We are a nation of binge-watchers. In fact, I remember the very moment I realised binge-watching was even a thing. It was on February 13, 2014, when everyone (including the then-President Barack Obama) was glued to their seats anticipating the House of Cards season two premiere - before all the deeply disturbing allegations changed how we saw the series. The show was devoured in days by fans; wars were started on the internet thanks to those who cruelly refused to keep comment sections spoiler-free.
Netflix has changed the way the world engages with stories - viewers watch when, where and how they want, at whatever pace - and in doing so, has given rise to a new kind of fan: the Binge Racer. Accomplishing in a day what takes others weeks to achieve, Binge Racers strive to be the first to finish by speeding through an entire season within 24 hours of its release, so says the streaming powerhouse. In fact, Ireland is no. 11th in the world when it comes to binge racing.
And on that (swift) note, below are our top six picks of series you can binge-race weekend:
Inspired by the short-lived but beloved show from the 80s, GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) tells the fictional story of Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an out-of-work, struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles who finds one last chance for stardom when she's thrust into the glitter and spandex world of women's wrestling. In addition to working with 12 Hollywood misfits, Ruth also has to compete with Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), a former soap actress who left the business to have a baby, only to be sucked back into work when her picture-perfect life starts to crumble. At the wheel is Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), the washed-up, B-movie director who now must lead this group of women to wrestling superstardom. It has a brilliant ensemble cast, offers sharp commentary on gender and racial stereotypes, and is very underrated.
Set in 1983 in a small Indiana town, Stranger Things crosses a multitude of genres to combine horror, science-fiction, and coming-of-age drama, with moments of laughter thrown in. It all starts quite simply when a young boy named Will disappears on his way home. At the same time, a mysterious girl known as Eleven arrives in town. These two incidents appear to be linked but the adults don't have much luck solving the mystery, so it's up to the children (who are desperate to find their friend) to do some investigating. And so begins the supernatural horror, twists and turns and moments of surprise we won't spoil for you. It's a show that has it all; much like a variation of Twin Peaks, it is atmospheric and engaging. A new season looms so take the time to catch up - or rewatch - the series so far.
Grace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play Grace and Frankie, women in their 70s whose husbands, Robert and Sol, have left them to marry each other. Grace and Frankie start out as rivals, but both undergo personal reinvention, eventually becoming roommates, best friends and business partners. But it isn't just that they are selling vibrators for older women by season three, it's the fact that the entire series normalises conversations that are usually shunned when it comes to women 70 and over. They both unashamedly talk freely about their ambitions, their sex lives, masturbation and their bodies with a matter-of-factness never seen on screen - until now. It's hilarious when it needs to be, smart and wonderfully acted.
Master of None
Master of None follows the romantic exploits of Dev (played by Aziz Ansari), an easy-going commercial actor living in New York City. When he’s not arguing with his agent, cooking up a storm or going on dates, Dev can usually be found hanging out in bars and restaurants with his friends Brian, Denise and Arnold. First, Dev has a relationship with Rachel, a band wrangler then Francesca, a drop dead gorgeous Italian woman he meets while trying to perfect his pasta-making skills. On the surface, it's a post-modern romantic comedy but underneath it delves into serious subjects like race, sexuality, religion, and how exhausting app-centric dating is, and it's all laid out in everyday situations. All restaurant fiends and New York obsessives will love it, but everyone should find something to identify with in this Emmy-awarded gem.
More than two decades after going off the air, the Full House cast reunited with Netflix’s Fuller House, a revival series that sees a recently widowed D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) raising her three boys with the help of sister Stephanie and best friend, Kimmy. It’s essentially a gender-swapped version of the original sitcom and is funny, warm and hugely watchable. There are many highlights over the course of the episodes, and a firm favourite remains the brilliant season one moment when the ladies break out in a choreographed dance to a New Kids on the Block track. It's so so cheesy but not half as cheesy as the men who try (and fail) to dance along with them. Brilliant.
Produced by Charlize Theron, the newly-released Netflix series follows Agent Ford (played by Jonathan Groff) as he and a colleague interview imprisoned psychopaths and let cops in on their findings. This is termed criminal profiling but back then - in the 1970s - the terminology didn't exist. Based on the 1997 crime classic by John Douglas - one of the first FBI profilers in the US whom the Silence of the Lambs' Agent Jack Crawford was based - the series explores beginnings of what became criminal profiling and the lengths those profilers went to understand their subjects. It's creepy and unsettling, but is an absolute must-watch, especially before season 2 premieres later this summer.
Main photograph: Netflix