Let others debate if we’re living through another Golden Age of television — we just know that great shows pop up everywhere these days. And lazy summer days — not that far off! — are the perfect time to seek out that jewel you may have missed. But where to start? Check out these 25 gems available on HBO, Showtime, Acorn TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Cinemax and beyond (sources listed are not exhaustive — check your favorite streaming service to see if a show is also available there):
1. “Ray Donovan”
Want a dose of gritty, behind-the-scenes Hollywood? Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is a fixer for the rich-and-famous who can’t put things right in his own life. The array of big-name co-stars and guest stars includes Jon Voight, who plays Ray’s dad. Susan Sarandon will join the cast in a recurring role during season five (premiere date not yet announced). Seasons one through four, streaming now.
Critics rightfully gripe that HBO axed “Enlightened” (starring Laura Dern and co-starring her real-life mom, Diane Ladd) before the dramedy had a fair chance. It aired two seasons, from 2011-2013. But now you can watch the award-winning series with Dern, who plays an ambitious corporate executive who has a mortifying on-the-job breakdown, a spiritual awakening and stumbles as she tries to build a new life.
Service: Amazon Prime
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a forensic technician — blood-splatter analysis is his specialty — who moonlights as a serial killer. Sounds dark? It is, which is why “Dexter,” which ended in 2013, is a true love-it-or-hate-it series. But whichever side you find yourself on, you’ll see why this award-winning show is compelling.
Service: Showtime, Netflix
4. “Crisis in Six Scenes”
Can the Woody Allen original TV series for Amazon Prime possibly live up to his iconic body of work? The short answer: yes. Set in the 1960s, Allen stars as a man whose wife (Elaine May) inadvertently pulls them into the social turbulence of the decade thanks to her fondness for a social radical played by Miley Cyrus. (Even if you’re not a fan of the singer, you may warm to her after watching this critically lauded performance.) “Crisis in Six Scenes” delivers all you love about Allen’s films and more — Miley!
Service: Amazon Prime
5. “Gavin & Stacey”
Before James Corden hosted “The Late Late Show” and bopped around town with Carpool Karaoke guests Elton John, Adele and others, he created and co-starred in the award-winning British rom-com/drama “Gavin & Stacey.” Corden and Welsh funny woman Ruth Jones penned the series about a young Welshwoman and a young Englishman who fall in love — then bring their best friends (Corden and Jones) along for the ride. The series aired from 2007-2010.
British comedian Miranda Hart wrote and stars in the British comedy “Miranda,” a semi-autobiographical comedy about a 6-foot-1 woman who longs for love while fumbling through a series of embarrassing situations. This show is a return to the Bob Newhart-Mary Tyler Moore style of clean comedy that relies on witty writing and awkward physical situations for laughs. Episodes aired between 2009-2013, with a finale that aired in the 2014-2015 holiday season.
7. “Schitt’s Creek”
Fans of the iconic Canadian sketch comedy “SCTV” (1976-1988) won’t be surprised that two of its stars — Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara — are top-notch in this hilarious comedy about an uber-rich couple and their two adult children who fall on financial hard times and must move to a motel in a small town they bought as a gag. What might be surprising is the comedic royalty are surrounded by equally adept younger players including Levy’s real-life son, Daniel, and actress Annie Murphy (above). The show — created by the Levys — was renewed for a fourth season. No premiere date is public. Now is the time to catch up on seasons one through three, which aired from 2015 to 2017.
Service: PopTV, Netflix
8. “800 Words”
This Australian-New Zealand comedy-drama series, which premiered in 2015 in the U.S., revolves around an Australian widower who moves his kids to a town in New Zealand where he vacationed as a child. Rocky times ensue as the townspeople get to know the family and the kids struggle with adolescence, the loss of their mother and a new country. The series was renewed for a third season, but no U.S. premiere date is available.
