In law school, our free time is precious, so how we spend it matters. Wasting time on a show you’re unsure you’ll like is just too risky. Never fear though, because I’m here.
I watch a lot of TV — admittedly too much. Everyone has their vice. Some people like a night out on the town, others treat themselves to a nice bottle of wine and some fancy cheese. I watch TV.
Here are my top suggestions for what to watch, whether you need some comfort, some time away from the law, or some inspiration.
For when you’re in the mood for a good scare (that isn’t a cold call)
The Fall (Netflix)
This show is thoroughly terrifying. It follows detective Stella Gibson as she hunts for a serial killer terrorizing the women of Northern Ireland. Paul Spector stalks his victims, and brutalizes them in their home, but perhaps the most bone chilling element of his crimes is who he is — a father, a husband, and a incredibly handsome, to boot. Think Ted Bundy, without the ruse, and Irish.
After the body of 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found on a beach along the picturesque coast of a small English town, a police investigation turns an entire community upside down, and in many cases against each other. As detectives question a tight knit community and look for a murderer among them, loyalties, friendships, and families, are tested and broken.
Idris Elba, running around England, in a tweed overcoat, fighting crime… need I say more? I do? Luther is mysterious and broody with a insatiable penchant for justice, and rouge approach to getting it. From his complicated collusion with a female serial killer, to his fraught relationship with his ex-wife, Luther is sure to captivate you between WestLaw searches.
The Following (Netflix)
Cult? Check. A serial killer who is also a charming professor? Check. Cult of serial killers? Check. Kevin Bacon? Check. This fast paced, network drama is as dark and scary as they come. Watch it before you have to pull an all nighter because I can guarantee after just one episode, sleep will not come easy.
For when your brain needs a hug
RuPaul’s Drag Race (OnDemand)
To say RuPaul’s Drag Race is a feast for the eyes would be the understatement of the century. The one and only RuPaul, who hosts the show, pits up and coming drag queens against each other to claim their spot in “herstory.” The queens are visually stunning, and bitingly funny. What’s more, the camaraderie between the queens is truly inspiring; they all root for and love each other despite being in competition, and that’s something all of us (especially those of us in law school) can learn from.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (OnDemand)
The Real Housewives franchise has so many gems; there’s Nene from Atlanta, Bethenny from New York, Vicki from Orange County. But really, none of them hold a candle to Melania Guidice — Teresa Guidice’s daughter, on Housewives of New Jersey. The girl is barely out of middle school and she could easily hold down her own spinoff and kill it in the ratings. If you’re into wholesome family drama, lots of footage of people eating really good food, and an abundance of sass, this is the show for you.
Parks & Recreation (Netflix)
I’m a firm believer there are few emotional ills that Leslie Knope cannot cure. Seriously, this show is a salve. I have watched it in my darkest moments and it never fails to make me smile. During 1L when I took the Greenline an hour to campus I used to literally listen to it in my headphones, just to keep sane. If you’re having one of those weeks, and a cold call went bad, or your seemingly impossible memo is due, or like me, you’ve read one to many domestic violence cases, give yourself 30 minutes with the wonderful people of Pawnee.
The Munsters (Netflix)
I recently revisited this show, which was a favorite from my childhood. (I was a weird kid, ok?) The Munsters, who admittedly, look a lot more like monsters, live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane where they do totally regular things, like go on vacation, and help their son prepare for a talent show at school. But despite being totally *normal*, they’re outcasted and feared by members of the community, who bolt away from them at a comedic speed. Not only are the characters super endearing, it also is a really interesting social commentary on how we treat people who don’t look or act like us, but who are wholly good people.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Netflix)
If you’ve ever gone a little *too* far trying to make things right with an ex, or you’re just *slightly* neurotic, or you love a good musical number this show is for you. Comedic genius Rachel Bloom delivers in this fantastic show about heartache, lying, scheming, and fulfilling your childhood destiny of marrying your summer camp sweetheart.
For when you’ve read one too many cases and you want nothing to do with lawyering
The Knick (Showtime)
A disclaimer: this show is not for the faint of heart. A gritty drama set in early 1900’s New York at the Knickerbocker Hospital, The Knick follows the escapades of Dr. John Thackery, a renegade doctor on the cutting edge of medicine and surgery. The Knick tackles race, class, and gender issues, as Thackery performs risky procedures, all while battling an addiction to cocaine. Just a few episodes will having you feeling grateful that its 2016, and that we’re in law school — not medical school.
The Get Down (Netflix)
A brand new hit on Netflix, from the fantastical mind of Baz Luhrmann, The Get Down chronicles the lives of a group of teenagers in the Bronx as they scratch records, dance to disco, and navigate New York at a gritty and tumultuous time. The Get Down provides an artful and profound look at the fraught racial tensions in New York in the 1970’s, with complex, lovable, troubled, and relatable characters. On top of all that, the music is fantastic, and the visuals are stunning (as anyone who’s seen a Luhrmann film would expect).
Masters of Sex (Showtime)
If, like me, you like to spend your free time being outraged by gender roles, and how detrimental to society’s advancement they are, this show is for you! Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan play Masters and Johnson, a pair of scientists who revolutionized the way we think about human sexuality. As the show chronicles their scientific research, it also follows their complicated, and often intense personal lives, as they navigate love, betrayal, infertility, and infidelity.
Twin Peaks (Netflix)
This show is a classic cult must see. As FBI agent Dale Cooper tries to uncover who killed Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, he comes to find out that in this small town, deep in the forest, nothing is as it seems. With a penchant for coffee that almost rivals that of a law student during finals, Cooper experiences trippy dreams and premonitions that lead him deep into a fantastical world where the suspects are many, but the answers are few. Twin Peaks is filled with romance, intrigue, duplicitous characters and cherry pie.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Boardwalk Empire is just top notch. It’s TV drama at its best; easily one of my top five shows of all time. Set during the prohibition in Atlantic City, it chronicles the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, as he rules the game as a bootlegger, a man about town, and a politician. Boardwalk Empire has it all; gangsters, romance, and most importantly Steve Buscemi.
For when you need a reminder of why you came to law school
The West Wing (Netflix)
If you can watch the theme song of the West Wing and not immediately want to do your Con Law 2 reading, you should probably quit right now. I’d say a solid part of me wanting to go to law school was being able to casually walk around in a law school sweatshirt like Josh Lyman. Watching the West Wing should be a four credit requirement for graduation.
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
The prison system is really screwed up. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. Orange is the New Black drives home just how screwed up it is — especially in the most recent season where Litchfield goes private. An incredible and diverse cast deliver nuanced portrayals of incarcerated women, and the broken system, as it devours their lives without regard for their humanity.
Law & Order SVU (Hulu)
Whether you’re a sucker for Stabler, worship Olivia Benson, or have always dreamed of kicking butt in the courtroom like ADA Alex Cabot, anyone who watches SVU will tell you, this show is superlative. SVU has it all, fervent public defenders, passionate ADA’s, and a boss female detective, all handling dark and complicated cases, many of which are loosely based on real life crimes.
Law & Order (The OG version *SAM WATERSTON EPISODES ONLY*)
Do I really need to explain this one? Watching ADA Jack McCoy, played by Sam Waterston, question a witness in court, with so much passion that his whole body seems to vibrate and reverberate with a lust for justice, is enough to inspire even the most discouraged law student. On top of that you have a crackerjack group of detectives, featuring none other than the Law & Order icon, Lennie Briscoe.