20 Excellent TV Shows to Watch on Netflix Over Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving-weekend TV rarely offers more than football and Christmas movies... which means that once the Macy's Parade is over and the National Dog Show has crowned its canine king, you've got a whole lot of time to kill. Might we recommend using the opportunity to catch up on some quality television?

If you happen to be a Netflix subscriber, there's a lifetime's worth of stream-able television shows just a few clicks away. We've combed the Watch Instantly section and compiled a menu of 20 shows worth sampling during your holiday downtime; skip the mall, fire up your laptop, fix a leftover-turkey sandwich, and settle in. (Psst! If you've got pesky family members who also want to watch, we've included recommended "relative pairings," too.)

Comedy

The Sarah Silverman Program

This bizarre Comedy Central show has the Emmy nominee making poop jokes, fart jokes, racist jokes, bestiality jokes, and racist-bestiality-fart-poop jokes. But the gem transcends simple toilet humor when some of alternative-comedy's best comics chip in.
Recommended relative pairing: Your stoner sister with the horn-rimmed glasses.

The IT Crowd

The IT department to end all IT departments, complete with very official-sounding, British-accented geeks. Think an edgier version of The Big Bang Theory with a UK twist.
Recommended relative pairing: Your awkward, geeky brother who likes computer jokes.

Louie

Comedian Louis C.K. has found his groove with this FX hit. It's not your typical sitcom, because Louis is not your typical comedian. It's kind of like Seinfeld, but grumpier.
Recommended relative pairing: Your middle-aged uncle who's still somewhat "cool."

Soap

This one's truly a classic, with an exceptionally hilarious cast and Billy Crystal in one of his earliest roles (as a gay TV commercial director named Jodie Dallas).
Recommended relative pairing: A dramatic aunt who hasn't settled down yet.

King of the Hill or Beavis & Butthead

If all else fails, take a chance on a Mike Judge classic.
Recommended relative pairing: The kid brother who missed out on these gems the first time around.


Drama

Damages

It's intense, it's smart, and it's slick. But we watched for one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled on television. Season 1 is highly recommended.
Recommended relative pairing: Your stern, no-nonsense father.

Veronica Mars

This cult hit is way smarter than its DVD cover art would have you believe. The detective-in-high-school/college premise works fantastically, thanks in part to featuring Kristen Bell in a role she was born to play.
Recommended relative pairing: Mom will love this one!

Lonesome Dove

This stellar Western mini-series stars Robert Duvall and a wee lil' Ricky Schroeder.
Recommended relative pairing: The grandfather who reminds you of Cormac McCarthy.

Dexter

You've heard all about this wildly successful Showtime series: A killer kills all of Miami's bad killers. It's killer!
Recommended relative pairing: A hipster sibling who's too cool for mainstream TV.

Dragnet

Just the facts, ma'am: This one's a cop classic. Join Det. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) as he solves the quaint crimes of Los Angeles in the 1950's.
Recommended relative pairing: The dad who's always talking about "the good old days."


Sci-Fi

Battlestar Galactica

More than just sci-fi, Battlestar was the best drama on TV during its early years. Start with the made-for-TV prequel movie that sets everything, but don't feel like you need to stick out the whole series. The quality drops somewhere in Season 3.
Recommended relative pairing: It's geek chic for the whole family.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

The Sandman creator and general cool guy Neil Gaiman is the mastermind behind this series, which is worth checking out if just for the creepy, awesome visuals.
Recommended relative pairing: Your younger sister's socially awkward boyfriend.

The X-Files

Come for the creepy paranormal tales, stay for the "Will they or won't they?" sexual tension between two of TV's most-beloved sci-fi detectives.
Recommended relative pairing: Your nephew who thinks "old" sci-fi sucks. Put him in his place!

Red Dwarf

What do you get when a spaceship's maintenance man is put into suspended animation for 3,000,000 years, only to wake up as the last human alive? Complete, utter nonsense that will leave you gasping for air. In space, everyone can hear you laugh.
Recommended relative pairing: Your wacky, prankster uncle.

