Binge Guide

Your Weekly Binge: Flashing Swords, A Digital Afterlife, And A New Landmark British Laugh Fest

What's the RT staff watching while stuck at home? We're giving you a new weekly guide to inspire your next big binge.

by | May 8, 2020 | Comments

The Rotten Tomatoes staff is working remotely right now, doing the responsible thing and “social distancing.” And like much of America, and the world, we’re spending a lot of our time – when we’re not working, of course – catching up on the shows and movies waiting for us on our watchlists, and digging around the various streaming services to find previously undiscovered gems. Every week for the next little while, we will be highlighting what our staff members are watching while at home in the hope that we’ll inspire you to discover something new and Fresh, and that you can watch along with us.

  • Check out last week’s Weekly Binge, with Little Fires EverywhereMerlinThe Plot Against AmericaRake, and more

The Last Kingdom 91% (Netflix)

Berserker Vikings fans will likely have already tasted The Last Kingdom, in which Uhtred, the eldest son of the Saxon Lord of Bebbanburg, is taken as a slave by the Viking raiders that killed his father and later returns to his homeland claim his birthright. Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story) plays the swaggering hero, and season 4 of the one-time BBC America series just premiered on Netflix in April. The cast includes David Dawson as King Alfred the Great, to whom Uhtred pledges his sword as part of a peace treaty and later in return for land and to become an Ealdorman. Ian Hart appears as Uhtred’s priest-confidante Beocca, while Emily McKenna Cox and Tobias Santelmann are the warrior’s adopted siblings Brida and Ragnar. The Last Kingdom, with series Tomatometer score of 91%, makes a fine binge if you miss Vikings and need a jolt of Danish raids, flashing swords, and 9th-century English politics. – Debbie Day, Sr. TV Editor

Where to watch: Netflix

Commitment: 31.5 hours (across four seasons)

DAVE: Season 1 (2020) 72% (FXX)

Dave is a grower. The raunchy FXX comedy, starring Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd as a fictionalized version of himself, does not make the most inviting of first impressions. Rambling with the fretful patter of an adult baby, Burd spends the early going oversharing about his malformed anatomy whenever he isn’t talking up his rapping prowess. Viewers who aren’t charmed by genitalia jokes may dismiss the first few episodes as a successful musician delivering an edgy valentine to himself. Gradually, however, Dave blossoms into something meaningful: It’s about how every success story takes a village. The series makes excellent use of Lil Dicky’s inner circle, each of his friends harboring relatable aspirations and foibles. We come to appreciate this oddball community and the inexplicably talented man-child who binds them all together. By the end of the first season, we truly believe that Licky Dicky has the goods. So does his show. – Rob Fowler, Review Curator

Where to watch: Stream on FX Networks app or Hulu; buy or rent on FandangoNOW, Vudu, Amazon, or Google Play.

Commitment: 5 hours (one season)

This Country 96% (BBC)

This British mockumentary comedy series had completely escaped my attention until I heard Phoebe Waller-Bridge recommending it on a podcast earlier this year, and it turns out – shocking, I know – that Waller-Bridge has good taste. This Country is brilliant, the kind of seemingly out-of-nowhere gem that you know is going to do big things for everyone involved. (Seriously, it has the feel of Spaced or the U.K. version of The Office.) The “everyone involved” here mostly happen to be from the same family; the series was created by siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, who also star in it as Kerry and Kurtan, two cousins from a village in Southwestern England who are the main subjects of a BBC documentary series about disaffected youth in the rural U.K. The duo’s real-life father plays Kerry’s dad, while their uncle plays a local grouch. The cousins wander the village doing s—t-all, dreaming up small schemes and games to pass the time, and it’s all extremely funny. But what makes This Country truly special – and a multiple British Academy Television Awards winner for two years straight – is its heart. The bond between the cousins and the tenderness and empathy with which every character around them is handled make This Country as moving as it is hilarious. – Joel Meares, Editor-in-Chief

Where to watch: Hulu

Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for two seasons; season 3 is not available in the U.S.)

