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Netflix Shows to Binge: Finals Edition

Fire up these shows when you just can’t stand another minute of studying. These guilty pleasures are grouped by “major” — so it's not *really* slacking!

In an ideal world, we would have the ability to study 24 hours a day and ace all of our exams, but who are we kidding? We all need a break from schoolwork, whether it’s to eat, sleep, or engage in everyone’s favorite pastime — binging Netflix shows. Here’s a quick review of some series that are popular at UC Berkeley. As an added bonus, they’re grouped into major-related topics, so you can either avoid the subject that’s keeping you up at night … or select something in the same field, so you’re practically studying.

Study resources for the courses you’re actually taking—whenever you need them.

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Political Science

Madam Secretary
With a good mix of drama, political red tape, and comical moments, Madam Secretary is an all-around crowd pleaser. The show loosely incorporates current political events and follows the life of fictitious U.S. Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord as she attempts to balance work, family, and the demands of foreign diplomats while maintaining the integrity of the country.

Parks and Recreation
Get ready for seven full seasons of great comedy and witty comebacks. In this lighthearted look at government, Parks and Rec and the beloved Leslie Knope take us inside a small town’s Parks and Recreation department, where we see her hilarious attempts to navigate the political quagmire and sidestep office politics. When finals start to stress you out too much, take solace in the words of Leslie Knope and “remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third.”


Roughly based on the classic Sherlock Holmes book series, it’s no secret that this show is four seasons of well-developed and carefully crafted plots and murder mysteries. Although the last season left many viewers wanting more, the first three seasons are amazingly well-written. The protagonists, Sherlock and Watson, maintain an interesting dynamic throughout the show, and their friendship and investigative process will keep you entranced for the entirety of the 90-minute episodes. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch …

Public Health/Pre-Med

The Night Shift
Yes, another medical drama is just what you need in life. Unlike other hospital dramas, The Night Shift highlights the work of army medics who have an unorthodox bedside manner and, based on their experiences overseas, come up with ingenious fixes to problems thought unsolvable. The characters struggle with relationships, family tragedies, and reincorporation into civilian life in a way that makes them engrossing, yet relatable — perfect for getting your mind off finals for a while.


Breaking Bad
High-school-chemistry-teacher-gone-rogue Walter White shows the practical applications of chemistry by creating purest-quality methamphetamine — under laboratory-safe conditions, of course. Preferably, after graduation you’ll apply your learned skills of chemistry to more legal forms of business.


Criminal Minds
Make sure to keep track of time when watching Criminal Minds. The hour-long episodes are captivating, so you’ll continue to watch one after another without realizing how much time has passed — and with 12 seasons in the series, there are always more episodes to watch. The show’s quirky team of FBI investigators takes on cases across the country, bringing the most despicable of criminals to justice. Along the way, you may be able to pick up some nifty facts about profiling and human behavior to enhance your understanding of the human psyche. It’s not the most lighthearted of shows, so if finals really have you down, opt for a more upbeat series.

Black Mirror
Skip the first episode — believe me, it’s not necessary. The rest of the series, however, is really intriguing. Each installment of Black Mirror is a completely new, self-contained story, so you can watch in whatever order you like. All share a common thread: the human generations of the future and how revolutionary technologies affect societal trends and manipulate individuals and the population as a whole. If that sounds like a lot to process, it’s really not: It makes you think, but not in a bad way — and not like studying. Two of the best episodes are “Be Right Back” and “Playtest.”


Mad Men
Prepare for postgraduation cutthroat business deals (and maybe a life of luxury) as you watch the trials and tribulations of Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper. Mad Men walks through the home, business, and social life of a cofounder of a successful marketing agency during the heyday of advertisement in the 1960s. This show does an excellent job of bringing to life the stereotype of sleazy and manipulative businessmen. You can do your part after graduation and not become a Don Draper … and don’t work for one, either.

Computer Science

The IT Crowd
This hilarious British comedy centers around the struggles of a technologically incapable manager and two computer whizzes working in the basement of a corporation whose “product” is ambiguous and whose leadership’s ethics are questionable. This show will surely be a favorite of CS majors, who will be even more grateful when their postgrad manager is more competent than “Calamity Jen.” (That’s also a great episode to watch if you want a taste of the show’s humor.) The comedy is sharp and witty, and it will bring light to those dark days of endless end-of-semester coding.

Want something to eat while you binge-watch?

How about Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls or Chocolate-Covered Grapes? Try one of these or another of the quick dorm-recipe picks in Study Snacks: 10 Holiday Treats for Powering Through Finals, from my fellow Course Hero writer and UC Berkeley student, Amber Tang. (I won’t tell her if you eat them in front of your TV or laptop instead of with your study group!)

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