The 50 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch

Though, historically, baseball has always been cited as America's favorite pastime, it's hard not to argue that since the arrival of entertainment streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, binge-watching has pretty much usurped that title. But with so much content and so little time, it can be easy to find yourself spending half of your evening just figuring out what you want to watch in the first place. So we're here to help.

Whether your tastes lean toward fun-but-frightening sci-fi anthologies or laugh-out-loud absurd comedies, here are the 50 TV shows we're binge-watching right now—all of which run for more than a single season (sorry, Firefly and Freaks and Geeks)—so that you've got more to watch, and all of them just a click away.

1. ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (1955-1962)

Where to watch it: Hulu

With his tack-sharp introductions and tightly-plotted morality plays, Alfred Hitchcock—already renowned for his feature film work—became the prototype for Rod Serling with the 1955 debut of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Each episode of the anthology focuses on a different criminal scheme and its inevitable unraveling, from a woman’s novel disposal of a murder weapon (“Lamb to Slaughter”) to the plight of a man being robbed after he’s paralyzed in a car accident (“Breakdown”). If the stark black and white cinematography looks familiar, you have a good eye: Hitchcock used most of the TV show’s crew to film 1960’s Psycho. —Jake Rossen

2. THE AMERICANS (2013- )

Where to watch it: Amazon

To their neighbors in a sleepy D.C. suburb, travel agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings seem about as boring as you can get. But to anyone who gets in their way (including FBI agents), these undercover Russian spies are quick, efficient, and deadly. If you like intrigue, action, steamy sex scenes, '80s nostalgia, and honest, thought-provoking depictions of marriage, you’re going to love The Americans. —Kate Horowitz


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3. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (2003-)

Where to watch it: Hulu, Netflix

This smart, snarky series follows the riches-to-rags story of the Bluths, a dysfunctional Orange County family that loses their real estate fortune after the SEC begins investigating the family business for fraud. After the family patriarch, George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), goes to prison, his son Michael (Jason Bateman) is left to grudgingly hold the family together. Arrested Development’s intricately crafted plotlines, recurring gags, and relentlessly clever wordplay earned the adoration of a cult following, but didn’t drive ratings high enough to keep Fox from cancelling the show after its third season. After fans lobbied hard to revive the series, Netflix released a disappointing fourth season in 2013 that failed to live up to the original run’s magic. (A fifth season is currently in the works.) —Nicolas Rivero

4. BETTER CALL SAUL (2015-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Before he was Saul Goodman, lawyer to Albuquerque’s favorite chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White on Breaking Bad (more on that below), Bob Odenkirk was Jimmy McGill, the ne'er-do-well brother to one of the city’s most well respected attorneys whose mental issues (or electricity allergy, if you prefer) leave the brothers frequently at odds. Though, deep down, Jimmy clearly cares about people—well, some people—he cares about winning more, and proving to his brother that he's matured since his day of running scams back in their hometown of Cicero, Illinois, where he was known as "Slippin' Jimmy." Fans who lamented the end of Breaking Bad have gotten a stellar prequel with Better Call Saul—one that manages to enrich the backstory of Breaking Bad yet stand alone as its own stellar series. —Jennifer M. Wood

5. BLACK MIRROR (2011-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

OK, full disclaimer: Do not attempt to binge-watch Black Mirror all in a day. With just 13 episodes spread out across three seasons (plus a Christmas episode), you could physically do it—but mentally, you need more breathing room. Though the anthology series has been compared to The Twilight Zone due to its twisty, technology-themed tales, at its heart, Black Mirror is a reflection of society. “The technology is never the culprit in our stories,” creator Charlie Brooker told Vogue. “The technology is just allowing people to do terrible things to themselves or others.” It only takes watching the first episode to understand what Brooker is talking about. —Stacy Conradt

6. BOB’S BURGERS (2011-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

In this animated series, Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) and his family run a struggling burger joint in a seaside town where one of their only regular customers is the mortician next door. The three mischievous but well-meaning Belcher children get up to plenty of hijinks as the family tries to scrape out a living selling Bob’s innovative burgers—which have now been released as a real-life cookbook. Its musical interludes—enough to put together into a 112-song album—fart jokes, and regular burger-themed puns put a hilarious spin on what is, underneath it all, a sweet show about a deeply loving family. It’s the kind of show that’s jam-packed with enough jokes to make it worth watching again and again. —Shaunacy Ferro

7. BREAKING BAD (2008-2013)

Where to watch it: Netflix

If you haven’t seen what is probably the most critically-acclaimed show that has ever aired on television, now is as good a time as any to start watching. Breaking Bad follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a down-on-his-luck high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Desperate to provide for his family before his death, White teams up with a former student and small-time drug dealer (Aaron Paul) to cook and sell crystal meth. As Walter finds his footing in New Mexico’s criminal underworld, he discovers that both his ambitions and his ego extend far beyond his medical bills and his children’s college funds. Breaking Bad brims with dark secrets, surprising humor, and a pulsing humanity that renders this gritty drama all too believable. —NR

8. BROADCHURCH (2013-2017)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Though it was a bona fide television phenomenon when it premiered in its native England in 2013, it took a while for American audiences to catch on to Broadchurch—and it’s a good thing they finally did. Like a less strange version of Twin Peaks, the series follows two newly partnered detectives (David Tennant and Olivia Colman) tasked with solving the murder of a 12-year-old boy in a tiny seaside town where everyone knows each other, and everyone is a suspect. In addition to being a phenomenal crime procedural that keeps you guessing until the very end, Broadchurch is not afraid to take its viewers into the darkest corners of the human psyche, yet still maintains a message that tells us we have the power to bounce back from even the worst tragedies. —JMW

9. CATASTROPHE (2015-)

Where to watch it: Amazon

It’s the classic story: American boy meets Irish girl while traveling for business, boy and girl have a fling, boy gets girl pregnant, boy and girl decide to have the baby. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, who write and star in the Amazon original, have an acerbic (usually foul-mouthed—this show isn’t for the kids!) sense of humor that will leave you in stitches, and rewinding to catch the joke you missed while you were laughing. With only 18 episodes to date, it’s the perfect length to devour over a lazy weekend. —Abbey Stone

