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Which Showtime Series Should You Binge-Watch First?

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    Photo: Courtesy of Showtime.

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    On July 7, TV-lovers got a glimpse of life without their parents' premium channel passwords. Thanks to a new streaming service from Showtime, for $11 a month ($9 if you tack it onto your Hulu subscription), you can watch the network's shows without a cable subscription. In other words, you can finally understand that Homeland parody on SNL. You can also discover a Kristen Bell vehicle that has passed the three-season mark. You can even catch up on that show with Pacey from Dawson's Creek that everyone was talking about last summer.

    If you do decide to add the service to your collection of streaming platforms, we've narrowed down the best new shows to start streaming. There's a starter show for everyone. Whether you have time for a weekend binge or you've decided going out on summer weeknights is just not worth the extra sweat, you'll find an ideal series to devour one episode at a time. And let's be honest: Everyone could use a little more Edie Falco in their lives.


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    Watch Penny Dreadful if you're still not over Hannibal.

    Things are not looking good for Hannibal (the show, to be clear — things were never really looking good for the sneaky cannibal). But for those who still dream of a show they can't watch in the common room because it might give their roommate the wrong idea about them, there's Showtime's Victorian horror saga Penny Dreadful. You'll gasp, you'll shriek, you'll start ordering lace and chokers for your Comic-Con costume.

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    Watch The Affair if you definitely aren't looking for a summer romance.

    Seriously, if you plan on finding or staying with a significant other, try binge-watching Homeland, because it portrays a more comforting picture of romance than The Affair. A classic story of a troubled artist seeking a new muse becomes a hybrid of dueling story lines. Was father-of-four Noah (Dominic West) the one who really started the doubly adulterous fling as Alison's (Ruth Wilson) perspective suggests, or was she really the flirt Noah perceived? Even if you're not into the "he thought, she thought" aspect, the beautiful Montauk scenery makes for a perfect background for your staycation.

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    Watch Shameless if you want to enter the comedy vs. drama debate.

    People don't usually start railing against an awards show before the nominees are even announced (and thus the snubs revealed), but certain TV buffs are already peeved that Shameless, which finished up its fifth season this winter, will be considered for trophies alongside the comedies. This is a no-spoiler zone, but disregard any zaniness the trailers might convey. Five seasons in, Shameless is a gut-wrenching drama that only adds jokes so its audience can get a few moments of reprieve from the sadness and misery. Seriously, break up the binge with some Parks and Rec clips.

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    Watch Happyish if you're so over self-help books.

    Happyish is what Scrubs might have been with an angrier J.D. Starring Steve Coogan (who you might recognize from The Trip or Hamlet 2, depending on your film preferences) and Kathryn Hahn, following her fabulous turn as the really understanding rabbi on Transparent, Happyish is full of jabs at technology and crazy dream sequences, and will please the truly happyish — as well as those who find themselves a little closer to the sadish end of the spectrum.

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    Watch House of Lies if you're done with Veronica Mars and you need more Kristen Bell.

    Okay, so this is not Veronica Mars Bell or even cutesy-home-electronics-ad Bell, but the sass is still strong, if a little more explicit. This show is worthy of checking out if only to play a game of "spot your faves." Beyond the incredibly talented Don Cheadle, you will find Ben Schwartz, Jenny Slate, Demetri Martin, and Adam Brody. With that kind of lineup, the premise is almost beside the point (though the trailer seems to suggest large quantities of sex toys are involved).