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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Bill Frost

Back in my day, comic-book stories stayed on comic-book pages. Yes, there were Batman movies—the best still being 1997’s Batman and Robin, naysayers be damned—but superheroes were mostly relegated to print. A live-action Hulk could fucking not be done.

I’m still right on that one, but the rest of the Marvel, DC and other comic-brand universes are now inescapable on all the screens all the time. TV has been more prolific and creative with its adaptations—Netflix (Marvel) and The CW (DC) in particular. But you already know about those, so they won’t be covered here.

Instead, here are 10 comics-based TV series ranging from, “Hey, I’ve heard of that!” to “Huh?” status to stream while you’re waiting for Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Aquaman v. Magic Mike: Dawn of Thrust-Us.

Deadly Class (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app): Based on the same-named Image Comics series, Deadly Class is an ‘80s-set action-snarker about a secret academy that trains good-looking teens to kill elegantly—“Harry Potter Assassin School” will do. Deadly Class is smart enough to go toe-to-knife-tipped-toe with Syfy cousin The Magicians, but with a gonzo-goth edge all its own and a killer Reagan-era soundtrack.

Blade: The Series (Season 1 on CW Seed): The original 1998 Blade was the first “real” Marvel movie, effectively wiping away the foul/fowl aftertaste of ’80s bomb Howard the Duck. To replace vampire hunter Wesley Snipes, 2006’s Blade: The Series cast Onyx rapper Sticky Fingaz and cranked out 13 solid-to-superb episodes before cancelation by Spike TV. Netflix’s gritty Daredevil and Luke Cage owe this Blade.

Painkiller Jane (Season 1 on Hoopla, Tubi and Roku Channel; pictured upper right): A ‘90s Event/Icon Comics title that became a 2005 TV movie and a 2007 Syfy series, Painkiller Jane (Kristanna Loken) is The Punisher and Wolverine wrapped into an Instagram model. She’s a vigilante crime-fighter with brutal combat skills and an indestructible body (though Jane can still feel pain). A forgotten series that’s soon to be a Marvel flick starring Jessica Chastain.

Black Scorpion (Season 1 on Prime Video): Moving backward, ridiculous 2001 Syfy series Black Scorpion, which was preceded by a couple of equally ridiculous movies in the ‘90s, was a TV show that later became a less-ridiculous comic book. The series, starring Michelle Lintel as barely-leather-clad vigilante Black Scorpion, is ‘60s Batman camp crossed with softcore fetish porn—kinky superhero cosplayers, take note.

Preacher (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): A disillusioned drunk of a small-town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper and his gravity-defying hair) suddenly has the power to bend people’s will—so he sets out to find God with his trigger-happy ex, Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Irish vampire bud Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) in tow. The Vertigo comic Preacher is fantastically, mind-fuckingly weird; TV Preacher doesn’t disappoint.

Lucifer (Seasons 1-3 on Netflix): Another hell-larious Vertigo import, Fox-to-Netflix series Lucifer follows the exploits of a “retired” Devil (Tom Ellis) opening a Los Angeles nightclub and helping local police solve crimes—it helps if you don’t think about it too hard. Despite its cop-show trappings, Lucifer mixes devilish comedy and heavy drama seamlessly, and Ellis plays the best Satan since South Park.

Mutant X (Seasons 1-3 on Roku Channel): A year after X-Men cracked the superhero code in 2000, Marvel and Canada produced a blatant rip-off, er, “unrelated property,” syndicated TV series Mutant X. Super-powered beings who look great in leather—what’s the deal with all the leather, anyway?—fight evil and search for fellow mutants while avoiding government capture and 20th Century Fox lawsuits.

The Gifted (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): A better, and more legal, TV take on X-Men arrived in 2017 with Fox’s The Gifted, which focuses on younger mutants struggling to control their powers and a normie society that’s determined to snuff them out. The Gifted only dabbles in action and flash, focusing more on characters like Polaris (Emma Dumont) who get little play in the X-Men screen universe.

Legion (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu) Showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, the TV version) took an already-surreal Marvel Comics X-Men series about the psychologically-damaged mutant son of Charles Xavier (Dan Stevens) and turned it into a Pink Floyd acid trip of a TV show. Yet somehow, it’s the most intimate and heartbreaking corner of X-World. Legion is the ultimate cure for superhero burnout.

Night Man (Seasons 1-2 on Roku Channel, pictured below): No, not the enemy of the Dayman from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; this Night Man is a Malibu Comics character who got his own TV series that lasted for two stoopid years in the ‘90s. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Domino (Matt McColm) is struck by lightning and suddenly has the power to “hear” evil—like Daredevil, but with shitty musical taste. So bad it’s … still bad.

Did you miss Dryuary, the annual self-imposed month of abstaining from alcohol? Yeah, me too.

Entering the New Year sober is an admirable, if misguided, practice. February, aka Sobruary (I am still workshopping a “sober” title), is a far better month in which to eschew the booze. For one, it’s shorter; secondly, it’s not as long. Don’t try and tell me that liquor affects cognition, you no-drinkin’ squares.

In that spirit (get it?!), here are eight series that deal with the concept of sobriety; stream them in February while sucking down shaky tumblers of club soda.

Flaked (Seasons 1-2 on Netflix): In underappreciated 2016-17 Netflix series Flaked, allegedly recovering alcoholic and Venice Beach knockabout Chip (Will Arnett) chugs wine from a “kombacha” jug, lies to his AA compatriots, and sleeps with clueless women half his age—but redemption is only a Pavement song away. Bonus: Flaked was apparently filmed entirely through an exquisite sunset Instagram filter.

