Reality, Sitcom, Anime, and Fantasy provide binge options: The Thunderbeat staff’s top picks


Adviser Julie Rowse — “Parks and Recreation”

“Parks and Recreation” started out as an “Office”-style sitcom, only instead of a paper company, its goal was to spotlight the moronic inefficiency of city government. After the first season though, showrunner Mike Schur pivoted away from the awkward ineptitude of Michael Scott and toward the earnest optimism of Leslie Knope. 

While the show might be marketed as an Amy Poehler post-Saturday Night Live vehicle, its true charm lies with talents of comedic powerhouses such as Retta, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Offerman. And if you want to see what “Guardians of the Galaxy” Starlord looked like pre-MCU training protocol, the doughy Chris Pratt flexes his own comedy muscles as well.

I’ve watched the entire series at least a dozen times (though I often skip Season 1 and start with Season 2), and I find myself watching it when times are tough and I need to escape to a world that will make me laugh and make me hope for a better world. 

“Parks and Recreation” is now streaming on Peacock.

Adviser AE Stueve — “3rd Rock from the Sun”

“3rd Rock from the Sun” is one of the most bingeable sitcoms available right now… with a few caveats. Because this show is old, having aired from 1996 to 2001, I will freely admit some of the jokes no longer land quite like they used to. Also, it took a few episodes to find its sea legs and, to be fair, those sea legs wavered in the final season (but the final episode is golden). 

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that ugliness out of the way, I strongly suggest you download Amazon Prime Video, get acquainted with IMDbTV, and settle in with a big bowl of popcorn to enjoy John Lithgow of the rubber face, Kristen Johnston of the Amazonian stature, French Stewart of the squinty eyes, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt of the most adorable as aliens hiding out in an Ohio town as they study earthlings. Jane Curtin, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, and Wayne Knight play the earthlings they primarily interact with and together these eight actors take viewers through a masterclass in comedic pratfalls pitfalls, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. 

And though all of these are obviously hilarious, they are also ahead of their time. Commentary on sexism, sexuality, family, politics, tradition, ritual, and religion abound in this show. 

The alien “family” are on Earth to learn and like any good educational setting, Earth has its fair share of issues. Innocently, the aliens point them out, revel in them, or run from them while their teachers, the Earthlings, look on confused. In other words, this is comedy gold.

But honestly, I should have had you at John Lithgow.

“3rd Rock from the Sun” is now streaming on IMDbTV.

Editor-in-chief Meg Gross — “Dance Moms” 

Released in 2011, Lifetime’s “Dance Moms” follows the Abby Lee Dance Company throughout their competition season. Instructor and choreographer Abby Lee Miller attempts to prepare the young dancers to be “professional, employable working dancers” all while dealing with drama from the moms. 

The first time I saw the show, I was maybe eight or nine years old. As I’ve gotten older and rewatched, I now understand my mom’s dumbfoundedness by Miller’s brutal critiques and tough questionable teaching style. You could say I’m biased, as a dancer myself, but it’s mind blowing to imagine how little girls were able to manage learning up to three new routines, in under three days, every single week. This, all while trying to do you best to impress Miller and stay on top of the infamous “pyramid.” In fact, you really begin to wonder what keeps their moms coming back season after season. 

As an avid Dance Moms fan, I’ve seen this show more times than I can count on both hands, so you can imagine that it must be entertaining. Each episode features a new routine, new drama among the moms, and a whole new competition. “Dance Moms” gives viewers a (slightly dramatized) look into the world of competitive and professional dance. As a dancer, even I was surprised to see just how much training it takes to be the best and make it in the professional dance world. 

Whether a dancer or not, you’ll find yourself coming back every week to watch award-winning routines, intense arguments among the moms and Miller, and to answer the continuing question: Will Maddie be on the top of the pyramid again?

“Dance Moms” is now streaming on Hulu and Lifetime.

Copy Editor Gnally Boukar — “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” 

I have always been a fan of occult TV shows. I remember growing up watching movies like “Halloween Town” or “Practical Magic,” and like a lot of kids I was an avid Harry Potter fan too. As I got older I fell into shows like “American Horror Stories: Coven.” I was skeptical when “Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina” (CAOS) came out,  because any show that has been remade that many times has to be a flop. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

Unlike other remakes of the original “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” this show is live action and not intended for children. It also differs from stereotypical witch shows. While Sabrina is a good witch, she is also the daughter of Lucifer and a loyal disciple to the Church of Satan. This concept is not new to occult TV shows, however depictions of Satanism are better developed than most. 

I am typically really critical of shows’ plots. CAOS was delightfully unpredictable. The action starts within the first five minutes of every episode, each one with a jarring conflict that contributes to the larger premis. The action is addicting: Eldritch terrors, Pagans, and Lucifer himself are just a few of the monsters Sabrina and her friends tackle. 

This show is perfect for a night of binging–it isn’t too scary to watch alone and you’ll fall so deep into the show you’ll never want to stop watching it. The action goes on for four seasons before a dramatic, show-stopping ending.

“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is now streaming on Netflix.

Sports Editor Emily Mabbitt — “New Girl”

In the aftermath of a messy breakup, awkward-yet-charismatic Jessica Day finds herself needing a new place to live. After replying to a Craigslist ad, Jess finds herself at a loft full of bachelors. Thirty-somethings Nick, Schmidt, and Winston, along with Jess’ friend Cece, start an unlikely friendship that quickly becomes a family.

“New Girl” was one of many shows that I got hooked on during quarantine and it has yet to disappoint. The entertaining, yet strange, group of friends balance each other out so well that I always find myself laughing at their stupid squabbles and the bizarre incidences they often find themselves in. Though on the surface it may just seem like another version of “Friends,” it finds a way to be its own unique comedy and set itself apart from the rest. 

