6 TV Shows To Binge Watch During The Polar Vortex

6 TV Shows To Bing Watch Through The Polar Vortex

I want to make something clear: I’m no expert when it comes to television. I was a TV and film major in college and I worked for both FX networks and FOX television for a combined five years after graduating. Those were spent in the Chi, huddled inside my apartment for six months a year avoiding literal death outside at the hands of the elements. This means that I’ve seen a lot of television. Too much, by any normal standard.

So, in my officially unofficial opinion, here are a few under the radar television series I recommend checking out when stepping outside begins to feel like taking your helmet off in outer space. Disagree or agree with me if you want, but remember that all of this is taking place in an imaginary world of make-believe.


Seasons: Five
Where you can find it: Showtime, Showtime Anytime
How many episodes until it gets good: Pilot

I’m a little biased because this is a show that takes place on the south side of Chicago, and a lot of principal photography is actually shot in my native city. The story of the Gallagher family is a dark comedy about what it feels like to grow up with very little and have to hustle for everything. It’s as twisted and sexy as television will allow, and punching and fucking her way through the center is Emmy Rossum. It only takes the pilot episode to start crushing hard on her and begin rooting for her relationship with the unpredictable sociopath, Jimmy/Steve. If you’re from the Midwest, from a big family, or just love a show that combines dark comedy with drug- and sex-fueled storylines, this is a must try.

Watch if you’re into: Chicago Fire, Always Sunny, Weeds

Friday Night Lights

Seasons: Five
Where you can find it: Netflix
How many episodes until it gets good: Three

Here’s the reason why you’re familiar with FNL: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney jacked that as one of his campaign slogans. You probably saw a promo picture of this NBC drama and thought, “Another family show. Pass.” What did start as a rocky, uneven show about football and racism in a small Texas town really hit its stride after NBC realigned it with a different audience: non-sports fans. This show isn’t just about football. It’s about family, community, and teamwork. If you’ve ever played organized sports on any level, your nostalgia levels will be off the charts. It spans the perfect length of time and ends on the best note a show can end on. Clear eyes.

Watch if you’re into: ESPN: 30 for 30, Friday Night Lights (film)

Bojack Horseman

Seasons: One
Where you can find it: Netflix
How many episodes until it gets good: Three

This animated series was released by Netflix last year with little fanfare. It’s the story of a has-been nineties celebrity living out his middle ages in the 2010s. Except he’s a fucking horse. The bizarre animal world the characters occupy is one so close to reality, but so far from anything you’ve ever seen before that it’s — for lack of a better term — completely ridiculous. It isn’t until after the groundwork is laid in the first three episodes when you really get exposed to the laugh out loud moments of the show’s characters, so be patient. This is as easy of a Family Guy replacement as I’ve ever seen, since Family Guy is a hot train wreck of garbage now.

Watch if you’re into: Archer, Futurama, Eastbound and Down

How To Make It In America

Seasons: Two
Where you can find it: HBO, HBO GO
How many episodes until it gets good: Three

Okay, I’ll admit that I was really into Entourage in college. Maybe a little too into it. It wasn’t until last year that I stumbled upon the show’s producer’s East Coast project, How to Make It In America. It’s a dramedy about a struggling designer in New York City who, along with his best friends, will do anything to get ahead in this world. It ran on HBO for two seasons before getting canceled, but the storyline is a much more mature one in a much faster paced urban environment compared to the glitz and glam of Hollywood. The characters of Cam and Ben feel more realistic than the caricatures of Drama or Turtle from its predecessor. Plus, Kid Cudi does a halfway decent job as a stoned out drug dealer. Shocker there.

Watch if you’re into: Entourage, Bored to Death

You’re The Worst

Seasons: One (renewed for a second season to premiere Fall 2015)
Where you can find it: FX, FX Now
How many episodes until it gets good: Pilot

The show is a super sleeper comedy about modern day dating and the fucked up rules and regulations that young single people feel confined by. Featuring hilarious breakout performances by the two leads, Chris Geere and Aya Cash, this show was picked up by FX for a second season after a critically successful eight-episode season one.

Raunchy and rudely awakening, this series shines a light on how in today’s dating scene, we’re all kind of pieces of shit. FX’s business model with its comedies has long been that it’s not about the ratings as much as it is about critical recognition. With a comedy bench as deep and diverse as FX’s, I’d say it’s working.

Watch if you’re into: The Office, Veep, 30 Rock

The Sopranos

Seasons: Seven (technically six with an extended final season)
Where you can find it: HBO, HBO GO
How many episodes until it gets good: Five

A real under the radar show, huh? This isn’t hyperbole when I say The Sopranos is the greatest television show of all time, hands down. It put HBO on the map, it has won countless Emmy awards, and the main character is one of the deepest, most divisive protagonists audiences have ever seen. Without the late James Gandolfini’s performance as family man and mob boss Tony Soprano, we wouldn’t have today’s Walter White, Dexter Morgan, or Don Draper. The characters in both of Tony’s “families” are so genuine that you begin to feel like you’re a part of them. The show transcends television and is one of the greatest family dramas and organized crime stories ever.

Watch if you’re into: The Godfather, Goodfellas, perfect fucking television.

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JR Hickey

Stand up comedian and writer from Chicago who now resides on the West Coast. Has written for the Chicago Tribune, performed at Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago, Cobbs Comedy Club in SF and last year was a part of SF Sketchfest 2015.

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