Mom (Seasons 1-5 on Hulu): As much as TV critics hated Flaked, they love CBS sitcom Mom—probably because of the non-sociopathic characters … so predictable. Despite its hacky laugh-tracked setting, Mom (which stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney as a formerly estranged, newly sober daughter and mother) tackles dark material, addiction and beyond, consistently hilariously. It’s also dirty as fuck.

Loudermilk (Seasons 1-2 on DirecTV Now): Sam Loudermilk (Ron Livingston) is a former alcoholic and, even worse, former rock critic who’s prone to rants against modern culture and rumpled flannel shirts. He also runs a recovery group and lives with two sketchy ex-addicts (Will Sasso and Anja Savcic). Sounds like a downer, but Loudermilk is sneakily funny and smart, with dashes of heart and High Fidelity music nerdiness.

Maron (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): Speaking of cranky, opinionated Gen-Xers with substance-abuse pasts, here’s Maron. Marc Maron’s 2013-16 series is an exaggerated version of his daily life as a comic, podcaster and sober societal pariah—kind of a West Coast Curb Your Enthusiasm … until the dark fourth and final season, that is, when “Marc” relapses spectacularly. Still, it’s easier to watch in retrospect than Louie.

Recovery Road (Season 1 on Freeform.com and Freeform app): At this point, you may be thinking “What’s with all the olds? Aren’t there any rehab shows about teens?” Here’s one for you, Braxxton: 2016’s Recovery Road, about vodka-swigging high-schooler Maddie (Jessica Sula) being forced to do 90 days in a sober-living facility. Sula is captivating, and Recovery Road’s writing mostly transcends the usual teen-soap angst. Yep, insta-cancelled.

Shameless (Seasons 1-8 on Netflix): In its early seasons, one of the funniest aspects of America’s Greatest TV Family was their comically casual alcoholism. (They’re Irish living on the south side of Chicago; it’s sorta-science.) It catches up to a few members of the Gallagher clan later as they bottom-out and attempt to clean up, making for some heartbreaking drama between the laughs. Shameless USA blows away the UK original—fight me.

Intervention (Seasons 1-10 on Hulu; Seasons 1-19 on AETV.com and A&E app): Sure, it’s exploitative as hell—how else could Intervention last nearly 20 seasons? Families confronting loved ones about their booze and drug problems is a natural fit for reality TV, but Intervention also covers addictions to food, gambling, plastic surgery, sex, video games and even exercise. A&E has an evil knack for producing, ahem, addictive reality shows; Intervention is the best/worst of them all.

Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew (Seasons 1-6 on Amazon and iTunes): At least seven subjects of 2008-12 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew are no longer abusing alcohol or drugs—because they’re dead, so … success? While Celebrity Rehab’s collective results are a mixed bag, the show did at least provide new insights into the recovery process. On the downside, it also extended the 15 fame minutes of Shifty Shellshock and Crazy Town. For shame, Dr. Drew.

Barack Obama was sworn in as president. King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away. The second-greatest film in cinematic history, Crank 2: High Voltage, was released. Now-decade-old 2009 was an auspicious AF year.

TV had a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good 2009 as well. Here are nine iconic-to-obscure shows that debuted 10 years ago to stream while pondering what in the hell you’ve done with your life.

Parks and Recreation (Seasons 1-7 on Prime Video and Hulu): Community—which also premiered on NBC in 2009—may carry more cred with smug culture nerds, but Parks and Recreation is as warm and timeless as a Li’l Sebastian snuggie. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the rest of Pawnee, Indiana’s finest created a bottomless pit of quotable memes over 125 perfect episodes, which are best enjoyed with a chilled tumbler of Snake Juice.

Archer (Seasons 1-8 on Hulu): There’s no tighter animation voice cast than that of Archer—though star H. Jon Benjamin’s other cartoon, Bob’s Burgers, is close. As international super-spy Sterling Archer, HJB has swaggered/drunkenly stumbled through the hilariously profane and shit-talking series with no lessons learned, except for maybe phrasing (wait, are we still doing that?). Better than Bond.

The League (Seasons 1-7 on Hulu): Fantasy football leagues are monumentally stoopid—and addictively bonding. The League illustrated this over seven hysterical seasons, following a group of pals who’ll stop at nothing to win The Shiva, the league’s trophy. Sportsball knowledge isn’t required; The League is all about pranks, one-upsmanship and brazenly un-PC insult tsunamis. Could not be made in 2019.

Dollhouse (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): An underground company rents out the services of persona-imprinted “Dolls” whose brains are wiped clean after every escort/mission … or are they? Creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku never quite found a clear path for Dollhouse, but it’s fun to watch them sell complex identity sci-fi on TV nearly a decade before Westworld. Somebody give Dushku a new show now.

Eastbound and Down (Seasons 1-4 on HBO Go): Washout former Major League Baseball pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) plots a comeback on the diamond—rules, logic and fashion be damned. Eastbound and Down rides on the glorious mullet of Kenny Fucking Powers (full name), whose narcissistic journey back to glory is as quasi-inspiring as it is profanely funny. Could the roots of #MAGA be traced to E&D?