10. CHEWING GUM (2015-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

The most embarrassing day of your life has nothing on a normal day for Tracey Gordon. The first episode of this laugh-until-you-feel-sick series opens with its adorable and painfully inept 24-year-old protagonist trying desperately to lose her virginity, and it just gets more awkward from there. Michaela Coel created and stars in the BAFTA-winning show, which makes ample use of her astonishingly expressive face and talent for physical comedy. —KH

11. DEADWOOD (2004-2006)

Where to watch it: Amazon

Like many of the prestige dramas that HBO aired in the wake of The Sopranos's success, David Milch's Deadwood managed to attract a small but rabid fan base that has only grown with time, as new generations get the chance to discover the series via streaming networks like Amazon. Set in the late 1800s, not long after Custer's Last Stand, the show mixes fact with fiction as characters like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Wyatt Earp make their way in and out of Deadwood, South Dakota. Its main characters, Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Sol Star (John Hawkes), and Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) are also real people. And while it includes all of the fun tropes we've come to expect of a great western—including gunfights, gold rushes, and fun-filled brothels—the series, which ran for just three seasons, is really about the evolution of civilization and how we build communities out of chaos. And with a lot of f-bombs dropped (mostly from McShane). —JMW

12. DOCTOR WHO (1963-)

Where to watch it: Amazon, BritBox

Originally making its debut in 1963, Doctor Who is the kind of sci-fi juggernaut that can seem a bit daunting to non-hardcore fans of the genre. While the earlier incarnation (which you can watch on BritBox) has a definite sense of humor, the reimagined version of the series—which made its triumphant return in 2005—offers loads of kitschy fun. The series follows a time-traveling alien who travels through space and time to help save the world with the help of his trusty (and ever-changing) companion. Though the reboot kicked off with Christopher Eccleston playing the Ninth Doctor, part of the fun is that regeneration is canon—so while The Doctor is technically always the same character, he can regenerate into a new face and body every time an actor leaves the show. (David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi followed). With 26 seasons and more than 900 episodes (or 10 seasons and 275 episodes if you stick with the reboot), there’s a lot to get through—but the kitschy nature of it all keeps it light and fun. Plus, with former Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker making her debut as the first female Doctor in the series’s history later this year, now is the perfect time to invest in the otherworldly series where anything’s possible. —JMW

13. DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-2015)

Where to watch it: Amazon

In the picturesque English village of Downton, the Earl (Hugh Bonneville) and Countess (Elizbaeth McGovern) of Grantham have got a problem: They’ve just received word that the Earl’s nephew and heir (and the kinda sorta fiancé of his eldest daughter, Mary) has died aboard the Titanic. Unfortunately for Mary (Michelle Dockery), there’s no such thing as a female heiress in 1912 England. So in addition to getting her married off to some well-to-do gentleman who will keep her social status intact, they need to track down the stranger who will end up inheriting their beloved estate and the bulk of their fortune. Enter Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), a middle-class lawyer from Manchester, England, and his meddling mother Isobel (Penelope Wilton), who must find a way to adapt to the Crawleys’ way of life, and who the family must learn to accept. Though the series straddles the line between historical drama and nighttime soap opera, even when it’s at its soapiest, the show’s impeccable attention to detail—thanks in large part to historical adviser Alastair Bruce—and its Upstairs, Downstairs-like balance between the dramas that face a 19th-century aristocrat and the troubles of the trusty servants downstairs keep it rather addicting, even when the plotlines seem to be stretching it a bit. —JMW

14. EASTBOUND & DOWN (2009-2013)

Where to watch it: Amazon

First things first: Eastbound & Down is not for the easily offended. If you’re familiar with Danny McBride’s body of work, you’ll understand why. (Even the clip above could be considered NSFW.) From 2006’s no-budget indie The Foot Fist Way to his current HBO series Vice Principals, McBride is at his best when he’s acting like a raging a-hole—and he does that to an astonishing degree as Kenny Powers, an obnoxious former pro baseball player whose well-documented rise and fall in professional sports has left him with no choice but to move in with his brother and become a P.E. teacher. Created by McBride, Jody Hill, and Ben Best (the trio also responsible for The Foot Fist Way), the series tracks Powers’s epic highs and painful lows—almost all of which he brings upon himself—and isn't afraid to say, do, or show the things that no other series would dare. —JMW

15. THE FALL (2013-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Though it steered a bit off course in its second and third seasons, The Fall is one of those crime dramas that is compelling enough on the “crime” level that it’s easy to overlook some of its flaws (like the fact that the police seem pretty inept a lot of the time). Before he was getting nasty in 50 Shades of Grey and its sequel, Jamie Dornan played a masochist of a different kind in The Fall as Paul Spector, a family man and bereavement counselor who just so happens to have a penchant for stalking and murdering women. Part of what makes the show so watchable is that we know his deep, dark secrets from the very beginning—there’s no whodunit guessing game. Instead, you’re waiting for the police force, which has enlisted the help of badass detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), to catch up. —JMW


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16. FARGO (2014-)

Where to watch it: Hulu

Making the jump from movie to television screen has rarely turned out to be a great idea (see the small-screen versions of: Ferris Bueller, Serpico, Uncle Buck, and Casablanca). But Fargo is an absolute exception to this rule. Brilliantly crafted, the show is technically designed as an anthology series (though there are connections between each of its three—and hopefully counting—seasons). Even better: It doesn’t try to retell the Coen brothers’ 1996 film, but it does pay tribute to their work—not just with its title or setting, but with its unique tone, quirky characters, and perfectly honed black comedy. Plus, serious Coen fans will recognize all sorts of Easter eggs that relate not just to the Oscar-winning big screen version of Fargo, but several other movies in their filmography—like the inclusion of Billy Bob Thornton in season one (who starred in The Man Who Wasn’t There), who plays a sociopath not unlike No Country for Old Men's Anton Chigurh, whose evil seems to know no bounds. —JMW