Zooey Deschanel’s Jess, Jake Johnson’s Nick, Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, Lamorne Morris’ Winston, and Hannah Simone’s Cece make up one of the best TV show casts in the oddest yet greatest way possible. “New Girl” is a culmination of will-they/won’t-they relationships, hilarious one-liners, and a multitude of pop culture references making it the perfect fun-loving series that you’ll never want to stop watching. 

“New Girl” is now streaming on Netflix.

Entertainment Editor Owen Reimer — “Community”

So many sitcoms feel the same. A group of unlikely characters whether it’s a wacky family, or coworkers for a paper business, and they must deal with various problems while fighting among each other. While this is how “Community” starts off, by the end of the first season it sets itself apart from the rest of the genre completely, with incredibly written concept episodes, witty dialogue, and a level of self awareness that is overwhelmingly meta.

“Community” jumps all over the place structurally, whether it’s a musical episode to a war documentary. There is no way to expect what the next episode will contain, and that’s the beauty of it. Some of the best episodes are ones that have nothing to do with the central characters’ actual problems, or legitimate plot points, but focus on something that will not be mentioned later in the show. The first time they do this, they use the style of an old school mafia movie to show the characters building an empire off chicken nuggets. No joke. It’s wonderful.

The characters are fantastic also. Donald Glover plays Troy, a jock who is actually a man child. He is also my favorite character in a sitcom ever. There’s Abed, a genius who struggles with social interaction and is also concerningly aware that they are in a tv show, and Britta, who pretends to care about a new problem every week. Every other character is also fantastic, with little to no weak spots.

I could only rewatch “Community” episodes every day and stay happy. It has everything I could want in entertainment. 

“Community” is now streaming on Hulu and Netflix.

Features Editor Ellie Woodard — “Attack on Titan” 

“Attack on Titan” is in it’s own league for the new generation of popular anime.  The show follows fifteen-year-old Eren Yaeger through a post-apocalyptic world as he fights to kill man-eating titans after tragedy hits his home within the protective walls of the city. 

I was originally drawn to the show for the fast-paced, violent scenes and realistic art style, but came to see that the writing for “Attack on Titan” is just as complex and intricate as its art style. 

At first glance, the show appears to just be a “jab jab kill” show, but as it proceeds it deepens into larger themes. Everything is written intentionally with little to no coincidences. The plot is built through long story arcs of foreshadowing and symbols that gradually clue you in. When you finally get to the conclusion of each arc, all of the hints hit you at once. The most addicting part of watching is when the clues start to click and lead to moments of excitement once the truth behind the mysteries are revealed. 

“Attack on Titan” is now streaming on Hulu.

Broadcast Manager Kristin Kennedy — “Friends”

A classic for binge worthy shows is the sitcom “Friends,” created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Although 10 seasons may seem like a marathon, the short 20 minute episodes are a breeze to finish. The easy comedy portrayed by the actors and the plot of a group of friends figuring out life together in the big city while only living a couple doors away. 

“Friends” characters are such a diverse group of people that gel so well together. It ranges from the popular high schooler Rachel to the free spirited Phoebe. The dynamics of the group brings out the natural comedy. Whenever I need a break away from school or if I’m just trying to sleep, I would find myself laughing at Chandler’s comments or Ross’s reactions to almost every situation the show creates. “Friends” hits every aspect of a sitcom from love triangles to plot twists and even random appearances of certain characters. 

You will fall in love with how the group blends so well and forever wish you could take a seat at the Central Perk Cafe.

“Friends” is now streaming on HBOMax.

Reporter Jimmy Gow — “Your Lie in April” 

In a time when anime is more accessible to the Western market than ever before, I find it difficult to stay with a show, constantly switching back and forth between series. So many options are available to me, and yet “Your Lie in April” has managed to keep me engaged throughout its runtime. The episodes are concise, delivering their emotional highs and lows in a timely manner, allowing them to have an impact without requiring unnecessary downtime. Each frame of this show serves a purpose, whether it be setting the atmosphere of the scene or illustrating how characters feel. Yet it’s not the animation itself that encourages emotion. The writing is what transformed the characters from figures on a screen to real people with depth.

We are shown just how much self-reflection goes on in the character’s heads, so much so it’s hard to believe they’re only middle schoolers. Despite the clarity in which they express themselves to the audience, the immaturity displayed in other aspects of the characters betrays their age. But that’s another thing that makes them feel like real people: they’re not just the archetype of dumb middle schoolers with hormone-induced ragers. They’re imperfect people that exist imperfectly. 

“Your Lie in April” is now streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchy Roll.

Reporter Claire Wood — “Stranger Things” 

I’ve never been one for sci-fi shows or movies, but when the hit show “Stranger Things” kept circulating my social media I figured I should watch it. I actually wasn’t in the “Stranger Things” loop until the second season came out in 2017, but after seeing the first episode of the first season, it was safe to say I was hooked. 

“Stranger Things” never fails to be a show I can turn to when things get rough. The mystery-thriller part may be a tad weird as a comfort show, but the familiar, loveable characters make it a nice escape from reality. 

Originally I wasn’t allowed to binge-watch the first two seasons, per my mothers request of lengthening the experience out. However, when the third season came out she didn’t even try to hold me back as I finished it in two days. Every single episode made me fall into the hole of binge watching even further, and there was never a boring moment.

I liked the level of higher maturity in the third season that honestly made it scarier than the first two seasons, adding onto the horror that made it all the more interesting. But still, the comic relief in the show can’t be matched and are my favorite parts of every episode. Currently rewatching the show, lying in wait for the fourth season I don’t doubt why me and millions of others have fallen in love with this show, and are excited to binge it once again this coming summer. 

“Stranger Things” is now streaming on Netflix.