The holidays are a time of gift-giving, song-singing, delicious food, and togetherness. They're also the perfect opportunity to catch up on TV.
Whether you're into ridiculous reality shows, crime procedurals, or the canonical TV greats, we've selected nine of the most addictive viewing experiences Netflix has to offer — so you can rest assured that no hour of your holiday break will go unfilled by fantastic television. And if your family gets mad at your for skipping dinner to watch your 14th consecutive episode of Law and Order: SVU, don't say we didn't warn you.
Lost is the show to turn to if your holiday season is a relatively uneventful affair and you're in desperate need of stimulation. By stimulation, of course, I mean six seasons of mind-bending, heartbreaking, nerves-destroying entertainment that will amaze you and enrage you in equal measure. The story of a group of plane crash survivors living on a tropical island that turns out to be far more complex (and more terrifying) than it first seems has became a canonical TV classic for good reason.
If you're new to the show and its many mysteries, you'll spend your entire holiday break skimming Lost message boards from the mid-2000s, searching for information about "the hatch" or the number 4815162342. If you're an initiate, you'll appreciate the trip down memory lane and the opportunity to spot things you missed before.
Law and Order: SVU should come with a medical warning: "May cause dependency." The classic procedural is the most addicting show on this list. It'll pull you down its rabbit-hole so fast you won't even know what happened to you. But, for those long, drowsy, post-family-dinner evenings, there's no better entertainment.
During the holidays, you may find yourself wanting to turn the idea of the happy American family on its head. "Murder House," the first installment of the American Horror Story franchise, does just that. It tells the story of an unsuspecting East Coast family that moves into a haunted house in Los Angeles, and then has to contend with a cadre of vengeful paranormal villains. It's gory, gross-out, glitzy good fun that'll give your holiday season some much-needed edge.
Owing to its potty-mouthed humor and the sheer weirdness of its story lines, this show about four lovable idiots running a bar in the City of Brotherly Love provides welcome relief during the season of friends and family overload.
When your friends, family, and co-workers were having convulsions about this show back when it first aired a few years ago, you made a mental note to catch up on it at some point. This holiday season should be that some point. Friday Night Lights centers loosely on a high school football team in a rural Texas community. It's a piece of urgently good television that should not be missed.
If you're a 20-something who grew up loving science, UFOs, paranormal phenomena, or some combination of three, then The X-Files was everything to you. Besides being delightfully strange and spooky, the show also has the 90s written all over it — from the stiff dialogue and comically dreary film sets, to the cheesy special effects and the bewildering preponderance of London Fog trench coats. Watch it for a laugh — and then find yourself holding a pillow over your face. It's ideal for gatherings of friends and family.
What happened to Laura Palmer? Who is Laura Palmer, really? And why does Agent Dale Cooper like coffee so much? These are some of the questions that will nag at you if you decide to step into the otherworldly experience that is David Lynch's Twin Peaks. A surrealist interpretation of a crime procedural, the show is probably the most avant-garde thing to have ever aired on mainstream television, and the fact that it's available on Netflix is, quite frankly, proof there's a God. Fill your holiday downtime and get yourself some culture simultaneously. But don't get hooked — sadly, the show ended after only two seasons.
Once you've eaten your way into a food coma over the holidays, you'll need either a) motivation to get back to the gym, or b) confirmation of your suspicion that all exercise hounds are weirdos and that you're perfectly justified in staying as far away from the gym as possible. Work Out, a reality show about personal trainers working in various cities in California, accomplishes both. The fitness is real and the bodies are hot, but it's the drama these trainers get into — particularly the volcanic relationship between the show's star, Jackie Warner, and her girlfriend Mimi – that really makes this show something special.
Let's face it: After the season of gift giving, many of us find ourselves broke or at least very stressed about money. Even if you have to scale back on your social outings and stock up on ramen, you'll probably never have stoop as low as the bargain-crazed people profiled in this reality series. But if you do, you should know that this show is full of genius tips for saving money. Did you know, for instance, that you can cut down on your water bill by putting a brick in the tank of your toilet? Such is the wisdom of Extreme Cheapskates.