17. GAME OF THRONES (2011-)

Where to watch it: Amazon, HBO Go

Based on the fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is a brilliantly realized power struggle that pits various factions against each other for the fate of the land of Westeros. Multiple plot threads are woven together to form a tapestry of violence, deception, and infighting, with a colorful army of characters that will either delight or disgust you (or maybe a bit of both). The cast is highlighted by breakout performances by Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Kit Harington, and Lena Headey; though be cautious when getting attached to any of the show’s characters—showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have no problem killing off even the most beloved characters. Even if you’re not a fan of high fantasy, the familial struggles and blockbuster action should be more than enough to keep you hooked. —JS

18. GILMORE GIRLS (2000-2007; 2016)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Enter the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut and follow Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) as they drink coffee, talk fast, and tackle the challenges of life. Gilmore Girls explores themes of friendship, romance, generational problems, and class issues in fast-paced episodes packed with fantastic dialogue. The show has many distinctive characters that will have you coming back and singing the theme song along with each episode. Once you’re all caught up, don’t forget to check out the Netflix revival series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life! Renee Borcas

19. HANNIBAL (2013-2015)

Where to watch it: Amazon

Prior to taking on a TV adaptation of American Gods, auteur showrunner Bryan Fuller took on Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal, which aired on NBC from 2013 to 2015. The series extrapolated storylines from author Thomas Harris’s novels Red Dragon and Hannibal, and presented the infamous cannibal psychiatrist before he’d been unmasked as a psychotic serial killer. Hugh Dancy stars as unstable FBI profiler Will Graham, who is able to reconstruct serial killers’ methods in his mind and understand their motivations and behaviors to capture them. As each case takes its mental toll, his boss, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne), insists that he see psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Lecter manipulates both Graham and the FBI as he continues to kill—and serve up killer human-based meals to unsuspecting dinner guests.

Fuller’s fantastical fingerprint is all over the florid murder scenes, which are as beautifully staged as they are gruesome. (You will frequently ask yourself how this show ever aired on network TV.) Hannibal’s cooking scenes, scored with classical music, are lush, and filmed like the most gorgeously wrong cooking show of all time. Your mouth might water—but you will definitely cringe when Hannibal’s guests take a bite.

At a criminally-short three seasons, Hannibal is easy to devour; the last episode of season three was filmed before the show was cancelled, and its post-credit cliffhanger will leave you hungry for more. (And if Fuller has anything to do with it, a fourth season that delves into Silence of the Lambs territory will be dished up soon.) —Erin McCarthy

20. HOUSE OF CARDS (2013-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

In a way, House of Cards is really the show that kickstarted the whole binge-watch trend in a serious way. As one of the first series to debut on a streaming network (in this case, Netflix), it almost begged to be consumed in one sitting—and not just because all 13 episodes in its first season dropped at one time, but because it was impossible not to be seduced by Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a South Carolina Congressman and Democratic House Majority Whip who vows revenge when newly elected POTUS Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) reneges on his promise to appoint Frank as Secretary of State. The more havoc Underwood wreaks, the more powerful he grows—aided by his equally cunning wife Claire (Robin Wright). Though the series has stumbled a bit in its more recent seasons (season five arrived on Netflix earlier this year), it’s still fascinating to watch the political machinations and wonder just how on-the-nose they are regarding real life in the nation’s capital. —JMW

21. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (2005-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

FX’s longest-running (12 seasons and counting) series is also television’s most tasteless, with plots that sound cobbled together from the depths of internet sub-forums. The Gang (a.k.a. the going-nowhere owners of a seedy Philly bar) finds a dumpster baby and decides to profit by casting him in commercials; the Gang uses CSI-level techniques to find out who pooped in one of their beds. Almost every episode could be titled “The Gang Learns Absolutely Nothing.” So why watch? Because greed and incompetence—and Danny DeVito—have made the show a cult classic. —JR

22. JANE THE VIRGIN (2014-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Jane the Virgin follows Jane Villanueva (played by Golden Globe-winner Gina Rodriguez) as she navigates the aftermath of her accidental artificial insemination. The show is a little more grounded than the Venezuelan telenovela it’s based on, but with family drama, a steamy love triangle, and a face-changing crime lord (and that’s just in the first season), it packs plenty of action into each episode. —Michele Debczak

23. JUSTIFIED (2010-2015)

Where to watch it: Amazon

On its surface, Justified looks and feels like your standard cop procedural: Displaced lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) returns to his Kentucky hometown to face old demons and an oppressive supervisor. (Yes, he’s even asked to turn in his badge.) But it sure doesn’t talk like one. Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, Justified has an ear for dialogue that approaches music, with Givens trading verbal jabs as easily as he exchanges bullets. While Olyphant has the laconic-hero approach down, it’s Walton Goggins as onetime friend-turned-foe Boyd Crowder who, as The New York Times observed, “makes a habit of being the best thing about television shows he’s in.” —JR

24. THE LAST KINGDOM (2015-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series of historical fiction novels, The Last Kingdom follows the life of Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), a Saxon who was kidnapped by Danes as a child and grows up in the middle of two warring worlds upon his return home. The fictionalized tale of Uhtred is set against the backdrop of the rise of Alfred the Great (David Dawson), the real-world King of Wessex in the 9th century who fought off Viking invaders, promoted literacy and education, and helped build toward a unified England. Amidst all the history lessons, the series features a twisting plot, complex characters, and plenty of sword-and-shield warfare. Originally airing on BBC, The Last Kingdom is a Netflix exclusive in America. —Jason Serafino

25. THE LEAGUE (2009-2015)

Where to watch it: Netflix

The League is not the kind of show where you’re really rooting for the characters to succeed. This gang of NFL uber-fans who put together a hyper-competitive fantasy football league is full of characters who are deeply offensive, completely incorrigible, and a delight to watch. The fast-paced, crass show was created by husband-and-wife team Jeff and Jackie Schaffer, who modeled the semi-improvised series after Jeff's own obsession with fantasy sports. (They run their own league with the cast, giving the show an extra boost of realism.) Even if you couldn't care less about football, you’ll love watching a group of sharp-tongued friends completely debase themselves in service of winning a trophy that’s worthless to everyone but them. —SF

26. THE KNICK (2014-2015)

Where to watch it: Amazon

Renaissance man filmmaker Steven Soderbergh directed and shot this two-season Cinemax series, which is not for the faint of heart. The drama is set in a New York City hospital in the early 20th century, and features gory and historically accurate surgical techniques. Clive Owen toplines the cast as John Thackery, the talented but damaged chief surgeon of the eponymous Knickerbocker Hospital who is hiding a serious addiction to cocaine; André Holland plays Algernon C. Edwards, the brilliant Europe-educated African-American surgeon who joins the Knick as assistant chief of surgery, to objections from other surgeons on staff; and Eve Hewson (daughter of U2's Bono) is Lucy Elkins, a young nurse at the Knick caught between her religious morals and her torrid affair with Thackery.