Nurse Jackie (Seasons 1-7 on Netflix): During the heyday of the male antihero (think Breaking Bad, Californication, Rescue Me, etc.), ex-Sopranos star Edie Falco came out of nowhere as a pill-popping, adulterating, morally ambiguous New York City nurse spinning more sketchy webs than Tony Soprano. It’s a tense drama, but Nurse Jackie also delivers laughs (thanks to breakout co-star Merritt Wever).

Hung (Seasons 1-3 on Prime Video and HBO Go): Down-and-out high-school basketball coach Ray (Thomas Jane) needs a second job—and fortunately, what he lacks in luck (his ex-wife is Anne Heche; ’nuff said), he makes up for in dick. Soon, well-endowed male escort Ray, and his pimpstress Tanya (Jane Adams), are in business, and Hung turns out to be a surprisingly heartwarming comedy—with mucho banging, or course.

United States of Tara (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): Writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) took a swing at TV with 2009 Showtime dramedy United States of Tara, starring international treasure Toni Collette. Tara (Collette) is a suburban mom with dissociative identity disorder, a condition that leaves her randomly switching between four wildly different personalities. One of the kids: future Captain Marvel Brie Larson.

Party Down (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): It’s a cult favorite today, but comedy Party Down, about a group of nobody L.A. actors and writers (including Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch) working for a catering biz, was an initial fail. Starz, the “Is Pepsi OK?” of cable, canceled Party Down after 20 episodes, but it holds up far better today than its polar Hollywood opposite, Entourage. Seriously—fuck Entourage.

Who doesn’t like Christmas?

OK, let me rephrase that: Who doesn’t like Christmas as experienced with a steady, carefully, legally (in California) maintained buzz throughout the final weeks of the year? Your mumbled approval is noted.

Christmas TV shows and movies are an industry unto themselves; what other holiday has so much content churned out in its name? Until the inevitable establishment of Handsome White Jesus Day under decree of President Pence (so, spring-ish), Christmas is the King of All Media.

Here are eight oddities in a holly-jolly ocean of Christmas programming to stream over the next few weeks of jingle hell:

Happy! (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app): Based on the Image comic, Happy! follows ex-cop-turned-alcoholic-assassin Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) and Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a blue cartoon unicorn who needs his help rescuing a little girl kidnapped by … Santa Claus. Violence, insanity and a gonzo-command performance from Meloni ensue.

Christmas Evil (Movie on Tubi): While 1974’s Black Christmas is the original holiday horror flick, 1980’s Christmas Evil took the Kringle carnage to a whole other cult level. A beleaguered toy factory worker (Brandon Maggart—Fiona Apple’s dad!) has a psychotic break, dons a Santa suit and starts slashing all the way. Anointed by John Waters as “the greatest Christmas movie ever,” so there.

Santa Claus (Movie on YouTube): In this 1959 Mexican import (which you’ve probably seen heckled on Mystery Science Theater 3000), Santa Claus lives in a space castle with wizards and gods, lording over a child-labor toy sweatshop. Then he has to save Christmas by battling Satan, who’s had enough of Santa’s shit. Santa Claus is tequila-spiked nightmare nog—watch with the kids!

The Hebrew Hammer (Movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi): The Hebrew Hammer (Adam Goldberg, pictured below), who defends the local Jewish community while dressed like a Hassidic pimp, faces his nastiest villain: Damian, the evil son of Santa Claus, who’s out to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, leaving only Christmas. Upon release in 2003, The Hebrew Hammer promoted holiday unity by offending Jews and Christians equally.

A Snow Globe Christmas (Movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi): Alicia Witt stars as a single, workaholic TV exec who produces holiday movies (how meta) who just doesn’t believe, you guys! When she’s knocked unconscious by a snow globe, she wakes up in the idyllic snow-globe town with a husband, kids and, natch, a guardian angel. Will she go back to her manless/childless TV-exec life? Did she … produce this movie?

Holly’s Holiday (Movie on Hulu and Tubi): A big-city advertising exec (Claire Coffee) develops a strange attraction to a holiday window mannequin; when she’s knocked unconscious by a falling icicle, her psychosis redlines, and the handsome dummy comes to her as a real, if personality-free, dude. It’s an only-slightly-creepy Christmas miracle! Executive ladies: Please wear helmets around the holidays.

’R Xmas (Movie on YouTube and iTunes): Drea de Matteo and Ice-T have spent years on TV (she on The Sopranos; he on Law and Order: SVU), but both shined in Abel Ferrara’s 2001 crime flick ’R Xmas. Matteo plays the ballsy wife of a heroin dealer held for ransom by Ice-T’s thugs; she has to make the money drop and get her kid a sold-out doll by Christmas. It’s like Jingle All the Way, with smack.

Santa With Muscles (Movie on YouTube): While hiding out from the cops in a mall Santa suit (just go with it), a millionaire bodybuilder (Hulk Hogan) hits his head and wakes up believing he really is Claus. Meanwhile, an evil scientist (Ed Begley Jr.) plots to shut down an orphanage in order to grab magic crystals (yep). Spoiler: Santamania saves the day. You’re intrigued … admit it.

Admit it: You’re dreading the same old home-for-the-holidays family Thanksgiving dinner with the same old question, “How’s your job going?” To which you’ll have to mumble the same old answer between bites of turkey and slugs of Wild Turkey discretely hidden in a Coke Zero can: “You mean my soul-sucking 9-to-eternity corporate Power-Pointed hellscape? Fan-damn-tastic, you MAGA-hatted motherfuckers!”

