1. “Chelsea Does” (available January 23)
Why Should I Watch It? Odds are if you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, late night TV or just an avid Netflix watcher, then you’ve at the very least been exposed to Chelsea Handler. The former host of “Chelsea Lately” left her E! series to work with Netflix on this special, meaning she’s got to be pretty invested in the content coming out. And she should be by the sound of it. The four-part special is made up of titles like “Chelsea Does Marriage” and “Chelsea Does Silicon Valley,” as she takes on the vital topics of today with a savvy smile and knowing look.
Best Episode: We’re still almost a month out from “Chelsea Does,” so we haven’t been able to watch the full season yet. That being said, we’re most excited for “Chelsea Does Racism.” Sure, “Chelsea Does Drugs” has a better title, but there’s nothing more pertinent to the national discussion than race. Handler has proven she’s got a powerful voice, and a platform as popular as Netflix is the ideal means to reach a diverse audience. Now it just needs to be insightful, productive and entertaining. You know. The easy stuff.
2. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Season 10 (available January 5)
Why Should I Watch It? Two words, one title: “Charlie Work.” While “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” remains just as funny as always and possibly more ruthless than ever, the Paddy’s Pub players outdid themselves in Season 10 with an episode featuring an extended one shot a la “True Detective” (plus some incidental nods to “Birdman”). Chronicling a health inspection of the bar that has Charlie in a tizzy, “Charlie Work” shows just how inventive this FXX comedy remains to this day — even if the damn Emmys don’t notice.
Best Episode: Well, obviously “Charlie Work” is the best of the lot, but we would also highly recommend “The Gang Group Dates” for die-hard fans of the series (or anyone who likes seeing Dennis at his most sociopathic) and “The Gang Spies Like U.S.” as the most successful political metaphor. Really, you can’t go wrong with “It’s Always Sunny,” this season or any other.
3. “30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo” (available January 2)
Why Should I Watch It? If you were alive in the early ’90s, then you remember the Buffalo Bills. You don’t have to be a sports fan either (just an “X-Files” fan). The Super Bowl may not have been as popular then as it is today, but it was still a dominant television event. So you probably remember something about the Bills losing a Super Bowl — or two. Or three. Or four. Yes, they lost four Super Bowls in a row from 1990 to 1993. It’s not exactly a feat to be proud of, but it’s the only team to have ever accomplished the feat. Combine that juicy story with a sports documentary franchise always worth watching, and you’ve got yourself an excellent hour of TV to look forward to this January.
Best Episode: We’re kind of cheating here since this is very much a documentary film, but since a) “30 for 30” only airs on ESPN, and b) the series is so incredibly good, we’re hoping you cut us some slack. That being said, obviously there’s only one episode. So watch it, and stop being so nit-picky.
4. “New Girl” Season 4 (available January 5)
Why Should I Watch It?
Best Episode: “Goldmine,” the seventh episode of Season 4, is smack dab in the middle of one of the season’s worst arcs: Matt (Julian Morris) wooing Jess (Zooey Deschanel). But it wisely takes a break from their courtship to focus on a new beau, Ian (Michael Stahl-David), who becomes threatened by the fact that his new girlfriend is still living with her ex-boyfriend (and two other dudes). This backs the socially inept Nick into a corner, so he pretends to be gay in order to avoid an awkward discussion with Ian or Jess. Meanwhile, in regard to the only character that ever matters, Schmidt (Max Greenfield) finds out Cece (Hannah SImone) is considering breast reduction surgery and freaks out. Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) are hitting on their neighbors or something, but it’s Schmidt’s drastic reactions to the news regarding a woman he finds to be the pinnacle of human anatomy that make “Goldmine” exactly that. Is it a bit crude? Sure. Maybe a tad awkward? Admittedly. But damn it if we don’t still remember Schmidt and those oranges more than a year later.
5. “Degrassi: The Next Class” Season 1 (available January 15)
Why Should I Watch It? “Degrassi: Next Class” is a pull-no-punches dramatic series that tackles the real-life issues of high school students. Telling the stories of “Generation Z,” the series focuses on a group of teens as they begin their journey into adulthood.
Best Episode: Okay, okay. That’s the official Netflix synopsis listed above. We had to put that in there because we never watched “Degrassi.” I know. I get it. It’s a pretty popular series, especially for Canadians, but it just wasn’t part of our childhood programming lineup. So we trust that anyone who’s really excited to watch it is already more than ready for the Netflix premiere of “Next Class.” As for the best episode, we trust you’ll tell us.
6. “Parks and Recreation” Season 7 (available January 13)
Why Should I Watch It? It’s the last season of “Parks and Recreation”! You absolutely have to watch it! Finding out what happens to the most loving, friendly, kind and generous cast of characters ever assembled on television is an absolute top priority. In fact, we’re actually judging you right now for now having watched it already. It’s been on NBC, NBC.com, Hulu and more for ages. How dare you wait that long? See Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) up there in the picture? See her yelling at Ron (Nick Offerman)? Yeah, that’s us yelling at anyone who hasn’t finished “Parks and Recreation” yet.
Best Episode: The picture above is not only representative of our displeasure toward non-“Parks” fans, but it’s also taken from the best episode of the season. Loyal, good-hearted TV watchers will recognize the shot from “Leslie and Ron,” the fourth episode of Season 7 when an ongoing battle between the two titans of the Parks department is finally settled via cage match. Okay, they’re not *literally* locked in a cage, but they are locked in the office overnight until their dispute comes to an amicable agreement. Ignore the “amicable agreement” snooze words, and focus on Poehler and Offerman bouncing off each other for 20 solid minutes. Absolute hilarity — and heart.
7. “Z Nation” Season 2 (available January 17)
Why Should I Watch It? Okay, so we weren’t completely sold on “Z Nation” when it first premiered, but the SyFy series has withstood a tepid initial reception and continued in its mission to provide a goofy alternative to “The Walking Dead.” For that, we salute it with this unseen endorsement of Season 2 because, really, just about anything is better to binge in the new year than depressing tales of the zombie apocalypse — meaning slightly less well-made but slightly less depressing tales of the zombie apocalypse are still your better choice.
Best Episode: As much as we’d like to single out “Zombaby!” or “Zombie Baby Daddy,” the second episode of Season 2, “White Light,” is simply a better episode. (Plus, “Zombie Baby Daddy” loses points for not sticking with the joke and calling itself “Zombaby Daddy.”) Zombie shows work best when they’re depicting the horrors of man, not their undead former selves, and watching Murphy (Keith Allan) run for cover from our Heroes illustrates why there’s more to fear than walkers.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Forensic Files” Collection 2 (available January 1)
“Friday Night Tykes” Seasons 1-2 (available January 1)
“Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle” Season 3 (available January 1)
“I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” Season 1 (available January 2)
“Sirens” Season 2 (available January 15)
“When Calls the Heart” Season 2 (available January 21)
“From Dusk Til Dawn” Season 2 (available January 25)