Right now, most college students are amid what some might consider a month-long brain fart. That four to six weeks when most students are free of academic obligations and embrace the lifestyle of leftover holiday food for breakfast (which they don’t eat until 11 a.m.), wearing pajamas until they decide to shower (at about 2 p.m.), and using their brains as little as possible. College students will also inevitably have one pastime in common this month: the TV binge.
Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon Prime and HBO GO—they’ve all become the substitute for real human interaction during this long period (because who’s really itching to see more than two people from high school anyway?). But the particularly lazy TV bingers might be looking for a series that can leave them brainless long enough to recharge before the return to campus.
In this mental state, some riveting TV favorites such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones just won’t make the cut: too much mental effort to remember too many characters’ names or what happened in the previous complex episode. Instead, following are five TV shows—many of which are oldies but goodies—that entertain the necessity of a viewing binge while also allowing you to be your most careless and inattentive selves.
1. Summer Heights High
Nearly eight years old now, Summer Heights High had a quick stint on HBO with only one eight-episode seaso—but it’s worth resurfacing. The mockumentary-style show stars Australian actor Chris Lilley as he plays the roles of three distinct characters (pictured above) at a public school throughout the day. These characters include Mr. G, the passionate drama teacher; Jonah, the annoying, trouble-making boy we all knew from junior high; and Ja’mie, the private school princess who is just as pretentious as her name. The show is odd and hysterical, especially when watching one actor transition from priss to punk. For those who aren’t fully satiated after the short-lived Summer Heights High, there are subsequent, more recent shows—Ja’mie Private School Girl and Jonah from Tonga so viewers can soak in more of Ja’mie twirling her hair and Jonah cussing at adults. And if the array of characters doesn’t impress, at least the Australian accents will.
2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Since 2005, viewers of this show have come to know five crass, beer-drinking, rat-killing, extremely poor decision-making Philadelphians. With references to jokes from milksteak and raw jelly beans to boiled denim and kitten mittens, there is enough simple, stupid humor to go around without any need for brain cells to comprehend the repulsive situations the gang finds themselves in. But perhaps making the least sense in the show is the frilly, jubilant music as the soundtrack to a walk through the sewers. Only in the most entertaining way. With the addition of season 9 to Netflix in November and the tenth season premiering January 14, there is plenty of binge-watching material to survive the next few weeks of break.
Portlandia might be the most mindless show to watch—in the sense that its outrageously quirky mini sketches require no attention beyond a couple of minutes. The show features Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, who, throughout the sketches, play a variety of recurring characters. The sketches range from Peter and Nance, who worry about the devastatingly harmful effects of eating pasta, to the feminist bookstore owners who sell vagina pillows. Watching Portlandia means laughing senselessly, when suddenly phrases such as “Put a bird on it” and “Shell art is OVER” have you keeled over. Season five premieres on IFC on Jan. 8.
It began and ended before most of us even hit puberty—but it’s still a show we all have learned to know and love. Some of us are still watching because we still think Jennifer Aniston is America’s sweetheart. Others of us because we still know the lyrics to all of Phoebe’s songs. But most are still watching because you can watch Friends religiously and out of order without ever misunderstanding a single episode. The complete series became available on Netflix Jan. 1.
This show is another classic example of a bunch of boneheads making decisions that only 10-year-old boys raised without parents would make. The show follows Adam, Blake, and Anders “Ders,” three pals who work at a telemarketing company in Rancho Cucamonga, California. They spend a good amount of time sitting on a roof drinking beer, or making unnecessarily great efforts to receive a massage chair. Or to find breakfast burritos. But if there’s one very brainless reason to watch this show, it’s at least for Blake’s long, luxurious hair. Or because hearing the characters say “Rancho Cucamonga” never gets old. Its four seasons are available on Amazon Prime, and its fifth season premieres on Comedy Central on January 14.