20 Excellent TV Shows to Watch on Netflix Over Thanksgiving

  • 42comments

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?

Like TV.com on Facebook