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Thursday, May 06, 2021
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

Nine underrated shows that can be binged in a weekend

Take a break from cramming for exams and papers with these short series

“Freaks and Geeks” is late 1990s television at its finest, as it follows Lindsay, a high schooler who is trying to escape her “goody-two-shoes” reputation by hanging out with the troubled “freaks” at school.
“Freaks and Geeks” is late 1990s television at its finest, as it follows Lindsay, a high schooler who is trying to escape her “goody-two-shoes” reputation by hanging out with the troubled “freaks” at school.

Students are notorious for cramming for exams and papers all 15 weeks of the semester, spending what little free time they have watching the same show over and over.

Sure, they may want to find something new, but who has time for that?

Before clocking in a fourth re-watch of “The Office,” why not try something new and check out this list of underrated series that can be binged in under a weekend?

Red Oaks - Amazon Prime

Set in New Jersey during the summer of 1985, this series follows an aspiring filmmaker, David Meyers, as he juggles a rocky relationship, a miserable summer job as a tennis instructor at the local country club and his aspiration to become a film director. 

Focusing on themes of adolescence, first love and the feeling of inadequacy, this series will hit close to home for any young creative, especially those living in the NYC area, and has an incredible 80s soundtrack. With just three seasons of 26 episodes, “Red Oaks” can easily be completed in just a weekend or two.

American Vandal - Netflix 

Parodying true crime shows such as “Making a Murderer” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” this two season mockumentary follows a pair of students, Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund, as they attempt to uncover the truth behind a massive prank at their high school. But the duo soon realizes that not all is as it seems, which opens a rabbit hole full of secrets and lies, with a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. While the concept may sound comical, the series takes itself incredibly seriously, making for an incredibly hilarious and compelling show that will have viewers on the edge of their seat the whole time. 

The show’s variety of characters are sure to remind viewers of various high school stereotypes, from the preppy class president to the annoying overachiever to the arrogant teachers. 

Young Justice - HBO Max

First airing on Cartoon Network in the early 2010s, this “Teen Titans”-esque animated show follows a team of young DC superheroes as they battle various villains from all corners of the universe, while still having to balance school, parents, relationships and other everyday problems. 

As good of a drama as it is an action show, “Young Justice” is sure to keep viewers watching. With a fourth season coming soon, there's no better time to get invested in this animated adventure than the present.

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Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun - Netflix

From the Australian YouTube comedy trio Aunty Donna comes “Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun,” a hilarious sketch comedy show that keeps viewers laughing for the entire six episode run. Follow Mark, Broden and Zack as they search for a new roommate, make a cup of coffee — which they call “morning brown” — and try to impress the Queen of England. 

The show’s short, unrelated skits allow for viewing at one’s own pace, whether that be stopping after one episode or choosing to marathon through all six. 

Over the Garden Wall - HBO Max

From “Adventure Time” writer Patrick McHale comes a tale of two brothers who accidentally get lost in the Unknown, a strange forest adrift in time. With the help of various strangers, the brothers must venture through the mysterious forest to find their way home. 

Equipped with top-tier voice acting, the series features actors such as Elijah Wood of “Lord of the Rings” and Christopher Lloyd of “Back to the Future” fame. “Over the Garden Wall” has just 10 short episodes, and can be completed in an afternoon. 

Wayne - Amazon Prime or YouTube Red 

Wayne, an irritable 16-year-old with a good heart, goes on a road trip after the death of his father with his new friend/crush Del. The two travel from Brockton, MA to Florida in order to find Wayne’s father’s long-lost ‘79 Pontiac Trans Am, stolen from him years ago by Wayne’s mother. The pair travels down the East Coast, all while being pursued by Del’s abusive family, two very dedicated Brockton cops, Wayne’s best friend and their high school principal. 

The plots all seamlessly weave together to create a terrific show with a lot of stakes, and even more heart. While this show can certainly get violent at times, “Wayne” is balanced out by good comedy, likeable characters and solid action. The series is appropriate for anyone hungering for a fun road trip storyline and brutal Tarantino-esque fight scenes. “Wayne” currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and its ten episode run can likely be completed in a weekend. 

Freaks and Geeks - Hulu

“Freaks and Geeks” is late 1990s television at its finest, as it follows Lindsay, a high schooler who is trying to escape her “goody-two-shoes” reputation by hanging out with the troubled “freaks” at school, while her younger brother and his band of “geeks” try to fit in during their freshman year. 

According to VanityFair, “Freaks and Geeks” reflects “the sad, hilarious unfairness of teen life.” Despite its 80s set piece, viewers will likely see reflections of themselves in many of the well-written characters. The show also features many famous actors, such as Seth Rogan and James Franco, before either had really made a name for themselves in Hollywood. All 18 episodes of “Freaks and Geeks” can be casually watched in just a few days.

Clone High -  Paramount+

Originally appearing on MTV in the early ‘00s, this animated cult classic follows the social lives and relationships of the high school-aged clones of famous historical figures, such as Abe Lincoln, Cleopatra and Ghandi. Despite its seemingly silly premise, the show excels at making its main characters sympathizable, as they are still only high schoolers despite their cloned personas. 

Viewers will become concerned, invested and even angry with these animated characters and the relationships they have with each other, almost as if they’re real people. While the show may have only had one season, there is a second season reboot in the works from original creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller, best known for directing “21 Jump Street” and “The LEGO Movie.” Best of all, all 13 episodes are available to watch completely free on YouTube. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Amazon Prime

Set in 1950s New York City, this comedy-drama follows the titular Mrs. Miriam “Midge” Maisel, who, after finding out her husband is cheating on her, tries to jump-start her impromptu career in the highly competitive, male-dominated world of stand-up comedy. This show isn’t just hilarious; it also contains a cast of extremely likable characters, especially Mrs. Maisel herself and her manager and friend, Susie. 

The show’s drama and unexpected turns keep viewers glued to their screens, as Midge navigates through the surprisingly complicated world of stand-up comedy and deals with her equally hilarious yet overbearing family. “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” currently has three seasons, with a fourth in production.  

The arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com

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