Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, I can’t even remember the last time I watched a show when it actually aired. At this point, I’m addicted to the instant gratification of watching one episode after another while the hours tick by. Sure, sometimes you start to wonder if you should put real pants on, or if maybe that second pint of Ben & Jerry’s is actually a good idea, but there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you make it through an entire season of a show in one weekend.
My favorite shows to binge are the ones you can put on in the background while you clean your apartment, or, uh, play a few hours of Candy Crush. And nothi zng is better for distracted-watching than a feel-good drama packed with small-town charm. You know what I’m talking about: a bunch of quirky supporting actors, lots of unnecessary town meetings, and a setting that feels like a character in and of itself. Plus, romance. Duh.
So for your viewing pleasure, here are three shows (and one book!) to fulfill all your quaint, small town needs:
The moment this iconic mother-daughter show appeared on Netflix, I binge-watched the entire seven seasons in an embarrassingly short amount of time. But that delicious slow burn of Luke and Lorelai! Rory and her perfect hair! Dean the wet blanket! I had originally watched this in high school, but a marathon-binge was definitely illuminating now that I’m 30. I used to think bad-boy Jess was dreamy: on the re-watch, I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. Logan seemed smarmy to me at first; now I’m convinced he’s Rory’s soulmate. Regardless, Stars Hollow has lost none of its adorable quirky charm.
Fun fact: Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie share the exact same set, from the white-steepled church to the instantly recognizable gazebo. That should give you some idea as to the tone of this adorable Southern show, starring the equally adorable Rachel Bilson. She’s a doctor from New York who lands in Bluebell, Alabama, and makes nice with—or, more accurately, pisses off—all the quirky locals. She bounces between love interests, but I’m most interested in Wade, the backwoods hottie bartender who has absolutely nothing in common with the uptight doctor, other than incredible chemistry and abs that won’t quit. This show is currently in its fourth and final season, but you can stream all of it on Netflix and Hulu.
Want to see Chris Pratt in one of first-ever roles? Then check out Everwood, set in the charming mountains of fictional small town Everwood, Colorado. Like Hart of Dixie, this show begins with a doctor leaving Manhattan to start a practice in a tight-knit community. But the real star of the show is Ephram (Gregory Smith), Dr. Andy’s 15-year-old son, who falls quickly and passionately in love with Amy (Emily VanCamp of Revenge). It’s not an easy love affair, though—she’s dealing with the aftermath of her first boyfriend’s traumatic brain injury. If it sounds a bit darker than the other small town shows, that’s because it is. But it’s no less charming, with an amazing cast, realistic teen issues, and a family dynamic that fills you with all kinds of warm fuzzies.
A Bonus Book:
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Shalvis novels are like slices of apple pie—comforting, sweet, and eternally satisfying in their predictability. She’s created a romance novel empire out of Lucky Harbor, Washington, where beautiful women are always passing through and falling for the endless supply of hunky (and single!) local men. My favorite is her first Lucky Harbor book, Simply Irresistible, where Maddie moves from LA to the small coastal town in order to renovate a bed and breakfast with her two half-sisters. Then, of course, she falls hard for the local contractor. This book is a must-read for all romance lovers, and for anyone looking for a little classic small-town charm.
What’s your favorite binge-worthy small town show? Let us know in the comments!