The Art of Productive Binge Watching

By Madeline Sneed

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving break, and you know what that means? Netflix.


While I know you’re planning on spending your Thanksgiving break catching up on all the reading, projects, and papers you have to turn in for school (right? right.), you can’t have a break without actually taking a break. And you might as well make sure your time off is as productive as possible without actually being productive. How is that possible you ask? With binge worthy shows that may actually teach you something. So, after you’re done indulging in turkey and sweet potatoes and pie, fire up Netflix and watch until it asks if you’re still watching, then watch some more! Here are some shows that will make your brain work a little bit during those binge sessions.

The Crown


British royals, fabulous costumes, picturesque cinematography, accurate historical information.

Okay, I know you want a break from your history classes, but this show is the real deal. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, is the queen many have grown up with but few truly know. She is stately, poised, and closed off to her people—a fact that was illuminated exponentially when Princess Diana, the people’s princess, came on the scene in the 80s. However, few ever picture her as the 27 year old who ascended to power after the death of her father, King George VI. The Crown traces Elizabeth’s journey from her ascent to power to the present day. The first season is 10 episodes, each an hour (ish). The first few episodes are a little slow, but once you get into it, you won’t be able to stop!


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 


This is not your average show about food. Anthony Bourdain delves into the culture, both culinary and otherwise, of a different city every week. Bourdain always meets up with a friend or colleague in the city and has them show him local joints that make authentic food that captures the essence of the city and its people. Just a few weeks ago, the “Houston” episode was aired on CNN, and it is fabulous, but, unfortunately, not on Netflix right now. However, when you watch Parts Unknown, you’ll be exposed to the way people from all over the world live and eat and interact. You may have to pause the binge to get a snack, though, because the food shown on here always looks delicious.


Planet Earth: The Complete Collection


Earth. Animals. Educational information about both of those things. Plus, stunning images of places you have never been and creatures you have never seen (for better or for worse). Need I say more?


Jane Eyre


This is a fairly accurate adaption of Charlotte Bronte’s most famous novel, and I majored in English so I can make assessments like that. Like the work of all Bronte sisters, this film is dark, romantic, and thought provoking. It’s a wonderful performance by the whole cast, but Mia Wasikowska, who plays the titular character, brings the more than century old character to life with her dynamic performance.

In this same vein, if you’re wanting to get your Jane Austen fix (because who isn’t, am I right?) Becoming Jane and Clueless are streaming on Netflix. Yes, I do stand by my endorsement of Clueless in this post. It’s a great re-interpretation of Emma by Ms. Austen.

Wonderful adaptions of beloved 19th century female heroines not on Netflix include (but are not limited to): Pride and Prejudice (if you’re really in a binge watching mood, watch the BBC series of it), EmmaSense and Sensibility, and Wuthering Heights.  

Reading these classics (gasp!) is also a viable option if you want to get crazy with your Thanksgiving break!


World War II in Colour 


If Victorian romance isn’t your thing, no worries. Netflix is streaming World War II in Colour, which is a fascinating compilation of footage from World War II shot in technicolor. This somehow makes the history seem more alive and less distant. The documentary is rich in historical detail, and it’s sure to give you a great foundation for this section on your AP World, European, and U.S. History exams.


Parks and Recreation 

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Filibuster" Episode 605 -- Pictured: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Learn terms like “filibuster” by watching Parks and Recreation! 

I can’t in good conscience make any sort of list about Netflix without including this show. Leslie Knope: American hero, the politician we all deserve, eater of waffles and preserver of parks. You can actually learn a little bit about the government if you stick with the show long enough (and I feel better recommending this rather than House of Cards). At the end of the day, it’s a show that will make you laugh and cry and feel good about the world we live in, which I think everyone needs every once and a while.

So, there you have it. Finish out the school week strong, keep on top of your work, then treat yo’self to a well deserved, productive binge watching session.

Happy Thanksgiving!