17 Mini Series You Can Binge With 19 Episodes Or Less

No time for a multi-season epic? These one-and-done mini and anthology series are the perfect length to stream.

As much as we all love sweeping, expansive, multi-season epics like Westworld or Game Of Thrones, sometimes it’s better to be realistic. Even while stuck at home, not everyone has the time (or, more realistically, the focus) to mainline dozens of hours of TV. And that’s totally okay–because with streaming services like HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix, you have access to plenty of 10-episode-or-less mini series to stream, ranging from true crime documentaries to thrilling prestige fantasies and everything in between. Sure, the subject matter may not always be the lightest fair, but you can knock them out in a day or two before moving right on to the next–no massive time commitment or long-term memory required.

Of course, if you’re looking for something that you can definitely finish in one sitting, take a look at our recommendations for streaming cosmic and psychological horror movies, as well as the best action movies currently available on Netflix!

How have you been spending your free time while you quarantine at home? Is your favorite mini series on the list? Let us know in the comments below!

1. Sharp Objects

Watch On HBO

Based on the Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) novel of the same name, Sharp Objects blends a murder mystery with brutal family drama as journalist Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) returns to her backwater Missouri town to investigate the deaths of two young girls.

2. True Detective

Watch On HBO

An anthology made up of three unrelated, eight-episode seasons, True Detective always focuses on, well, detectives. Two of them per season, trying to work through a specific crime that has been haunting them for years. We recommend you go through Season 1 but then skip Season 2 in favor of Season 3.

3. Maniac

Watch On Netflix

Directed by the co-creator of True Detective Season 1, Cary Fukunaga, Maniac is an experimental mind-trip that sends two strangers (Emma Stone and Jonah Hill) through a psychedelic drug trial aimed at developing a pill that will replace all conventional forms of talk therapy. Needless to say, the results are a mixed bag for the subjects.

4. Chernobyl

Watch On HBO

A dramatized version of the catastrophic meltdown of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat in the Ukranian SSR, this show is as bleak as they come–but it’s also beautiful. Atmospheric, tense, and unflinchingly difficult to watch at points, it’s probably not the best to binge before bed.

5. Band of Brothers

Watch On HBO

Another historical drama, Band of Brothers is one of the most famous World War II stories ever adapted to TV. It focuses on the 101st Airborne division’s Easy Company, who were sent in as paratroopers before D-Day and then remained in the European Theater through the end of the war. Even if WWII stories aren’t your usual cup of tea, this one is worth your time if only for the amazing cast of real-life characters it introduces.

6. The Haunting Of Hill House

Watch On Netflix

We may be several months out from proper spooky season, but being terrified never goes out of style. The Haunting Of Hill House will both scare the hell out of you and probably make you cry in just 10 episodes.

7. Evil Genius

Watch On Netflix

Evil Genius bills itself as “the true story of America’s most diabolical bank heist” and it delivers. With just four episodes, this true crime docu-series will have you on the edge of your seat–especially if you’re too young to remember the actual events of the “pizza bomber” case as it played out in real time back in 2003. Go in knowing as little as possible and enjoy the ride.

8. Wild Wild Country

Watch On Netflix

One of the first Netflix docu-series to really make waves, Wild Wild Country is six episodes of twists and turns you will never see coming, following the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the community of Rajneeshpuram in the state of Oregon.

9. Tiger King

Watch On Netflix

Do we really need to explain this one? Sure, March may feel like it was a decade ago, given how 2020 has gone, but Netflix’s Tiger King earned it’s meme status with a story you really have to see to believe. Don’t let all the goofy social media jokes fool you, though–this one isn’t for the faint of heart.

10. The Young Pope

Watch On HBO

Jude Law becomes the, well, young pope–surprise!–after a series of unfortunate events disrupt the normal election proceedings. He’s the first American to hold the position and, if you couldn’t guess, this makes for all sorts of devious, political intrigue in the Catholic church.

11. The Night Of

Watch On HBO

Crime drama The Night Of was actually based on the first season of British crime series, Criminal Justice, spun into a stand-alone eight episode series for HBO. It chronicles a college student (Riz Ahmed) trying to prove his innocence when accused of murder.

12. The Assassination Of Gianni Versace

Watch On FX on Hulu

FX’s anthology series American Crime Story has earned universal acclaim for both of its seasons, but if you can only pick one, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace is the way to go. With nine episodes and a power house performance by Darren Criss, this is a heart pounding, horrifying dramatization of a real life murder case that will leave you overwhelmed in the best way.

13. Catch-22

Watch On Hulu

Based on the Joseph Heller novel you may have had to read in high school, Catch-22 is Hulu’s six-episode entry into the historical mini series game. With its black comedy and fantastic performances by George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Kyle Chandler, it’s one that shouldn’t be missed–it’s bleak, to be sure, but may serve as a pick-me-up after you watch some of the even darker entries on this list.

14. The Alienist

Watch On Amazon

A 10-episode psychological thriller, The Alienist is set in the late 1800s and centered around an early psychiatrist (also known as an alienist) played by Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War), as he attempts to profile a murderer responsible for a string of grisly killings.

15. Fosse/Verdon

Watch On FX on Hulu

Biographical drama Fosse/Verdon chronicles the life of director/choreographer Bob Fosse (chances are if you’ve seen a broadway musical, you’re at least a little familiar with him) and his complicated, dramatic relationship with dancer/actor Gwen Verdon. Basically it’s Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams serving up some of the best performances of their careers in style–what’s not to love?

16. Devs

Watch On FX on Hulu

We here at GameSpot love Devs–we even broke down every single episode and then spoke with creator Alex Garland to answer some of our burning questions, so this recommendation should come as no surprise. If you’ve been sleeping on this sci-fi masterpiece, it’s time to wake up. The story of a tech company attempting to unlock the secrets of existence with quantum computing, all eight episodes are streaming on Hulu.

17. Watchmen

Watch On HBO

When HBO first announced it would be premiering a Watchmen TV show, reactions were justifiably skeptical–after all, the graphic novel has not had the best history when it comes to being adapted. But this nine-episode limited series is one for the history books–literally. Set in a world long after the events of the 1980s graphic novel story, Watchmen is both a thrilling comic book TV show and a scathing indictment of American history. If you can only watch one show on this list, make it this one.

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