“Oh, you write about TV? So what should I watch?”
It’s the response I get from friends I haven’t seen in a while, from uncles, from dentists with fingers in my mouth, from my gynecologist.
The answer is always the same (with the exception of the dentist scenario where my answer is, “eunggadarwaaahhh“): “Oh. You know. There’s a lot of good stuff on. You know.” Immediately, I can’t think of a single television show I enjoy, a single television show currently on the air, or a single television show that has ever existed. ‘Buddies’? Is ‘Buddies’ a television show? Please, let’s talk about my pelvic floor instead.
And so I offer this primer so you will never suffer the same fate. So when you, the presumably hip internet-user and television-watcher will always have a spot-on recommendation for whatever stranger happens to make the lucky mistake of trusting your judgement.
For your mom: Feud
I know, the obvious choice here is Big Little Lies. But Feud, with its campy fun and retro-modern vibe, is the perfect show to watch with your mom, if only so you can talk about how amazing Jessica Lange looks always.
For your dad: Billions
To be fair, I’m basing this on how much my dad loves Billions. It’s perfectly-written, sexy without making you embarrassed to talk to your dad the next day, and stars Paul Giamatti. Easy.
For your friend who is so much cooler than you, how does she not realize how much cooler she is than you: Search Party
Search Party is a silver bullet of a cool TV show. No one won’t like it.
For your big sister: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
I’m not the only one who grew up singing duets with my sister in the bathroom right?
For your little sister: Riverdale
If she needs something of quality now that she’s moved on from Pretty Little Liars.
For your brother: Crashing
This is the perfect brother show. It’s on HBO which all brothers love, and it’s about comedy bros just hanging out. It’s basically a podcast. (This recommendation also applies to that person who likes podcasts.)
For the friend who likes Doctor Who: Great British Bake Off
But Dana, how do I know if my friend likes ‘Doctor Who’ or not? Are you kidding me? If your friend likes Doctor Who, you know. Sweet without being saccharine, addicting, and heartfelt, if the anglophile in your life hasn’t started binging GBBO yet, do them the biggest favor of their life.
For your friend with a Tumblr that’s not about Doctor Who: The Magicians
There is a small but important difference between a Whovian Tumblr user and everyone else. For the person who has a Tumblr but has said the sentence, “there are some good episodes, but overall I don’t really get what the whole Doctor Who thing is about,” recommend The Magicians.
For the person who you’re never quite sure if they’re being sarcastic or not: The Good Place
The Good Place is the perfect show for your most deadpan friend (it’s always the deadpan one who turns out to be the funniest). With one of the best finales I’ve seen in recent memory, just make sure you tell them to stay away from spoilers.
For your pilates instructor: Big Little Lies
No explanation needed.
For the person angry-tweeting about The Iron Fist: Supergirl
Make sure they’re all caught up on the gold-standard of superhero TV. Kara Danvers > Danny Rand every time.
For the person still talking about The O.A.: Time After Time
Need something inexplicably compelling to hate-watch but also obsess over? Look no further than the show about H.G. Wells chasing his former best friend Jack the Ripper through time.
For your friend’s boring new boyfriend who lives in Brooklyn: Taboo
Also known by its other title, “Tom Hardy Is Wearing This Hat, and Also He Looks Very Dirty.”
For the friend who campaigned for Hillary: The Good Fight
Did you know this show stars Ygritte??? Already confirmed for a second season, and for good reason, the team from The Good Wife is back with another finely-tuned television machine.
For the person you know from Twitter: Girls
Repeat after me: “Season six has been a real return to form. Whatever you think of Lena Dunham, this is really good TV.”