1) “Gilmore Girls” (The Complete Series available October 1)
Why Should I Watch It? I honestly couldn’t tell you why you should watch this much-beloved dramedy from the early aughts. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s distinct dialogue proved too distracting for this viewer (and I love me some female-focused dramedies, including “Sex and the City,” “Gossip Girl,” and “Parks and Recreation”), but my Indiewire colleague Liz Shannon Miller had plenty of reasons in her aptly titled piece, “Why ‘Gilmore Girls’ Coming to Netflix is a Big Damn Deal.”
Best Episode: According to a panel of experts, Season 5, Episode 3, “Written in the Stars” is the best episode of “Gilmore Girls” because “Luke is all-in,” “Rory meets Logan,” hence, “#TeamLogan.” (Season 3, Episode 7, “The One With the Dance Marathon,” which I’m guessing is an homage to “Friends” given the title, also received votes.)
2) “Raising Hope” (Season 4 available October 7)
Why Should I Watch It? This Fox comedy got the short end of the stick because it was marketed almost exclusively to the wrong crowd. While very much about simple living in a small town, “Raising Hope” uses its dim-witted characters to convey some big ideas about more than just America’s socio-economic climate. The Chance family digs into everything from parenting (obviously) to religious freedoms (a little less obvious) in their four seasons, and they go out with a bang here. Think of it as the better version of “My Name Is Earl,” with a slightly more appealing tall guy in the mix.
Best Episode: Speaking of “My Name is Earl,” perhaps you’ll want to watch the Season 3 episodes sporting a cast reunion from the axed NBC show. The two groups play off each other nicely, making for the ideal hick TV combo. But if it’s new episodes you’re craving, it’s hard to go wrong with Episode 2, “Burt Bucks,” in which Burt and Sylvia come up with a new bartering system that evolves into a new currency that’s then manipulated by those in control of it for their own success. Like I said, “Raising Hope” is much smarter than its characters.
3) “Sons of Anarchy” (Season 6 available October 23)
Why Should I Watch It? FX has tried, tried, and tried again to make “Sons of Anarchy” into its big-time, awards-friendly, No. 1 cable drama. Largely, it’s succeeded, gathering larger and larger crowds for each of its seasons. But it could never break into the Emmys or the Golden Globes. It did win its only Globe in 2011 — Katey Sagal for Best Actress in a Drama — but unlike other under-appreciated winners, it was never welcomed back with so much as a nomination. The Emmys, meanwhile, have only given it two nods and neither compete in Primetime.
Best Episode: While “Sons of Anarchy” has many memorable episodes spread throughout its seasons, the finales are always hard to top. Season 6 was no different, as it found Jax (Charlie Hunnam) facing his ultimate fear and ending with a scream. “SOA” has always had a bit of “The Godfather” running through its blood, and Season 6 ended on a note similar to when Michael lets out an inaudible howl on the stairs of the opera in “Part III.”
4) “The Following” (Season 2 available October 7)
Why Should I Watch It? Honestly, you shouldn’t. Well, you should, but really you shouldn’t. I’m so torn on “The Following” because it has Kevin Bacon (!) seeking justice (!!) as an obsessive former FBI agent (!!!) who’s on the hunt for an escaped serial killer (meh) he put away years ago (!!!!!). That being said, the show is incredibly violent (excessively so in the Season 1 finale) and not particularly good considering all the wild twists, thus making it hard to fully get behind. Still, this is Netflix bingeing we’re talking about — all those twists are gonna make for one wild weekend.
Best Episode: “Best” seems like the wrong word to apply, but the premiere of Season 2 explains a lot of what happened in the intense Season 1 finale. Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) isn’t dead, and neither is Ryan Hardy (Bacon). He managed to kill his attacker after being brutally stabbed, but not before his lover died — or did she?! Unlike “Game of Thrones” or “The Walking Dead,” characters who die on “The Following” have a habit of coming back to life. So I’d get ready for one more wild, ridiculous, and most likely very bad ride.
5) “Arrow” (Season 2 available October 8)
Why Should I Watch It? Superheroes: they’re not just for movies anymore. While some networks skirt what we really want to see — masked vigilantes fighting crime — The CW is giving us two heroes doing exactly that: the first is Green Arrow, known without the mask as Oliver Queen and known in real life as Stephen “Look at Those Abs” Amell. Arrow, Queen, and Amell created quite a stir in his first season, and the buzz continued into its second (even if ratings dipped slightly). Now approaching its third, “Arrow” has generated a spinoff of sorts in the upcoming series “The Flash.” Best start catching up now before you’ve got a third superhero show to watch.
Best Episode: Season 2, Episode 8, “The Scientist” introduces Barry Allen, the man soon to become The Flash. It’s here that this DC Comics property bridges the gap into territory only Marvel has successfully walked so far, expanding the hero universe from one to two members. Though I doubt to see any sort of “Gotham” crossover in Season 3, it’s encouraging for fans of the DC characters (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc.) to know at least someone is making savvy business decisions to progress these Justice League members toward a common goal: saving the planet (and making a blockbuster better than “The Avengers”).
The Rest of Netflix’s October TV
“Hostages” Season 1 – October 1
“Reign” Season 1 – October 2
“The Vampire Diaries” Season 5 – October 2
“The Originals” Season 1 – October 3
“Hart of Dixie” Season 3 – October 7
“Supernatural” Season 9 – October 7
“The Tomorrow People” Season 1 – October 9
“Last Man Standing” Season 3 – October 18
“The 100” Season 1 – October 22
“Freakshow” Season 2 – October 23
“The Carrie Diaries” Season 2 – October 25
READ MORE: 7 New Netflix Shows to Binge Watch in September (and the Best Episodes of Each)