From Thackery’s inventive surgical techniques and one doctor’s wife going insane, to an illegal abortion business and the hospital manager’s shady dealings with contractors and mobsters, there’s plenty of life-or-death drama both inside the hospital and outside of it—and there are so many historical Easter eggs (keep an eye out for Typhoid Mary!) that history buffs will find themselves as addicted to the 20-episode show as Thackery is to his drug of choice. —EM

27. LUTHER (2010-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

For just about as long as there have been cop shows there have been conflicted cops starring at the center of them, and this gritty British crime series is no different. What makes it stand out is Idris Elba as DCI John Luther, a detective who regularly finds himself on the wrong side of London's most unhinged criminals. But Luther will stop at nothing to make sure he gets the bad guy—even if he has to bend the law, or befriend a sociopathic genius (Ruth Wilson) who murdered her parents, to do it. Even the most deranged criminal is no match for Elba's hulking intensity. With just 15 episodes over the course of four seasons, you've got plenty of time to catch up on Luther before Elba returns for a fifth season. —JMW

28. MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES (2012-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) is Melbourne’s finest detective … even if she’s not actually employed by the police. Set in 1920s Australia, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a lighthearted detective show that follows the amateur investigator’s capers as she solves some of the city’s toughest crimes. The self-assured, thoroughly modern Fisher ruffles the feathers of the old-fashioned detectives on the police force, but she can’t stop herself from following the clues, and more often than not, they lead her straight to the bad guy while the real police struggle to catch up. The show has a little jazz, a little romance, and plenty of shootouts. Oh, and a lot of great flapper fashion. —SF

29. THE OFFICE (2001-2003)

Where to watch it: Netflix

With all due respect to Greg Daniels's American version of The Office (which is also available on Netflix and worth your time), when it comes to the fine art of awkward comedy, there's no more talented a practitioner than Ricky Gervais. Whereas Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott is a sort of sweet social misfit who just wants to be liked, Wernham Hogg's David Brent is more of a self-centered jerk who regularly tries, and desperately fails, to command respect from those around him. And when things don't go Brent's way, he unleashes the childish beast inside—and those are the series's finest moments. His attempt to out-dance his immediate superior, who has everything David wants, is the kind of thing you'll want to rewind and re-watch. Especially to witness that Martin Freeman has a perfect facial response to every situation. —JMW

30. ORPHAN BLACK (2013-2017)

Where to watch it: Amazon

You want great sci-fi? We’ll give you great sci-fi. The Canadian breakout hit Orphan Black raised the bar for storytelling, cultural commentary, hair and makeup design, and unparalleled acting. Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany’s star-making turn as dozens of unique, complex, lovable (okay, mostly lovable) characters—all clones—is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. —KH


ROBYN BECK / Getty Images


ROBYN BECK / Getty Images

 

31. PARKS AND RECREATION (2009-2015)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Parks and Recreation proved that the bureaucracy of small-town government is a goldmine for comedy. Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, the optimistic deputy director of Pawnee, Indiana’s parks and recreation department. She’s joined by established names like Rob Lowe as well as burgeoning stars like Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, and Aubrey Plaza. Even when the gang is losing political battles, or planning a memorial service for a tiny horse (RIP Lil' Sebastian), the show remains a feel-good sitcom at heart. —MD

32. PARTY DOWN (2009-2010)

Where to watch it: Hulu

Before Glee and Parks and Recreation made them famous, Jane Lynch and Adam Scott ate lots of canapés together while starring in Party Down. The short-lived TV series—which ran from 2009 to 2010 on Starz—follows a group of struggling actors (and one screenwriter) as they moonlight as caterers to pay the bills. Along the way, they encounter colorful party guests, experience awkward hookups, and struggle to hold onto their dreams. —Kirstin Fawcett

33. PEAKY BLINDERS (2013-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

This BBC series, created by Steven Knight, is essentially the British Godfather, and was inspired by the real-life gang that operated in Birmingham, England, during the 19th and 20th centuries. (They reportedly got their name from the razor blades they sewed into the brims of their caps.)

Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby, the sprawling gang’s reluctant but fiery leader, who must take over the family business out of a sense of criminal duty. Scored with a modern soundtrack (it’s the best use of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” ever) and shot with a classically staged intensity, Peaky Blinders gets its binge-ability from constantly confronting the viewer with how people doing such wrong could seem so right. The series also guest stars actor Tom Hardy as marble-mouthed Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons, the ruthless leader of a rival gang, which is among the more intense roles of the infamously intense actor’s repertoire.

