Nighttime Treats: Must-See Serials to Watch When the Kids are Asleep

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Winter is a great time to curl up into the couch and sink into a series, and with the recent boom in shows, there are so many great ones to choose from.

In the last 15 years, a seismic shift occurred between movies and TV; shows like Northern Exposure and The Sopranos started to take risks, developing storylines with more complex characters, subplots, twists, and deeper social reflection.

Now it’s as though movies don’t have enough time to develop a rich narrative compared with a show that has dozens of episodes at its disposal. New stories are popping up on the networks, cable, and online platforms everyday, and the sheer volume can make it difficult to choose in which world to immerse yourself.

Here are a few excellent shows that allow you to escape from work, house, schedules, kids, cooking, the whole bag. If you need some grownup downtime, check out these quick descriptions of some truly fantastic serials.

Marco Polo– Netflix. Disappear into the exotic and ancient world of the Mongolian Khan dynasty, where the young Venetian adventurer traveled the Silk Road and saved himself from death by describing the region to the Fearsome Kublai Khan. Shot on location in Mongolia, the actors, costumes, music, and elaborate story are all beautifully realized.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt -Netflix. Tina Fey of the hilarious hit 30 Rock wrote and produced this whacky comedy about a group of women in a Midwestern cult that finally escape the clutches of their captor to experience a much changed modern world. The snappy dialog and social commentary work as great comic relief.

Mr. Robot -USA Network. If you like espionage, hackers, corporate thievery, and dark romance, this show is edgy and riveting. It’s modern noir and grandiose fantasy with a satirical nod to the underground group Anonymous.

Alpha Dogs -Amazon. Written by the masterful Gary Trudeau, this comedy stars John Goodman as a moderate, old school Republican Senator who with his buddies, is trying to reconcile his values in the brave new world of extreme politics.

Orphan Black -BBC. Sci-fi at its best: meet Sarah as she meets all her sisters for the first time, clones created in secret by a devious government experiment that went completely awry. Tatiana Maslany plays 10 different characters and within the first episode, she is so convincing you forget you aren’t watching different people.

The Night Of –HBO. This is a mini series, only eight episodes, but it’s like a slow-motion car crash: you can’t take your eyes off of it. John Turturro plays the role intended for the late great James Gandolfini, but he is magnificent as a struggling public defender who tries to come to the aid of a young Muslim kid wrongly accused of murder.

Chef’s Table- Netflix. If you love food, and traveling is out of the question at the moment, sate both the urge to eat and the urge to visit distant places at once. This show features gorgeous, authentic portraits of the world’s finest culinary artists in their native habitats and shows how they are taking flavor to new heights.

We can all use a little vicarious treat after a long day, and the beautiful thing about serials is that you can watch a bunch or parse them out an episode at a time. With all the variety and effort going into these productions, there is something binge-worthy out there for everyone.