Roswell

If One Tree Hill were overrun with aliens, it'd probably turn into something like Roswell. This cult young-adult series helped launch the career of Katherine Heigl, but we won't hold that against it.
Recommended relative pairing: A teenage niece who watches The CW 24/7.


"Nonfiction"

Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations

This guy can make eating monkey brains look sexy.
Recommended relative pairing: A second cousin who just returned from backpacking through Europe.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Ken Burns makes moving pictures. Seriously, they are actually pictures that move. But this fascinating series on our national parks highlights the importance of preserving what little nature we haven't destroyed in this country.
Recommended relative pairing: Your Prius-driving, renewable-energy consuming, hemp-wearing hippie aunt.

Mythbusters

Two mastermind eccentrics solve life's mysteries the scientific way.
Recommended relative pairing: Your young nephews and nieces who you just know will turn out to be uber-nerds.

30 Days

The man who supersized himself for the sake of proving the harmful effects of McDonalds went on to create a series of thought-provoking 30-day challenges. What happens when a pro-choice activist lives in a pro-life environment? Can a homophobe survive in San Francisco's Castro district? Good stuff.
Recommended relative pairing: A cousin who's majoring in political science or sociology.

Man vs Wild

The title says it all. Man (Bear Grylls) challenges wilderness—and *spoiler alert* so far has won every time.
Recommended relative pairing: The brother-in-law you like to bro out with, dude.


What will you be watching over the break?