Each season is just six episodes—easy enough to devour over a weekend. You can catch up before season four, which will feature Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, airs. —EM

34. PENNY DREADFUL (2014-2016)

Where to watch it: Netflix

In a way, it's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly where Penny Dreadful went wrong. Perhaps if it had aired on HBO as opposed to Showtime, we'd be deep into season four already. But seemingly just as quickly as it appeared, this beautifully shot series created by John Logan (the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall, and Alien: Covenant) ended after 27 episodes, with viewers only realizing that we'd officially come to the end when the words "The End" actually appeared on the screen. Like a highbrow monster movie mashup, the series takes several familiar characters from literature—including Victor Frankenstein and his Monster, Van Helsing, Renfield, Count Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll—and throws them all together in Victorian England. Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, and Josh Hartnett lead a formidable cast of characters telling dark stories that will have you wishing the series had not yet concluded. —JMW

35. PUSHING DAISIES (2007-2009)

Where to watch it: Amazon, CW Seed

In the words of Stefon, Pushing Daisies has it all: a cruise ship murder, agoraphobic aunts, a piemaker who can reanimate the dead, and Swoozie Kurtz. This brightly colored "forensic fairytale" stars Lee Pace as the proprietor of The Pie Hole pastry shop, but piemaking is just one of his talents. He can also revive the dead with a single touch. Unfortunately, a second touch kills them again. His gift proves especially problematic when he revives his childhood sweetheart after she’s mysteriously murdered. Sadly, Pushing Daisies kicked the bucket too soon: It was canceled after just 22 fantastical episodes. Reboot whisperings have been swirling for years, but until someone reanimates this corpse, you can binge the original episodes on CW Seed. —SC

36. SCHITT’S CREEK (2015-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

If you’ve enjoyed Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy in any of their past film roles as oddball parents, you won’t be let down by the Canadian television series Schitt’s Creek. In it, the two return to familiar cringe-comedy material—this time as rich narcissists clumsily trying to adjust to their new, unglamorous lives in the small, rural town of Schitt’s Creek after losing all of their money. They’re joined by their two lovably vain children, David—who is played by Levy’s real-life son, Dan—and Alexis (Annie Murphy), who provide an additional layer of chaos to the series as they attempt to maintain normal twenty-something social lives. At just 22 minutes an episode, it’s more than possible to accidentally finish off a season (or two) in one sitting. —Colin Gorenstein

 


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37. SHERLOCK (2010-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

In 2012, Sherlock Holmes (the character) became a Guinness World Record holder when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective nabbed the title for "the most portrayed literary human character in film & TV," with a total (at the time) of 254 onscreen depictions. But you don't have to have seen every single one of them to know that Benedict Cumberbatch, as the consulting detective, and Martin Freeman as his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson have brought a totally new spin to Doyle's works with Sherlock. Set in modern-day London, the series imagines a world in which Holmes would have the benefit of Google and social media to help him in his investigations, with Watson regularly blogging about their strangest cases (which turns Sherlock into a kind of social media star). Though it may sound like a breeze to get through just 15 episodes, most of them run about 90 minutes apiece—the length of a kids' movie—so it can be a longer investment. But approaching each episode like a standalone film allows the show to experiment a bit, even creating one episode which sends Holmes and Watson back to the era for which they were created. —JMW

38. THE SHIELD (2002-2008)

Where to watch it: Hulu

Television has traditionally been more hospitable to antiheroes than feature films have been, but none have been quite as arresting as Vic Mackey, the “different kind of cop” who murders, plunders, and lies his way through the politics of Los Angeles law enforcement. Michael Chiklis won an Emmy for his portrayal of Mackey, and it’s easy to see why: As Mackey’s lies and deceptions continue to pile up, the actor does a fantastic job of keeping him (almost) sympathetic. It’s not that Mackey wants to blur the line between good and bad—he wants to erase it altogether. —JR

39. SILICON VALLEY (2014-)

Where to watch it: Amazon, HBO Go

Mike Judge’s obsessively detailed satirization of life in the tech industry follows Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) as he attempts to build a startup around a revolutionary algorithm he created in his spare time. Pied Piper’s rag-tag team of coding misfits have the technical skills to change the world, if only they could stop getting in each other’s (and their own) way. The series shows comedians like Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller, and Zach Woods at their best, trading quick barbs and dealing with the outsized egos of Bay Area billionaires who do things like hire a “blood boy” to supply them with regular transfusions of youthful blood. (Like most of the show’s most ridiculous plot lines, that was inspired by a real Silicon Valley startup.) —SF

40. SIX FEET UNDER (2001-2005)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, HBO Go

As the title implies, death is everywhere in Six Feet Under. Alan Ball's critically-acclaimed HBO series begins with the death of Fisher family patriarch Nathaniel (Richard Jenkins), who runs the Fisher & Sons funeral home (out of the family's California home) with youngest son David (Michael C. Hall, in his first television role), who is struggling with his sexual identity. When Nathaniel passes the family business on to David and his older brother Nate (Peter Krause), it forces Nate to move back to California and get to know his family again—including mother Ruth (Frances Conroy) and teenaged sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose). Though it's a show about death—each episode kicks off with a death sequence, some of which can be truly bizarre and even disturbing—it's really about family and making every moment of the life we do have. Which isn't to say that it's not utterly heartbreaking at times. Though you'll want to keep watching, it's best to limit the number of episodes you watch in any given day, lest you spend your non-watching hours questioning the meaning of life. —JMW

41. THE SOPRANOS (1999-2007)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, HBO Go

The Sopranos was never going to be shackled to the clichés of a mob series. The show is just as comfortable with shootouts and whackings as it is with the dissection of Tony Soprano’s (James Gandolfini) psyche on a therapist’s couch. And when his day as a mobster ends, he has a strained marriage to Carmella (the brilliant Edie Falco) and two hormonal teenagers at home to contend with. The characters are relatable, the plots are always engrossing, and there are plenty of quotable moments that will keep you binging through the show’s six-season run. —JS

42. STRANGERS WITH CANDY (1999-2000)

Where to watch it: Hulu

In high school, Jerri Blank was the kid your parents warned you about. The self-described “boozer, user, and a loser” dropped out of school, worked as a prostitute, and ultimately ended up behind bars. Now, at the ripe and reformed age of 46, Jerri is back at Flatpoint High School and ready to earn her degree—and learn a few life lessons along the way. Written as a spoof of after school specials of the 1970s and 1980s, Strangers With Candy reminds us that fashion trends come and go, but the humiliations of adolescence remain eternal. —KF

43. SUPERNATURAL (2005-)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Soon to be entering its 13th season, Supernatural is the longest running fantasy series on American television. This show follows the adventures of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively) as they travel around the country hunting demons, ghosts, and monsters, all while listening to an epic soundtrack of classic rock hits. The series may have its origins in the horror genre, but its numerous laughable and heartfelt moments are what have truly enabled Supernatural to stand the test of time. —RB

44. 12 MONKEYS (2015-)

Where to watch it: Hulu

Though it shares a name and some basic plot points with filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s 1995 movie (which was itself based on the French short film La Jetée), Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, co-created by Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas, is its own beast by the second episode. Post-apocalyptic scavenger James Cole (Aaron Stanford) is sent back in time—“splintering,” in the show’s terminology—by mad scientist Dr. Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) to find Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), the one person the future freedom fighters hope can help them stop a plague that will wipe out most of humanity. They enlist the help of Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire), the maybe-crazy daughter of Leland Goines, the CEO of a biomedical engineering company. He's in league with a mysterious organization, known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and its mysterious leader, The Pallid Man (Tom Noonan), who want to bring the world to an end.

