the wealthy Kennish's child, the switch is revealed, and Daphne and her mom move in with them, in an effort to help the girls get to know their bio-families and come to terms with the way their lives change course so drastically.

Add the mix the fact that Daphne became deaf after a bout with meningitis when she was three, and that Bay's bio-dad, (Daphne's legal dad) left her and Regina when he found out Daphne wasn't his, and we've got a serious culture clash. The Kennishes are resistant to Daphne's deafness at first, and are also initially suspicious of Regina, her working class background and her battle with alcoholism. There's an examination of race, class and deaf culture.

The inside look at deaf culture is what is most fascinating to me. The fact that even with the deaf community there is dissent about things like cochlear implants, and speech therapy is so revealing. The show works really hard to show that deaf people are people, and that's what I love. And they STILL find time for the regular high school boy drama! It's a great show, and you should definitely be watching.

2. Nashville

ONE LINE SUMMARY: Soapy, bitchy, indulgent country music drama.
IF YOU'RE INTO: Feminism masquerading as not quite cat-fights.
RATING: Singlehandedly made me like country music

Right off the bat, we need to talk about the music. It's spectacular! It really is. And I HATE country music. That aside, the show is great. It largely centres on the professional rivalry between up and coming country star Juliette Barnes, who wants to be seen as more than a poptastic princess, and fading legend Rayna James, who is struggling to remain relevant in an industry that doesn't value women over 40. The two butt heads continually, share men and strife, but always manage to keep the fighting on the professional level. It's awesome.

There is also the intersecting storyline of Rayna's longtime love Deacon Claybourne, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict, unsuspecting father of Rayna's first child, and sometime lover to Juliette. Throw in a cheating husband on Rayna's end, and a meth head mom for Juliette, and the show weaves the love, lust and interpersonal drama, and relates it all back to the main story of trying to survive in the entertainment industry.

The show is an amazing look at women in the industry and the decisions they have to make both personally and professionally to get ahead, while trying to stay true to their own feelings and values.

And did I mention the MUSIC?!?!

3. Scandal

ONE LINE SUMMARY: Clinton + Lewinsky+ Shonda Rhimes= The BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION
IF YOU'RE INTO: Grey's Anatomy, but are sick of Grey's Anatomy
RATING: My life was not complete until this show existed.

Olivia Pope is a Gladiator in a suit. She is a fixer. She makes people's scandals disappear.Simple enough. But the real story here is that Olivia Pope is fucking the President. Of the United States. Who is married. And white.

Not only is she sleeping with the married POTUS, she also stole the election for him. The POTUS did not win the election. A rigged voting machine in Defiance, Ohio won the election. At first POTUS does not know that Olivia, his wife and a few other highly placed people conspired to steal him the White House. When he finds out, he murders a judge on her deathbed, dumps Olivia, and descends into alcoholism. Because he is a man-child.

The relationship between Olivia and Fitzgerald Grant is the meat and potatoes of the show. For whatever reason, Olivia loses her mind when he is involved, and all of her IRL problems stem from her inability to resist him. Love them or hate them, (I hate them) their tumultuous relationship and the things they each do to compromise themselves for the sake of the relationship shows how flawed two people really can be. And if you hetero love isn't doing it for you, there is also an AWESOME depiction of a slightly older gay couple, who are whip-sharp and devious.

Scandal has it all: murder, sex, mystery, politics. It has everything you could possibly ask for in a television show. It is straight soap opera fare and it is amazing. It moves so fast that if you blink you'll miss entire plot points. It keeps you hanging off the edge of your seat and hanging off every word the characters say. It's a compelling, entertaining, racially diverse drama. It is the BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION.

If you're really into social media integration with your television watching, this is the show for you. Not only does Scandal have an intense online following, the cast and crew tweet along with the fans each week! It's a huge community that just takes over the twittersphere every Thursday night. And if twitter isn't your thing, you still need to talk to someone about the heart attack Shonda gave you, check out these hilarious recaps over on Awesomely Luvvie.

4. The Following

ONE LINE SUMMARY: Culty, culty goodness.
IF YOU'RE INTO: Turning Edgar Allen Poe into a motivation for madness.
RATING: There are some seriously twisted people out there.

THIS SHOW. Wuuuuut......

So basically, the show is about a serial killer named Joe Carrol. He used to be an enigmatic English professor until Kevin Bacon over here figured out that he liked to kill people in his free time. When we meet the characters, we discover that in the time Joe has been in jail, he has amassed a huge cult of followers via the internet and planned this intense escape plan in an effort to "finish his book". Protagonist; Kevin Bacon. Naturally.

This cult is super creepy, because they have managed to infiltrate pretty much everything; from the prison Joe is staying in, to the sheriff's department investigating his escape, to the girl his now ex-wife chose to babysit their son, to the gay neighbours of the girl Joe kills immediately upon escaping; his last unclaimed victim. This element of the cult is the best because everyone is a suspect, and anyone can die. Literally the only person you know will live is Kevin Bacon, because Joe has a special fascination with him. He is determined to make Kevin Bacon the star of his novel.