Dispatches from Elsewhere: Season 1 (2020) 86% (AMC)

Full disclosure: I didn’t actually binge Dispatches from Elsewhere. I watched in real time, as it was happening (by which I mean the next day on the AMC app). That said, Dispatches from Elsewhere is a show you will want to binge. It’s cliché to say, but here I am, typing this sentence: Dispatches From Elsewhere is like no other TV show I have ever seen. It’s like a mysteriously philosophical scavenger hunt full of art and wonder and. The show begins in one place and ends somewhere you would never expect… and I can’t say anything else at risk of ruining the joy of the journey. Jason Segel, Sally Field, André 3000, and the wonderful Eve Lindley are a dream team, and Richard E. Grant’s particular brand of charming intensity is put to great use. It’s a fairly introspective show, and while that might not seem appealing when we’re stuck inside with only our thoughts to keep us company, I promise it’s more comforting than existential dread–inducing. – Haña Lucero-Colin, TV Curation Manager

Where to watch: AMC, YouTube TV (with subscription), Sling TV; buy on YouTube, iTunes, or Amazon

Commitment: 10 hours (one season)

Upload: Season 1 (2020) 87% (Amazon Prime)

Upload is a charming romantic comedy-mystery drizzled in existential horror. On the verge of death after an accident, Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) is coerced by his clingy, controlling girlfriend (Allegra Edwards) into forgoing surgery, and having his consciousness uploaded to an idyllic, vacation-like simulation, where a digital version of himself (and, eventually, his girlfriend) will live for eternity. It’s like heaven… if heaven exists in a trillion-dollar conglomerate’s computer servers, you have no privacy, and the wealthy sponsor paying your bills in the living world chooses how comfortably you get to live. With the help of his “Angel,” Nora (Andy Allo), Nathan navigates what it means to die, and whether a perfect afterlife can ever be as satisfying and meaningful as an imperfect regular life. Oh, and someone may have had him killed, so he’s trying to figure that whole thing out, too! If you are looking to explore the meaning of life but need a heavy dose of laughter to do it, Upload just might be for you. – Tyler Lorenz, Media Coordinator

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Commitment: 4 hours (one season)

Outlander 89% (Stars)

Based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novels, Outlander is a historical fantasy romance that stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe as Jaime and Claire Fraser, and the show follows along their passionate and loving journey. It’s a little bit of Pride and Prejudice with some Game of Thrones in there. However, what makes Outlander stand out above its peers is that it’s confident and committed to the stories it wants to tell for both its male and female characters and does so in a uniquely thoughtful and gripping manner. Above all, it is unapologetically entertaining – which is welcome right now. Keep a special eye on Tobias Menzies and Maria Doyle Kennedy, who stand out even among the fantastic ensemble cast. After one episode, you will most certainly be swept off your feet by Jaime and Claire. After two, you’ll never get the gorgeous theme song out of your head.  – Daisy Gonzalez, Theatrical Review Curator

Where to watch: Netflix (seasons 1-3), Starz (seasons 1-5); buy or rent on FandangoNOW, Amazon, or iTunes

Commitment: Approx. 100 hours (five seasons)

Better Things 97% (FX)

It’s totally understandable if the last thing you want to watch  is a show about the entertainment industry, especially an actor. But Better Things is less of a “Stars: They’re Just Like Us” and more like a “Stars: I Empathize With and Sometimes Feel Sorry for Them.” Plus, it’s the perfect Mother’s Day binge watch. Pamela Adlon is Sam Fox, an actress who is always hustling from one gig to the next. She’s also a single mother of three daughters, cares for her elderly mother who lives across the street, and doles out alimony to her ex-husband (the only issue I have with the show is that she married this loser in the first place). The show is interspersed with cozy moments of Sam cooking, cuddling on the couch with her family, drinking and trash-talking with friends, and unexpected plot detours. Stars may never be just like us, but you’d be lucky if Sam was just like someone you know. – Sara Ataiiyan, Review Curator

Where to watch: FXNow, Hulu; rent or buy on FandangoNOW, Vudu, iTunes, or Google Play

Commitment: 17.5 hours (four seasons)

Check out our regular May Binge Guide. Thumbnail image: Jessica Kourkounis/AMC, Adrienn Szabo/Netflix, BBC

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