Service: Acorn TV
“Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw has nothing to do with Frances, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on “Divorce” — but you’re to be forgiven if you can’t get Carrie out of your mind. Frances is navigating through the aftermath of — surprise — divorce in what many say is the darkest of comedies. “Divorce” may have nothing to do with “Sex and the City,” but it’s the perfect follow-up for Parker and the fictional Bradshaw.
10. “The IT Crowd”
Ever feel like the misfit at work who keeps unwittingly stumbling into ridiculous situations? That’s the basic premise of the much-loved British comedy “The IT Crowd,” which revolves around — as one character noted — “a go-getter woman, a computer genius and an Irishman.” Whether they’re bumbling on dates, failing at work or caught in a weird brand of office politics, the show captures the hilarity of work with more realism than “The Office” but just as many laughs. The show spanned four seasons from 2006 to 2010 — plus a 2013 special.
Service: Hulu, Netflix
This unscripted British drama has the nasty crime, tense work environment and variety of cases police-drama fans love. The work changes radically between seasons, especially as one major character departs, but it remains just as gritty and compelling. Think of “Suspects” as a cross between “NYPD Blue” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” with British accents. The show aired for five seasons comprising 23 episodes from 2014 to 2016.
Service: Acorn TV
12. “Difficult People”
Two struggling comedians in New York are caustic and nasty — but they survive a myriad of family, personal and career ups and downs thanks to their enduring friendship. One cautionary note: The profanity and adult situations are on maximum setting, so this is a show best watched when the kids aren’t around. With Amy Poehler as an executive producer, it’s likely not surprising that legendary comedians including Martin Short, Sandra Bernhard and Tina Fey (Poehler’s real-life best buddy) are among the high-powered guests. Also, don’t miss Andrea Martin, another veteran comic from the classic Canadian sketch comedy “SCTV,” as a regular co-star. Catch up on the first two seasons, which aired in 2015 and 2016, and then tune in for season three premiering Aug. 8.
13. “The Comeback”
“The Comeback” is another show that was axed almost as soon as it began in 2005. Critics loved the comedy, created by and starring Lisa Kudrow as a has-been actress looking for a comeback. The 13-episode first season revolves around Kudrow’s character Valerie Cherish as she acts in a TV show called “Room and Bored.” Revived in 2014, season two of “The Comeback” finds Kudrow’s character acting on a show called “Seeing Red,” a job that threatens to ruin her marriage. Although the seasons were filmed almost a decade apart and have bits that are somewhat disjointed, any flaws are hardly noticeable thanks to Kudrow’s lovable characterization.
Service: Amazon Prime, HBO
14. “The Affair”
A married novelist who struggles to hit the big time while raising his young family meets a waitress during summer vacation. The chance encounter turns everyone’s lives upside down. Some of the 32 episodes are a bit uneven, but the strong cast and storylines keep the series engaging. “The Affair,” which premiered in 2014, was renewed for season four, but no premiere date has been announced.
Service: Showtime, Hulu
Billy Bob Thornton just won the Golden Globe Award for this portrayal of a once-prominent lawyer whose alcoholism and personal woes make him a down-and-out bum. In the series, the lawyer is coaxed into a case of a lifetime and assembles a rag-tag team of assistants to face down a corrupt major law firm. William Hurt plays Billy Bob’s nemesis. The first season, with David E. Kelley as an executive producer, was a complete storyline, but the series was renewed. No premiere date is available.
Service: Amazon Prime
A nice American guy on business in London meets a charming Irish woman, and they have a fabulous connection. What could go wrong? Yes, that — an unplanned pregnancy. The two decide to join together and raise their child as a family while navigating health scares, family problems and their conflicting values. “Catastrophe” was written and stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan as characters who meet as the result of a random Twitter encounter. (In real life, they are in separate romances.) Season three, set to begin April 28, has the final performance by the late great Carrie Fisher. Now’s the time to catch up on this seasons one and two.