Joe is also super pissed that Kevin Bacon is/was sleeping with his wife. Kevin Bacon also has a pacemaker as a result of an injury Joe gave him when he first captured him, and a morbid belief that he kills everyone around him. (They do tend to end up dead...) There are also lots of culty people (like, over 100) who are obsessed with this man and his Edgar Allen Poe obsession, and are willing to kill for him, including themselves. It really speaks to the power of a charismatic personality, and the danger that can be wielded when that power is focused on evil.

In any case, this show is RIDICULOUS and you will not be sorry you watched  it. It also turns out that Kevin Bacon can act!

5. Hannibal

ONE LINE SUMMARY: Eat the rude.
IF YOU'RE INTO: Fancy serial killers who value etiquette; slightly off- kilter but brilliant FBI agents.
RATING: I stopped sleeping and I liked it.

Seriously, I stopped sleeping properly after I started bingeing on this show. I would have weird dreams about the murders in the show a la the weird hallucinations Will has during his investigations. It was awesome. You can probably tell I have a weird fascination with serial killer dramas...

This show is.... not for the faint of heart. If like me, you haven't watched it because Anthony Hopkins will always be Hannibal to you, you need to rethink that ASAP. While I'd never heard of Mads Mikkelsen before this show premiered, he haunts my dreams now. His depiction of Lecter is so creepily earnest and perfect, you'll wonder if he was made for the role.

Hannibal centers on Will Graham; an FBI consultant with a severe empathy disorder that allows him to sympathize with serial killers, essentially entering their minds and discerning their motives. Hannibal becomes his not quite/unofficial psychiatrist, and pokes around Will's head, pushing him to his mental limits in a strange game of cat and mouse. Hannibal is professionally fascinated with Will's mind, and criminally afraid of it. Because while Will hunts killers, Hannibal befriends them, imitates their kills, and even helps a few get away.

Then he serves up his victims insides in beautiful french cuisine. Yeah.

Hannibal is a new take on old characters. The show really pushes the limit on the macabre, and presents a very sympathetic view of mental illness and difficulties. It's literally a car crash you can't look away from. It scares you and fascinates you at the same time. It's A+ television, and you're missing out BIG TIME if you skip it.


And because I am bad at math (and good at watching television) here are two more shows you should catch this summer:

One to Watch: Devious Maids

ONE LINE SUMMARY: There are maids. They are awesome and devious. Someone is dead. Mystery!
IF YOU'RE INTO: Let's be real. This show is Desperate Housewives rebooted.
RETURNING/CATCH IT: Sunday nights at 10PM on Lifetime
RATING: Juicy secrets waiting to be spilled!

Okay, so Devious Maids only just premiered, so you can't technically binge watch it just yet, but it's a show that I have to say I'm really enjoying so far. The show premiered to a fair bit of controversy surrounding its all Latina (yay!) all maid (no!) protagonist lineup, executive produced by Eva Longoria and Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives fame. I was skeptical at first because as a black feminist, I din't want to support something that contributed to negative stereotypes about other women of colour. But then I watched it, and I liked it!

We're only about 3 episodes into the first season so far, so there's definitely room for things to go horribly wrong. But so far, I genuinely like 3/5 of the women, and I even love Rebecca Wisocky as the bitchy "matriarch" of the wealthy women's circle. Seriously, Wisocky is excellent at playing that shrew/bitch/frigid wife role to the hilt.You will absolutely LOVE to hate her. And I have to mention my favourite person ever, Ana Ortiz, who seems to be the actual  protagonist. That sentence will make sense when you watch the show. In any case, I loved her in Ugly Betty as Hilda, and I am LIVING for her now.

I don't get to say whether or not the show is problematic, but from my perspective, I don't take issue with it so far (except the creepy creepy, rapey story-line, but, it's a story-line, so....) It's campy fun in almost the exact way that Desperate Housewives was campy fun, just looking in from a different world.

Bonus Binge: Orange Is the New Black

ONE LINE SUMMARY: Rich white lady goes to prison and meets not rich, not white ladies. Has rude awakening.
IF YOU'RE INTO: Schadenfreude
RETURNING/CATCH IT: Premieres on Netflix at midnight PST on Thursday July 11th, 2013 (TODAY!)
RATING: Ooh! Dis one gon' be good!

Okay, to be fair, #OITNB hasn't premiered yet, so I don't technically  know if it is any good, but all the advance reviews have been really good, and also, Taylor Schilling. So.... yeah... But if the amazingness of House of Cards is anything to go by, this show is going to be the BEST.

The trailer, (see below) looks amazing, and one of the reasons that I'm so looking forward to it is because it essentially seems to deal with a privileged white woman realizing that she isn't so different from the people she has (probably) spent her life looking down on. There is a great scene in the trailer where she says "I'm scared that I'm not myself in here, and I'm scared that I am." To me, that's the crux of what makes this show so compelling to me; that realization that at the core of it, we're all the same. Some of us just got a little extra push during the course of our lives, and at the end of the day, our circumstances are really just one big cosmic game of chance. I CANNOT MUTHAFUGGIN WAIT for the episodes to go live. I will probably review them. Probably. But I will definitely be live-tweeting them. You should watch. And tweet with me.

So, are you already watching any of these shows? Do you plan to start watching any of them due to my amazing recommendations? Let me know in the comments! Or talk to me on twitter! Do that! Talk to meeeee!

*Crawls back into bed to watch netflix*