Depending on the episode, the characters find themselves anywhere from post-apocalyptic 2043 to 1800s London or 1980s New York City to the trenches of World War I. As the characters splinter through time to unravel the mysteries of the Army of the 12 Monkeys and stop its prophet, The Witness, things get complicated—and more compelling. With each time period recreated with incredible attention to detail and each episode shot like a mini-movie, it’s hard to stop watching 12 Monkeys once you’ve started. Regular viewers had to wait between multi-episode and season-ending cliffhangers (and there are a lot of them), but lucky binge-watchers won’t have to. You can catch up before the show’s fourth and final season airs next year. —EM

 


Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

 

45. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964)

Where to watch it: Netflix

A must for fans of "the odd, the bizarre, the unexpected" (as Serling once described his show to TV Guide), The Twilight Zone made an indelible mark on pop culture by showing Americans that sci-fi could be smart. Yes, there are robots, aliens, UFOs, and time travel, but those are often just props in larger stories about human nature and Cold War-era social anxieties. Almost every sci-fi/fantasy show on TV today owes something to the show, which is a reason to watch in and of itself—as is Serling's mastery of the twist ending. While you're savoring the well-crafted plotlines and brilliantly macabre touches, keep an eye out for early appearances from famous names like Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, William Shatner, and George Takei. —Bess Lovejoy

46. TWIN PEAKS (1990-1991; 2017)

Where to watch it: Netflix

“Diane, I’m watching a dramatic series on television called Twin Peaks. It premiered in 1990 and centers around an FBI agent’s attempt to solve the murder of Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen of a small Pacific Northwest logging town. It seems like every character is filled with secrets—her boyfriend Bobby Briggs, her best friend Donna Hayward, her rival Audrey Horne, and especially her father Leland. The further I get into the show, Diane, the murkier it gets. I’ll give this series two seasons at most, but I have a feeling they’ll be the strangest, most inventive 30 episodes that ever aired on broadcast TV.” —Kat Long

47. VEEP (2012-)

Where to watch it: Amazon, HBO Go

Unlike The West Wing’s high-stakes drama (see below), Veep puts a comedic spin on the White House that is no less effective. The show focuses on Vice President Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who has taken home her fair share of awards for the role), and a supporting cast that includes hapless colleagues and political enemies. Veep pokes, prods, and skewers the bubble of Washington, D.C., while at the same time diving into the complexities of the political arena. It’s a refreshing take on a political series—one that knows it’s dealing with heavy subjects without taking itself too seriously. —JS

48. THE WEST WING (1999-2006)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Aaron Sorkin’s benchmark political drama was prestige TV before we even started using the term. The West Wing focuses on the presidential administration of the fictional Democrat Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen. With its signature lightning-quick dialogue and eye for authenticity, the series is as close as most of us are ever going to get to seeing how the White House operates during both moments of mundanity and complete chaos. This is required viewing for any political junkie that missed this show’s initial run. —JS

49. THE WIRE (2002-2008)

Where to watch it: Amazon, HBO Go

“Have you ever watched The Wire?” is one of those questions you’ve likely been asked far too often by classmates, coworkers, and family members, but don’t take that annoyance out on the show. The truth is, The Wire is one of the most acclaimed series of the 2000s for a reason. The show focuses on different aspects of the city of Baltimore, including the criminal elements, the police, the politicians, and the media. A complex plot brings these facets of life together and shows how each one impacts the other. It’s an examination of our relationship with subjects like class, race, and capitalism, punctuated by a superb cast including Dominic West, Idris Elba, Sonja Sohn, and plenty more. —JS

50. THE X-FILES (1993-2002; 2016-)

Where to watch it: Hulu

Deep in the bowels of FBI headquarters, Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) try to solve cases that the bureau doesn’t really want publicized. In their investigations of extra-terrestrial abductions, UFOs, government cover-ups, and randomly occurring monsters, Mulder, the Kool-Aid drinker, and Scully, the weary skeptic, develop a dramatic chemistry that propelled the series through nine seasons from 1993 to 2002 (plus a reboot last year that will get another season). Blast through its 208 episodes in one sitting and you’ll believe in aliens, too. —KL

The 11 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Wilson Webb/Netflix

With thousands of titles available, browsing your Netflix menu can feel like a full-time job. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our picks for the 11 best movies on Netflix right now.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man may be in the middle of a Disney and Sony power struggle, but that didn't stop this ambitious animated film from winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards. Using a variety of visual style choices, the film tracks the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who discovers he's not the only Spider-Man in town.

2. Hell or High Water (2016)

Taylor Sheridan's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who take to bank robberies in an effort to save their family ranch from foreclosure; Jeff Bridges is the drawling, laconic lawman on their tail.

3. Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro takes on the life of pugilist Jake LaMotta in a landmark and Oscar-winning film from Martin Scorsese that frames LaMotta's violent career in stark black and white. Joe Pesci co-stars.

4. Marriage Story (2019)

Director Noah Bambauch drew raves for this deeply emotional drama about a couple (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson) whose uncoupling takes a heavy emotional and psychological toll on their family.

5. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy ended a brief sabbatical from filmmaking following a mixed reception to 2016's Mr. Church with this winning biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, a flailing comedian who finds success when he reinvents himself as Dolemite, a wisecracking pimp. When the character takes off, Moore produces a big-screen feature with a crew of inept collaborators.