Now … imagine how cool it would be if you could reply with, “Actually, I’ve embarked upon an exciting new career path as a contract assassin—as you can clearly tell by my white tuxedo and Bentley parked out front. Pass the cranberry sauce?”

Movies tend to paint the life of a hitman as glamorous; TV … not so much. Here are seven killer-for-hire series to stream over turkey sandwiches and 101-proof sodas:

Barry (Season 1 on HBO Now): Ex-Saturday Night Live square peg Bill Hader struck dramedy gold in the 2018 debut season of Barry, wherein he plays a skilled-but-disillusioned hitman who discovers his “calling” to be an actor while infiltrating a middling improv-comedy troupe. (Aren’t they all?) Barry’s sweetly-absurd-to-brutally-bloody shifts are masterful, as is Hader’s performance.

Killing Eve (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): Like Hader, longtime ensemble player Sandra Oh blew away all dramatic preconceptions in 2018’s Killing Eve. As brilliant MI5 agent Eve, she’s left alone to pursue her “crazy” theory that a European serial assassin is a woman, and soon develops a mutual obsession with daft fashionista executioner Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Smart, twisty and utterly unexpected.

Mr. Inbetween (Season 1 on FX Now): It’s a good year for assassins: Australian import Mr. Inbetween premiered quietly in late September 2018, starring unlikely leading man (and show creator) Scott Ryan as blue-collar killer Ray Shoesmith. He’s a blunt object of a man who does dirty deeds for shady characters, like a trailer-park Ray Donovan—but he’s also a sympathetic family man. A short, but addictive, series.

The Americans (Seasons 1-6 on Amazon Prime): Maybe you’ve heard of this one: Russian spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) are embedded in 1980s Washington D.C., posing as a married couple by day and pulling off hits (and a dazzling array of wigs) by night. The Americans gets deeper and darker from there, and its 2013-18 run cemented its rep as one of TV’s greats. Sound familiar now?

Nikita (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): The CW’s 2010-13 Nikita was different from ’90s cable series La Femme Nikita in that it wasn’t a broody slog, and even more unlike the various Nikita movies in that it didn’t suck. Junkie-turned-assassin Nikita is hell-bent on destroying Division, the shadow government agency that made her, and star Maggie Q sells the action and the pathos with smoldering ferocity.

Good Behavior (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Grifter Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery, miles from Downton Abbey) is fresh out of prison and low on prospects when she hooks up with a hottie hitman (Juan Diego Botto) who'll obviously derail her already-shaky plans for getting straight. Good Behavior is a Southern-fried crime noir that doesn’t always play out as expected, and Dockery and Botto are a magnetic Bonnie and Clyde.

Cleaners (Seasons 1-2 on Sony Crackle): Obscure 2013-14 series Cleaners takes ’90s Quentin Tarantino rip-off films, says “hold my vodka-soda,” and vacuum-packs every QT cliché into a tight, sexploitation-lite series. Hitwomen Veronica (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Roxie (Emily Osment) are crossed by their boss (Gina Gershon); gunplay, squealing tires and snark ensue. No over-thinking allowed.

After Zeptember comes Rocktober—not, repeat, not, Trucktober or any other “-tober” extrapolation. Those are consumer market mind-control operations perpetuated by the Deep State government, aka the alien lizard people who run the planet. If you listened to my short-wave radio show, you’d know this already.

Anyway: The scripted rock ’n’ roll TV series has been attempted many a time, but few ever crack the two-season mark. This makes sense, because rock that goes on and on for an interminable amount time just devolves into “progressive” or “jam” (both also evil creations of the lizard people), and no one needs that.

Here are 11 rock ’n’ roll series to stream in honor of Rocktober:

Metalocalypse (Seasons 1-4 on Amazon and iTunes)

One of the rare exceptions to the two-season rule, Brendon Small’s Metalocalypse thrashed on Adult Swim from 2006 to 2013, chronicling the exploits of death-metal superstars Dethklok. The band members may be morons, but they rule the world and throw down insanely brutal grooves that concert attendees only occasionally survive. The heaviest show ever.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu)

Denis Leary’s 2015-16 comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is the Spinal Tap-esque tale of The Heathens, a notoriously volatile ’90s rock band who released their debut album and broke up on the same day. Twenty-odd years later, they reform with the help of Leary’s young rocker daughter (Elizabeth Gillies); egomaniacal hilarity ensues. SDRR isn’t a thinker, but it is rock ’n’ roll.

Vinyl (Season 1 on HBO Go and Amazon)

One-season wonder Vinyl presented a skewed dramatization of New York’s ’70s rock scene that didn’t quite nail the take—even with Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mick Jagger producing, it wasn’t excessive enough. It’s still a fun ride, though, with faux New York Dolls and Velvet Underground stand-ins, and glimpses of the Boogie Nights greatness that could have been.

Flight of the Conchords (Seasons 1-2 on HBO Go and Amazon)

After 22 perfect episodes between 2007 and 2009, New Zealanders Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie quit their very-loosely autobiographical HBO series Flight of the Conchords, because writing music and comedy was too much work—what do you people expect of a musical comedy duo? Kanye West could only dream of creating a jam like “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros.”

Garfunkel and Oates (Season 1 on Amazon)

Comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci’s 2014 IFC series Garfunkel and Oates was sold short on arrival as a “female Flight of the Conchords,” which doesn’t do it justice: G&O is also dirty AF. Not to mention educational: “The Loophole” teaches young girls that anal sex is cool with Jesus, while “Weed Card” should be an anthem for medical marijuana. Women ahead of their time.