Comments (43)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I'm glad Roswell is up here :)
1
Reply
Flag
Where is LOST on the Sci-Fi section?
Reply
Flag
I agree SteveDWatkins.
1
Reply
Flag
never really got the hype around navy NCIS and ware house 13 kinda reminds me of Fringe
1
Reply
Flag
The Sarah Silverman Program, really? Sarah Silverman needs to get hit by a bus, and stay down!
1
Reply
Flag
Great choices in Veronica Mars, Dexter, and Battlestar Galactica! Seriously though, not having 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' on here is a disgrace. Also, Firefly and Arrested Development would be nice additions. I've only seen a couple episodes of AD, but think it's brilliant.
1
Reply
Flag
Soap is absolutely one of the funniest classic shows. I love watching it over and over.
1
Reply
Flag
i've been catching up on my NCIS & NCIS LA
1
Reply
Flag
The Battlestar Galactica prequel is disc-only. It's not streaming.
1
Reply
Flag
Firefly and Warehouse 13 are a must for anyone who likes Sci-Fi.
3
Reply
Flag
Add Warehouse 13
1
Reply
Flag
Awesome list! Some I knew, but most I didn't and have been meaning to watch. Netflix Watch Instantly makes my life happy.
1
Reply
Flag
All the ones I would watch I have many times. And the others there is a reason I didn't watch them in the first place. This is a crappy list.
1
Reply
Flag
No! No! How could anyone recommend BSG and then say you don't have to watch all the seasons? LOL that's crazy. Missing the last 2 seasons would be unthinkable. How anyone would want to not show up for the first 4 eps of Season 3 is even more crazy. And the Finale. No, BSG has to be watched in it's entirety.
1
Reply
Flag
This seems like a blatant commercial for Netflix. Does TV.com own Netflix?
1
Reply
Flag
I'm not watching a dam thing on my computer as I am protesting Netflix's recent price hike even for those of us who do not want to stream!!
1
Reply
Flag
Great list!
1
Reply
Flag
Lol I've already started my VMars marathon & I plan on hitting Dexter when I'm done.
1
Reply
Flag
I saw every episode of Ken Burns documentary on the National Parks when it was on Public television...it was the most eye opening and wonderful docu series I have ever seen. I learned so much that I didnot know about our own country and it's natural wonders that I still talk about it to all my friends...it was fascinating indeed!!!
1
Reply
Flag
Just finished my BSG marathon, so that's out. Veronica Mars is one I missed a lot of but liked, so that sounds good. Love my Roku - don't have to worry about trying to watch it on the computer, it's on the semi-big screen. :-) I may have more Smallville dvds by then, though...
1
Reply
Flag
I LOVE BSG.
And I found it amusing how you said "the early years". It only had 4 seasons.
I believe you found it less appealing as it started to focus more and more on the mythos and less on human conflict, with the introduction of the Final Five.
It's a shame that the show never achieved the popularity it deserved, being broadcast on SciFi it was always under-appreciated. Please everyone watch it.
1
Reply
Flag
Too bad Netflix (and other streaming services) don't offer closed captioning. My wife is deaf, and she can't enjoy ANY of these shows, though she would if she could. C'mon, Netflix, get with it -- add captions NOW!
1
Reply
Flag
Actually, Lister (Red Dwarf) was in suspended animation for 3,000,000 years, not 3,000. He is placed there as punishment for bringing an unregistered cat on board, and kept there because a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew and it took that long before he could be safely brought out. This show is one of the silliest, funniest, craziest television programs ever aired. I have seen every episode at least 6 or 7 times, and will be watching them again.
1
Reply
Flag
No Bones, Weeds, Little Britain, That Mitchel and Webb Look. At the very least the South Park with the turkey uprising? You're slippin' TV.com, you're slippin'
1
Reply
Flag
Don't like watching things on my computer monitor. I'll be watching my Firefly series - on my tv, in my comfy chair.
1
Reply
Flag
Meh. FarScape > Battleshag.
1
Reply
Flag
Yeah, it's too bad Netflix's streaming software doesn't work on my computer >:(
1
Reply
Flag
SUPERNATURAL! Start with season one and work your way to season five! You won't be sorry; it's the best damn show in the world!
1
Reply
Flag
King of the Hill or Beavis & Butthead,Dexter,Red Dwarf, some good shows are missing from the list above, quite a weak list may i say, weak
1
Reply
Flag
As far as great shows on Netflix's instant watch goes, this list forgot Arrested Development, Firefly, Buffy, Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation (season two), The Office, Psych, Better Off Ted, and Prison Break.
1
Reply
Flag
It IT Crowd is leagues ahead of The Big Bang Theory. Should've been on the list: Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, and The League.
1
Reply
Flag
Been watching Buffy and Angel since I got Netflix, plan to finish in the coming weeks, then move on to Battlestar Galactica. Guessing that's what I'll be watching through Chirstmas and beyond.
1
Reply
Flag
im sorry but you should have added parks and recreation. 29 episodes to prepare you for season 3
1
Reply
Flag
Supernatural & Eureka...
1
Reply
Flag
I like some of these shows but not all of them.
1
Reply
Flag
sons of anarchy!
1
Reply
Flag
Anthony Bourdain - always a good time!
1
Reply
Flag
I'm going with Family Guy this year
1
Reply
Flag
VERONICA MARS enough said!
1
Reply
Flag
No Friday Night Lights? BLASPHEMY!!
1
Reply
Flag
Not a bad list, but no new ideas for me. I've already watch Red Dwarf and Beavis & Butthead. Everything else on this list I have either seen or am not interested in. I recommend Fox's cancelled series, The Tick, available now on Netflix.
1
Reply
Flag
Wow, you missed all the good shows. Eureka, Sanctuary, Bones, Stargate SG1 and Atlantis and Universe, Angry Beavers, all the gang shows, Hoarders...And, like, every other TV series on Netflix. The only good one on your list is Roswell. Seriously, why did you pick the stupid ones?
1
Reply
Flag
wow, you, missed my favorites- Prison Break- season one is worth the re-watch as is the first season of
Friday Night Lights. Also, I know that not everyone liked it, but i loved Studio 60 on sunset strip. lastly for nostalgia the early seasons of lost, bones and heroes are there!
1
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook