The festive season might mean fun with family and too much turkey, but it’s also the time entertainment addicts suffer through a television drought.
But you needn’t struggle with withdrawals until the new seasons hit the small screen. Use the time to catch up on these cult favorites in time for their 2014 returns.
1. ‘Nashville’: Sudsy Drama with a Country Twang
Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere star as Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes, two rival country singers thrown together by their shared record label for a national tour. Don’t expect music to unite this pair a la Glee, though. Rayna can’t stand Juliette’s short dresses and bad attitude, while Juliette feels the more seasoned Rayna is dragging her down. There’s plenty more drama aside from their tumultuous relationship and some killer original country songs.
Even the country music industry has celebrated ABC’s soapy drama series. Country-pop darling Kelly Clarkson, who once described Nashville as her “new favorite TV show,” will play herself on the January 15 season return.
2. ‘Girls’: Coming-of-Age Dramedy with an Edge
Actress-producer-writer Lena Dunham has seemingly burst out of nowhere with her coming-of-age dramatic comedy Girls. With her posse of young women navigating love and sex in New York City, the comparisons to Sex & the City were inevitable. But this series has far less gloss and Manolo Blahniks than its predecessor. Don’t dismiss this smart dramedy as yet another chick series, either; significantly enough, 56 percent of its devoted fans are men.
If you don’t have HBO yet and you’re shopping for a new provider, it’s worth comparing cable providers to find the best deal. No matter who supplies your cable, though, Girls is one of the best reasons to indulge in this premium service. Catch up on the first two seasons before the third hits HBO on January 12.
3. ‘The Blacklist’: Edge-of-Your-Seat Thrills
The Blacklist isn’t one of those shows that has to ease into itself. It grabs viewers from the first few moments, when James Spader’s Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, calmly walks into FBI headquarters and surrenders himself. He says he’ll help the authorities catch the criminals they’re after in exchange for immunity, and so an unlikely partnership is formed.
James Spader is a captivating screen presence, and he’s used to great effect in this series, which doesn’t shy away from a little blood and gore. It’s packed full of twists and turns, so it’s easy to devour episode after episode of this NBC psychological thriller. The Blacklist returns from its mid-season break on January 13.
4. ‘House of Cards’: Political Intrigue at its Finest
House of Cards is Netflix’s first original series, and it sets the bar very high. The political thriller stars Kevin Spacey as Francis “Frank” Underwood, a man intent on toppling the new president after he’s passed over for Secretary of State. Often, remakes of British series’ falls flat, but the creators of House of Cards show how to do it right.
House of Cards is ideal for binge-watching because Netflix releases an entire series at one go, putting an end to those agonizing week-long waits we usually experience. Season 2 hits Netflix on February 14.
So grab the popcorn and settle yourself in for some serious binge TV watching before the new seasons start.