Roadies (Season 1 on Amazon)

It should have worked: Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) made a 2016 tribute to the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle of touring starring Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Luis Guzmán and Imogen Poots; featuring drop-ins by Eddie Vedder, Lindsey Buckingham, Jim James and Gary Clark Jr.; and it all … went nowhere. Roadies mostly corrected its rom-com vs. rock course over 10 episodes, but it was too late.

The Get Down (Seasons 1-2 on Netflix)

While not as much of a mess as Vinyl, Baz Luhrmann’s 2016-17 musical history tour The Get Down, about the rise of hip-hop in the ’70s, still suffers from being a bit much (because, Baz Luhrmann). After a bloated debut episode, it gets waaay better and redeems itself over 10 subsequent hours, and the music is undeniably fantastic. Lament the coulda-been ’80s season.

Major Lazer (Season 1 on Hulu)

Major Lazer, a gonzo cartoon series that’s a mash-up of ’80s-style animation (think He-Man and G.I Joe), superhero culture, hip-hop and electronic dance music, premiered on then-obscure FXX’s even-more-obscure late-night ADHD animation block in 2015. Like the musical group it’s vaguely based on, Major Lazer is best experienced on quality drugs for maximum euphoria.

Dead Last (Season 1 on YouTube)

In 2001, The WB (known these days as The CW) launched and aborted a supernatural comedy series about a struggling bar band who stumbled upon the power to talk to ghosts—and then help them cross over from this realm. Yeeeah. Still, Dead Last’s Scooby-Doo charm and dark humor (the band doesn’t give a shit about the ghosts; they just wanna rock) is worth a YouTube binge.

Z Rock (Seasons 1-2 on Hoopla)

One of the more WTF? series in IFC’s WTF? history, 2008’s Z Rock followed the fictionalized hijinx of real-life Brooklyn power trio ZO2. By night, they were aspiring rock stars; by day, they were a children’s party band. ZO2 were apparently connected, with guests like Dave Navarro, Dee Snider, Gilbert Gottfried, Steel Panther and dozens more making hilarious cameos. But still, WTF?

Yacht Rock (Season 1 on YouTube)

In the mid-2000s, hipsters and music snobs alike were held rapt by Yacht Rock, a 12-episode mockumentary tribute to ’70s/’80s SoCal soft rock. Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, Toto, The Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oates, The Eagles and even Van Halen are recreated (intentionally terribly) here; despite the grainy 2005 resolution, Yacht Rock is still vitally important. Just ask Weezer.

The back-to-school time of year is special to people—not me, but, you know, other people: the kind of people who still have high-school graduation tassels hanging from their rearview mirrors, or still refer to their college ball teams as “we” and “us,” or whine incessantly about still-not-paid-off student loans.

Essentially, the kind of people who cause me to ponder the potential real-life benefits of The Purge.

However, just because school and those who love school suck doesn’t mean there’s no value in school-based TV shows. Here are nine series—well, eight plus one dishonorable mention—to watch in the spirit of back to school:

Daria (Seasons 1-5 on Hulu): Everything from the dissonant opening chords of theme song “You’re Standing on My Neck” to news-show-within-the-show Sick, Sad World still feels fresh-ish, as perpetually unimpressed high-schooler Daria Morgendorffer sighed for our myriad D-U-M-B sins. With smart social observations and sharp execution (if not great animation), the 1997-2002 MTV series remains the school-daze gold standard.

Clone High (Season 1 on iTunes and Google Play): Another inspired—but quickly canceled—MTV production, 2002-03’s Clone High, satirized teen dramas though the animated angst of the young clones of Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and John F. Kennedy. In particular, Clone High played like a better-written take on Dawson’s Creek. Unfortunately, India really didn’t appreciate the show’s depiction of Mahatma Gandi, and MTV nixed a second season.

Bad Teacher (Season 1 on Crackle): For reasons known to no one, CBS produced a TV version of the 2011 Cameron Diaz film Bad Teacher in 2014—and then gave up on it after three episodes. Too bad, because Diaz replacement Ari Graynor (currently of Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here) was a far more appealing lead as a dumped trophy wife forced into elementary-school work—and this Bad Teacher was more often funnier than the movie.

Teachers (Seasons 1-3 on Amazon and iTunes): If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is there no all-female Super Troopers set in an elementary school?” you’re just fucked-up enough to appreciate Teachers, a cult comedy that’s been flying under the radar on cable since 2016. Six-woman improv troupe The Katydids (their first names are all variations on “Katherine”) take Broad City’s vanity-free pursuit of way-inappropriate laughs to another, gonzo level.

Freaks and Geeks (Season 1 on Netflix): Journalism law states that any article about school-set TV shows must include 1999-2000 NBC series Freaks and Geeks (and occasionally producer Judd Apatow’s follow-up, Undeclared). In a single, revered season, F&G played like an 18-hour indie-flick that captured early-’80s adolescence perfectly, and launched the careers of Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini and countless others (including Dave Franco’s brother).

21 Jump Street (Seasons 1-5 on Amazon): The Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill movies are funny, but they’re nothing compared to the hilarity of watching the original 1987-91 Fox cop drama and knowing that Johnny Depp & Co. were taking this shit Dead. Seriously. Sure, 21 Jump Street addressed teen issues from AIDS to alcoholism, set to a killer soundtrack, but the undercover high-schooler shtick was stoopid from the—wait for it—jump.