6. The Lobster (2015)

Colin Farrell stars in this black comedy that feels reminiscent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's work: A slump-shouldered loner (Farrell) has just 45 days to find a life partner before he's turned into an animal. Can he make it work with Rachel Weisz, or is he doomed to a life on all fours? By turns absurd and provocative, The Lobster isn't a conventional date movie, but it might have more to say about relationships than a pile of Nicholas Sparks paperbacks.

7. Flash of Genius (2008)

Greg Kinnear stars in this drama based on a true story about inventor Robert Kearns, who revolutionized automobiles with his intermittent windshield wiper. Instead of getting rich, Kearns is ripped off by the automotive industry and engages in a years-long battle for recognition.

8. Locke (2013)

The camera rarely wavers from Tom Hardy in this existential thriller, which takes place entirely in Hardy's vehicle. A construction foreman trying to make sure an important job is executed well, Hardy's Ivan Locke grapples with some surprising news from a mistress and the demands of his family. It's a one-act, one-man play, with Hardy making the repeated act of conversing on his cell phone as tense and compelling as if he were driving with a bomb in the trunk.

9. Cop Car (2015)

When two kids decide to take a police cruiser for a joyride, the driver (Kevin Bacon) begins a dogged pursuit. No good cop, he's got plenty to hide.

10. Taxi Driver (1976)

Another De Niro and Scorsese collaboration hits the mark, as Taxi Driver is regularly cited as one of the greatest American films ever made. De Niro is a potently single-minded Travis Bickle, a cabbie in a seedy '70s New York who wants to be an avenging angel for victims of crime. The mercurial Bickle, however, is just as unhinged as those he targets.

11. Sweet Virginia (2017)

Jon Bernthal lumbers through this thriller as a former rodeo star whose career has left him physically broken. Now managing a hotel in small-town Alaska, he stumbles onto a plot involving a murderer-for-hire (Christopher Abbott), upending his quiet existence and forcing him to take action.

The Definitive Guide to All the Cats in Cats

James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
Universal Pictures

Regardless of whether you were impressed, confused, or downright frightened by the trailer for Tom Hooper’s upcoming film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical Cats, it’s safe to say that the star-studded cast and “digital fur technology” generated strong reactions all around. And, if you didn’t grow up listening to the soundtrack or watching performers in the 1998 film version purr and prance in furry, feline bodysuits, your shock is completely understandable.

Cats is light on plot, heavy on characters, and sprinkled with words that T.S. Eliot made up for his 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the basis for the musical. To familiarize yourself with all the eccentrically named cats—and find out who’s portraying them in the film—here’s a comprehensive list of every "romantical, pedantical, critical, parasitical, allegorical, metaphorical, statistical, and mystical" cat you’ll meet.

Admetus

admetus cats film 1998
Really Useful Films

Played by: Eric Underwood

Admetus is a ginger and white chorus cat with no spoken lines, but plenty of strong dancing sequences—perfect for former Royal Ballet soloist Eric Underwood. Though some musical productions have renamed Admetus as Plato (both names are mentioned in “The Naming of Cats”), the film will feature them as two separate characters.

Alonzo

Played by: Bluey Robinson

Alonzo is another chorus cat, identifiable by the black patches of fur on his face and the black-and-white stripes on his head. Apart from his ensemble appearances, he has intermittent solo lines and also assists Munkustrap during the fight against Macavity. Since singer/songwriter Bluey Robinson will portray him in the film, it’s possible that Alonzo will dance less than he has in stage productions.

Asparagus, the Theatre Cat

Played by: Sir Ian McKellen

Nicknamed “Gus,” this elderly, trembling tabby has an impressive acting history, which he recounts at length during his song (along with a few disparaging comments about how the theater isn’t what it once was, and kittens these days aren’t properly trained). Who better to play one of the Jellicles’ most well-respected thespians than one of the humans' most well-respected thespians, Sir Ian McKellen?

Bombalurina

Played by: Taylor Swift

Though Bombalurina is only mentioned by name once (in “The Naming of Cats”), she’s pretty hard to miss: the slinky, red-coated cat helps introduce Jennyanydots, the Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, Bustopher Jones, and Macavity. She most often sings with Demeter, her duet partner for “Macavity the Mystery Cat.”

Bustopher Jones

Played by: James Corden

Known as “the Brummell of cats,” this black-and-white, epicurean dandy frequents gentlemen’s clubs, wears white spats, and weighs a whopping 25 pounds. Jones’s genial manner endears him to just about everyone—not unlike James Corden.

Cassandra

cassandra in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Mette Towley

With her sleek brown coat and her regal, mysterious manner, Cassandra seems like she might’ve been worshipped by ancient Egyptians in a past life. You might recognize Mette Towley, a member of Pharrell’s dance group, The Baes, from her appearances in 2019’s Hustlers and Rihanna’s “Lemon” music video—and you can be sure that she’ll uphold Cassandra’s legacy as one of the most eye-catching chorus cats.

Coricopat and Tantomile

Played by: Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen

These striped twin tabby cats always move in unison and boast psychic abilities. Though the roles are sometimes cut from theatrical productions, we’ll get to see them in the film, played by hip hop dancer Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen, best known for her work as Mary Poppins in the recent West End revival.

Demeter

demeter in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Daniela Norman

This multicolored, slightly skittish cat usually duets with Bombalurina, and together they perform “Macavity the Mystery Cat” in full. It’s often implied that Demeter has a complicated romantic past with Macavity, who tries to abduct her during his attack. British ballet dancer Daniela Norman will star opposite Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina in the film, and you can also see her in Netflix’s upcoming ballet drama series Tiny Pretty Things.

Grizabella, the Glamour Cat

Played by: Jennifer Hudson

This aging starlet is now decrepit, depressed, and shamefully rejected by the rest of the Jellicles—think Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond with more self-awareness and very raggedy fur. Even if the Cats original cast recording wasn’t the soundtrack for your childhood road trips, you might have heard Grizabella’s song “Memory;” it’s been covered by Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Glee’s Chris Colfer, and more. American Idol alum (and general ballad-belting powerhouse) Jennifer Hudson will bring her Academy Award-winning talents to the role of Grizabella in the film.