Service: Amazon Prime
17. “Doll & Em”
HBO acquired and airs the six-episode British TV series “Doll & Em.” Created and starring Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells, this comedy-drama revolves around actress Em, who hires her best friend as an assistant. That move helps Doll’s theatrical dreams come true (and almost sinks Em’s). This is a sweet, funny show akin to the 1997 movie “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” — but with smarter, savvier besties.
18. “True Detective”
“True Detective” is one of those shows that you might have heard about and keep meaning to watch but just haven’t. Now’s the time. The crime drama’s seasons are self-contained but similar enough to easily follow. The acclaimed season one, which launched in 2014, starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Season two starred Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. The second season was seen by some as a sophomore slump, but both will satisfy even the most hard-core crime fan. Writers and producers are reportedly working on a third season.
19. “Game of Thrones”
Even if you’re not usually a fan of fantasy-drama, you owe it to yourself to watch “Game of Thrones.” The costumes, the acting, the sets and the intersecting storylines will keep even the most ardent realist engaged. There is quite a bit of nudity and brutal violence, so think twice before you watch with young kids. But the show’s large, international fan base and 38 Primetime Emmy Awards are among the indicators that the show will not disappoint.
20. “Line of Duty”
Want a gritty police drama akin to much-loved and lauded “NYPD Blue”? Tune in for the British drama “Line of Duty,” which garnered record audiences and awards for BBC Two when it premiered in 2014. The first season revolves around a major stumble by a brilliant but morally flawed police official. His actions and reactions threaten his career, personal life and everyone around him. Violence, adult situations and moral dilemmas make this one of the most adult — and realistic — of dramas. Season one and two are currently streaming in the U.S.
Service: Hulu, Acorn TV
21. “The Brokenwood Mysteries”
Take Columbo, put him in New Zealand, give him a savvy, attractive female counterpart, a classic car and a taste for classic American country music and you have “The Brokenwood Mysteries.” It’s a classic mystery drama with just enough quirky elements to put you in mind of Peter Falk’s “Columbo,” George Peppard’s “Banacek” and other beloved classic cop shows that were mainstays of the 1970s. “The Brokenwood Mysteries” was renewed for season four, but there’s no premiere date yet. Stream seasons one through three.
Service: Acorn TV
Sure, you’ve likely seen this sketch comedy series by comedic geniuses Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. But the multiple award-winning show that debuted in 2011 on IFC just never gets old. Armisen and Brownstein play a variety of characters — owners of a feminist bookstore (Women and Women First), community do-gooders whose efforts run amuck and more. Season eight, the show’s final season, will air in 2018. Catch up on seasons one through seven.
Service: IFC, Netflix
Yes, another police drama but this one is French-Canadian and follows the professional and personal lives of a squad of police in Montreal. Violence, sex, grit and fully developed characters that you really grow to know make it almost the French-Canadian version of the brilliant “Homicide: Life on the Street” that aired in the 1990s.
Service: Acorn TV, Amazon
When a young U.S. Marine who was honored for his tour of duty in Vietnam returns to his hometown of Memphis, he finds himself shunned and ostracized. That reception pulls him into a different life (nope, we won’t say what — we’re not spoilers) that involves a killing network. The show won critical praise but had trouble finding a fan base. News reports state a second series was ordered and will premiere in September. Catch up on season one now.
25. “I Love Dick”
Ok, this is a bit of a tease because the show it doesn’t premiere until July 31, but the first episode is available now to whet your appetite. And you’ll love it. Kevin Bacon is the main man in Marfa, Texas, and he upends the beliefs and lives of a new couple in town. You’ll read mixed reviews about the show but check it out — with Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent”) and Griffin Dunne (“Dallas Buyers Club”) as the couple. It’s a surprising show that twists preconceived notions of marriage, male-female relationships, artistic inspiration and class distinctions.
Service: Amazon Prime
What shows do you binge on? Share your favorites with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes
Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.