My So-Called Life (Season 1 on Hulu): The 1994-95 series that gave the world Claire Danes and, for better or worse, Jared Leto, only lasted for 19 episodes, but My So-Called Life (a sooo ’90s title) took on teen issues like no show before it. MSCL treated teenagers like humans, didn’t portray adults as buzzkills, and offered story perspectives from all—an approach that subliminally influenced everything from The West Wing to (!) The O.C.

Riverdale (Seasons 1-2 on Netflix): Without warning, The CW’s Gossip Girl-meets-Twin Peaks Archie Comics mutation Riverdale arrived in 2017 as a ridiculous, ready-to-rumble romp. The gang's all here: a ripped-but-sensitive Archie, a broody Jughead, a jittery Betty, and a smarter-than-the-room Veronica, throwing shade and pop-culture references with hyperbolic glee (not Glee—those kids wouldn’t stand a chance at Riverdale High).

Saved by the Bell (Seasons 1-5 on Hulu): Funny or Die’s referential web series Zack Morris Is Trash doesn’t go far enough: Everybody on Saved By the Bell is trash. The wrongly-beloved 1989-93 series introduced the misogynistic hellscape of Bayside High, where Zack harasses, dupes and manipulates teachers and classmates—and, most horrifically in hindsight, his female “friends.” No one acted, so all are to blame—including you, Gen X.

We all have friends—mostly on Facebook, the whiniest of all social-media platforms—who have been threatening to “move to Canada!” for almost two years now. They haven’t; they won’t; and they’re certainly not going to shut up aboot it.

Too bad, because Canada has far more to offer than brutal hockey, legal weed and free health care: There is also some damned fine TV in the Great White North. Some of it can even be viewed down here in the Formerly Great and Still Mostly White South—in fact, you may already be watching some Canuck shows and not be aware of it. The moose’s nose in the tent, eh.

Crack a Molson, and stream these eight Canadian TV series while you’re filling out your passport application:

Letterkenny (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Neckless redneck Wayne (series creator Jared Keeso), his buds and a cavalcade of characters fight, drink and generally laze about in Canada hick town Letterkenny, trading verbally dense rants and takedowns with the hyper-speed virtuosity of an Eddie Van Halen solo (or, to keep it Canadian, Alex Lifeson). Letterkenny is like a flannel-shirted meld of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and a live-action South Park, but also wholly original—and a decidedly love-it-or-hate-it donnybrook.

Trailer Park Boys (Seasons 1-12 on Netflix): Speaking of hating it, I couldn’t stand Trailer Park Boys at first—and nearly avoided Letterkenny due to comparisons. Now … well, I’m not completely sold, but the long-running series does have its charms. The mockumentary about a group of Nova Scotia trailer-park fuckups and their perpetually-doomed moneymaking schemes strikes a consistent balance of hilarity and cringe—but should you find yourself relating to any of these characters, discontinue watching immediately.

Schitt’s Creek (Seasons 1-3 on Netflix): Attention: Schitt’s Creek is not a Netflix original, nor is it even ’Merican. Like Arrested Development à la Canada, Schitt’s Creek pits dumb ex-wealthy folk against small-town rubes for ridiculously funny results: Broke Johnny and Moira Rose (SCTV comedy treasures Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) are forced to live in a hotel in the dump town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke. More so than Arrested D, Schitt’s Creek is also a stealth heart-warmer.

Orphan Black (Seasons 1-5 on Amazon): Attention: Cult sci-fi series Orphan Black isn’t British—it’s another Canadian production. A small-time criminal (Tatiana Maslany) assumes the identity of a dead police detective she eerily resembles, only to learn she’s a clone, and that there are more cloned versions of herself out there. And then it gets crazy. Orphan Black plays outside of its genre as an engrossing, personal drama, and Maslany’s performance—multiple distinct performances, to be exact—is stunning.

Mary Kills People (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in U.S. series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—specifically, those who are terminally ill and want to go out on their own terms. Her secret Angel of Death gig spills over into her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter, and Dhavernas’ complex Mary is a near-equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan.

Due South (Seasons 1-4 on Amazon): The setup for 1994-1999 crime dramedy Due South was weird, even in the decade that spawned Cop Rock: Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) relocates to Chicago with his trusty sidekick Diefenbaker (a deaf wolf-dog hybrid) to find his father’s murderer and solves cases-of-the-week with local a detective. Gross’ cartoonish good-guy routine delivers the laughs, but Due South also had a dark underbelly in line with grittier era cop dramas like Wiseguy—and it still holds up.

The Kids in the Hall (Seasons 1-5 on Amazon): Along with American series Mr. Show with Bob and David, Canada’s The Kids in the Hall defined subversive sketch comedy in the late ’80s and ’90s, leaning heavier in the surreal, cross-dressing direction of Monty Python. KITH featured five equally brilliant improvisers, all of whom still show up regularly in movies and TV today, including Scott Thompson, a then-rare openly gay comic who owned it to full effect. See also: The Kids’ 1996 cult-classic flick Brain Candy.

