These Series Are Perfect For People Not Ready To Commit To A TV Show

As any TV fanatic can tell you, binge-watching can be a big commitment. Maybe you’re not quite ready to whittle away your weekends watching the best HBO show of the 1990s, or catching up on a 200-episode NBC sitcom.
But there are ways to sate your TV itch that don’t involve sitting in front of the screen for hours. Enter the anthology show.
Unlike with conventional TV shows, episodes (or seasons) in anthology series are connected thematically. In classic anthology series, like The Twilight Zone, each episode stands alone, starting at square one in terms of plot and characterization. The writers apply the same storytelling magic to a fresh tale. In more recent anthology shows, seasons, rather than episodes, are thematically connected. So, all the disparate installments in Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story are connected under the same bone-chilling umbrella.
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These are the greatest anthology TV series that’ll satisfy your need for a good story, but don’t ask for much time in return.
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Room 104

As viewers of this HBO show can attest, a lot has happened in Room 104, the drably decorated, potentially supernatural room on the first floor of motel. Each standalone episode in Jay and Mark Duplass' anthology series seeks to tell a story from Room 104's storied history. Consequently, every episode is set in a different moment in time, and takes its cues from a specific genre.
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Cayuga Productions/CBS/REX/Shutterstock
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

Let’s start with the classic show that brought some of TV’s most daring, inventive, and legendary story lines to the American public. From talking dolls to creatures at0p airplane wings, Rod Serling’s brainchild lent us some unforgettable images. If you’re daunted by the show’s numerous episodes, start with classics like “Eye of the Beholder” and “Four Characters in Search of an Exit.”

Don’t get scared off by the show’s black-and-white format: Since each episode of the The Twilight Zone explores some fundamental aspect of the human condition, it’s aged surprisingly well.
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Courtesy of the BBC
Tales Of The Unexpected (1979-1988)

You probably know Roald Dahl from his twisted children’s tales, like Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But did you know Dahl also applied his signature dark streak to adult fiction?

His short story collection, Tales of the Unexpected, was adapted into a miniseries by the BBC. In the 9-year TV series, you’ll find classic stories like “The Landlady,” in which a charming old innkeeper is actually practicing taxidermy on her tenants, and “Lamb to the Slaughter,” where a long-suffering woman kills her husband with a turkey leg, and then serves that leg to investigating cops.
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Daystar/United Artists/REX/Shutterstock
The Outer Limits (1963-1965, 1995-2002)

Each episode of this chilling sci-fi show opens with the same line: “There is nothing wrong with your television set.”

Often compared to The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits differs in one regard: tone. Unlike The Twilight Zone, which features some light-hearted parables, each episode of The Outer Limits is a straightforward encounter between humans and some mysterious force. And boy, do they get dark, even if the graphics are old-fashioned.

If the black-and-white version is too vintage for you, check out the Showtime reboot from the late 90's and early 2000s.
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20th Century Fox Television/REX/Shutterstock
American Horror Story (2011-present)

Ryan Murphy’s horror series, which thrives at the intersection of campy and frightening, brought the anthology format to the 21st century.

Each season focuses on a different place, time, and story line. In the show’s acclaimed first season, a family’s move into a haunted Los Angeles mansion pushes them to the brink. After American Horror Story: Murder House, Murphy moved on to a witch coven in New Orleans, a psychiatric hospital, a traveling circus, and a hotels housing a revolving set of murderers. As AHS goes on, it’s clear that these worlds are actually connected — but in what way, other than being terrifying?
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Ray Burmiston / BBC AMERICA
Doctor Who (2005-present)

Technically, Doctor Who isn’t an anthology series, because many episodes connect to an overarching story arc. But for every episode that fits into the time-traveling alien’s life story, there’s a thrilling stand-alone adventure. Technically, the show began in 1963, but was revamped in 2005 by the BBC.

Newcomers to the 750-episode show should start with “Blink” and “Vincent and the Doctor.” You'll be hooked faster than you can say "Time Lord."
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David Dettmann/Netflix
Black Mirror (2011-present)

The Twilight Zone of the 21st century, this British show explores the evolving relationship between technology and progress — and comes to many disturbing conclusions.

In one episode, people wear memory implants in their eyes to ensure they never forget anything. In another, a woman uses a service that’ll bring a version of her boyfriend back from the dead, using his social media feed as dialogue. Balancing empathy for its subjects with imagination, each episode will leave you reeling.
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ABC/Nicole Wilder
American Crime (2015-present)

At last, an anthology TV show that won't just appeal to sci-fi nerds. Placed firmly in the crime genre, this acclaimed drama takes up a different criminal investigation each season. By focusing on the reverberations the crime has on characters' inner lives, American Crime transcends the usual courtroom drama. Following undocumented worker Luis Salazar's journey, this latest season takes a peek at the work conditions in American agricultural communities.
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