Growltiger and Griddlebone

Played by: Ray Winstone and Melissa Madden Gray

Growltiger, a rough-riding sea captain cat, and Griddlebone, his fluffy white lover, appear during “Growltiger’s Last Stand,” during which Gus reminisces about having played the part of Growltiger in a stage production long ago. The characters have been left out of some productions, including the 1998 film, but Hooper’s version will feature them, where they'll be played by British actor Ray Winstone and Australian performer Melissa Madden Gray (whose stage name, fittingly, is Meow Meow).

Jellylorum

Played by: Freya Rowley

Named after T.S. Eliot’s own cat, Jellylorum is a maternal calico who cares for Gus and also helps introduce Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones. Though sometimes portrayed as older and more mature than some of the other cats, Freya Rowley (who performed as Tantomile on the UK tour of Cats) will likely bring a younger energy to the character.

Jennyanydots, the Old Gumbie Cat

Played by: Rebel Wilson

Jennyanydots is a goofy old tabby cat who lazes around all day and spends her nights teaching the basement vermin various household skills, etiquette, and performing arts. Under her tutelage, the mice learn to crochet, the cockroaches become helpful boy scouts, and the beetles form a tap-dancing troupe. Rebel Wilson is a perfect match for such a multifaceted, eccentric, and amusing gumbie cat (whatever gumbie is).

Macavity, the Mystery Cat

Played by: Idris Elba

The show’s main antagonist is a tall, thin criminal cat with sunken eyes and dusty ginger fur. While the Jellicles are plainly terrified of this “monster of depravity,” they also seem eerily impressed by his ability to elude capture and conviction. Historically, Macavity hasn’t done any speaking, singing, or dancing—he only shows up briefly to kidnap Old Deuteronomy during a rousing cat fight—but here’s hoping that Hooper has broadened the role for the film so we get to hear at least a good growl or two from Idris Elba.

Mr. Mistoffelees

Played by: Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson, who played Shakespeare in TNT’s Will, will take on the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, an affable tuxedo cat who peppers his magic tricks with plenty of high leaps and pizzazz. He’s generally beloved by the rest of the cats, and he also saves the day by conjuring Old Deuteronomy from wherever Macavity had hidden him.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer

Played by: Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan

These two roguish calicos describe themselves as “knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, tightrope walkers, and acrobats.” They’re also partners in petty crime, notorious for smashing vases, stealing pearls, and generally wreaking havoc upon their posh family in Victoria Grove. British dancer Danny Collins will join Naoimh Morgan—who actually played Rumpleteazer in the Cats international tour—to bring the spirited rascals to life in the film.

Munkustrap

Played by: Robert Fairchild

Without Munkustrap, viewers would have little hope of understanding what’s actually happening in this vaguely plotted musical. Though there’s no song to introduce him, the striking, silver cat is still arguably the most important character: He describes the function of the Jellicle Ball, narrates the action as it unfolds, and leads the charge against Macavity’s attack. It takes a certified musical theater machine to play such an integral part, and Hooper has surely found that in Robert Fairchild, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and Tony Award nominee for An American in Paris.

Old Deuteronomy

Played by: Dame Judi Dench

In the gender-swapped role of our dreams, Dame Judi Dench will play Old Deuteronomy, the revered (usually male) town elder who chooses one lucky kitty at the annual Jellicle Ball to ascend to cat heaven, the Heaviside Layer, and be born again. It isn’t Dench’s first time in the junkyard: She was preparing to appear as both Jennyanydots and Grizabella in the original 1981 West End production of Cats when she snapped her Achilles tendon and had to pull out.

Plato and Socrates

Played by: Larry and Laurent Bourgeois (Les Twins)

Though Plato is a chorus cat mentioned in “The Naming of Cats” and included in some stage productions, Socrates was created specifically for Hooper’s film to make room for both halves of Les Twins, also known as Larry and Laurent Bourgeois. The French hip hop duo gained mainstream recognition after Beyoncé featured them in her 2018 Coachella set and subsequent Netflix concert film Homecoming.

Rum Tum Tugger

Played by: Jason Derulo

The Rum Tum Tugger is a perpetually fickle feline with a lot of rock-n’-roll flair and a pair of hips that he seems to have stolen from Mick Jagger himself. In addition to his own song, Tugger also sings “Mr. Mistoffelees” and features in a few other numbers. With Jason Derulo taking on the role for the film, there’s a good chance we’ll see a modernized, moonwalking version of this swoon-worthy cat.

Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat

Played by: Steven McRae

Skimbleshanks is a charming Scottish cat who looks like a friendly tiger and ensures that all is in order on the night trains, which includes everything from patrolling for mice to reminding the guard to ask passengers how they like their tea. With his flaming red hair and graceful precision, Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae definitely has a couple things in common with his character.

Syllabub/Sillabub/Jemima

Played by: Jonadette Carpio

This kitten’s name varies from production to production, but she’s usually characterized by her playful, innocent manner and her willingness to accept Grizabella when the other Jellicles try to shun her. Jonadette Carpio, Philippines native and member of the all-female Krump crew Buckness Personified, will bring her street dance background to the role in the film.

Victoria

Played by: Francesca Hayward

Though lithe, light-footed Victoria doesn’t sing any lines of her own in the original musical, her gleaming white coat and balletic dance solos still make her a standout—so it’s only fitting that Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward will bring her to life in the film, where the role has been expanded into a main character. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift even collaborated on a new song called “Beautiful Ghosts” that Hayward will sing in the movie.

Miscellaneous Chorus Cats

Because theater companies vary in size and scope, certain chorus cats are sometimes omitted from productions—or members of the ensemble just aren’t assigned specific characters. At this point, Bill Bailey, Carbucketty, Electra, Etcetera, Peter, Pouncival, Quaxo, Rumpus Cat, Tumblebrutus, and Victor are all chorus cat names that haven’t been given to anybody in the film, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see extra cats in the shadows. According to Dance Spirit, Corey John Snide and Kolton Krause, who played Coricopat and Tumblebrutus on Broadway, respectively, have both been cast as ensemble members in Hooper’s film.

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