SCTV (Seasons 1-6 on Amazon): An offshoot of Toronto’s Second City sketch-comedy troupe, SCTV was a quiet contemporary of the original (read: dangerous) Saturday Night Live, launching in 1976 in Canadian and U.S. TV syndication. SCTV was on fire in the early ’80s as SNL was flaming out, making stars of John Candy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, and the aforementioned Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, eventually creating 135 episodes of all-killer/little-filler comedy anarchy. See also: 1983 uber-Canadian SCTV spin-off movie Strange Brew, the Citizen Kane of beer-and-donuts conspiracy thrillers.

Are we living in the end times? Yeah, probably—what are you going to do about it? Rage against the dying of the light and/or the Machine? Sorry, neither Dylan Thomas nor Zack de la Rocha are going to save your ass from annihilation.

Instead, binge some apocalypse-centric TV shows while waiting for the end of civilization—and there are plenty from which to choose. While the genre is currently dominated by The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Talking Dead Careers With Chris Hardwick and the like, there are other end-of-days series out there in the streamverse that are more fun, or think-ier, or at least somewhat sanitary. (Take a moment to imagine what Rick Grimes’ facial hair smells like—organic beard oil, it ain’t.)

Here are nine apocalyptic TV series to binge while standing by for sweet oblivion.

Blood Drive (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app): What makes 2017 Syfy series Blood Drive even better than a Grindhouse Cannonball Run? It’s a cross-country death race in which the cars Run! On! Blood! Blood Drive follows ex-cop Arthur (Alan Ritchson) and trigger-happy Grace (Christina Ochoa), an odd couple forced to partner up in the race across an environmentally ravaged ‘Merica in the “distant future” of 1999 (yep), deliriously emceed by homicidal host Julian Slink (Colin Cunningham). It’s dumb, violent, sexy, meta and utterly over-the-top—no wonder it only lasted one season.

The Strain (Seasons 1-4 on Hulu): When it premiered in 2014, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s FX series The Strain had to face vampire fatigue in the wake of Twilight and True Blood. This was anything but a hunky-vamps show—The Strain’s bloodsuckers are creepy AF. When an international flight full of “dead” passengers and crew lands in New York City, CDC agents Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Martinez (Mia Maestro) slowly decipher a grand conspiracy to transform Earth into Planet Vampire, and NYC is ground zero.

Continuum (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): In the year 2077, the world is ruled by a corporate oligarchy in a constantly surveilled police state, and most everyone is cool with it—including Vancouver cop Kiera (Rachel Nichols). But when Liber8, a cleverly named group of time-traveling terrorists go back to 2012 to stop the rise of the corporatocracy, it’s up to Kiera to chase and stop them … or re-evaluate everything she thinks she knows. Continuum’s brain-bending rules of cause-and-effect are as detailed as they are occasionally confusing, but time-travel geeks should be enthralled.

Wayward Pines (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Like CBS’ sorta-similar Under the Dome, 2015’s Wayward Pines was meant to be a single-season Fox summer series with a conclusion—and neither network kept their word. Matt Dillon stars as a Secret Service agent who, after a car crash, winds up in Wayward Pines, a charming Idaho town with no roads or communication out. (All the phones are landlines!) Disorienting weirdness and escalating clues that Wayward Pines may be a governmental human terrarium ensue. M. Night Shyamalan nailed Season 1; don’t even bother with Season 2.

Dominion (Seasons 1-2 on Amazon and iTunes): In 2014, Syfy already had a pricey, post-apocalyptic series on the air, the cowboys-and-aliens future Western Defiance, but Dominion was something darker and weirder. Based on rogue-angel movie mess Legion and set 25 years later, Dominion’s Earth was in ruins and terrorized by archangels bent on wiping out humans, who now live isolated in high-tech bunker cities like Vega (formerly Las Vegas). “Chosen One” plot nonsense aside, Dominion established an intriguing, if over-acted, Game of Thrones-lite stratagem over 21 episodes.

Z Nation (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): Syfy’s answer to The Walking Dead is meant to be a cheap, played-for-laughs misdirection—it was the audience who fucked up in taking it seriously when it debuted in 2014. (C’mon, It’s produced by the Sharknado people.) Three years after a zombie virus has ravaged the country, a ragtag band of survivors transport an ex-military test patient from New York to California for the possible formulation of an anti-zombie vaccine … and it just gets more ridiculous from there. Z Nation: the fun, road-trippin’ side of the zombie apocalypse.

Dark Angel (Seasons 1-2 on Amazon): The series that brought us future Honey star Jessica Alba, 2000’s Dark Angel. Fox laid out truckloads of cash for James Cameron’s futuristic dystopia—set in 2009!—and it shows in every frame of the spectacular two-hour pilot episode. An electromagnetic pulse bomb has turned ’Merica into a computer-less mess, and genetically engineered warrior Max (Alba) is on the lam from the military, undercover as a bike messenger and, of course, master thief. After a killer start, Dark Angel lost the plot (and the budget), but oh, what could have been.

Woops! (Season 1 on YouTube): On the other end of the Fox money scale, there’s 1992’s Woops!, the conceptual ancestor of the network’s more recent—and far better—Last Man on Earth. After a nuclear warhead is accidentally launched during a military parade (paying attention, Mr. President?), the world is blow’d up, and only six survivors (including eventual Sex and the City and Californication star Evan Handler) are left to rebuild humanity—too bad they’re all morons. The “post-apocalyptic Gilligan’s Island” actually aired 10 episodes, because what else was on in ‘92?

