Abandon all hope, ye who enter here: “The Following” is not a feel-good, happy-ending thriller. If the prospect of a supremely intelligent Edgar Allen Poe-worshipping professor-turned-murderer doesn’t sound like the stuff of nightmares, take comfort in the fact that Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) has a Rolodex of well-connected sociopaths he can call upon for everything from kidnapping to public suicide. Ryan Hardy, played by Kevin Bacon, constantly struggles with being a step behind the mastermind as clues about the cultists’ identities and motives come to light. Not for the faint of heart, “The Following” is a great watch for the Halloween season.
The West Wing
It has been on Netflix for quite a while, but if you haven’t fallen in love with Toby, Leo, Josh, C.J., Sam, Donna, Charlie and, of course, President Jed Bartlett yet, now’s the time. With D.C. shut down, it was nice to spend time with a government that actually does a good job. It might not be as dark as “Breaking Bad” or “House of Cards,” but it’s still easily one of the most binge-worthy shows on Netflix, as well as one of best dramas in television history.
Parks and Recreation
Her show might be smaller than “The West Wing,” but government worker Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and her fight for change in Pawnee, Ind. has been a fan-favorite and critical darling for the past six seasons. While real life parks departments shut down all over the country, “Parks and Rec” has an odd timeliness to it. Netflix just released the fifth season online while the sixth season’s been put on hiatus by NBC until Nov. 14, giving you plenty of time to binge until then.
I started watching this show over the summer after I first subscribed to Netflix. It was perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only does it effortlessly thrust you back to a better, more magical time (the ’90s), it does so while making poignant commentary about the social norms we all examined while growing up (episode six of the first season will leave you questioning the very meaning of existence). No, this show is no “Twilight Zone,” and R.L. Stine is certainly no Rod Sterling, but guess what? That ’60s classic doesn’t feature a young Ryan Gosling. “Goosebumps” does.
By this point, everyone has heard of Louis CK — the hottest comic working right now, the dude that’s quickly becoming the stand-up comedian to which our age looks toward when we think “funny.” Do yourself a favor and check out the last season of his brilliant sitcom, “Louie,” recently released on Netflix this month. The show’s always taken a less-than-optimistic look at life, framed perfectly by Louie’s generally apathetic worldview, but for the first time in our protagonist’s arc, we get to see him work toward advancing his career. The results are heart-wrenching, endearing and, above all, funny.