Life After People (Seasons 1-2 on History.com and History app): So, we’re gone—what happens to the planet and all the stuff we leave behind? Scientists, engineers and other experts postulate all manner of crazy shit in Life After People, a History Channel series that imagines a de-populated Earth. Rats take over Las Vegas! Structures fall apart! War arsenals self-destruct! Supermarket inventories rot! Cities flood! Animals and vegetation run wild! Worst of all, solar-powered radio stations broadcast “Hotel California” eternally! Life After People is quite soothing, actually—bring on The End.

Adult Swim, the overnight alter-ego of the Cartoon Network, has been derided as an outlet of stupid and borderline satanic TV content for stoners and insomniacs since it launched in 2001 … nine days before Sept. 11 at around 11 p.m., conspiracy theorists.

And … so what? Here are 11 Adult Swim series you’ve probably never heard of—or totally forgot about, thanks to herbal erasure.

Moral Orel (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): Young Orel of Moralton, Statesota, is determined to live by Good Christian Values, even if no one else seems to know the diff between “righteousness and wrongteousness.” Running from 2005 to 2008, Moral Orel was a darker-than-dark stop-motion-animation … tribute? … to Davey and Goliath, and a white-hot rebuke of holier-than-thou Jesus Crispies. South Park wishes it were this blasphemous.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (Season 1 on DailyMotion): A British import from 2004 that aired unnoticed on Adult Swim, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was two shows in one: Horror author Marenghi, kind of a greasier Stephen King, waxes on about his misunderstood brilliance while presenting his long-lost ’80s haunted-hospital series Darkplace. It’s awful; it’s fantastic; it’s like Grey’s Anatomy and Night Gallery had an eyeball-head baby.

Titan Maximum (Season 1 on AdultSwim.com and Adult Swim app): From the brains behind Robot Chicken: something even more offensive! Titan Maximum was about a dysfunctional squadron of space jockeys who, when “working” together, formed the titular Transformer-like behemoth to battle intergalactic threats. (“If it has a crotch, we have a fist!”) Hysterically profane and violent, Titan Maximum was inexplicably cancelled by Adult Swim in 2009.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): It stands for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle—which is really no more ridiculous than three (three!!!) iterations of NCIS existing on television right now. Creator Paul Scheer probably could have sold this over-the-top 2011-13 parody of action procedurals to CBS outright and aired it between Criminal Minds and MacGyver with no one the wiser. Keep an eye on West Korea!

Frisky Dingo (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Before striking gold with Archer, writers Adam Reed and Matt Thompson basically re-imagined Tony Stark and Iron Man a couple years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe did, with 2006’s Frisky Dingo. Similar to Archer, Frisky Dingo was crisply animated, and loaded with obscene insult-trading between billionaire playboy/superhero Xander Crews and super-villain Killface. Better than Iron Man 2, for sure.

The Drinky Crow Show (Season 1 on AdultSwim.com and Adult Swim app): In the 2008 debut episode of The Drinky Crow Show, alcoholic/suicidal crow Drinky cut out his own eyeballs and replaced them with literal “beer goggles” so he could tolerate his ugly new girlfriend, then inadvertently blew up the planet to thwart emotion-robbing aliens. Somehow, this nihilistic, beautifully animated insanity lasted nine more episodes before Adult Swim finally cut Drinky off.

Delocated (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): A family in the Witness Protection Program signs up to star in a reality show, and they wear ski masks on-camera to avoid being ID’d by the Russian mobsters who out to kill them. There are dumber concepts for reality shows than 2008’s Delocated airing right now, and most of them involve located Housewives. So many guest stars—would you believe Eugene Mirman as a Russian hitman?

Black Jesus (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): Jesus is alive, and he lives in Compton! Before it premiered in 2014, Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder’s Black Jesus offended the hell out of white Christians—and they hadn’t even seen it yet, imagine that. This Jesus (Gerald “Slink” Johnson) smokes weed, drinks 40s and keeps his buds on the straight(ish) and narrow, so naturally he must be … crucified? Have we learned nothing from fake history? A third season may or may not be premiering sometime this year.

12 oz. Mouse (Seasons 1-2 on AdultSwim.com and Adult Swim app): Crudely drawn and abrasively surreal, Aqua Teen writer Matt Maiellaro’s 12 oz. Mouse was budget anarchy at its finest in 2005. Asshole mouse Fitz and his chinchilla sidekick Skillet take odd jobs to buy beer—oh, and there are malevolent forces manipulating Fitz’s reality in David Lynch-ian ways that make the Twin Peaks revival seem linear. Bonus: a balls-out theme song by Nine Pound Hammer.

Tom Goes to the Mayor (Seasons 1-2 on AdultSwim.com and Adult Swim app): Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim had higher-profile success with Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! and Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories, but their 2004 debut series Tom Goes to the Mayor was superior to both (and here come the trolls). Animated in bizarre cartoon/photocopy hybrid style, the civic-pride misadventures of Tom (Heidecker) and the Mayor (Wareheim) are absurdist, strip-mall-hell gold.

Decker (Seasons 1-6 on AdultSwim.com and Adult Swim app): Web-series-turned-TV-show Decker is utter low-budget nonsense—and it’s just what ’Merica needs right now. Shoot-first-think-never action spy Jack Decker (Tim Heidecker, again) is more driven than Jack Bauer and stupider than Steven Seagal, a deadly combo that gathers enough foreign body bags and jingoistic rhetoric to make your grandpa in Scottsdale salute. Hell, InfoWars would hail Decker as the documentary of Alex Jones’ wet fever dreams.

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